Here at College Pride Press, we value not just the individual familiarity each writer has with their specific school, but the vast wealth of national knowledge that is also present. Using this understanding of the country’s entire college basketball landscape, we have constructed our own preseason poll, based upon the votes collected from ten different writers. Every Monday morning, just like the AP and Coaches Polls, College Pride Press will release its own rankings, based upon the knowledge and opinions expressed by our voters. Without further ado, here is our inaugural preseason poll.
- Duke (1 AP/1 Coaches) – The Blue Devils received all ten first place votes, and are on paper the best team in the country. They also have the best coach in the country. Anything less than a national title for Grayson Allen, Jayson Tatum and co. will be a disappointment.
- Kansas (3/2) – Despite losing Perry Ellis, KU is one of the clear frontrunners here in the preseason. Mason and Graham are an electric backcourt, and the Jayhawks added top prospect Josh Jackson to a team that also returns Landen Lucas and Carlton Bragg in the frontcourt.
- Kentucky (2/4) – Calipari has reloaded again, with top twenty prospects Bam Adebayo, Malik Monk, Wenyen Gabriel, and De’Aaron Fox joining returnees Isaiah Briscoe and Derek Willis. UK won their final exhibition game by nearly 100 points, against an NAIA school.
- Villanova (4/3) – The defending champs are still loaded, despite losing Omari Spellman to eligibility issues. Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins give the Wildcats one of the best and most experienced duos in the country. Jalen Brunson is a prime candidate for a sophomore breakout.
- Oregon (5/5) – With Trier in doubt for Arizona, the Ducks are the clear class of the Pac-12. Missing Brooks for the first portion of the season makes them a bit more vulnerable, but Boucher is one of the most underrated bigs in the country and could average over three blocks a game.
- Wisconsin (9/10) – Do not sleep on the Badgers; they return four starters from last year, including All-American candidates Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes. The scariest thing is that someone else may be the best player on the team: sophomore Ethan Happ.
- North Carolina (6/6) – Marcus Paige is gone, but Justin Jackson isn’t. Joel Berry and Nate Britt are both capable of being suitable replacements for Paige at lead guard, while Carolina has their typical absurd amount of depth in the frontcourt, led by Kennedy Meeks.
- Xavier (7/8) – The Musketeers will fight ‘Nova the entire season for the Big East. Trevon Bluiett and Jalen Reynolds both could be the conference’s best player, while point guard Edmund Sumner was one of the best freshmen in the country last year.
- Michigan State (12/9) – Tom Izzo reeled in his best recruiting class ever; Langford and Bridges especially have one-and-done potential. There are also a lot of returning pieces, such as Schilling and Nairn that should keep the Spartans from missing Valentine too much.
- Louisville (13/14) – Donovan Mitchell has been tabbed as someone about to break out, and the Cards brought in talented wing VJ King. Mangok Mathiang and Anas Mahmoud are both stellar down low, and Snider is a more than capable lead guard.
- Indiana (11/12) – After missing much of last year injured, James Blackmon, Jr. is back with a vengeance, and forms a potent trio with fan favorite OG Anunoby and potential Big Ten player of the year Thomas Bryant. Pitt transfer Josh Newkirk adds another weapon.
- Virginia (8/7) – The Cavaliers could miss Brodgon’s leadership, but super transfer Austin Nichols is eligible, and London Perrantes, now the lead guard, proved his capabilities as sidekick to Brogdon for three years. Freshman Kyle Guy is a sharpshooter with loads of potential.
- Arizona (10/11) – Much of their season rests on the saga of Allonzo Trier, but the cupboard is far from bare if that situation ends poorly. Freshmen Rawle Alkins and Kobi Simmons are both athletic freaks, while junior Dusan Ristic has shown flashes of brilliance in the past.
- UCLA (16/20) – Lonzo Ball. No other freshman comes in with a bigger combo of hype and enigma. If he meshes well with a returning core including Thomas Welsh and Bryce Alford, the Bruins’ ceiling could be the third weekend of the NCAA tournament.
- Gonzaga (14/13) – The Zags have a heavily underrated backcourt in Nigel Williams-Goss and Josh Perkins. Getting back Karnowski for an additional year was a major boost, and incoming freshman post presence Zach Collins was a McDonalds All-American. The future is bright for Mark Few.
- West Virginia (20/18) – Coach Huggins again has an athletic team capable of running a stifling press. The backcourt of Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles, Jr. gives WVU two capable veteran leaders. Esa Ahmad was a highly rated freshman a year ago; he could break out as a sophomore.
- Syracuse (19/17) – Tyler Lydon will be a pro, likely after this year. Grad transfers Andrew White and John Gillon give the Orange college experience in a backcourt that also includes stud frosh Tyus Battle. DeJuan Coleman and Tyler Roberson add depth up front.
- Miami (FL) (NR/NR) – The consensus CPP sleeper has a deadly duo returning in Davon Reed and Ja’Quan Newton. They also add a pair of highly regarded freshmen in Dewan Huell and Bruce Brown. Expect the U to contend in a loaded ACC.
- Purdue (15/15) – There is no arguing against the loaded frontcourt, led by Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas. However, they will need to find consistent guard play. A sleeper could be former Michigan man Spike Albrecht, who joins Purdue this year as a grad transfer.
- Texas (21/22) – Shaka Smart is already recruiting at a high level, landing potential lottery talent in Jarrett Allen and Andrew Jones. The sophomore trio of Tevin Mack, Kerwin Roach, Jr., and Eric Davis, Jr. gives Texas vast talent on the wings and at guard.
- Connecticut (18/16) – A top ten freshman class, led by McDonalds All-American Alterique Gilbert, will combine with a group of veterans including Rodney Purvis and Amida Brimah. The key will be how the chemistry between these groups forms around stud sophomore Jalen Adams.
- St. Mary’s (17/19) – The Gaels bring back nearly everyone from a team that won 29 times a year ago. Learn the name Emmett Naar now; the junior guard from Australia is the next in a long pipeline of talent from down under to play for St. Mary’s.
- Rhode Island (23/24) – EC Matthews is back, and the future pro who injured himself less than a game into the season in 15-16 should combine well with a veteran returning core featuring Jared Terrell and Hassan Martin. Former IU guard Stanford Robinson is also eligible this year.
- Maryland (25/21) – The Terps will be defined by Melo Trimble this year. The All-American candidate had a solid, but not as good as expected sophomore year. Grad transfer LG Gill and late freshman addition Justin Jackson are welcome additions at the forward spots.
- Dayton (NR/NR) – Four of the top five scorers from last year return, including major talent in Charles Cooke, Scoochie Smith, and Kendall Pollard. The Flyers and URI are the class of the Atlantic 10, which has the depth to send much more than those two to March Madness.
Just Missed the Cut: Washington, NC State, Florida State, Oklahoma, Creighton
College basketball is now only a few days away; the waiting is always the worst part, especially when the last 4.3 seconds of the season had seemed to last an eternity. But now, new stories are ready to unfold. On the horizon, new heroes are ready to make you laugh and cry during the season, before ripping your heart out or lifting you up in March. The true beauty of this moment is that every team is in the same place, and every team can harbor dreams of cutting down the nets at the end of the season. For the 25 teams listed above, that dream burns all the brighter.