Last year was a high-water mark for college basketball. There were several incredible teams performing throughout an exciting and entertaining regular season. There was a level of experience and talent scattered throughout the country that we probably haven't seen at any other time this century. The season was capped by another thrilling NCAA Tournament that ended with an all-time great championship game.
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Don't expect an encore.
The natural result of so much experience and so many upperclassmen last season is that everyone has graduated or moved on. That means that teams throughout the country will be retooling and rebuilding as they attempt to replace an obscene amount of production lost from last year. And the result of that will be more volatility in the college basketball betting market. That's not a good thing for bettors, most of whom really don't follow player movements as in-depth as the sportsbooks do.
The first Top 25 ranking of the season have been released in the form of the USA Today Coaches Poll. This is the first snapshot we have of which teams are expected to lead the pack this fall and winter.
The one thing that seemingly everyone can agree on is that Duke is the clear-cut best team in the country. Led by dead-eyed, Bond-villain-in-training Grayson Allen, the Blue Devils have a host of key contributors back from last year's team. They will mix in the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, featuring several potential one-and-done players. And with Coach K at the helm, the Blue Devils are the frontrunners and currently sporting just 3-to-1 odds to win the National Championship.
Kansas, which is an overwhelming favorite to win its 13th straight Big 12 championship, opened at No. 2. Defending National Champion Villanova clocks in at No. 3. Kentucky (two) and Oregon (one) were the only other teams to garner a first-place vote in the initial ranking and round out the Top 5.
Beyond that, though, you'll notice that the rest of the Top 25 is full of the usual suspects. All of the big-name programs are represented, while several teams - better teams - have been relegated to "Also receiving votes" status or ignored altogether. (I have an article forthcoming about the most overrated and underrated teams in this initial ranking.)
Here are the results of the USA Today Coaches Poll:
1. Duke (27 first-place votes)
2. Kansas (1)
3. Villanova (1)
4. Kentucky (2)
5. Oregon (1)
6. North Carolina
9. Michigan State
18. West Virginia
19. St. Mary's
24. Rhode Island
Also receiving votes: Florida State 65; Iowa State 56; California 43; Miami 35; Dayton 34; Oklahoma 33; Seton Hall 24; Texas A&M 22; Notre Dame 18; San Diego State 17; Virginia Tech 16; Wichita State 15; Southern California 14; Butler 14; Ohio State 12; Florida 11; Clemson 11; Colorado 11; Michigan 10; Pittsburgh 7; Georgia 6; Virginia Commonwealth 6; Yale 6; Chattanooga 5; Washington 4; Nevada 3; Kansas State 3; Arkansas 2; Davidson 2; Valparaiso 2; Southern Methodist 1; Utah 1.
Robert Ferringo is a member of the Basketball Writer's Association of America and a professional sports handicapper for Doc's Sports. He is considered one of the best college basketball handicappers in the country and has an unmatched streak of nine straight winning nonconference seasons and nine straight winning regular seasons. Robert's $100-per-Unit clients have banked $12,130 in profit with his sides and totals the last two years alone and he has raked in a remarkable $60,600 in the last nine years with his nonconference picks (November and December) alone. There is no better moneymaker in the nation and Robert is looking forward to another amazing season. You can sign up for his college basketball picks and get more information here.
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