Ranking all 351 college basketball teams, from Duke to Alabama A&M

Howdy! How we doing in the thick of preseason college basketball coverage? Me, you ask? Oh, I'm still out of my mind.  Because I gleefully took on the insane project of ranking 351 college basketball teams in advance of another college hoops campaign. I've been loading this boulder onto my back the past few years. If you'd like to see how ridiculously good last season's projections wound up being, have at it

You can have your statistical models and fancy computers and dexterous algorithms. As always, my rankings are formulated by a blend of reporting (I contacted multiple coaches in almost every conference to cross-reference and to check and balance), a projection of returning starters, impact freshmen, coaching changes -- and a few outlandish prophecies tossed in. I do consult with KenPom, Sagarin, KPI and LRMC's rankings from the end of last season as means of a barometer. 

As always, teams 1-26 correspond with the collective CBS Sports Top 25 (and one), which is commandeered by Gary Parrish. But for squads 27-351, I take full responsibility. If you've got flattery, four-letter words or bonus information to give, hit me up on Twitter

Enjoy, share widely with all your friends who dig college basketball, and remember: This list is perfect. Everything in its right place.  

The Blue Devils have the most talented team now that that Marvin Bagley III is in the mix. Between him, fellow freshmen Wendell Carter, Trevon Duval and Gary Trent Jr., and of course senior Grayson Allen, Duke's even more fascinating than last season. Will Marques Bolden break out? Will Allen return to form? Out in Vegas, the Blue Devils are the preseason favorites to win the national title. Mike Krzyzewski's never had a team like this before. Yes, folks, Duke is back.    

The Wildcats have never had a roster this talented, deep, experienced or athletic under Sean Miller. And yes, the program enters the season with a dark cloud looming over it, as assistant Emanuel Richardson is one of four college hoops assistants charged by the federal government in a two-year-long sting that exposed bribery and corruption in college basketball. Miller's received public support from his AD and president. Is more to come with the FBI and this program? We await. If all players remain eligible, Arizona is a strong No. 2 team, led by junior shooting guard Allonzo Trier and freshman "power center" DeAndre Ayton. 

We've got a handful of traditional power programs that will still be really good this year yet look different from their normal selves. The Jayhawks count in that group, as Devonte' Graham is going to be the head on the snake of a four-guard attack. Graham will be joined by Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman, senior Svi Mykhailiuk and junior Lagerald Vick. Those four could/should be joined in the starting lineup by the beastly Udoka Azubuike. Plus, freshman power forward Billy Preston could be the most talented sixth man in the country. Do we hear 14 straight Big 12 regular season titles? Seems likely. 

The Spartans will be rated higher than fourth in other polls, but the difference -- for us -- between Duke and MSU is fingernail-thin. Sparty's got the preseason Player of the Year in Miles Bridges, plus three other sophomores (Cassius Winston, Nick Ward, Josh Langford) set to run the Big Ten. Power forward Jaren Jackson is a top-10 freshman talent, and critical veterans Tum Tum Nairn, Ben Carter and Gavin Schilling are back. This is Tom Izzo's 23rd season with MSU. This roster is top-five he's had in East Lansing.

We've got the Shockers ranked so high because all five starters return on a team that ranked in the top 10 at KenPom.com last season and one of them is POY candidate Landry Shamet. Keep in mind that Wichita State's likely to look more top-10ish come January than mid-November. That's because Shamet's scheduled to be cleared to play (after offseason foot surgery) right around the season-opener, and another big talent, Markis McDuffie, is out until mid-December because he too had foot surgery. Shockers, when at full strength, have the most robust roster in the American Athletic Conference. Yep. Remember, Wichita State left the Missouri Valley earlier this year. 

This is the most inexperienced roster John Calipari's ever had at Kentucky, which speaks to the strength of his No. 2-rated recruiting class. Six five-star players from 2017 are on this roster, led by Hamidou Diallo, who got a head start on the college experience when he enrolled in January. Diallo, Kevin Knox, Quade Green, P.J. Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt (out for at least two more months) will join sophomore Wenyen Gabriel and make for the ultimate Cal experiment. He's never had a team so young, so flashy, so wing-y. 

Because Jalen Brunson should factor into the Player of the Year race and because this team has a true back-to-the-basket big (Omari Spellman) and NBA prospect on the wing (Mikal Bridges), the Wildcats are still the class of the Big East. Brunson will also get a boost from Phil Booth, who was a nice role player on Nova's title-winning team but lost last season to injury. The Wildcats don't have a lot of flaws, and it would be a surprise if this team didn't take a fifth straight regular-season league title. 

Loads of talent, but will everyone be eligible? The Trojans are ranked with the presumption that they will be. Assistant Tony Bland was charged in the FBI's case, and given that he's been on Andy Enfield's staff for a few years, questions about which USC players could have been wrongfully recruited are unavoidable. But at full strength, USC is maybe a half-step behind Arizona in the Pac-12. Jordan McLaughlin will run point and have De'Anthony Melton and Elijah Stewart in tandem with him in the backcourt. Bennie Boatwright, Shaqquan Aaron and Chimezi Metu up front make for a wildly fun "starting six" for USC. 

The Gators were a game away from last season's Final Four. Mike White returns his starting backcourt, which will wind up giving UF the best chance at wrangling the SEC title away from UK. The primary reason Florida is in the top 10 is because of consistent defense. UF rated in the top five in points per possession allowed last season. It would be surprising if this team wasn't top-10 again. 

Yes, 30 percent of the top 10 here features programs directly connected to the FBI investigation. College hoops, baby! No Miami coach was named, or charged, in the FBI's public report. Coach Jim Larranaga, also known as "Coach-3", has vehemently denied any wrongdoing. So, with that in mind, Miami's got quite a squad this season. Bruce Brown is the best player that doesn't get nearly enough ink, but that will probably change by Thanksgiving. Freshman Lonnie Walker should immediately be a factor, and Dewan Huell's definitely going to improve from a good freshman season. The offense is going to take a big jump. ACC dark-horse pick. 

The reigning national champs lost a lot, but Joel Berry II will be back after missing the start of the season with a broken hand, and he could wind up as the best point guard in college hoops. That alone warrants top-25 inclusion. Then, to get to 11, you factor in the coaching, the return of Theo Pinson, Luke Maye, Seventh Woods and Brandon Robinson. That'll do it. The Tar Heels won't drop off too much. 

Four ACC teams crack the top 12. Multifaceted senior forward Bonzie Colson will be supplemented by senior point guard Matt Farrell, both of whom are top-20 players in college hoops entering the season. Mike Brey's program has become as steady as any non-blue blood over the past half-decade, and it would be a shock if this team wasn't at least a No. 5 seed come March. Temple Gibbs is your breakout candidate. 

How about the Gophers! Minnesota enters this season as a Big Ten title hopeful and brings back the majority of a roster that earned a No. 5 seed. Richard Pitino's probably had stress off the floor with all that's gone on with his father, but his team is going to be high-quality this season. Amir Coffey and Nate Mason might combo to be the best backcourt in the Big Ten. 

Things are officially off-kilter, in a cool way, in the Big Ten. Yes, you're reading this list correctly. We've got Northwestern 14th out of 351 teams. NU enters 2017-18 on the heels of the first NCAA Tournament showing in program history. Four of the squad's five best players are back, led by tricky wing Scottie Lindsey and supremely underrated Bryant McIntosh. Truly, for the first time in program history, the Wildcats start a season with enormous expectations. 

It's imposssible not to like what Cincy brings to the table this season. This is Mick Cronin's best team yet, and he's going for eight straight Big Dance bids. All names to know, because all can be the best Bearcat on any night: senior Kyle Washington, junior Jacob Evans, senior Gary Clark, sophomore Jarron Cumberland. Heck of a squad. 

