We're a bit more than a month removed from the title game of the 2012 NCAA tournament, and with the spring signing period all but over and the underclassmen declaration day passed, it's time for our second preseason top 25 for the 2012-13 season.
We will do this once more in the fall, but, truthfully, it shouldn't change much from this incarnation.
Here it is, in reverse order.
| Last season: 26-10 overall, 2-1 in NCAA tourney |
Key newcomer: SF Sam Dekker (5-star prospect from Sheboygan, Wis.)
Buzz: Bo Ryan's team never is going to wow you its athleticism or an explosive offense. But the Badgers always win 20 games, thanks to a grind-you-down offense and a physical, aggressive defense. Leading scorer Jordan Taylor is gone, but every other key player is back. Dekker is a gifted offensive player; he has a nice jumper and also knows how to finish around the basket.
| Last season: 26-9 overall, 0-1 in NCAA tourney |
Key newcomer: SG Katin Reinhardt (4-star prospect from Santa Ana, Calif.)
Buzz: A big plus for the Runnin' Rebels is that F Mike Moser, who averaged a double-double last season, decided to stay in school. UNLV did lose starters Chace Stanback and Oscar Bellfield, but Reinhardt, a good shooter, should help make up for their losses. It also would help if 6-11 F Carlos Lopez gets bulkier and more productive as a junior.
| Last season: 19-15 overall, 1-1 in NIT |
Key newcomer: SG Armani Moore (3-star prospect from Kennesaw, Ga.)
Buzz: Once PF Jarnell Stokes (who graduated high school early) joined the team Jan. 14, the Vols were a different squad. They finished in a three-way tie for second in the SEC with Florida and Vanderbilt, teams that had vastly more talent. A full season from Stokes should mean another good finish for the Vols, who will return six of their top seven scorers and have a three-man recruiting class of what should be good role players. Stokes and F Jeronne Maymon will be a handful for any opponent in the paint.
| Last season: 29-7 overall, 1-1 in NCAA tourney |
Key newcomer: SF Jordan Burgess (4-star prospect from Richmond, Va.)
Buzz: Unlike last season, when the Rams had to replace four starters, VCU has to replace just one starter this time around. While that one starter is leading scorer Bradford Burgess, the Rams still return seven of their top eight players. Shaka Smart obviously can coach, and he also has a nice group of incoming recruits. The most important is Jordan Burgess, who is Bradford's brother. Jordan Burgess is a good scorer and solid ballhandler, and he should get important minutes from the get-go.
| Last season: 20-14 overall, 0-1 in NCAA tourney |
Key newcomer: C Cameron Ridley (4-star recruit from Richmond, Texas)
Buzz: The Longhorns lose G J'Covan Brown, who was the leading scorer in the Big 12. But he also was a guy who was quite enamored with his own jumper, even when it wasn't going in. Texas lacked a frontcourt presence this season, but that won't be the case next season with two highly touted big men (Ridley and four-star prospect Prince Ibeh) on their way to Austin. Gs Myck Kabongo, Sheldon McClellan and Julien Lewis should be a nice trio next season as sophomores. If sophomore Fs Jonathan Holmes and Jaylen Bond can become a bit more offensive-minded, the Longhorns could be legit Big 12 title contenders.
|20. Michigan State|
| Last season: 29-8 overall, 2-1 in NCAA tourney |
Key newcomer: SG Gary Harris (5-star prospect from Fishers, Ind.)
Buzz: The Spartans won't be able to adequately replace F Draymond Green, who simply did everything. Still, Tom Izzo has talent with which to work, both already on the roster (Keith Appling, Branden Dawson) and coming aboard (Harris, SG Denzel Valentine and PFs Matt Costello and Kenny Kaminski). The Spartans aren't going to win the Big Ten title, but they will have a say in who does. The Spartans need better play from their big men next season. Outside of Green, no frontcourt player was consistent last season.
| Last season: 26-9 overall, 0-1 in NCAA tourney |
Key newcomer: PG Shaquille Goodwin (4-star prospect from Decatur, Ga.)
