Dick Vitale's Top 25

  • We all know Vitale is just a puppet in the College game at this point. We know his homer-ism for Duke/UNC/UK. He’s never shy about it, we know what he is. I saw he released his top 40, KU was 4th which is fair. The rest of his top 25 I had fun laughing at.

    Which Got me thinking what does everyone think are the best teams this year not named KU/Duke/UK…?

    Here’s his list with my quick comments

    1. Duke- No Brainer

    2. UK- Not even close to having the talent they have had in the past. Not a top-10 team in my mind.

    3. Nova- return a bunch, lost a bunch. The Freshman C hurts their size.

    4. KU- we know our team’s capabilities

    5. UNC- Plenty of experience back from runner-up. Would have them 3rd to start (Duke, KU, UNC).

    6. Michigan St- no way, will struggle in the post, some exciting freshman though. No Valentine.

    7. Louisville- Pitino seems high on his team, Sophomore’s have a chance to be good.

    8. Virginia- a bit high , they will play solid D but lost so much from last years squad.

    9. Xavier- Great Perimeter, little post presence that I see. Could be good again.

    10. Indiana- 1 post, solid perimeter, key will be PG play.

    11. Oregon- Really underrated, I think they are a Final 4 team if Brooks gets healthy.

    12. Wisconsin- Return everything, will be better with coaching stability. Can see them winning Big-10

    13. Arizona- Overrated, going to start 3 freshman? Rumors of Trier missing year?

    14. West Virginia- seems a bit high given what they lost. Still a solid bunch who will cause havoc.

    15. Purdue- imposing front-court again, they could be 10 deep. Freshman G can score. Threat

    16. Uconn- Lots of young talent, might be better without that chucker Hamilton.

    17. Maryland- Not a chance this is the 17th best team in the country. Return 3 who even played

    18. Saint Mary’s- dangerous looking squad, could be the Mid-Major darlings

    19. Texas- Again seems high when having to replace 4 starters, young talent though.

    20. Syracuse- Underrated especially with White on board. They could be good by seasons end.

    21. Florida St- Talent is there but they never put it together. No post presence.

    22. Gonzaga- Important transfers help them weather losing key guys. Better than 22 I think.

    23. San Diego St- The question is can they score? like every year. Have pieces to be ranked all yr

    24. Iowa St- On paper 2nd best team in Big-12 but ranked below WVU & texas. SMH

    25. Notre Dame- Beacham should be good, Colson solid but what else?

  • Of course he’s got a few hits and misses. I really wouldn’t be surprised to see my second love Badgers back in the Final Four. They got screwed by east coast refs against ND in the tourney last year narrowly missing out on the elite8. And they lost no one from that team. They’re going to be very good especially since they’re adding a couple of redshirts who have seasoned with the team. MSU, too high. Agree on Kentucky too. Oregon has really good coaching and could earn a 1 seed. One mag I saw had them #1 even.

  • @wissoxfan83

    Badgers should be good. Experience as we’ve seen can be hit and miss. While they return the whole team you have to wonder if some of the experience they have is just that, and the lack of overall talent at certain positions will hurt them. I wasn’t sold on Showalter but he wasn’t bad. I’m intrigued by their young guys more then the known guys. Happ is a very sound post but lacks athleticism. Hayes looked bound to have a breakout season last year and was kind of up and down. Tried to shoot the 3 way too much, which I get if he wanted to play in the NBA showing off a game similar to Draymond Green would have been his meal ticket. I wonder if Hayes goes back to being what he was earlier in his career, an undersized bruising PF . Koenig is a tough as nails senior lead guard as well. I think they are good enough to win the Big-10 because there was attrition to Michigan St and Maryland. Teams like Michigan & Illinois could be better as well as Ohio St. I see the Big-10 as a deep league with intrigue and unknown qualities to it. Purdue is the main threat I think if they take the big step from last year and continue on with that. Swanigan & Haas are a tough matchup for anyone and Vince Edwards I think becomes the go-to scorer.

    Agree the ref’s really messed with Wisky in the tournament. 2 years running now

  • I haven’t really had a chance to look at everyone yet, but I think it’s pretty clear that a handful of teams stand out above everyone else.

    KU, Duke, UNC, and UK seem to rise above the rest. We should know fairly quickly what all of those teams have, as KU has Indiana and Duke right off the bat, UK has Michigan State and UNC has the Maui Invitational and Indiana. And that all happens before the end of November.

    You also have Arizona-Michigan State (the other Armed Forces Classic game). Suffice it to say that by Thanksgiving, we should know what just about every team in the top 15 or so has.

