A fair amount has happened since we put out our early Top 10 rankings last week.
The top two high school commitments, forward Shabazz Muhammad and center Nerlens Noel, have since announced their decisions to attend UCLA and Kentucky, respectively. And while Kentucky reeled in the top high school player in the country in Noel, they lost their entire starting five of underclassmen to the NBA draft.
Given that they were already losing two seniors to graduation, the Wildcats have a little too much leaving the program to stay in the top 10, despite the coaching prowess of John Calipari.
Meanwhile, fellow SEC member Florida will lose one-and-done guard Bradley Beal to the pros. Beal averaged a team-high 14.8 points per game in his only season and his absence will kick the Gators out of our top ten rankings, as well.
One other adjustment is the absence of Creighton, previously at number 10. Though they should still be a very good team next year with the coaching/playing duo Greg McDermott and his All-American forward/son Doug, UCLA, North Carolina State, and Missouri have improved their rosters since that time.
Here is an updated look at the preseason top ten:
1. Indiana, 27-9 last season; previous ranking: 1—The Hoosiers are still number one thanks to the return of Cody Zeller. They’ve complemented his return with three four-star recruits among their five-man class.
2. Duke, 27-7 last season; previous ranking: 2—Duke stays at number two here with a senior-laden group. The loss of freshman sharpshooter guard Austin Rivers will be buffered by the arrival of five-star guard Rasheed Sulaimon.
3. Michigan, 24-10 last season; previous ranking: 3—The Wolverines didn’t lose any entrants to the NBA Draft and bring in a trio of highly-rated forwards next fall.
4. Louisville, 30-10 last season; previous ranking: 4—The Cardinals’ unexpected run to the Final Four this season is a preview of things to come. Rick Pitino’s squad returns core players in center center Gorgui Dieng, forward Chane Behanan and point guard Peyton Siva.
5. Texas, 20-14 last season; previous ranking: 6—The Longhorns jump into the spot vacated by Florida after the loss of guard Bradley Beal. Texas loses guard J’Covan Brown as well but held on to the rest of their talented, but young roster.
6. UCLA, 19-14 last season; previous ranking: NR—The first big jump on this list is the expected improvement of the Bruins. Coach Ben Howland should be at his best this season with his back against the wall following several less-than-stellar seasons. With the recent addition of prize recruit Shabazz Muhammad the Bruins will have two of the top five recruits in the country coming to play for them next season.
7. North Carolina State, 24-13 last season; previous ranking: NR—The Wolfpack got a nice surprise this week when forward C.J. Leslie (14.7 points, 7.3 rebounds) announced he was returning for his junior season. That coupled with a recruiting class that includes three McDonald’s All-Americans should put N.C. State back on the map.
8. Baylor, 30-8 last season; previous ranking: 7—The Bears lost forward Perry Jones to the NBA but have another highly-rated class coming in, highlighted by 7’0” center Isaiah Austin.
9. Michigan State, 29-8 last season; previous ranking: 9—Spartans stay steady here at nine despite the graduation of All-American forward Draymond Green with the addition of four top recruits.
10. Missouri, 30-5 last season; previous ranking: NR—Tigers get big boost with the addition of forward Alex Oriakhi, former of UConn. Missouri will also get back forward Laurence Bowers, who missed all of 2012 with an injury, next season and returns guards Phil Pressey and Michael Dixon.