The Bulldogs finished the season at 37-2, lost in the national title game ... and were the highest-rated team at KenPom from most of January on last season, including at year's end. Mark Few's team isn't quite as good now, since Nigel Williams-Goss and Zach Collins left early for the NBA, but there's still a lot back from a great team. Josh Perkins and Johnathan Williams were named All-WCC in the preseason, but keep an eye on Rui Hachimura, a Japanese import who could keep Gonzaga's WCC streak intact. 

We're giving the Bears respect after last season's better-than-expected showing. Point guard Manu Lecomte will be Scott Drew's best player, but Baylor's going to need to be near-elite on defense in order to validate its top-20 standing. For that, Jo Lual-Acuil is the biggest boat in the bay with his long wingspan and certified rim-protection. Baylor would've been a top-10 preseason team if Johnathan Motley opted to come back. 

The Cardinals are still tremendously talented, but they had to be downgraded after losing a Hall of Fame coach. Not only that, but freshman Brian Bowen isn't currently eligible. Toss in all the uncertainty with the FBI probe and a first-time/interim head coach in David Padgett, and who knows what's to come? But the Cards still have the dudes. Deng Adel will be the team's best player, but point guard Quentin Snider is probably going to be the MVP.  

Again, we've got something of an unusual top end of the sport heading into the season. Alabama a top-20 team? Thank Collin Sexton for that. The sound-of-speed-quick point guard is the best player to come into the program in a decade-plus, and he'll have plenty of talent around him. The Tide's rise will be a microcosm of the SEC's overall improvement this season. 

No Lonzo Ball? No problem. You can't replicate Ball's court vision, but Aaron Holiday and Jaylen Hands' abilities in running an offense ensures UCLA will still be very good on that end of the floor. The middle Ball brother, LiAngelo, is on the roster but figures to come off the bench. Freshman small forward Kris Wilkes and senior center Thomas Welsh will give Steve Alford dynamism. The Bruins can hit the 25-win mark if all goes right. 

The Gaels are ranked below Gonzaga here, but the WCC preseason poll has SMC as the consensus favorite. Every coach in the league (with the exception of Randy Bennett, who can't vote for his team) chose Saint Mary's to take the West Coast Conference title. Jock Landale is the best big man nobody talks about -- and the preseason favorite for Player of the Year in that league. Point guard Emmett Naar and power forward Calvin Hermanson round out SMC's power trio. 

Chris Mack's track record suggests X won't slip too far. The Muskies were merely 9-9 in Big East play, then made an Elite Eight run. Trevon Bluiett is an All-American candidate, while wing J.P. Macura and guard Quentin Goodin could be Big East second team honorees. They will fight with Providence and Seton Hall to be No. 2 in the league. 

The Mountaineers are considered the No. 2 team in the Big 12. Bob Huggins brings back Jevon Carter, a veteran point guard and one of the 10 best in America at that position. This team is relentless with its press. It turned opponents over more frequently than anyone else last season. Huggins' men do not mess around. 

Might be too low. The Boilermakers take a massive hit with Caleb Swanigan going to the NBA, but there's a ton back from a 27-8 team that was top-seven in 3-point shooting and top-three in free throws allowed. Carsen Edwards and Vince Edwards (not related) are going to ball out. Dakota Mathias is going to sink at least 100 treys. Michigan State will not have it easy in the Big Ten. 

The Rams came close to making the Sweet 16, and now most of the roster returns for what's sure to be a beautiful follow-up. Dan Hurley looks to have the best team, by far, in the A-10. E.C. Matthews, a fifth-year senior, will be the star. However, Jared Terrell, Stan Robinson and Jarvis Garrett will make for the toughest, most athletic backcourt in the conference. URI will win with flash but also be bruisers. 

The Friars are in the midst of school history, as they've made four straight NCAA Tournaments -- something never done before at that program until now. Five straight seems likely, thanks to Kyron Cartwright, who is one of the 10 best point guards in America. Rodney Bullock is also back. Might he score 20 per game?

The next two teams listed are the ones I've got the most hesitation over not having in our Top 25 (and one). While Kentucky has the fresh faces and flashy talent, and Florida's got the guard play and defense, Texas A&M has the size, shooting and big boys to compete for the SEC title. Robert Williams passed on being a lotto pick to come back, and Tyler Davis is going to probably be a top-five rebounder in the sport. D.J. Hogg is your breakout stretch four. 

The Pirates were picked second in the Big East poll, their highest slot in the preseason in 16 years. Angel Delgado was almost as good as Caleb Swanigan last season, only he got one-fifth the attention -- if that. It seems outrageous to write this, but it's absolutely on the table: Delgado can get a double-double in every game he plays this season. He'll be helped by fellow seniors Khadeen Carrington (17.1 ppg) and Desi Rodriguez (15.7 ppg). 

This is a big-time jump for the Knights. Tacko Fall, at 7-foot-6, is the marquee player. But B.J. Taylor, a junior lead guard, is Johnny Dawkins' best man in the lineup. Similar to how Alabama's improved stock will be representative of the SEC's overall profile, UCF will have the same effect on the American Athletic Conference this season. I smell a No. 7 seed. 

The Terrapins might not seem to be improved from a 6-seed season that included 24 wins and Melo Trimble's MVP contributions. But look again. Mark Turgeon has an outstanding sophomore class, led by Justin Jackson, who flirted with the draft before making the wise pick to come back. Wing Kevin Huerter and point guard Anthony Cowan comprise the super sophomore trio. Senior center Michael Cekovsky gives the Terps size where they need it. 

The Longhorns won't let us down two years in a row. Shaka Smart's team was ranked in the preseason a year ago, then wound up going 11-22. In comes Mohamed Bamba, a five-star recruit who many think will go top-five in June's draft because of his amazing defensive abilities. Texas also brought back Andrew Jones in the backcourt, and Smart's going to ask junior flyer Kerwin Roach II to score a lot more. 

The Horned Frogs will make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 20 years. Jamie Dixon's team brings back just about everyone, and this is a group that won the NIT last March. In most instances, an NIT-winning team follows that up with an NCAA Tournament bid. Jaylen Fisher, one of TCU's best players, is coming back from an offseason meniscus tear in his knee.  

I think I'm higher on the Hokies than anyone. They had 22 wins a season ago, including an NCAA Tournament game, and are clearly trending up. Yes, they lose Zach LeDay and Seth Allen, but a trio of juniors is going to lift this team to another 20-plus win season. Chris Clarke, Justin Robinson and Ahmed Hill are going to shine. Do not sleep on the Hokies. 

The Ducks drop after losing their three best players (Dillon Brooks, Tyler Dorsey, Jordan Bell) to the NBA. Dana Altman's won at least 21 games every season since he arrived at Oregon (2010-11), so it's unlikely this team will take a big dive. Two grad transfers, Elijah Brown from New Mexico and MiKyle McIntosh from Illinois State, will need to jell with sophomore breakout point guard Payton Pritchard. Troy Brown is the frosh to know. 

What an enigma. Let's put our trust in the system, as Wisconsin has rated as a team outside the top 30 at KenPom only once in the past 15 seasons. That was 2015-16, when Bo Ryan abruptly retired in December and Greg Gard took over. Gard now has a bunch of new players ... and probably a top-10 player in all of college hoops in Ethan Happ. Going to be intriguing to watch, that's for sure

Cruising under the radar heading into the season, but expect the Razorbacks to make their third Big Dance in four season. The Hogs gave UNC a great game in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and although Moses Kingsley is gone, Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon coming back is going to be humongous. For a fairly anonymous team, the Razorbacks should easily be in the top half of the SEC. 

The Tigers played an exhibition against Kansas on Sunday night (stop the silliness and resume that rivalry, effective 2018-19, please) and looked to be defensively adequate and offensively promising. Cuonzo Martin takes over the coaching duties here, and of course Michael Porter Jr. -- possible No. 1 pick in June -- will be one the few true faces of college hoops this season. Very intriguing team.   

