By Brian Hays
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Here is the Top 25 for the College Basketball USA Today/ESPN poll and my preview on it.
1. Indiana: This is the biggest Indiana team in a while. Last year, they defeated Kentucky, giving the national champions their only loss of the year. Led by Cody Zeller, this team should be the best team in the Nation. Expectations are high, as Zeller manned the cover of Sports Illustrated last week, but the talent is in Indian to lead the Hooisers to a National Title. Key Players: Center Cody Zeller: Last Year: 15.6 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per game, Power Forward Christian Watford: Last Year: 12.6 points per game and 5.8 rebounds per game, and Point Guard Jordan Hulls: Last Year: 11.7 points per game, 2.5 rebounds per game and 3.3 assists per game. Postseason Prediction: National Champions.
2. Louisville: They may have lost Kyle Kuric, their best scorer last year, but they still have their best overall and most athletic player, shooting guard Peyton Siva. This team is in the hands of Siva, Center Gorgui Dieng and Pointguard Russ Smith.Rick Pitino has a group returning that leads Louisville fans to have the mindset of National Title or bust. Key Players: Shooting Guard Peyton Siva: Last Year: 9.1 points per game, 3.2 rebounds per game and 5.6 assists per game, Point Guard Russ Smith: Last Year: 11.5 points per game, 2.5 rebounds per game and 1.9 assists per game, and Center Gorgui Dieng: Last Year: 9.1 points per game, 9.1 rebounds per game and 3.4 blocks per game. Postseason Prediction: Elite 8.
3. Kentucky: The defending national champs have lost so many players from this past year. Now without Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and more, it should be a rebuilding year, right? Wrong. Behind Coach Cal, the best recruiter in the country, Kentucky has brought in another talent laden recruiting class. Now with recruits Power Foward Nerlens Noel, Shooting Guard Archie Goodwin and Small Foward Alex Poythress, Kentucky has the chance to be very dangerous again this season, and if things fall their way, make a run at back to back National Titles. Key Players: Power Forward Nerlens Noel: Freshman, Shooting Guard Archie Goodwin: Freshman, Small Forward Alex Poythress: Freshman, Center Kyle Wiltjer: Last Year: 5 points per game, 1.8 rebounds per game and 0.4 assists per game, and Point Guard Ryan Harrow (transfer) (NC State): 9.3 points per game, 1.9 rebounds per game and 3.3 assists per game. Postseason Prediction: Final 4.
4. Ohio State: Now that Jared Sullinger and William Buford are gone after 4 dominant years Ohio State is looking for some new stars. The Buckeyes do return Pointguard Aaron Craft, who will be a Senior this year. But the Buckeyes not only have a dominant point guard back, they also have dominant Forward in DeShaun Thomas, who is only a Junior. Key Players: Point Guard Aaron Craft: 8.8 points per game, 3.2 rebounds per game and 4.4 assists per game, Small Forward/Power Forward DeShaun Thomas: 15.9 points per game and 5.4 rebounds per game, and Shooting Guard Amedeo Della Valle: Freshman. Postseason Prediction: Final Four.
5. Michigan: Michigan lost a couple good pieces in Stu Douglass and Zach Novak, but they still have their 2 best players from last year, in Point Guard Trey Burke and Shooting Guard Tim Hardaway Jr. The Wolverines also return another one of last year’s key players, Jordan Morgan. Also, they brought in two good recruits, Power Foward Mitch McGray and Small Foward Glen Robinson. Michigan could definitely be one of the best teams in the NCAA. Key Players: Point Guard Trey Burke: Last Year: 14.8 points per game, 3.5 rebounds per game and 4.6 assists per game, Shooting Guard Tim Hardaway Jr.: Last Year: 14.6 points per game, 3.8 rebounds per game and 2.1 assists per game, Small Forward Glen Robinson: Freshman, Power Forward Jordan Morgan: Last Year: 7.3 points per game and 5.6 rebounds per game, and Mitch McGray: Last Year: Freshman. Postseason Prediction: Runners-Up.
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