Roburt Sallie committed to Memphis on Monday.
Emmanuel Negedu committed to Tennessee on Tuesday.
So that combined with the deadline to withdraw from the NBA Draft passing this week means we pretty much know which teams will have which players this season (academic problems not withstanding, of course). Thus, it's time to update the Ridiculously Early But Still Kind of Fun Preseason Top 25 (and one), and doesn't that name just roll off the tongue?
|Rick Pitino's Cards feature a team capable of winning the program's third NCAA title. (Getty Images)|
I acknowledge it's not an original pick.
But it's the only stinkin' pick that makes sense.
1. North Carolina
The Tar Heels are returning the top six scorers -- including at least two probable first-round draft picks in Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson -- from a team that was No. 1 much of last season. There's not a program in America that can touch that roster, and it's hard to imagine this group not returning to the Final Four and putting Roy Williams in position to win his second national title.
Losing Derrick Caracter is probably addition by subtraction, and incoming freshman Samardo Samuels should fill the void left by the departure of David Padgett just fine. Meanwhile, Terrence Williams, Earl Clark, Jerry Smith, Edgar Sosa and Andre McGee return from a 27-win team, and last March's Elite Eight matchup of Louisville and North Carolina wouldn't be a bad national title game next April.
Hasheem Thabeet shunned the NBA Draft and pushed the Huskies up the rankings. As long as A.J. Price returns from ACL surgery OK, Jim Calhoun could make another Final Four run based upon the strength of his veterans and talent of his incoming recruits, among them Kemba Walker.
Yes, the Blue Devils will be light in the middle, just like last season. But for as poorly as Duke closed, it's important to remember Mike Krzyzewski still won 28 games and that the only relevant piece missing from that roster is DeMarcus Nelson, who should be replaceable provided McDonald's All-American wing Elliot Williams meets expectations.
5. Notre Dame
|Beware of Luke Harangody and the Fighting Irish. (US Presswire)|
It would've been nice had Scott Martin not transferred, but the development won't damage Purdue too much. Three double-digit scorers are still returning, among them Robbie Hummell and E'Twaun Moore.
How do you lose Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and remain the favorites in the Pac-10? You sign the No. 1 recruiting class in the country -- starring Jrue Holiday and J'Mison Morgan -- and watch the talented young guys dominate alongside veterans Darren Collison and Josh Shipp.
Sam Young and DeJuan Blair up front form a formidable tandem built around size and toughness. So the Panthers will be good even if the NCAA doesn't grant Mike Cook another year of eligibility.
Eventually Tom Izzo will stop rejecting overtures from the NBA and make the jump, I think. But it's easy to see why he was perfectly content to remain at Michigan State this offseason, what with Raymar Morgan returning and Delvon Roe enrolling.
The theory that the Vols would slip considerably upon the graduation of Chris Lofton will be proved wrong. McDonald's All-American Scotty Hopson should fill any scoring hole, and Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism up front will make the Vols the obvious pick to win the SEC again.
There's no way the Longhorns won't miss D.J. Augustin, but Dogus Balbay is a talented replacement. Still, Augustin's supporting cast is back, including A.J. Abrams and Connor Atchley, meaning a Big 12 title should be the goal.
|Can Jeremy Pargo lead the Zags to the Final Four? (US Presswire)|
The Tigers lost three starters and two assistants and are still a solid Top 15 pick. That's the result of John Calipari signing a top five recruiting class -- led by McDonald's All-American Tyreke Evans -- and luring Josh Pastner from Arizona and Orlando Antigua from Pittsburgh to place beside John Robic on his staff -- and any C-USA program waiting for Memphis to come back to the pack had better devise a new plan.
Tom Crean might've inherited a mess at Indiana, but he left a pretty nice situation behind for Buzz Williams. Jerel McNeal, Dominic James, Wesley Matthews and Lazar Hayward are all back, meaning there is no reason for Williams to not win in his first season in charge.
A tandem of DaJuan Summers, Austin Freeman, Chris Wright, Jessie Sapp and Greg Monroe provides John Thompson III with a talented nucleus. Sure, the Hoyas will miss Roy Hibbert and Jonathan Wallace. But if Monroe plays like an elite-level freshman, Georgetown won't slip much.
The bulk of the team is back, including Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher. If the Wildcats make the Sweet 16 again it probably won't surprise anybody.
Jack McClinton and Miami's four other top scorers return from a team that nearly made the Sweet 16. Consequently, the Hurricanes could very well spend February competing with North Carolina and Duke for the ACC title, odd as that sounds.
18. Arizona State
James Harden snubbing the NBA Draft was huge for ASU. Teamed with Jeff Pendergraph, the sophomore should take the Sun Devils back to the NCAA tournament.
19. Ohio State
It would've been fun to watch Kosta Koufos and B.J. Mullens play beside each other. Alas, that's not happening because Koufos turned pro. But the reigning NIT champions still have a gifted roster thanks to another stellar recruiting class, not to mention the return of David Lighty, Evan Turner and Jon Diebler.
The losses of O.J. Mayo and Davon Jefferson will show. But another one-and-done star is about to enroll (DeMar DeRozan), and Daniel Hackett and Taj Gibson should provide enough experience to make USC a factor in the Pac-10.
Personnel losses never seem to matter much to Bo Ryan. He belongs in the Top 25 (and one) until he proves he doesn't, and he almost never proves he doesn't.
Lon Kruger is a little like Ryan in that he seems to always field a good team regardless of what he loses. This season he doesn't lose much, and the addition of Memphis transfer Tre'Von Willis could be a boost.
Billy Donovan has managed to string back-to-back strong recruiting classes post back-to-back national titles. Nick Calathes is a budding star, and if any of the freshman big guys have an impact, it's likely the Gators will compete for the SEC title.
|With Blake Griffin returning, OU has high hopes. (US Presswire)|
It's crucial that Brandon Jennings is cleared by the NCAA to compete as a freshman, and that hasn't happened yet. But assuming everything is OK there, everything will be OK in Tucson, where a core of Jennings, Chase Budinger, Nic Wise and Jordan Hill should make Lute Olson's return enjoyable to watch.
Scott Drew's rebuilding job will take another step forward this season given how the Bears return the best parts of an NCAA tournament team. Put another way, those tragic (and embarrassing) days that haunted Baylor in 2003 are now officially in the past, and a Big 12 title is a realistic possibility.