From the gridiron to the hardwood: Re-ranking the top 25

Rick Pitino and Russ Smith could have plenty more to smile about in 2013-14 season. (USATSI)
Rick Pitino and Russ Smith could have plenty more to smile about in 2013-14 season. (USATSI)

Back in July, ran a series going through the best athletic programs in the country. Titled “Best in College Sports,” the series counted down the top 13 programs – with Louisville coming out on top, followed by Oregon, Florida, Ohio State, Michigan and Oklahoma. The formula for the rankings factored in football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, baseball – and a wild card spot.

Looking at the top five schools, though, it was clear that having a good football and men’s basketball program was the biggest key – mainly because they were weighed the most in the formula. Louisville, Oregon, Florida, Ohio State and Michigan all finished in the top 25 rankings of each sport.

With that in mind, we decided to do a fun exercise for the quiet September weeks leading up to the start of college basketball practice. We’re taking the top 25 teams in the AP poll – and re-ranking them for basketball.

Let’s get right into it. (Football ranking in parenthesis.)

1. Louisville (7): The Cardinals have a good chance to repeat in our formula again, especially if they can make a third-straight trip to the Final Four. Defending champs might have more talent.

2. Florida (18): Once everyone gets on campus and on the same page – Scottie Wilbekin, Eli Carter, Chris Walker – Billy Donovan has a loaded group. The frontcourt is tremendously deep.

3. Michigan (11): Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. are gone, but the Wolverines return three sophomores capable of monster years. Incoming freshman Derrick Walton has to make an impact.

4. Oklahoma State (12): Travis Ford has one of the best perimeter duos in All-America Marcus Smart and Markel Brown, plus the return of talented forward Le’Bryan Nash.

5. Ohio State (4): Even without Deshaun Thomas, Thad Matta has a group capable of making a deep run. LaQuinton Ross could be a star if he is able to play consistently on the offensive end.

6. Oregon (2): No team in America underwent more personnel chances since April than the Ducks. Transfers Mike Moser (UNLV), Jason Calliste (Detroit) and potentially Joseph Young (Houston) will make a difference.

7. Notre Dame (21): Mike Brey could play four guards on occasion, as freshman Demetrius Jackson will have to play major minutes. Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins are underrated in the backcourt.

8. Wisconsin (20): It’s impossible to say Bo Ryan won’t have a top 25 team, but the Badgers lose their entire frontcourt. Expect a breakout season from sophomore forward Sam Dekker.

9. UCLA (16): This team belongs to Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams (and Steve Alford) now – which could be a good thing for the Bruins. Moreover, it’s a last hurrah for the Wear twins before they graduate Westwood.

10. Baylor (22): The biggest key for the Bears will be point guard play – is junior college transfer Kenny Cherry the answer? Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson form one of the best frontcourt tandems.

11. LSU (8): The Tigers surprisingly won 19 games last season, and they return most of their rotation. Four double-figure scorers are back, and freshman Jordan Mickey is ready to contribute.

12. Stanford (5): Dwight Powell and Chasson Randle form one of the best inside-outside combos on the West coast, and incoming twins Malcolm and Marcus Allen will make an impact as well.

13. Alabama (1): The loss of Trevor Lacey hurts the Crimson Tide on the perimeter, but Anthony Grant’s teams always defend. Trevor Releford and a talented group of juniors will lead the way.

14. Ole Miss (25): All eyes are on Marshall Henderson in Oxford. Can the talented but volatile scorer carry the Rebels to the NCAA tournament? Or will his act wear thin once again?

15. Miami (15): The Hurricanes won’t be an easy out if Angel Rodriguez gets cleared. Tonye Jekiri could be a breakout candidate in the post, and role players will step up on the perimeter.

16. Washington (19): C.J. Wilcox is back to light up the scoreboard one last time, but the biggest key could be freshman guard Nigel Williams-Goss. He just flat-out knows how to win.

17. Oklahoma (14): The Sooners are going to be undermanned in the frontcourt, but Buddy Hield is ready for a bigger role on the perimeter. They also have to hope Je’lon Hornbeak returns from injury.

18. Florida State (10): With Andrew Wiggins, this team would be a potential Sweet 16 contender. As it stands, returning perimeter players Devon Bookert, Ian Miller and Aaron Thomas will shoulder the load.

19. Texas A&M (6): Without leading scorer Elston Turner gone, the Aggies need some scorers to step up. Fabyon Harris and Florida State transfer Antwan Space is a decent place to start.

20. Northwestern (17): The first season at the helm for Chris Collins won’t be an easy one, as the Wildcats struggled a year ago. However, Drew Crawford will be back from injury, which helps.

21. South Carolina (13): Frank Martin is still in the process of cleaning house and getting his sort of players in Columbia. With that said, there’s some talent here. Look for frosh Sindarius Thornwell to make an impact.

22. Nebraska (23): Tim Miles is still trying to get the Cornhuskers up to pace with the rest of the Big Ten, and this season will be more of the same. Ray Gallegos is the lone double-figure scorer.

23. Georgia (9): This is a crucial year for Mark Fox. He loses first-round pick Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the lone player to average more than eight points last season. Who will fill his shoes?

24. Clemson (3): It’s going to be another rebuilding year for the Tigers. Forward K.J. McDaniels is a solid piece, but one of the freshman will have to step up. Adonis Filer will also get more minutes.

25. TCU (24): The Horned Frogs went just 2-16 in the Big 12 last season, and this year won’t be that much better. One reason for promise is the addition of top-50 freshman Karviar Shepherd.

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