They will be highly rated entering the season by the tempo-free metrics, but I'm skeptical about Virginia's overall talent. An NCAA Tournament team? Yes, I definitely think so. But losing London Perrantes at point guard is a void exposed. Can Kyle Guy be the guy as a sophomore? Ty Jerome and Jack Salt are solid players, but the offense could be a slog and the Wahoos might need some exceptional coaching from Tony Bennett in order to compete for a top-four seed in the ACC tournament. 

I'm buying UConn stock. The Huskies were hexed last season, starting with some awful losses early and then compounded by injuries. Jalen Adams and Terry Larrier are both good enough to be first team in the American. Kevin Ollie, this season sets up as a big one for you. Anything shy of the Big Dance will have UConn fans frequently discussing a coaching change.  

Clear-cut conference favorite in the Mountain West. The Wolf Pack (28-7, 14-4) won the league last season, their first time doing so since joining the conference in 2012. Eric Musselman's bound to have some solid job offers if Nevada gets back to the NCAAs, and that seems likely thanks to the return of Jordan Caroline and Caleb Martin. Very well-coached team. 

Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley make up the most talented starting backcourt in the Atlantic 10; they'll probably combine for 40-42 points, 10-12 rebounds and 9-12 assists per game. Adams' talent is going to get him taken in the first round of the 2018 Draft, I think. Bonaventure is going to be the second-best team in its league and a No. 8 seed come Selection Sunday. 

Reid Travis, Reid Travis, Reid Travis. If it's possible for a conference's returning leading scorer to be the dark horse pick to win Player of the Year, Travis is it. The Cardinal have their best chance to make the NCAAs since 2014. Expect at least a six-digit flip in the win column (Stanford won 14 last season). Travis has a nice sidekick in the frontcourt in Michael Humphrey. 

The Bluejays might have one of the five leading scorers in Division I in Marcus Foster (18.2 ppg last season), plus a terrific two-way player in slicing junior guard Khyri Thomas. The critical element here is Kaleb Joseph, a Syracuse transfer. 

The Wolverines had a plane scare prior to the Big Ten tournament, then reeled off six straight wins to make the Sweet 16 and rewrite the story of their 2016-17. Moe Wagner tested NBA waters but comes back. Duncan Robinson, who will be tasked with a lot of offensive responsibility, has to step up. I'm lower on Michigan than many, but part of that is because the Big Ten's 2-7 are very throw-them-in-a-hat-and-pick-one. 

Quite clearly the best team from a single-bid league this season. In Kendrick Nunn, Martez Walker and Jalen Hayes, Oakland probably has three of the five best players in the Horizon League. Greg Kampe's had some pros in the past, but this team has a chance to be his best ever. 

Among major-conference teams, Bryce Drew's Commodores had maybe the toughest strength of schedule in college basketball last season. Vandy brings back a lot from that tournament team, including Matthew Fisher-Davis, who must have had the longest offseason after what he did in that game vs. Northwestern

The Ponies won the regular-season and tournament title in the American last season. They lost important pieces, so they've got to drop in our rankings, but Shake Milton was voted AAC preseason Player of the Year. Other names to know: Jarrey Foster, Ben Emelogu. 

The best team in the Colonial, Charleston has an outstanding mid-major starting five. Earl Grant's almost certainly going to get a bigger job come March because his defensive tactics are effective almost every game. It's impressive, considering C of C isn't that deep. Jarrell Brantly, Joe Chealey and Grant Riller will pace this team, which is aged and robust in athleticism.

The Cougars seem to be a ripe candidate for perma-bubble team in 2017-18, and that would be a step up from last season. Rob Gray's going to star and probably be one of the top 50 players in the sport. If, by some chance, you missed one of the biggest stories in college hoops this summer, check out what Kelvin Sampson did in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. College basketball, and many other sports, came through in a huge way. 

I'll buy Joe's this season. They've got a kid named Charlie Brown! Shavar Newkirk is their best player, and I'm basing this ranking on him returning fully healthy at some point in December. Overall, very balanced team with size and almost everyone back. Phil Martelli will get this group into the top four of the A-10, I'm pretty certain of it. 

A down year last season, but the Sooners are on the come-up. Freshman lead guard Trae Young could lead all first-year players in scoring. Khadeem Lattin is a senior who must be a double-double guy almost every game in order to give Lon Kruger's team a chance to finish top-five in the Big 12. I like their chances. Could be as good as fourth in the Big 12. 

The Rams could be anywhere from second to fifth in the A-10 this season. After Will Wade left for LSU, the program pragmatically made the best possible hire it could in Mike Rhoades, who was in the mist of turning Rice into a respectable program in C-USA. Rhoades knows the area. He'll do well. VCU's best player this season is senior forward Justin Tillman. 

Yante Mate, a senior big man, will be the force for Mark Fox's team. The Bulldogs are probably going to be bubbly again, but there's enough there -- defensively-- to logically list Georgia as a top-60 team. The offense is a looming concern, as J.J. Frazier's gone, and the team wasn't good from 2-point range (48.3 percent) last season.

The Bulldogs took a big hit in the offseason because Chris Holtmann left for Ohio State. Butler's best recruit followed Holtmann to Columbus. LaVall Jordan is now the coach, and it's fair to wonder how BU will fare with him running the show -- and bringing in a new staff. Kamar Baldwin could be the best sophomore in the Big East, and Kelan Martin's back as well. The personnel suggests BU won't slip too far, but the NCAA Tournament can't be considered more likely than not entering the season. 

Hawkeyes lose Peter Jok, and that's going to leave a mark. Sure, a lot of other pieces are back. But this is another team in the morass of the Big Ten's middle. They'll win some games they shouldn't win and lose some games they shouldn't lose. Feels like a 21-win team to me. Like Michigan State and Maryland, Iowa's going to thrive off its sophomores. 

An NCAA Tournament team a season ago, but I explain further here why I think MU is probably headed to the NIT this season. 

Strong set of guards. Shannon Evans is a stud, and Tra Holder will fill it up. Kodi Justice isn't well-known now but could be the key glue guy. Bobby Hurley is one season away from making the NCAA Tournament. 

It's been an era or so since Missouri State made the NCAAs (1999), but if this team stays healthy it's going to be the best in the Valley. The Bears will step in and take the throne now that Wichita State is out of the neighborhood. Credit to Mo State's administration for having patience with Paul Lusk. It should pay off this season. Alize Johnson is the name to know and the guy that's going to push the Bears to 20-plus wins. 

Talk about a jump! I had the Yellow Jackets ranked 218th heading into last season. Then Josh Pastner shocked everyone and had his team go 21-16. Ben Lammers and Josh Okogie are back, and Tech's probably going to be right around what they were in 2016-17. 

Gimme some of this. Davidson's going to be the rare team that loses its best player (Jack Gibbs graduated) but gets better. Peyton Aldridge is back, and he'll probably wind up being as good this season as Gibbs was last season. Bob McKillop's got this kid from Iceland, Jon Axel Gudmundsson, who's gonna make 70-plus 3s. 

The Wolfpack hired Kevin Keatts to replace Mark Gottfried as coach. Keatts is something of Rick Pitino disciple, meaning the Wolfpack are going to be as good on defense this season as they've been in years. Plenty of talent still at Raleigh. This group will steal a few wins. 

Think I'm relatively high on the Cougs. TJ Haws is going to put up 20-plus points per game, and Yoeli Childs is only known in league circles, really, but he'll be a top-10 player in the WCC. Nick Emery will be a top-15 player in the league. There's enough here. Still a solid No. 3 team in the conference. 

Plenty of people in the league like Temple to be the surprise team, the group that winds up finishing fourth in the AAC. I'll stop short of that, but I do think the Owls will be in the bubble conversation into February. A pair of nice seniors on this team: Josh Brown, Obi Enechionyia. 

I'm curious, but this ranking is putting a lot of stock into SJU's talent. Chris Mullin still has to prove it as a coach. It's all about Marcus LoVett and Shamorie Ponds; both averaged more than 15 points and were the two best freshmen in the league, outside of Creighton's Justin Patton.  