Buzz: Memphis will miss SG Will Barton, who turned pro after his sophomore season; he was the Tigers' leading scorer and rebounder. Josh Pastner still is finding his way as a coach, but the guy knows how to recruit. He has another good signing class, headed by Goodwin, who should team nicely up front with Tarik Black. The Tigers need more production from G Joe Jackson and F Adonis Thomas if they are to reach their potential in 2012-13. Both are former five-star recruits who stayed home to play college ball.
| Last season: 29-6 overall, 1-1 in NCAA tourney |
Key newcomer: PG Andre Yates (unranked prospect from Dayton, Ohio)
Buzz: The Bluejays lose just one of their top 10 players, and that is starting PG Antoine Young. But All-America F Doug McDermott stayed in school, and he again should be a threat to score 20 points and grab 10 rebounds every game. He and C Gregory Echenique should be a high-scoring duo, and there is solid athleticism, good depth and a lot of 3-point shooters.
|17. Notre Dame|
| Last season: 22-12 overall, 0-1 in NCAA tourney |
Key newcomer: SF Cameron Biedscheid (4-star prospect from St. Louis)
Buzz: F Tim Abromaitis wasn't granted a sixth season of eligibility, and that hurts. But coach Mike Brey still has good talent. There is a good group of returning players, and that group gets even better if swingman Scott Martin is given a sixth season; Notre Dame reportedly feels better his chances than it did about Abromaitis'. As it is, Gs Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant and F Jack Cooley form a solid trio, and there's also a good recruiting class, headed by Biedscheid, a lanky (6-7, but just 174 pounds) perimeter player. Michigan State transfer Garrick Sherman will be a needed big body. He isn't a scorer, but he adds size and a physical nature.
| Last season: 27-7 overall, 0-1 in NCAA tourney |
Key newcomer: SG Rasheed Sulaimon (5-star prospect from Houston)
Buzz: Sulaimon should help ease the departure of freshman G Austin Rivers, who turned pro after his freshman season. What would further help is consistent play from PG Quinn Cook, who was way too erratic as a freshman this past season. Duke again will be a backcourt-oriented team. Indeed, the frontcourt next season could be less effective than it was this past season.
| Last season: 34-3 overall, 3-1 in NCAA tourney |
Key newcomer: C Dajuan Coleman (4-star prospect from Jamesville, N.Y.)
Buzz: Syracuse is losing some talent, no doubt, with Gs Scoop Jardine and Dion Waiters, F Kris Joseph and C Fab Melo on the way out. But the physical Coleman (6-8/280) and F Jerami Grant are touted signees and give the Orange two more big bodies. Waiters' loss hurts the backcourt, and it puts pressure on sophomore-to-be Michael Carter-Williams to produce. Fs C.J. Fair and James Southerland should get far bigger roles.
|14. San Diego State|
| Last season: 26-8 overall, 0-1 in NCAA tourney |
Key newcomer: SF Winston Shepard (5-star prospect from Henderson, Nev.)
Buzz: The Aztecs went from being a frontcourt-oriented team in 2010-11 to a backcourt-oriented group in 2011-12 and didn't miss a beat. All the key players will be back next season, and coach Steve Fisher added a good recruiting class headed by Shepard, who plays at powerhouse Findlay Prep. He makes plays on both ends of the court. Freshman C Skylar Spencer has advanced defensive skills and should help on that end of the court right away. The Aztecs appear a lock to win at least 25 games again.
| Last season: 26-7 overall, 1-1 in NCAA tourney |
Key newcomer: C Przemek Karnowski (unranked prospect from Poland)
Buzz: The Bulldogs will miss C Robert Sacre. But if Karnowski is good as many analysts say (he has been compared to a young Marc Gasol), Sacre won't be missed for long. Karnowski, 19, played for Poland in the U19 world Championships last fall, and as with many big Europeans, he is well-schooled fundamentally. While he is said to lack athleticism, a skilled 7-footer is gold in college basketball. He joins Elias Harris (a German native), Sam Dower and Kelly Olynyk (a Canadian) to give the Zags one of the nation's biggest frontcourts. The backcourt will be good, too, with Gary Bell Jr., Kevin Pangos and David Stockton.
|12. Ohio State|
| Last season: 31-8 overall, 4-1 in NCAA tourney |
Key newcomer: PG Amedeo Della Valle (3-star prospect from Henderson, Nev.)
