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Purdue Is it weird that the biggest star in college basketball entering the season is a senior? There is no Zion Williamson or Marvin Bagley or Andrew Wiggins entering college basketball this year, and the closest thing we have — dynamic center James Wiseman — has enrolled not at a blue blood, but at a faded power one of its legendary figures is trying to revive.
Blessedly, this college basketball season might be primarily about college basketball. Wouldn't that be nice? With that, Sporting News' updated preseason top 25 for the college basketball season: All he did was win the SEC championship in his third year and follow that with 31 wins and a Sweet 16 appearance — without a single player ranked in the top of his recruiting class.
Xavier Musketeers The first few months on the job were rough for rookie head coach Travis Steele, but not the first year. Standing early last February, the Musketeers closed with seven wins in their final nine games and were knocked out of the Big East semis by eventual champion Villanova and a controversial call.
Grad transfer Jason Carter and a solid freshman class joins a gifted roster featuring wings Naji Marshall and Paul Scruggs. Xavier could continue its roll. Purdue Boilermakers The Boilermakers quite possibly will be playing Matt Haarms and , pound Trevion Williams together inside.
The top four scorers are intact, including All-America candidate Sam Merrill. But Will Wade is back in place, and he's likely to refashion the Tigers into a team with a big backcourt — only one player is shorter than — and more reliable frontcourt.
Bruce Pearl. Seton Hall Pirates Led by SG Myles Powell, who is one of the best returning players in college hoops and could end up as a first-team All-American, the Pirates are the kind of veteran team that could make a serious run in March.
Texas Tech Red Raiders SN took some heat in April by leaving out the Red Raiders in a way-too-early top 25 projection , but at that point they barely had a roster.
Sure, they had the coach who carried the program to the NCAA championship game, Chris Beard, but they were losing the stars of that team. Exactly what this team will look likely is largely a matter of whether highly talented — but frequently injured — big man Killian Tillie is able to play the better part of the season.
He had knee surgery in early October, and the school wisely is not committing to a timetable for his return.
But most of their better recent teams have lagged defensively. Not drastically, but enough to keep the Terps from climbing to the top of the Big Ten. Without Fernando to block shots, this team will have to improve its defense around the perimeter.
Oregon Ducks This is another team that lost a truckload from a successful season — a Pac Tournament title and Sweet 16 appearance — even though such players as Louis King and Kenny Wooten were not yet firmly established as NBA prospects.
So what did Oregon do? That includes an able but not exceptional fleet of big men, but a dearth of proven high-major wings.
The Heels lost three outside scorers to the NBA first round, and the highest-ranked recruit at that position is No. Sophomore Leaky Black also might prove to be the answer now that classmates Coby White and Nassir Little are out of the way.
Walker, SF Alonzo Gaffney. With Wesson, one of the most versatile offensive big men in Division I, they were capable of beating excellent teams.
Many of the perimeter options that last year were just being introduced to the rotation now can be expected to perform consistently, and the freshmen provide a talent upgrade.
And there would be real optimism for the experience gained through those triumphs to pay off in Final Four contention — if Antoine were not considering a redshirt because of shoulder surgery that has kept him off the basketball court since May.
Now, Moore also might, but he does not arrive with the sure-thing pedigree that Antoine held when he committed to Nova.
Even if neither excels, there is enough to keep the Wildcats among the elite. Penny Hardaway has only a year of Division I coaching experience, but we will give him the benefit of the doubt and see how it goes.
Wiseman is an extraordinary talent, a dynamic 7-footer who moves like a wing player but has the muscle of a true power forward. The team has an abundance of size and multiple point guard options.