Roy Williams speaks for college basketball fans everywhere upon reading my preseason top 25 poll. ROBERT WILLETT
CHAPEL HILL — The Associated Press really lowered its standards this year. That’s right: I’m a voter in the AP top 25 college basketball poll.
The first poll will come out on Friday. I sent in my ballot today – along with my preseason team of five All-Americans. Each week in this space, during the season, I’ll post my ballot and will include some thoughts with it.
For now, my thoughts are these: I feel confident that Indiana and Louisville are the two best teams in the country entering the seasons. The Hoosiers and Cardinals are first and second in my poll.
Beyond that? Questions. Lots of questions.
I was talking to a prominent national college basketball television analyst recently for a story I’m working on, and he remarked that, years ago, it would have been relatively easy to come up with a preseason top 25. But these days, in the era of constant roster turnover, when teams change so dramatically from season to season, it’s far more difficult.
North Carolina, the team I will watch more than any other this season, is a great example of that. The Tar Heels have the talent to be a top-10 team. They might have enough pieces to be a top-5 team. But who knows? How will they respond to the loss of four starters, all of whom were selected among the top 17 picks in the NBA draft? How will the freshmen – especially point guard Marcus Paige – transition to the college game? Can one or more of the likes of Reggie Bullock, P.J. Hairston, Leslie McDonald and Dexter Strickland – all of whom have been role players to this point – emerge to become dependable, go-to players? So many questions.
Anyway, here’s my preseason top 25. I’m looking forward to the season starting so we can get a clearer picture of where things really stand – both for the teams I list below and those that didn’t make my cut but should have.
5. N.C. State
6. Ohio State
11. Michigan State
12. North Carolina
13. Florida State
20. San Diego State
23. Murray State
24. Notre Dame
25. Miami (Fla.)
Preseason All-America team
F Cody Zeller, Indiana
F Doug McDermott, Creighton
G Isaiah Canaan, Murray State
G Michael Snaer, Florida State
G C.J. McCollum, Lehigh
So there you have it. Have at it.