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NCAA Preview: Teams 31-40
Posted By Yannis Koutroupis On October 20, 2011 @ 1:30 pm In All,NCAA | No Comments
Throughout the last two weeks we’ve previewed the top 30 teams in the country, which include the traditional power houses, some of the top-tier mid-majors and a few surprises. The talent in the NCAA is as deep as ever this year, though, so it’s only right to continue our preview with the next set of teams who could justifiably feel like they deserve to be ranked higher. Luckily, come two weeks from now they’ll have the opportunity to prove it. For now, we continue our preseason preview with teams 31-40:
31. California Golden Bears
Key Additions: David Kravish and Christian Behrens
Key Losses: Markhuri Sanders-Frison and Gary Franklin
Outlook: Mike Montgomery has assembled one of his most talented teams yet. Sleeping on them would be a mistake as they have four potential All Pac-12 performers in Jorge Gutierrez, Harper Kamp, Allen Crabbe and Richard Solomon. Offensively this team should be very difficult to contain as long as they play off of each other well and develop the right chemistry. They have plenty of depth inside with freshmen Kravish and Behrens now joining the frontline. That will be important as they look to beat out the UCLA Bruins, who are loaded at the forward and center positions, for a conference title.
32. New Mexico Lobos
Key Additions: Dominique Dunning and Hugh Greenwood.
Key Losses: Dairese Gary
Outlook: With San Diego State losing a lot of talent and BYU moving to the West Coast Conference, the Mountain West appears to be the Lobos’ for the taking. UCLA transfer Drew Gordon really came on strong for them in the second half of last year, consistently posting up a double-double along with a block a night. He should produce even bigger things with a full season to find his groove. The talent outside of Gordon isn’t anything to shake your head at either, Phillip McDonald and A.J. Hardeman should have solid senior years and Kendall Williams is a well-rounded sophomore who could end up a star before it’s all said and done. Expect the Lobos to win 25+ games, the Mountain West and be quite formidable come tournament time.
33. Wichita State Shockers
Key Additions: Jake White, Evan Wessel and Tekele Cotton
Key Losses: J.T. Durley, Gabe Blair and Graham Hatch
Outlook: The winners of the 2011 NIT, the Shockers come into this season with their sights set much higher. Their strength will continue to be their depth as they have five or their top six players back, highlighted by Toure’ Murry, David Kyles and Garrett Stutz. They also have more size than your typical mid-major. They should be the class of the Missouri Valley this season, but unfortunately their preconference schedule doesn’t have the kind of tests they need. That’s not their fault, though, this is the kind of team that high majors avoid like the plague because they know they’re a viable threat to upset them.
34. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Key Additions: Rodney Hood, Deville Smith and Arnett Moultrie
Key Losses: Ravern Johnson, Kodi Augustus and Riley Benock.
Outlook: Coming off of a nightmarish campaign in 2010-2011, the Bulldogs once again enter this year with great talent overall but a serious question mark. Last year’s group did not mesh together very well at all and the result was a 17-win season with no postseason tournament invitation. Rick Stansbury, who has taken a great deal of heat as of late, has cleaned house to a certain extent in hopes of riding the team of some of those problems. Inside the Bulldogs feature Moultrie and Renardo Sidney, a duo with the ability to seriously dominate. They’re balanced out with nice guard play, led by Dee Boost. As long as they aren’t their worst enemy again, this team can make some noise.
35. Oregon Ducks
Key Additions: Jabari Brown, Brett Kingma and Tony Woods
Key Losses: Joevan Catron, Jay-R Strowbridge and Malcolm Armstead
Outlook: Despite being a tad on the young and inexperienced side, the Ducks should seriously be considered the dark horse in the Pac-12. They’re without three of their top four scorers from last season, but bring in heralded recruit Jabari Brown who provides a big punch offensively. Wake Forest transfer Tony Woods is the big difference maker for them inside. If he lives up to the hype he had coming out of high school, this is a team that could compete with the likes of UCLA and California in conference and a be a tough matchup for anyone outside of it.
36. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Key Additions: Pat Connaughton
Key Losses: Ben Hansbrough, Carleton Scott and Tyrone Nash
Outlook: Mike Brey has some big holes to fill with Hansbrough and Scott gone, but it would be a mistake to overlook the Fighting Irish completely because of it. Tim Abromaitis will be the number one option offensively and is capable of being a 20-point scorer on a nightly basis. The well-travelled Scott Martin will have to take command in the backcourt now that Hansbrough is gone. As good as Hansbrough was from a production standpoint, it may be his leadership that is toughest to replace. The Fighting Irish must remain just as intense and in-your-face as they were last year. Look for them to be extremely post oriented, bruising inside and rugged defensively.
37. Florida State Seminoles
Key Additions: Antwan Space, Terry Whisnant II and Kiel Turpin
Key Losses: Chris Singleton and Derwin Kitchen
Outlook: Late last year the Seminoles got some very valuable experience playing without Singleton, who was injured, that helped give them an idea of what life would be like without him. Singleton was the premier defender in the country and his presence will be missed, but the Seminoles have the pieces and the scheme defensively to still be tough on that end of the court. Returners Michael Snaer and Bernard James will have the opportunity to step up offensively with Singleton and Kitchen, the team’s second-leading scorer last year, gone. The Atlantic Coast Conference is going to be a fight night in and night out as always, but if the team can come together in the second half like they did last year they have the potential to be back in the big dance despite two big losses.
38. Butler Bulldogs
Key Additions: Roosevelt Jones, Jackson Aldridge and Kameron Woods
Key Losses: Shelvin Mack, Matt Howard and Shawn Vanzant
Outlook: The leaders from Butler’s back-to-back run to the national championship are gone, but they made an impact on the program that will last forever. That’s why the Bulldogs should not become an afterthought in the big picture and especially the Horizon, which they will probably win again. Khyle Marshall and Andrew Smith are now leaders for the Bulldogs, who are very young overall. Brad Stevens has to be excited about what he can do with this team, though, because they are very young and full of potential. This is another opportunity for Stevens to shine as a coach and show why he’s one of the premier coaches in the game today.
39. Purdue Boilermakers
Key Additions: Jacob Lawson and Donnie Hale
Key Losses: E’Twuan Moore and JaJuan Johnson
Outlook: There’s a lot being made about the loss of Johnson and Moore and rightfully so. They were two of the best players in the country at their position. However, they Boilermakers are well coached by Matt Painter and are bringing back everyone else who was a part of their regular rotation last year along with Robbie Hummel. Hummel, who was looking like a future first round pick before suffering back-to-back ACL tears, may not be the same player he once was but should still be very serviceable. The Boilermakers also welcome in two talented freshmen in Lawson and Hale. They’ll surprise some people in the Big Ten.
40. Marshall Thundering Herd
Key Additions: Jamir Hanner, Devince Boykins and Chris Martin
Key Losses: Tirrell Baines and Johnny Thomas
Outlook: The Memphis Tigers aren’t the only team to keep an eye on in Conference USA. The Thundering Herd are bringing back a lot of talent from last year’s team that went 9-7 during league play. They feel like this is their year to vie for the title and have plenty of reason to think that with Damier Pitts and DeAndre Kane, who averaged a combined 31 points, seven rebounds and seven assists last season, back for another year. Tom Herrion’s team will have a lot of length and athleticism, don’t be surprised if you’re hearing about them again come march.
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