Indiana Tops Preseason Rankings; Who Else Can Contend?
It’s that time of the year again. The time when the Midnight Madness festivities of college basketball unofficially kick off the start of another season sure to get our heart pounding.
This past week, USA Today unveiled its preseason rankings, and wouldn’t you know it, Indiana was ranked at the top spot.
Head coach Tom Crean and the Hoosiers have quietly put together a stellar squad ripe with NCAA Championship expectations. The team is led by Player of the Year candidate Cody Zeller, who ranked as one of the top forwards in college basketball last year and could have been a top-10 pick in the NBA draft. Instead, Zeller opted for another year in the weight room and another season owning the best stats of any other college player.
Indiana will also welcome back three other returners, including Christian Watford and Will Sheehey. The four of them together combined to win 27 games last year, thee of which were against top-five opponents.
The Hoosiers will also welcome a top-10 recruiting class in the nation. Its top prospect is freshman point guard Yogi Ferell, a McDonald’s All-American with NBA aspirations. He’s drawn some rave reviews from college scouts around the nation and is sure to be slotted in the starting role once the season gets underway. Joining him in Indiana is Jeremy Hollowell. The 19-year-old guard possesses some elite three-point capability and will likely wait in reserve behind Watford at the shooting guard position.
If there is one team to take them out of their top spot in the early weeks of the regular season, it’s a deep Louisville squad. Under the guise of Rick Pitino, Wayne Blackshear will presumably become the next breakout star on the national stage. The team is currently ranked as the No. 2 best team in the preseason polls and has a good reputation to improve upon their unbelievable run in the NCAA tournament last season.
Just beneath them is a Kentucky team pinning for another national title. Head coach John Calipari has put together yet another scary team made up of top freshman recruits. This includes Nerlens Noel, who has drawn some comparisons to No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis for his sheer size and defensive prowess. If the Wildcats are going anywhere, it will be on the shoulders of Noel.
If there’s one thing clear about the Preseason Rankings, it’s that the scouts have unanimously picked the Big Ten as the division favorites heading into the season. With two teams ranking in the top-3, and three teams in the top five, the Big East reign of tyranny might be just about over.