The best of Conference USA right here. Going for three straight NCAA tourney trips. There are some losses in the frontcourt (Reggie Upshaw is a huge one), but Giddy Potts -- a name right out of Cosmo Kramer's brain -- could be the C-USA Player of the Year. Nick King, a transfer in from Alabama, will be a big-time addition. 

Bruce Pearl's team will be hampered early by the injury to Austin Wiley. And yes, this is another program that's lost an assistant coach to the FBI's investigation. Pearl told me that, before the season starts, the school will absolutely vet everyone on its roster and indefinitely sit anyone that has any eligibility issues, if they arise. Talent-wise, Auburn is top-six in the SEC. 

Brian Dutcher was Steve Fisher's coach-in-waiting for ages. Now the program is his, and it's not without some pressure in year No. 1. The Aztecs are considered a firm No. 2 in the Mountain West, behind Nevada. 

Pat Chambers is an anomaly. He coached six seasons in a power league, has not made the NCAA Tournament once ... and has not been fired. Now, it's Penn State, so a longer leash has to be given. It's nice to see PSU give him another year, because this could be the one. The Nittany Lions will mostly rely on Tony Carr and Shep Garner. 

Veteran team with a good coach in Chris Beard. Kind of reminds me of when Tubby Smith was there a few years ago and wound up getting into the NCAAs with ease after having no expectation at all of doing so. Wouldn't be a shock if I'm wrong on this team and it ends up as a top-50 squad, but senior tweener forward Zach Smith is going to need help. 

One of the biggest drops on the list, as Florida State goes from a No. 3 seed last season to a team I don't expect to sniff the NCAAs. The freshman class will mature nicely in two years' time, I think, but you can't ask this squad to overcome the losses of Jonathan Isaac, Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Dwayne Bacon.  

Well-coached team that runs some fun stuff. I don't think Larry Krystkowiak's got the guys this season, though. At least, not enough to compete atop the Pac-12. David Collette's the name to know up front. 

Nana Foulland, Zach Thomas, Stephen Brown -- all tremendous Patriot League players. All probably going in the school's Hall of Fame. Brown's going to be top-three in assists at Bucknell by the time his career's done -- and he's going to be in the neighborhood of 1,300 points. 

The Bulldogs went 50-plus years in between NCAA tourney showings, and now they're going to try to make it twice in three seasons. James Jones' team has three of the six or seven best players in the Ivy League. Makai Mason is probably the best in the conference, while Miye Oni is already hitting NBA scouts' radars. Jordan Bruner, a sophomore overshadowed by Oni last season, is going to break out. 

If Missouri State doesn't win the Valley, Loyola probably will. Porter Moser lost Milton Doyle, the team's best player, but a five-pack of quality seniors return, including preseason all-league selections Donte Ingram and Aundre Jackson. To me, unquestionably a top-100 team. 

Archie Miller takes over for Tom Crean here, and the roster's a hodgepodge. Miller's a really good coach. I don't know what to make of this squad this season. This is my best guess. Robert Johnson's going to have a hefty usage rate. 

Picked near the bottom of the SEC, but Ben Howland's got some dudes (Quinndary Weatherspoon!). The Bulldogs' season goes like this, I bet: 15 or 16 wins, with seven or eight losses within two possessions. From a man-to-man standpoint, this is not going to be a fun team to play. If everyone who can return next season does return, MSU will be in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. 

Tad Boyle's a great coach; he just turned Derrick White into an NBA player which, if you haven't read that story, do it now. But this is probably going to be a middling CU team in a just-OK Pac-12.    

I'm taking a leap for Canyon. This team is ready to burst through to the mainstream. A great homecourt and a coach in Dan Majerle who's already exceeded expectations. Josh Braun is going to flirt with 20 points per game, and Oregon transfer Casey Benson should be the ingredient to get this team a WAC title. 

Not a lot of offense here, I'm afraid. Wesley Iwundu's gone, and he is flat-out not replaceable with K-State's personnel this season. Question is, if the Wildcats don't make the NCAA Tournament, does Bruce Weber get fired? 

An America East team makes the top 80. Vermont coach John Becker probably should've been offered the UMass job after getting UVM to the NCAAs last season. Now he'll probably get more opportunities come late March because the Catamounts have the league's best player in Anthony Lamb, plus the AE reigning POY in Trae Bell Haynes, and another low-major reliability in forward Payton Henson. Keep an eye on how this team performs to open the season against a green Kentucky club. 

From Final Four to No. 81. Frank Martin, please don't come after me. But the thing is, Sindarius Thornwell was probably the most valuable, reliable, impressive two-way player in college basketball last season. Gamecocks fans aren't going to like this ranking, but they know how much Thornwell did. P.J. Dozier, Duane Notice and Just McKie are gone, too. 

I'm not sure any team in America is going to have a bigger turnaround season than the Beavers, who were 5-27 last season but bring back their most important pieces and seem set up to get to .500. 

Expected to be the best team in the MAC. Thomas Wilder is the hands-down pick for preseason POY. Already getting NBA looks. The Broncos could wind up as a dangerous 12 seed. 

Senior lead guard Brandon Goodwin is the most talented player in league. Junior Zach Johnson will be First Team all-league too. Ricky Doyle, a transfer from Michigan, is who makes this team top-100 good. The roster overall is jammed with transfers. Dunk City is the runaway favorite in the Atlantic Sun.  

John Groce did things the right way at Illinois, but the program never made the jump into the top five of the Big Ten while he was there. Illinois should be an almost-every-year top-five Big Ten team. Now Brad Underwood, whose career record is 109-27, tries to bring the success from Stephen F. Austin and Oklahoma State to Champaign. 

John Collins is balling out for the Atlanta Hawks right now. If he were still at Wake Forest, I'd have the Deacs in the top 50. Still, Bryant Crawford's going to be one of the five best point guards in the ACC. 

By my count, Jim Boeheim's never had a team this inexperienced. In deference to his coaching acumen, I've opted to put Cuse into the top 100. I also love Tyus Battle's game. The Orange will probably be fighting for an NIT spot. 88. 

Ole Miss. Had some SEC coaches say Andy Kennedy's team this season is a true dark horse in the league. So I'll open myself up to some shots here, as I've got the Rebels way out of the league's NCAA tourney picture. Kennedy's certainly got a lot of vets. But the SEC has wads of talent. 

The top team in the Sun Belt will have a voracious bounce-back from a bizarre second half of the end of last season. This team started 14-6/7-0, then finished 3-9, al nine Ls coming in league play. Team is nothing but juniors and seniors. Could be a nightmare of a 13 seed. Tookie Brown and Ike Smith, both juniors, star.

Another season, another stud for Rick Byrd. Now's the time for Austin Luke, who will be in the mix for Ohio Valley Player of the Year. The team runs beautiful offense, and is due for another NCAA Tournament showing. 

Probably Yale's only contender for the regular-season title in the Ivy League. They lost one of the best players in program history, Siyani Chambers, but a pair of sophomores -- Bryce Aiken and Seth Towns -- are two of the 10 best all-around players in the league already. The quality of freshmen and sophomores in the Ivy now compared to a decade ago is remarkable. 

Their best players are named B.J. Johnson and Pookie Powell. Alrighty then. Let's move on. 

Niko Medved built this team into a league contender, then left for the Drake job, handing the keys to Bob Richey. The Paladins have four starters back from a 23-win team. Feels weird to put a school like this in the top 100, but it should be one of the 12 best mid-major programs in college hoops this season. 

Another program that's entering the season with a dark cloud hovering above. Mike Boynton has handled himself well, though, and claims he's under no suspicion by the FBI. Brad Underwood left this job in March, and Boynton got the gig as Underwood's lead assistant. Jawun Evans is gone, but Jeffrey Carroll remains, and he is one of the five best players in the Big 12. 

Chandler Hutchison is the pick to be Mountain West POY after averaging  17 and 8 last season. The Broncos have a fun offense, and if they can win all their home games, they'll have a crack at sneaking into the NCAAs.

