It comes as no surprise that the defending nationalÂ champion Duke Blue Devils are ranked No. 1 in the preseason polls. The DukiesÂ lost Jon Scheyer and Brian Zoubek from last year’s squad, but return *Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith. They alsoÂ add super frosh Kyrie Irving and transfer Seth Curry (brother of NBA and former DavidsonÂ star, Stephen Curry). Perhaps Duke would do well to consider what happened to consensus No. 1 Kansas last yearÂ – a stunning second round defeat to Northern Iowa in the NCAA tournamentÂ -Â in plotting their course to repeat.
With the return of twin tower, Philadelphia-area brothers,Â Marcus and Markieff Morris, Kansas will once again be no slouch. Michigan State also returns five integral pieces from last year’s inspiring squad.Â Look for an early season matchupÂ at Cameron Indoor against Duke to provide a benchmark as to whether Spartans’ star *Kalin LucasÂ has fully recovered following Achilles tendon surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation.Â Also look for Roy Williams’ North Carolina Tar Heels to make a major turnaround from last season’s abysmal, 17-lossÂ disappointment. The Heels’ Harrison Barnes is forecasted to be one of the most promising Freshman in the nation.
As for Philadelphia’s vaunted Big Five, theÂ Villanova Wildcats are once again the cream of the crop with a stellar backcourt led by Senior All-American candidateÂ Corey Fisher. Nova has beenÂ picked to be a top ten, national title contender. They will be looking to avenge a tough loss to Fran Dunphy’s Temple Owls last season.
TempleÂ was selectedÂ by Atlantic Ten Conference coaches to repeat as conference champions and areÂ paced by the best big man in the Big Five, Lavoy Allen.
The Penn Quakers are looking to benefit from a full season underÂ star alum and former Episcopal Academy standout, Jerome Allen, while rebounding from an uncharacteristicallyÂ rocky Ivy League campaign.
St. Joe’s and Lasalle are expected to experience down years, butÂ will look for their youth to be well-served in developing into forces to be reckoned with in coming years.Â Â
Five Best Games:
Dec. 1: Michigan St. at Duke
Jan. 29: Kansas St. at Kansas
Feb. 9: North Carolina at Duke
Feb. 12: Pittsburgh at Villanova
Feb. 15: Michigan St. at Ohio St.
*Duke and Michigan State, like other schools such as Pittsburgh, Gonzaga, and Georgetown, always seem to have certain players who stickÂ around for at least six or more college seasons. Is it just me, or was Kalin Lucas playing for MSU all the wayÂ back when Mateen Cleaves was running the point for Tom Izzo?