- Kenneth Cotterill
NCAA MBB Preseason Rankings Part Four
We are getting down to the truly elite teams in the country heading into the 2020-21 season. This piece will feature five teams from four of the biggest conferences in college basketball, so these teams will be on television often. The top ten teams are typically your second and third seed teams when tournament time comes around. So, these are the teams to watch out for in your March Madness brackets. With that being said let's take a look at who just squeaked into the top ten.
10. Wisconsin (Last Year 21-10)
Gone: Brevin Pritzl
Coming Back: D’Mitrik Trice, Brad Davison, Nate Reuvers, Micah Potter, Aleem Ford, Tyler Wahl, Trevor Anderson
New Faces: Ben Carlson, Lorne Bowman, Johnny Davis, Jordan Davis, Steve Crowl
Projected Starters: D’Mitrik Trice, Brad Davison, Aleem Ford, Nate Reuvers, Micah Potter
The Wisconsin Badgers are going to be incredibly entertaining to watch this year. Only losing their seventh leading scorer from a year ago bodes really well for Greg Gard's team this year. Their recruiting class is nothing spectacular but Ben Carlson should see some minutes off the bench for them. So why am I so high on the Badgers? When you finish tied for first in the Big Ten with wins over Michigan, Michigan State, Marquette, and Tennessee and return essentially your entire team, the only way to go is up. They finished 17th in the AP Poll when play concluded last year so I expect big things out of Wisconsin heading into the 2020-21 season. However, they will need to score better this year, as they only scored 67.2 points per game last year, second-worst in the conference. Keep an eye out for D'Mitrik Trice who could make Big Ten All-First Team this year as well.
9. Iowa (Last Year 20-11)
Gone: Bakari Evelyn, Ryan Kreiner, Cordell Pemsl
Coming Back: Luka Garza, C.J. Fredrick, Joe Weiskamp, Joe Toussaint, Jordan Bohannon, Connor McCaffery, Jack Nunge
New Faces: Tony Perkins, Ahron Ulis, Patrick McCaffery
Projected Starters: Joe Toussaint, C.J. Frederick, Joe Weiskamp, Jack Nunge, Luka Garz
From one of the lowest-scoring teams in the Big Ten last year to the highest-scoring team in the Iowa Hawkeyes. Much like Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes return most of their key players, only losing fifth-leading scorer Ryan Kreiner. Once again, nothing special as far as recruits go (none in the top 100 in the country), but this is a veteran team with possibly the best player in the country. Luka Garza averaged 23.9, 9.8, and almost two blocks per game last year and he could be even better in his senior year. Joe Wieskamp and C.J. Fredrick should provide some secondary scoring as well making this Iowa team tough to beat. This team will ultimately go as far as Garza takes them, so while I do not see them going too far in March, they should be great in the regular season.
8. Texas Tech (Last Year 18-13)
Gone: Jahmi’us Ramsey, Chris Clarke, Davide Moretti, T.J. Holyfield, Russel Tchewa
Coming Back: Kyler Edwards, Terrance Shannon Jr., Kevin McCullar, Avery Benson, Jamarius Burton
New Faces: Nimari Burnett, Micah Peavy, Marcus Santos-Silva, Joel Ntambwe, Chibuzo Agbo, Esahia Nzyiwe, Mac McClung
Projected Starters: Kyler Edwards, Nimari Burnett, Terrance Shannon, Joel Ntambwe, Marcus Santos-Silva
When a team loses their top two scorers, they better be bringing in some young talent and Texas Tech is doing exactly that. Returning players Kyler Edwards, Terrence Shannon, and Kevin McCullar should all play significant roles for Chris Beard. And transfer additions Joel Ntambwe from UNLV, Marcus Santos-Silva from VCU, and possibly Mac McClung from Georgetown will be massive as well. To top it off, they added the number twenty-two prospect, Nimari Burnett, who should start at shooting guard right away for the Red Raiders. All those players plus freshman SF Micah Peavy makes this team incredibly deep in the tough Big 12. Talent, experience, depth, and coaching are all on this team and I like them to go deep in the NCAA Tournament.
7. Duke (Last Year 25-6)
Gone: Tre Jones, Vernon Carey Jr., Cassius Stanley, Jack White, Alex O’Connell, Javin DeLaurier
Coming Back: Wendell Moore, Matthew Hurt, Jordan Goldwire, Joey Baker
New Faces: Jalen Johnson, Jeremy Roach, D.J. Steward, Mark Williams, Jaemyn Brakefield, Henry Coleman, Patrick Tape
Projected Starters: Jeremy Roach, D.J. Steward, Wendell Moore, Jalen Johnson, Mark Williams
The team that the world loves to hate comes in at number seven. I love watching Coach K and the Blue Devils play, but the hatred towards Duke, among fans has never been higher. Having not won a national title since 2015, many people are asking whether Mike Krzyzewski will ever win another national title and whether or not this is the team to do it. Six players are gone, but seven new players will battle for minutes, including graduate transfer Patrick Tape. Jalen Johnson ranked 13th in the nation, is the best player in their class meaning they will need some second-year guys to step up. Wendell Moore and Matthew Hurt will have to play much better in their sophomore season and I think they will. The ACC is going to be fun to watch this year and Duke will once again be in the mix to win it.
6. Tennessee (Last Year 17-14)
Gone: Lamonte Turner, Jordan Bowden
Coming Back: John Fulkerson, Santiago Vescovi, Josiah Jordan-James, Olivier Nkamhoua, Drew Pemper, Yves Pons
New Faces: Keon Johnson, Jaden Springer, Corey Walker, Victor Bailey, E.J. Anosike, Malachi Wideman
Projected Starters: Santiago Vescovi, Josiah Jordan-James, Keon Johnson, Yves Pons, John Fulkerson
This year, the Tennessee Volunteers will be one of the top dogs in the SEC, despite losing two key contributors. The return of Yves Pons for his senior year will be incredibly helpful since the team will be losing Jordan Bowden and Lamonte Turner, their second and third-leading scorers from last season. John Fulkerson, Tennesee's leading scorer, is also back and will be joined by a ton of freshman talent. Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson are both top-30 talents and should give Rick Barnes some young talent to work with. Last season, Tennessee did not shoot the three-ball well, only converting at a rate of 31.3 percent. So that will need to be much better this year if they want to live up to the hype. If Tennessee can up that number to around 35%, I really like their chances with Pons, Springer & Fulkerson leading the way.
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