Buzz: With C Jared Sullinger and G William Buford gone, F DeShaun Thomas will become the go-to scorer and PG Aaron Craft seems likely to improve as an offensive threat. G Lenzelle Smith Jr. will become a bigger part of the offense, too. In addition, former highly touted recruits Shannon Scott and LaQuinton Ross should receive appreciably more playing time and make the requisite jump in production – sort of like Thomas as a sophomore after a relatively non-productive freshman season.
| Last season: 30-8 overall, 3-1 in NCAA tourney |
Key newcomer: C Isaiah Austin (5-star prospect from Arlington, Texas)
Buzz: Fs Quincy Acy, Perry Jones and Quincy Miller (the first a senior, the other two underclassmen) will be missed, but the Bears still have a nice backcourt with holdovers Pierre Jackson, Brady Heslip, A.J. Walton and Deuce Bello. Scott Drew once again lived up to his reputation as an ace recruiter by bringing in another star-studded class, headed by Austin and F Ricardo Gathers, who should help ease the pain left by the frontcourt departures. Baylor has reached the Elite Eight in two of the past three seasons, and has the talent to do so again if Austin, a mobile 7-footer, lives up to the hype.
| Last season: 32-8 overall, 5-1 in NCAA tourney |
Key newcomer: PF Perry Ellis (5-star prospect from Wichita, Kan.)
Buzz: PG Thomas Robinson's departure leaves a big void, but KU has the talent to overcome that loss. Bill Self is, hands-down, the best coach in the Big 12, and he has another good recruiting class, headed by Ellis. G Elijah Johnson, a former five-star prospect himself, should continue his rise to stardom, and Jeff Withey should be one of the best pure centers in the nation next season. A ninth consecutive Big 12 regular-season title beckons.
| Last season: 23-12 overall, 0-1 in NIT |
Key newcomer: PF Grant Jerrett (5-star prospect from La Verne, Calif.)
Buzz: A top-notch recruiting class, featuring four top-50 prospects and a junior college transfer, will revitalize the frontcourt – and the program as a whole. Jerrett and C Kaleb Tarczewski are the two freshmen to watch. F Solomon Hill, the Wildcats' leading rebounder and second-leading scorer, is back. The backcourt is an issue, but former five-star prospect Nick Johnson can help solve the problem if he proves he can be a competent point man as a sophomore.
|8. North Carolina|
| Last season: 32-6 overall, 3-1 in NCAA tourney |
Key newcomer: PG Marcus Paige (4-star prospect from Marion, Iowa)
Buzz: UNC took a huge hit with three underclassmen (Fs Harrison Barnes and John Henson and PG Kendall Marshall) joining senior C Tyler Zeller in leaving Chapel Hill. But weep not for Roy Williams. He is bringing in four top-75 players and should get vastly more production from James Michael McAdoo and P.J. Hairston, touted freshmen this past season who will get a lot more minutes next season. Gs Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald should be healthy, which also will help. The key could be the play of Paige, who will need to make everything run smoothly.
| Last season: 26-11 overall, 3-1 in NCAA tourney |
Key newcomer: G Braxton Ogbueze (4-star prospect from Charlotte)
Buzz: The Gators return three starters, with the key guy being C Patric Young, who must become more of an offensive threat. Still, the Gators will remain a perimeter-oriented team. Ogbueze has point guard size (6-1), but he isn't a true point man and that could hurt. Florida remains in the running for the lone unsigned five-star prospect, F Anthony Bennett, who is also considering Kentucky, UNLV and Oregon. His presence would be a huge boon to a frontcourt lacking talent.
| Last season: 24-10 overall, 0-1 in NCAA tourney |
Key newcomer: C Mitch McGary (4-star prospect from Brewster, N.H.)