The MAAC's set up to be as much of a toss-up in the 1-4 range as it's been in the past six or seven seasons, but Iona still deserves the edge. Jordan Washington graduating is a big loss, and John Severe's gone too, but Rickey McGill, Deyshonee Much (great defender on an offense-first, offense-second team) and E.J. Crawford are back. The Gaels have made the NCAA Tournament for two consecutive seasons. Don't be surprised if they make it a third consecutive year in 2017-18.

Chris Holtmann is going to need a couple of years to get this thing going. Thad Matta's firing in early June was out of the blue, and if Matta had to go, Holtmann probably about as good a candidate as OSU could have landed to replace him. The Bucks have some talent in the frontcourt, but the backcourt's going to be the worst in the Big Ten. 

Kyle Smith turned Columbia around, and in one season, got USF from 15 to 20 wins. No lag time. Now the Dons are a definitive fourth in the WCC. A year from now, the conference may finally have four legitimate teams chasing NCAA tourney bids. 

The Eagles are moving on up. This will be BC's best team since 2012-13. Strong guard play is going to ensure Jim Christian's team vastly improves on its 2-16 record in ACC games last season. Probably not an NIT group, but, progress.   

The Big 12 will be down because Iowa State will be down. The losses of Monte Morris and Deonte Burton will undeniably cause the Cyclones to take their biggest dip in almost a decade. Fresh face to know is Lindell Wigginton, who should be ISU's point guard for the next three or four seasons. 

William Lee is the star, a matchup problem for most teams in C-USA on both ends. He plays with almost no fear. Chris Cokley's also back. The Blazers are a dark horse choice to steal the bid from Middle Tennessee. 

Scott Cross' team deserves to reach the NCAAs this season after building to this point the past three seasons. Kevin Hervey is a possible future NBA player, and Erick Neal's also in the mix for All-Sun Belt consideration. 

The Cardinals have turned themselves around under coach James Whitford, who should get all-league play out of Tayler Persons and Trey Moses. 

The coaching staff has confidence in the roster, but losing Tai Webster is going to be a challenge the Huskers have to overcome with the likes of Glynn Watson Jr. (pivotal piece) and freshman Icelandic cult hero in the making, Thorir Thorbjarnarson. What. A. Name. 

Lost Archie Miller to Indiana and lost a lot of veterans, so the Flyers are going to struggle to get to 20 wins, something that happened in five of Miller's six seasons there. Anthony Grant, formerly of Alabama and VCU, is now the coach. He's a Dayton alumnus. 

Picked last, again, in the Big East. BUT NOT HERE! I've got DePaul taking ninth, baby. As always, remember during the season to use #DePaul to raise #DePaul awareness on social media.

Frank Haith has a load of returnees. The best of them is Junior Etou, a preseason All-AAC Second Team selection. The Golden Hurricane look a year away from making the NCAA Tournament. 

Travis Ford brings in a talented freshman class to combine with some transfers. The Billikens are a mixed bunch, but the program's on its way back to realistically being in the NCAA tourney picture. 

The Redbirds should've gotten an at-large call from the selection committee last season. Now Dan Muller enters the season with two new assistant coaches (he lost two to Michigan in late July) and a lot of talent gone via transfer. ISU should still be a dark horse consideration to take the MVC. 

UNC Asheville. Nick McDevitt is a favorite son for the Asheville, North Carolina area, but he's due a job upgrade after how he's managed to keep this program atop the Big South despite being pilfered by other schools luring his best players away. He's still got good ones on campus though. Macio Teague and Ahmad Thomas (great all-around defender) make the Bulldogs the preseason faves in their league. 

The Tigers have the most depth of anyone in the Colonial. Pat Skerry will liberally interchange at least 10 guys. To me, an easy pick for the second-best team in the CAA. 

Some teams are better than they have any right to be. Richmond's managed to stay steady as of late, though T.J. Cline was a huge part of that. He's gone, so look for the Spiders to slip in efficiency but win by committee.  

Picked to finish fourth in the Mountain West. Rodney Terry's team makes a leap if they opt to start taking, and making, more 3-pointers. 

The team loses its starting power forward and center from a year ago, so the question marks are there in terms of the Bulldogs' at-large chances. But the backcourt is deep, as Jacobi Boykins leads a deployment of attackers who will challenge every team in Conference USA. 

Probably going to be the second-best team in the WAC. Paul Weir left new coach Chris Jans a lot to work with here. Most interestingly, Sidy N'Dir is back after missing some time last season to injury. Will have a chance at being league player of the year. 

Nick Perkins has big breakout potential. CJ Massinburg is the guy to know about now. The Bulls are one of the three best teams in the MAC. 

Gonna have one of the five best players in the league in Justin James. 

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Tennessee's Grant Williams was stellar as a freshman last season. USATSI

There's still a lot of youth on this squad, which was picked second-to-last in the SEC. Rick Barnes will look for big strides from a trio of sophomores, Grant Williams, Lamonte Turner and Jordan Bowden. 

In Drew McDonald the Norse have the preseason Horizon POY. This team is second only to Oakland in that league. McDonald's got a great lead guard in Lavone Holland. NKU has swiftly adapted to life at the D-I level. 

I'll take the Hoyas to bring up the caboose in the Big East. In reality, no one knows how Patrick Ewing's first foray into head coaching is going to go. Jessie Govan, a talent worth watching, is by far the best player on this roster. If Hoyas fans are realistic, they'll prepare for a three- or four-win season in the Big East. The non-con is obscenely bad, so GU will pick up empty-calorie victories there. 

Olin Carter III is a preseason All-WCC selection. Lamont Smith is coaching his way up the standings. USD is going to spike on offense this season. If it can win a few road games, it's going to make a world of difference. 

Set for a bounce-back season after a predictable but aberrational 14-16 season in 2016-17. Still, not convinced this is going to become a top-two team in the Valley. Jeremy Morgan's departure is why. Bennett Koch steps in as the alpha. Doug McDermott's cousin, Adam, is on this roster.

Pat Kelsey left Winthrop, then Winthrop took him back after he was set to take UMass. Now that he's back, Kelsey will try to get Winthrop to consecutive NCAA Tournaments for the first time since 2007. The Eagles' coach then? Gregg Marshall. Xavier Cooks will be one of the best players in the Big South. 

Going to run the Big West for at least the next two seasons. The Anteaters have the most established roster in the league even after losing important pieces. Keep an eye on Jonathan Galloway, plus center Brad Greene. Greene will be key, because the Big West will be won with bigs, not guards or wings. 

Losing such a tremendous talent like Jaron Blossomgame is hard to bounce back from. The question is, will Clemson stay with Brad Brownell if the Tigers are mediocre -- as expected -- this season? 

Its coach, Craig Smith, was heavily courted for the Drake job. Ultimately, Smith chose to come back and go for a Summit League title behind his star, Matt Mooney. USD was hit by losing Trey Dickerson to Georgetown. Nebraska transfer Nick Fuller has to step in right away and contribute.  

Steve Pikiell needs a couple more years, but I'm telling you he's going to get this program tantalizingly close to the NCAA Tournament. Five-year project that's on year No. 2. 

Coaches tell me that Malcolm Drumwright and Norbertas Giga are the two guys to keep tabs on with Jax State this season. Last year's NCAA tourney bid was no fluke, either. Belmont's going to get a push from these Gamecocks. 

The Tigers were definitely the best team in the Ivy League last season. Now, probably third. But Myles Stephens, Amir Bell and Devin Cannady could have enough to upset Yale or Harvard in the second year of the Ivy League Tournament. 

Herb Sendek's Twitter account is one of only 11 followed by the official KFC Twitter account as one of the famed 11 "herbs" and "spices."  

The Phoenix are breaking through in the CAA, even as relative newcomers to the league (they moved over from the SoCon in 2014). Matt Matheny's got a crop of four starters back on a team that was 18-14 last season and probably gets to 21 or 22 dubs in 2017-18.

Larry Eustachy has a system in place, because CSU should still be a top-six Mountain West program even after losing Emmanuel Omogbo and Gian Clavell. Center Nico Carvacho will be the breakout player for the Rams. 

