With the 2013 college basketball season is just around the corner, here are our preseason power rankings.

Just missed the cut: UCLA,Oregon, Ohio State

11. North Carolina Tar Heels
Roy Williams returns his Tar Heels squad this year. Michael James McAdoo returns to lead UNC, and he has a lot of young talent around him this year. Freshman point guard Nate Britt fits Roy Williams offensive style perfectly and should have a solid year along side Marcus Paige in the backcourt. When PJ Hairston returns, this team should be able to score with the best of them.

10. Syracuse Orange
Jim Boeheim lost three starters from last year’s Final Four squad, but Syracuse should be very good again. CJ Fair has a chance to step up and become a star this season and freshman point guard Tyler Ennis is an absolute stud. This team is going to be long and athletic, and very strong defensively.

9. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Oklahoma State was pretty darn good last year and will return all four of its best players. Marcus Smart had a chance to be the top pick in this past NBA Draft, but returned to Stillwater for one more year of college ball. Pair him next to Markell Brown, LeBryan Nash and Michael Cobbins, you have a squad. Phil Forte can stroke it from deep, too. This team is balanced and dangerous.

8. VCU Rams
HAVOC. The VCU defense is as good as any in the country, and the offense may be just as good this year for the first time in Shaka Smart’s tenure. Juvante Reddic and Treveon Graham are poised for breakout seasons, and are both versatile enough on offense to beat teams in a number of different ways. Briante Weber is a very strong guard, and the Rams can really shoot the long ball.

7. Arizona Wildcats
The Wildcats may have as much talent as any team in the country this year. Freshman phenom Aaron Gordon joins a talented Arizona roster that features Nick Johnson, TJ McConnell, Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley. If the Wildcats play up to their potential, they will be right in the middle of the National Title hunt.

6. Florida Gators
When freshman Chris Walker becomes eligible, Florida will be absolutely lethal. Walker and freshman Kasey Hill are absolute studs, and will be vital parts of this Gators team. The two freshman join an upperclass-led team that has talent across the board. The Gators will face some adversity early on in the season with Scottie Wilbekin’s suspension and some injury issues. But when healthy, this team is as good as any in the country.

5. Duke Blue Devils
Duke had a very good team last year and will return the majority of the rotation this season. Throw Jabari Parker (one of the nation’s best freshmen), Andre Dawkins and Rodney Hood into the mix, Duke should be one of the nation’s best teams this season. Coach K has a balanced offensive attack to work with, but the season’s success will rely on Quinn Cook. This team will only go as far as the upperclassmen point guard takes them.

4. Louisville Cardinals
The reigning national champions return this season with a ton of talented players, but star forward Chane Behanan will miss significant time while serving his indefinite suspension. Russ Smith will team up with transfer Chris Jones in the backcourt, while Montrez Harrell and Stephan Van Treese do the dirty work down low. Louisville’s best asset this year may be its depth. Luke Hancock, Kevin Ware, and Wayne Blackshear are all capable scorers and solid players that may come off the bench for Pitino.

3. Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky this year is loaded with talent. Coach Calipari brought in arguably the best recruiting class ever this offseason, and sophomores Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein passed on the NBA Draft to return to school for another year. It’s almost the same story for Kentucky every year. The Wildcats roster is loaded with talented freshmen, but Big Blue nation is hoping this season ends more like the 2011 season (national champions) than last season (NIT First Round Loss). If Kentucky can get solid point guard play, they have a legitimate shot at winning its second title in the last three seasons.

2. Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State has all the makings of a National Championship-type team this year. Tom Izzo’s squad features a senior point guard in Keith Appling, a dynamic scorer on the wing in Gary Harris and a monster down low in Adreian Payne. Appling is the key to the Spartans success this year. If he can play smart, efficient basketball, MSU will be playing late into March. If he’s a sporadic point guard that takes bad shots, MSU could be its own worst enemy.

1. Kansas Jayhawks
Take Andrew Wiggins out of the picture, and Kansas would still be a top 5 team in the country. Add Wiggins into the mix and the Jayhawks are the best team in the nation. Wiggins, Joel Embrid and Wayne Selden make up one of the best freshmen classes in the country, and they join a a team led by Perry Ellis, Nadir Thorpe and Memphis transfer Tarik Black. Kansas should be one of the better offensive and defensive teams in the country this year, and Bill Self knows how to win.

[Standing O Sports]


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