    The one team I am surprised to not see ranked is UCLA. They have some talent out there on the west coast. It’s just a matter of if they can take it to the next level.

  • @justanotherfan

    Good point on UCLA, I think the difference maker for them is how much of an impact does Ball have. Does he take the PG spot from the coaches son right off the bat. His style, really unorthodox, but he’s a player and can make a whole team better. Seems like they have a lot of players slotted for 2 positions (PG, SG) and not enough depth in the post. Leaf, the top-20 freshman must be good for them as well.

    I feel as if a lot of teams have great perimeters and little post presence.

  • @BeddieKU23

    Ball helps UCLA a lot because he moves Alford to his more natural 2 spot on offense, while also being big enough to guard the other team’s best perimeter player on defense so that UCLA can hide Alford on that end.

    They also have Jrue Holiday’s younger brother (averaged double figures for them last year as a freshman. He will likely come off the bench. Basically, Ball bumps Holiday to the bench and slides Alford over to his natural spot. That’s a huge change from a basketball perspective for UCLA.

    I do agree with your point that a lot of teams are strong on the outside and soft in the middle. I think that’s what can set teams apart this year moreso than many other years. If you are strong inside, you can really set your team apart. That’s what makes Kentucky an interesting case to me. They signed the second best freshman big man. That also makes Texas, Florida State and UCLA intriguing. They all have freshman big men with size. That could make a huge difference in a year where there aren’t many teams that are strong inside.

  • @BeddieKU23

    You nailed it on Hayes. Maybe the presence of Kaminsky and Dekker helped him do his thing because last year he was not as good as expected. I’m glad he came back because I’m not sold on his pro stock yet.

    Overall, I think the Big1G is down this year.

  • Gosh… I haven’t been keeping up on other teams. I know quite a bit about Duke because of family members.

    My gut tells me the top teams are Kansas, Duke and UNC… without even knowing much about UNC.

    My gut thinks Kentucky will be mediocre. 'Nova will not have the magic.

    Think I would watch out for teams like Indiana. Perhaps one of my favorites, Wisconsin (GO BADGERS!).

    Arizona will find ways to fall apart… they always do.

    West Virginia will be respectable, but they get figured out by March.

    I’m pretty certain one or two teams will really step up by the end of the year and will remain on everyone’s radar.

    I really feel like all Big 12 teams are sleepers… putting crowds to sleep this year. But maybe one or two will get it together. I always like the chances of Huggybear’s team. The guy may cuss a lot, but he is one helluva coach.

    Iowa State… guess it is time to see how well they are coached. Young with some talent. A real challenge for Prohm. I have to admit that I miss the Mayor.

    Texas… Texas is a team of projection, just like their coach. Shaka is yet to prove he is worthy of his job. Too much riding his one big year which goes further in the past every year now. I remember all of that positive press he got after knocking us off in the tourney. Young vibrant coach bringing big energy to the game. So what does he count on now that his youth is largely gone?

    I think there is a lot of talk going on down in Austin. Lots of people are questioning some of the Longhorns past decisions. The frustrations have been growing for quite some time now and they need to see results NOW! I’m mostly talking about football, but basketball makes the headlines, too.

  • @drgnslayr I am surprised that UNC is not being discussed more - only Paige and Johnson are gone. It will be tough for Nova to recreate last year, especially since Spellman was declared ineligible.

    Btw, I was re watching the highlights from last year when we pounded Texas on their senior night - the look on Shaka’s face when we went up 15 - 0 at the beginning was classic.

  • @HawkChamp

    UNC gets overshadowed by Duke this year. Brice Johnson is a big miss for them but I think Meeks & Hicks who was crazy efficient for them last year help them anchor the post. I don’t think they miss Paige who became one of the most erratic shooters I can remember. The concern for UNC again is perimeter shooting as it looks like Berry will be their only starter who’s consistent. Some of their freshman are intriguing.

  • @justanotherfan

    But what does UCLA do with Hamilton who I thought became their best scorer late in the season? Can they really put him at the SF spot when he’s a more natural 2 guard. Holiday was a turnover machine last year but showed promise. Alford is a big shot taker/maker but relies on volume to produce. Something about UCLA some years is just hard to rely on. Last year Alford lost his players, not sure if guys didn’t buy in or what.

    Agreed about Kentucky’s big man Adebayo. He’s a man child in the post. Kentucky just has a very unbalanced roster. Guards, no wings, posts, 1 true center type. Who makes perimeter shots for them, Willis? If I was an opposing team playing Kentucky you zone them all game. Force them to make shots outside.