I'm ranking the Tigers this high -- yes, high -- because of Tubby Smith's coaching acumen. Roster-wise, it's the worst the Tigers have had in a generation, though the freshmen could be better than some expect. The schedule is soft enough to give the program a shot at finishing .500. 

Only won 10 games last season, but now the Jaspers (are college hoops nicknames the best or what?) are experienced and bringing back their best player, senior Rich Williams. Fellow senior Zane Waterman is also solid. A big offensive jump is coming. 

Mike Young's been building for a bounce-back year, and it would be surprising if this team doesn't encroach on 20 wins. Fun side note: Five-star phenom Zion Williamson lives close by and has made a habit of dropping in at Wofford to work out. It'd be the coolest thing ever if Williamson stunned the world and went one-and-done in the SoCon. 

Banking on the Rockets finding success with two transfers from big-conference programs:  Tre'Shaun Fletcher (via Colorado) and Willie Jackson (via Missouri).

Going to be a quality season for the Bulldogs because a loaded, deep team is coming back. Demetrius Denzel-Dyson could turn into a 20-point-per-game guy. Wyatt Walker will be the toughest big man in the SoCon, probably.  

Omega Harris is a talented guard, and the real big dude, Matt Wilms, a true 7-footer they say, will probably ensure UTEP's in the top four of the Conference USA standings again.

Dark horse in the CAA. Rokas Gustys is going to live a lavish life with a 15-year overseas career once his time at Hofstra's done. He's the best rebounder at the mid-major level. Then the Pride have Justin Wright-Foreman, who might put up 20 points per game this season. A lot to like about this team. The top of the CAA looks as good as it's been in five years. 

T.J. Otzelberger arrived in Brookings and wound up coaching his way into the NCAA Tournament in 2016-17. Mike Daum is the best player in the Summit League, meaning SDSU will be expected to win the auto bid again. South Dakota's going to brawl for that, though. Great rivalry unfolding near the Badlands. 

Fascinating coaching tenure begins in Seattle. Mike Hopkins, who was contractually guaranteed to be Jim Boeheim's successor at Syracuse, was the surprise hire at UW in the spring. Almost nobody saw it coming, but Hopkins was rightfully tired of waiting out Boeheim, who now plans to coach at least five more years because his son is set to play for the Orange in 2018.  

On the heels of a 20-win campaign, the Bisons look to be the overwhelming pick for No. 2 in the Atlantic Sun. Rob Marberry in the middle and Garrison Mathews are two of the best in that conference. 

I know better than to doubt Steve Forbes, even if he has a roster that doesn't look top-150 quality. Only one starter (point guard Desonta Bradford) is back, but just watch this team wreck its way to double-digit wins in the SoCon. 

Crazy-fun potential in the Horizon League. Dikembe Dixson is back after an ACL injury last season. He'll ball to the wall. Tai Odiase is the best defender in the conference. The Flames will flirt with their first NCAA bid in 14 years. 

If Vermont is clearly the best team in the America East, Albany is absolutely No. 2 -- and then you can draw a line before getting to teams three through whatever. The Great Danes boast the best backcourt (David Nichols, Joe Cremo) in the conference. 

Longtime readers know I like to get frisky with this list when it comes to taking chances on some low-majors. Seniors Khalil Dukes and and Matt Scott are going to take the Purple Eagles to the top three of the MAAC. All five starters are back. 

Johnny Jones' underachieving final years made way for LSU to lure Will Wade away from VCU and down to Baton Rouge. The Tigers are already recruiting at a notable clip under Wade, but this roster needs at least two years before it's going to be in the top 60 of college hoops. 

The Runnin' Rebels will be fun, thanks to Brandon McCoy's entry to the league. As a freshman he's probably already the most talented player in the Mountain West. 

Five of the top six scorers on this team are back. The Wolverines were 17-17 last season and figure to finish above .500. Team is coached by former Kentucky Wildcat Mark Pope. It's overloaded with transfers from Utah, BYU and Oklahoma.  

Will be led by Otis Livingston II, who's a template in human form of a mid-major lead guard that a 150 schools are looking to find on the recruiting trail every summer. 

Jordon Varnado is one of the best players in the Sun Belt. Troy won the league's auto bid last season and figures to be in the top four, at worst, in the conference again. 

Weird to gauge. Mitchell Robinson was a five-star recruit who joined, quit, re-joined and re-quit the team over the summer. With him out, WKU can't be considered a reasonable pick to win C-USA, since it's essentially a whole new team. Lamonte Bearden, a transfer from Buffalo, is expected to be big-time now that Robinson's out.

This might actually be too high for the Panthers. Kevin Stallings' team has lost everyone, including Jamel Artis and Michael Young -- two very good players. It's going to be a long season in the Steel City for the Zoo. 

It's tough to gauge the OVC because so many programs rely on transfers and junior college players. Murray State forecasts as something of a reliable team, though, because of Jonathan Stark and Terrell Miller. Murray State was unusually bad last season, and that's just not gonna happen again. Top-three OVC club right here. 

Will probably tussle with Valpo for the right to be in the top half of the MVC. Barry Hinson's team loses its three most productive players. Non-conference could be a roller coaster. Another team with a great name on the roster: Thik Bol.

I'm not sure I've written this before or not, but Ohio coach Saul Phillips needs to do a "Better Call Saul" bit and let the Internet rave. He's got the personality to do it. This is my public challenge to you, Saul. Do it. 

Brett Reed's going to prove again how good of a Patriot League coach he is, because this team is going to wind up top-three in the conference despite losing a star in Tim Kempton. Lehigh's always got a next man up. Kahron Ross is my pick for breakout player.  

Mark Alstork transferring to Illinois is going to leave a ... mark. But Scott Nagy's got good contributors returning, and he's probably going to be in the Horizon League title game come 2019. One of the better mid-major coaches out there. 

Still enough wattage leftover from Kevin Keatts' time here to list UNCW among the top four teams in the CAA. C.B. McGrath, who was an assistant on UNC's title-winning team last season, is now the coach. 

New kid on the block, as Valpo makes the move from the Horizon League. It's a great fit for the Missouri Valley, which made the best possible replacement after losing Wichita State. 

James Thompson IV is a big talent, but here's what one MAC coach dished to me about him: "NBA talent, without question. It's really about where his head is at. He's really like the DeMarcus Cousins of this league. But he's unbelievable. If he could somehow put it together, his talent level could raise Eastern Michigan."

Ahmaad Rorie is the name to know, but Montana's building out its program by bringing in transfers from major-conference teams in the Pacific Northwest. Rorie came from Oregon, and Donaven Dorsey, via Washington, is rumored to be all-league caliber.  

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After transferring from Kentucky, Marcus Lee is ready to take the court at Cal. USATSI

The Golden Bears hired Wyking Jones, a Cuonzo Martin assistant, when Martin left for Missouri. Though there's consistency with the program from that perspective, in terms of the roster, it's kind of a reboot. Former Kentucky big man Marcus Lee will play here this season. 

The very worst offensive-rebounding team in college basketball last season, winning only 15 percent of its second-chance opportunities. Ritchie McKay won't do a 180 with that, but even a solid uptick should ensure this veteran team to compete at the top of the Big South. 

Maurice Joseph did well for himself last season as interim head coach, guiding GW to a 20-15 finish. But that was with an NBA talent, Tyler Cavanaugh, starring. The Colonials aren't bereft of good Atlantic 10-level players this season, but a step back feels unavoidable. 

A little biased here because of a freshman Walter Whyte, who was a good get out of Connecticut for BU. Plus, the Breaking Bad puns will be relentless the next four years, and that's always a good thing. 

No denying that the Bears are going to be even better than last season's solid team because every starter is back. That is normally like gold for any basketball coach. Lead guard/senior Jordan Strawberry is the team's best all-around player.  

The Bearkats can improve on their 10-8 Southland record in part because Josh Boutte, a JUCO transfer coming off an ACL injury, has created some buzz around this program. 