Buzz: G Trey Burke's return was huge. He and Tim Hardaway Jr. are a potent backcourt, and McGary will give the Wolverines an inside presence they haven't had in quite a while. Freshman SF Glenn Robinson III gives the Wolverines another son of a former NBA player, and he can score. Frontcourt depth is the only issue.
|5. North Carolina State|
| Last season: 24-13 overall, 2-1 in NCAA tourney |
Key newcomer: SG Rodney Purvis (5-star prospect from Raleigh, N.C.)
Buzz: Second-year coach Mark Gottfried has a superb recruiting class, headed by hometown hero Purvis, who should provide a ton of offense. He and PG Lorenzo Brown will make for a scary backcourt. Two other top-50 freshmen, SF T.J. Warren and PG Tyler Lewis, also should play important roles in the rotation. The top four scorers are back, and adding the top-notch recruiting class makes the Wolfpack the clear-cut ACC favorite for the first time since the days of the awe-inspiring David Thompson; NCSU hasn't been ranked in the preseason top 10 in The Associated Press poll since 1974-75.
| Last season: 19-14 overall, no postseason |
Key newcomer: G/F Shabazz Muhammad (5-star prospect from Las Vegas)
Buzz: The Bruins lost leading scorer Lazeric Jones, but if everything goes as planned, he won't be missed one iota. Muhammad is joined in a fabulous recruiting class by F/G Kyle Anderson, C Tony Parker and SF Jordan Adams. Muhammad is the top-ranked freshman in the nation, and Anderson is No. 3. All four are in the top 62. The Wear twins, C Josh Smith and G Tyler Lamb are the holdovers who will have to adapt to a massive infusion of talent. If Smith truly gets in shape, this could be a great team. The Bruins will return to Pauley Pavilion next season after it was renovated this past season; the old building has undergone a makeover and so has the program. Expectations are going to be sky-high for the first time in a while in Westwood.
| Last season: 30-10 overall, 4-1 in NCAA tourney |
Key newcomer: SF Luke Hancock (George Mason transfer)
Buzz: The Cardinals lose starters Kyle Kuric and Chris Smith, but they still should be better next season. C Gorgui Dieng will be a defensive force, and has a chance to be a double-double guy if his offense continues to improve. If G Wayne Blackshear, a former five-star recruit from Chicago, can stay healthy, he gives Rick Pitino an explosive backcourt scorer. Peyton Siva should be one of the nation's best point guards. F Chane Behanan is a solid low-post player. Hancock is a nice all-around player who does a lot of things well.
| Last season: 39-2 overall, won national title |
Key newcomer: C Nerlens Noel (5-star prospect from Tilton, N.H.)
Buzz: UK lost all five starters plus sixth man Darius Miller, the only senior who played key minutes. Yawn. As usual, John Calipari struck gold on the recruiting trail. They signed three five-star prospects, and all four signees are top-40 prospects. The key guy is Noel, the No. 2 recruit nationally. He has phenomenal defensive skills and can run all day. Two other freshmen, PF Alex Pothyress and SG Archie Goodwin, also should start. The new point guard should be Ryan Harrow, a North Carolina State transfer who is a former five-star signee. Sophomore F Kyle Wiltjer, who was a five-star prospect in the 2011 class, will become a more important part of the offense. The Wildcats also are in the running for PF Anthony Bennett, the lone remaining unsigned five-star prospect. UK is going to be loaded again; chemistry is the question.
| Last season: 27-9 overall, 2-1 in NCAA tourney |
Key newcomer: PG Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell (5-star prospect from Indianapolis)
Buzz: As soon as C Cody Zeller announced he would return for his sophomore season, IU fans began dreaming of the school's first national title since 1987. The top five scorers return, and coach Tom Crean has added an excellent recruiting class, with every position covered. Ferrell is a high-caliber point guard who will have a bunch of weapons on the court alongside him. IU overachieved this past season in getting to the Sweet 16. Far more will be expected next season.
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