    I think Purdue becomes a team that is hard to stop because of their size. Haas showed promise, Swanigan is a classic Inside/Out type who could have been a pro. Edwards is a lengthy wing.

  • @wissoxfan83

    Interesting that you think the Big-10 is down. I can see that, but I also think the league might be more balanced which could make it exciting. I think Purdue/Wisconsin are at the top followed closely by Indiana. Then you have Michigan St, Michigan, Ohio St, Illinois who should be good enough to contend. Iowa is rebuilding even with Jok likely to put up 20-25 a night. Maryland is rebuilding even with Trimble running point. Penn St has really upped its recruiting efforts but probably is a few years away still from relevance.

  • @drgnslayr

    Well Smart has definitely recruited well since getting to Texas. 6 Top 100 kids not including the 1 that followed him from VCU for this year and next.

    Style of play is always something I worry about when translating and going to a better school. You recruit top 100 kids and they can say they like Smart’s plan but it’s different to actually execute it. I think with Smart it was easier to get underrated kids to buy who had chips on their shoulder then it might be for him to get known national kids to buy in. I think when Smart was becoming a house-hold name that chip he had on his own shoulder rubbed off on his team. Now he goes to a power school where Basketball isn’t even a fly on the map and that chip is instantly gone. How does one replicate what was probably a once in a lifetime opportunity he had and now has to reinvent the wheel somewhere else

  • @BeddieKU23

    I think you did a perfect job of encapsulating Shaka and his new situation at Texas.

    And now he isn’t the young buck clawing to make it. And what was his motivation in the good ol’ days at VCU? Wasn’t it really about his own personal aspirations? So wasn’t his goal to get to a major program, like Texas? Seems he may have met his goal. Okay… he can retool to make winning a NC his top priority, but that was his priority at VCU as an underdog. What I am getting at is that he has reached a specific goal and he may not have the hunger and chip he had back at VCU. It was his own personal chip that made him successful at VCU by rubbing off on his team (as you mentioned).

    I like how you point out that his motivational strategy has to change to the type of player he is now getting versus the players he used to get.

    Right… he has to reinvent the wheel and we will see if he can do it today. He is unproven.

  • This top 25 just makes me impatient for when we beat Duke at MSG by double figures. It will be great to hear Dick make excuses about how good Duke is going to be once they are healthy and how Coach K is the most important sports figure of all time.

    Also, this reminds me that the last time we played Duke we won. The last time we played Kentucky we won and the last time we played UNC we won. When was the last time this was the case?


  • @drgnslayr

    I don’t doubt for one bit that his enthusiastic personality and hands-on style of coaching can reach these young kids and get them to buy in. The road to getting that kind of consistency at Texas I believe is where he’s already running into issues. I know that once Basketball season is the only show in town, some people care but as a whole the state of Texas is about football. Its also a school that can consume you and spit you out if you don’t get results fast (ala all the media headlines of Charlie Strong’s days being numbered already). He’s got a roster more to his liking now with kids he’s personally invested in, instead of the loners he had last year. If he doesn’t have Texas in the NCAA tourney making noise, fans will start to turn on him.

    As I said I think its different to have a style of play that fits the mid-major, underdog team with guys who have chips on their shoulder and are hungry then to do the same thing at a much bigger school with bigger expectations. Some guys he’s won over, we recruited the heck out of like Andrew Jones, Jarrett Allen and to some extent Tevin Mack. So he’s clearly convincing guys Self was also after. Whether he gets the results with these guys is another story. Some small sliver of me says it would be good for the Big-12 if he does but then I remember his snark comments about his claim to fame win over us and I quickly think about the 40 point drubbing we gave him in Austin and wish that outcome was annual.

  • @joeloveshawks

    Nice, hadn’t thought about that! Will be nice if we can win in MSG over Duke. I know without Giles their fans will cry about him being out if we do.

  • @BeddieKU23

    Good point about his problem getting the fans energized. He has to play cheerleader to his team, but also his entire community.

  • @joeloveshawks you think we beat 'em by double digits? With or without Giles, I see this game going either way.

  • @HawkChamp

    I believe KU beats Duke but likely loses to UK at Rupp. UK will have huge chip on their shoulders and will be playing at home; arguably toughest game of the year for KU.

  • @HawkChamp I don’t have anything to back up that claim at all. Just a feeling that we are going to take it to this Duke team as we are the older and more experienced team and should be the better defensive team.

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