Micah Seborn's back, and that's about it. The Hawks are going to take a slip, alas. Justin Robinson, Je'lon Hornbak and Chris Brady all left. Seborn's going to have a shot at MAAC POY because of how much will be on his plate. And at least the bench is still gonna be must-watch for its celebrations. 

Jalen Walker was the MAC league tourney MVP en route to Kent State's automatic bid. The Golden Flashes lost two really good players. Now, maturity is a key with this team. 

Hasn't been able to sprint at the top of the Mountain West since coming over from the WAC in 2013. Tim Duryea has a First Team preseason honoree in Koby McEwen. 

The Sycamores lost too many one- and two-possession, and overtime, games in league play last season. Luck will be on their side in 2017-18. Senior Brenton Scott is among the four or five best players in the Valley.  

Got this Jarius Lyles guy, who's just outstanding. Will be a top-half America East team in part because Ryan Odom runs a really weird style that's different from everyone else in the conference. The Retrievers run, while most other teams prefer to play in the slop. 

A bad season will lead to a blooming turnaround. Corey Allen was the Freshman of the Year in the Horizon, and Jaleel Hogan will be one of the best scorers in the conference. 

You know, the Big Sky is going to be strong this year. A lot of veterans returning. Victor Sanders of the Vandals is among those. He could be in the 40-point club once or twice this season. 

Dave Richman returns A.J. Jacobson and Paul Miller to the lineup, setting up the Bison to be a top-end Summit League squad. 

The best team in the NEC. Keith Braxton and Isaiah Blackmon are arguably the two most talented players in the conference, Blackmon being a little bit better. Braxton's 6-foot-3 yet can play at the 4. "A total asskicker" one coach told me of his game. 

D'Marcus Simonds would make any Sun Belt coach's list of the best players in the league. And he's only a sophomore. I'd expect this team to be in the top 150 next year. 

Last season's NCAA Tournament rep from the Big West. The Aggies do lose a lot though. Why so high, relatively speaking? Chima Moneke. Case can be made he's the best player in the league. T.J. Shorts is going to go from JUCO unknown to top-three Big West PG by the end of 2019. 

Leon Gilmore, a critical player, is under indefinite suspension and it's not even known if/when he'll play this season. T.J. Holyfield returns, and Ty Charles will also b all the more critical if Gilmore's out. 

Nick Mayo will again be a top-three player in the league. Some think he's the best. He's an absolute beast in the OVC, and truth be told, could make the roster of almost any program in America. 

Tyler Nelson is the most valuable player in the MAAC, and yet he's got a lot coming back with him. FU is the dark horse pick to win that league. 

Paul Weir packed up his things and made the three-hour drive north from Las Cruces (New Mexico State) to Albuquerque, sparking an already-heated in-state rivalry to a new level. Weir takes over a program in flux after Craig Neal's firing in March. 

It's going to be four league titles in five seasons for the Tigers. Mike Davis has this program rolling, and it's streets ahead of the rest of the SWAC. Demontrae Jefferson and Kevin Scott lead the way.

Year No. 2 under Damon Stoudamire begins. The Tigers ranked a very un-Damon-like 344th in 2-point percentage last season.

Strong season in 2016-17, a 25-win outing and good play in the SoCon. Expect more of the same from Wes Miller's guys this season. Should flirt with making a postseason bracket. 

The Ragin' Cajuns got a senior starter named Johnathan Stove, and let me tell you: that guy can get hot. 

Three starters are back for Mike Dunleavy's squad. Ray Ona Embo could be the standout. The Green Wave don't project as an NIT team, but perhaps Dunleavy's extended NBA experience will wind up paying dividends. There's always a team or four that booms up league standings with little evidence to suggest it's coming. 

The Quakers are shifting back into traditional form under Steve Donahue. A.J. Brodeur will have a shot at First Team All-Ivy.  

Jeff Linder's got a good one in Jordan Davis, who at the very least should earn a living for a decade playing overseas. He's probably going to put up 20 points, six assists and six boards for the Bears this season. Total stud. 

Plenty back back on this team, but might lack the offensive prowess needed to win 12 games again in Conference USA.

Derek Kellogg was fired at the end of last season, then Winthrop's Pat Kelsey accepted the job ... only to bail on it minutes before he was scheduled to be introduced at a press conference. Former Chattanooga coach Matt McCall took the gig. The roster isn't built to be a top-10 Atlantic 10 team, so we'll see if McCall can MacGyver this season into something bigger than expected.  

Colton Weisbrod leads what should be the best team in the Southland, as all five starters are back. If this all clicks, Lamar could be a trendy 14 seed upset choice. 

FDU guard Darian Anderson will likely lead the league in scoring, and is the pick for many it the conference to be the NEC POY.

The Ohio Valley made the right call and has done away with divisions. Dana Ford's team doesn't have a star, but the up-and-coming coach could finish anywhere from fifth to 10th in the league. Delano Spencer, now's your time. 

Chris Clemons is one of the most well-known low-major players in the game. In part because of pieces like this, by our own Reid Forgrave. And because he's the nation's leading returning scorer (25.1 ppg). Find the time at least once to catch Clemons find the fire. 

Mike Balado is the coach here now. He was on Louisville's staff until this past spring, having spent four seasons with Pitino. The Red Wolves will be a top-five team in the Sun Belt, probably. 

Dan Monson's good for a good year every few years, if you follow me. Temidayo Yussuf will be in the mix for all-league consideration in the Big West. The 49ers have a fresh look, but Monson's done well with transfers in the past. He's got three JUCO incomers this season who will factor in. 

Linc Darner's high-paced offense was not efficient last season. Sandy Cohen, a transfer from Marquette, figures to be a big-time acquisition and should help the Phoenix hover above .500 in the Horizon League.

Demajeo Wiggins is a good big guy. The Falcons feel like anything from a No. 5 to a No. 9 team in the MAC.

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Sophomore guard Malachi Flynn could be the key to Washington State's offense this season. USATSI

Figures to be the worst basketball team from the Power 5 football conferences. Four senior starters are gone from a team that won just six games in league play. Josh Hawkinson's graduation hits hardest. 

The Huskies are sure to miss T.J. Williams, who was good enough to be the Player of the Year in the CAA. But this is not just about who's gone. Want a name to know here? How about two. Bolden Brace and Tomas Murphy are the future. 

Led by Ramone Saunders, and a team that cleaned up the garbage around the rim as well as any mid-major in college hoops last season. Some of that rebounding has left, though. Keep an eye out on freshman Tyler Plummer.

I'm a parent now, meaning whenever I hear "Rider" I only think about Paw Patrol. As for this basketball team, it's middle of the pack in the MAAC. It's got a player named Stevie Jordan, who could wind up as a top-10 guy in the conference. 

Probably has the best frontcourt in the America East, and that starts with Tanner Leissner. 

Going to have a shot at stealing the Patriot League tourney title because of how old this group is. The Raiders were an average team in the conference last season, but expect a bump up in competitiveness and consistency. 

This team has a guy who completely changed his name once he turned 21.  

Jeff Boals has a rebuild on his hands. Tyrell Sturdivant is probably going to lead the team in minutes. Looks to b the No. 4 or No. 5 team in the America East.  

Joseph Chartouny gets the lion's share of the duties here, but Tre Evans, by way of Oklahoma State, is going to make the Rams better this season.  

Tyler Hall is only an unknown if you're a casual college basketball fan. He's on NBA scouts' radars at this point, and by necessity he's going to put up huge numbers this season. The team around him isn't top-level in the Big Sky, but if Hall has an obscene season, or even a run in the league tournament, he could lift this group to the NCAAs. 

With Matt Morgan evolving by the month, I like the Big Red's chances to surprise the Ivy League and take Penn to the wire for that fourth Ivy League playoff bid. 

Marlain Veal, the player of note for the Lions. Coaches in the league vary widely on how this team is going to do this season. So 212 feels right, right? 

