The NCAA hoops season has just tipped off, some teams have played in tournaments versus real competition and some have taken on doormat teams like Drexel. Obviously, a lot will change over the collegiate landscape before we get to The Big Dance, but as we start out this season with our first Power Rankings of the year, a few quick thoughts.
1) Put Duke as a No. 1 seed and advance them to the Elite Eight before you even look at an opponent, they are this year's UNC.
2) Do not be surprised when Bucknell reaches the AP Top 25, they have a great game plan, lost very few players, and may not lose in their conference.
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3) The Big East is very physical and they play defense. Look for the newcomers to stumble in the early going as they adjust to the difference between C-USA and real hoops.
4) UCLA and Ben Howland are for real.
Plenty of movement will be happening in my rankings as the season gets under way, for now my Top 20 looks like this:
1. Duke (3-0). I love Duuuuuke. And why not, Reddick, Williams and Melchionni bring senior leadership. Look for Josh McRoberts to emerge as the year plays out.
2. Texas (4-0). Daniel Gibson is a stud. Texas keeps pumping out NBA point guards. The Big 12 champions will be staying at No. 2 most of the season.
3. Villanova (1-0). Losing Sumpter hurts the team, but Foye, Ray and Nardi are the best three guard system I have seen in a long, long time.
4. UCONN (3-0). Calhoun always has a great team. I know two Big East teams won't be in my Top 4 come January, but it is only November. How good is Rudy Gay?
5. Oklahoma (1-0). Four of the starting five are seniors, with post-season experience; the Sooners are always good when it doesn't matter.
6. Louisville (1-0). Three Big East teams in the top six should tell you something about the league. It will be tough to maintain these rankings, and the Big East tourney in NYC may be better than the actual Final Four. Palacios will pick up were Francisco Garcia left off.
7. Boston College (3-0). The Eagles will be sliding up to take a Big East team spot in no-time. Dudley and Smith own the paint. If Smith can stay out of foul trouble, this team can stay with Duke in the ACC.
8. Kentucky (3-1). Early loss to Iowa doesn't concern me. Rajon Rondo is among the best Guards in the SEC, shot 1-of-9 against Iowa, on the season is still a 49 percent shooter.
9. Gonzaga (3-0). I'm not going to lie, I hate having the Zags this high. They are infamous chokers and play in a joke conference, but Adam Morrison seems to be for real. They have a young team, only one senior starting, next year is the time to shine.
10. Arizona (1-1). Big losses in Frye and Stoudamire leave huge question marks for this team. I loved what I saw in the loss to UCONN, very balanced and unselfish, could have five guys averaging 10 points-per-game.
11. Memphis (2-0). The Tigers won't lose in the "new and inferior" C-USA. Darius Washington is unbelievably fast, and may be the Conference Player of the Year.
12. Florida (4-0). Pretty impressive wins over Wake and Syracuse, Billy Donovan has himself a squad. Four sophomore starters have the SEC on notice for the next three seasons. The Gators are another unselfish team that has five potential 10 ppg players.
13. Illinois (3-0). Sure they played three cupcakes but they haven't struggled against any of them. Do not expect them to mirror last year's season, but Brown and Augustine are big time players.
14. UCLA (3-0). The Bruins are starting to look like Ben Howland's fingerprints are all over this team. Big strong players that are defensive minded, low and slow games, West coast Pitt of four years ago. Congrats UCLA, you'll be incredibly bored, but incredibly successful.
15. Iowa (3-1). The loss coming to Texas is expected. Four starting seniors mean that this is the year for the Hawkeyes to do something. If not, they better hope to have a better recruiting class next year, as this season's crop does not look too promising.
16. Washington (5-0). I do not care that the AP only has them at 25, this team is good. The Pac-10 be aware, this team plays fast, up and down, and always seems to be on a fast break. Brandon Roy and Bobby Jones, Jr. are the only seniors and play a nice inside outside game.
17. Michigan State (1-2). The Spartans looked absolutely awful losing by 22 against Hawaii, but did not look too bad in triple overtime against Gonzaga. They will be tested, as they play Arizona and B.C. in the next two weeks. Early losses do not kill a team, but early losses to Hawaii make me question them.
18. Nevada (1-0). The WAC is the new chic Mid-Major conference. Nick Fazekus makes the Wolf Pack the class of league. He is a 20 and 10 guy and WAC first teamer.
19. Syracuse (3-2). They are here because of the 2-3 zone. If it is effective (Texas Tech .288 FG percentage) they look like a machine, but if it is ineffective (Florida, .493 FG percentage) they won't be as dominant. Gerry Mac and the Orange can score so that helps, but this system is predicated on defense.
20. Wake Forest (4-1). The Deacons have a veteran team, and they are better than that 5-point loss to Florida. Like B.C they are huge down low, Visser and Williams turn away plenty of shots and Justin Gray goes back to being the feature guard without Chris Paul.
Others receiving consideration: WVU, Maryland, and Iowa State.
Questions or comments: email Dallas@docsports.com.
The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of Doc's college basketball picks service.
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