Probably lacks the firepower to win the WAC, but has enough girth in the paint to make it interesting. And hellish for opponents. 

I'm not sure how good Weber State's going to be this season in the Big Sky, but I'm pretty certain Brekkott Chapman, a top-150 player out of high school who transferred from Utah, is going to ball the hell out. Coach Randy Rahe might have something up his sleeve here.  

John Groce's success in the MAC (at Ohio) landed him the Illinois job. Now, not having to take a year off or be an assistant elsewhere, he slides back into the conference. The Zips will probably compete for a league title by 2020 under Groce, but this season will likely find them in the bottom four of the conference. 

Opposing coaches know that Jon Davis is a guard on NBA radars at this point because of his knack for the right play and his major-conference size. Mark Price has the 49ers on pace to contend for the NCAAs by 2019. 

Probably a bottom-three AAC team again, but Jeremy Sheppard's a promising young player. Thing is, if ECU doesn't shock the league by finishing in the top seven or eight, do they make a change at head coach? Jeff Lebo's on year No. 8 without a Big Dance bid. 

Still building. Needs time. Joe Rosga is going to be a Summit League breakout player. 

Junior Robinson has First Team potential in the NEC. Jamion Christian's program was deflated by transfers. The team lost its three best guys. 

Went 17-15 last season but lost its leading scorer and its point guard. Jackson Rowe is a skilled 4 man who's going to flirt with averaging a double-double.

The Redhawks tapped Jim Hayford on the shoulder, and so now he's taken over this program, which has been NCAA Tournament eligible for just over a half-decade. Hayford's coming off a strong season with Eastern Washington, which featured an NBA prospect in Jake Wiley. Seattle U. is a sleeping giant in the WAC. 

Class of the MEAC. Zaynah Robinson is a name all too known in league circles. A strong season could lead to a 15 seed, and we know how that's worked out for the Spartans in the past. 

Shawn Anderson leads a ragtag-type of group that's going to lack a star but has enough balance to prevent any dip worse than sixth in the Patriot League. Long-distance shooting is a concern.

The Peacocks have the best defensive scheme in the league, but there's probably too much gone from last season's squad to finish in the top four of the MAAC. Sam Idowu, a relative unknown, is going to be a quirk to this team, though. He's a 3-point shooting center. 

Jalone Friday is a 6-9 skilled, scoring big man that's going to pace the team to another solid shooting season and probably a top-five finish in the Southland. 

Three senior starters gone from a 16-17 team. Probably will decelerate to 13 or 14 wins.  

Yet another program with a new coach. Jerrod Calhoun, who cut his teeth in D-II, takes over for Jerry Slocum. Big name to know is senior Cameron Morse, who led the Horizon League in scoring last season (23.2 ppg). 

This team had three crucial guys sitting out last season, and probably is going to roar into the top half of the Big South. Jahaad Proctor will be a well-known name in this league by February. 

The program's had the NCAA in its kitchen for nearly a year and a half now, an investigation tied into academic misconduct and other issues from the Orlando Antigua era. Former Georgia Tech and Dayton coach Brian Gregory was brought in square things up. The Bulls will likely be the worst team in the American this season, just as they were last season.  

This program is the definition of average mid-major over the past 15 years. Just a bunch of 19-, 17- and 12-win seasons and no NCAA Tournament showings. 

Brian Wardle needs to find himself a Keifer Sykes to change the direction of this program. The Braves are young and still working on getting fluidity on offense. 

No Luke Petrasek anymore, which leaves Columbia with a lot of production to replace. Mike Smith, a 5-11 sophomore, probably becomes the leading offensive player for the Lions.  

Joe Lopez was third team All-NEC last year. He could develop into the best post player in the conference. If SHU still had Cane Broom (now at Cincy), it would be the favorite to win the league.  

Famously upset Indiana last season, in Fort Wayne, and in retrospect that might have been one of the key events that led to IU firing Tom Crean. Jon Coffman is trying to be remembered at Fort Wayne for making an NCAA Tournament, though, not just beating Indiana. 

New coach Jean Prioleau is the most recent head-coach hire in the sport. Dave Wojick's abrupt resignation in July opened up the Spartans' post; Prioleau got the job in early August. SJSU went 14-16 last season but brings back plenty. 

Has been the proudest program in the MEAC since LeVelle Moton got there. The roster has a solid dos of turnover, but I'm trust Moton to continue to coach at a high level in a low-major league.

With versatile Geno Crandall at the center of some of the best pick-and-roll sets you'll see at the mid-major level, the Fighting Hawks figure to be top-three in the Big Sky. 

Point guard Jon Elmore runs that Dan D'Antoni system  quite well, and excels by playing with great pace and skill. Middle-of-the-road C-USA team this season. 

The River Hawks are slowly but surely getting better and proving themselves to be on the come in the America east. Jahad Thomas is an incredible all-around player at his level.  

Came so close to playing their way to the NCAA Tournament, but lost to Jacksonville State in the OVC title game. A lot of new faces in the fold here, so it's not expected that the Skyhawks (as opposed to Ground or Waterhawks?) can duplicate a 10-6 record in the league. 

Here's one what Southland coach had to say: "I know Jalen West is back this year and was one of the top guys in our league ... but he's coming off 100 knee surgeries, and I am really wanting to see how he looks before I'd just automatically put him in that conversation (for best player). But that's just me. He was really good before ... and a great kid. As a rival coach, I hope he sucks against us and is awesome against everyone else."

A number of candidates were offered this job, only to turn it down. Former Akron coach Keith Dambrot accepted, and a few coaches told me in the offseason he's probably going to get the Dukes damn close to, if not in, the NCAA Tournament before his time's done there. Traditionally, this program does not compete atop the A-10. 

Andre Walker is a top-five Patriot League player thanks to his scoring ability and tenacity around the rim. 

A mishmash roster that was picked to finish at the bottom of the Mountain West. The Falcons' 2-point defense rated among the worst at the mid-major level last season. 

You heard it here first (or maybe you didn't!): Nico Clareth will lead the MAAC in scoring. Jimmy Patsos is going to be frustrated a lot because he's got all these freshmen, but he'll still be entertaining to watch. 

Probably the most mysterious team in the MAC. Dante Thorpe, a JUCO star, is a player a lot of league coaches will be tracking. 

Martin Ingelsby's off to a good start at UD. Ryan Daly is a sophomore that could be the preseason Player of the Year by the time he's a senior.  

Duggar Baucom's got that speed-on-speed all-out shooting, run-run-run offensive style. You can't prepare to play this team in any normal fashion. They'll average more points than any team in the sport. They also have an interesting connection, like many teams in college hoops, to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico. 

Jake Wiley's gone (an insane story), now with the Brooklyn Nets, and so is his coach. But watch Bogdan Bliznyuk, who's going to be pretty productive for the Eagles this season. At times he was the go-to-guy, over Wiley, on last year's team. With a new coach in place, let's see if EWU still plays to its strengths by going unconventional and positionless. 

If Pepperdine is actually the 250th best team in college basketball, this job sets up as the only one in the WCC that gets a coaching change come the end of the season. 

Interesting team, because it was one of the most successful squads in the sport at getting to the foul line, then shot an awful 63.5 percent. Keep the former, ditch the latter habit.  

Very young squad last year, so a natural next step should mean the Roadrunners snug right up against .500 if they don't blow games on their home floor. 

Most difficult team to prepare for offensively. in the MAC They're the fast type. No sets, just come down and get yours. The Chippewas lost two 20-point-per-game scorers, but they'll still be launching 30 3s a game. 

A bottom-half CAA squad, and probably going to stay that way because of the defense. Bill & Mary can't keep up with the top teams in the conference from a defensive lens. David Cohn has point guard duty. 

Lost Noah Allen to graduate transfer, which hurts. Hawaii under Eron Ganot runs a wide variety of sets and features a lot of players with multiple responsibilities and roles. Ganot deosn't run cookie-cutter sets, which is why Hawaii's tough to play, in addition to the trip teams take out there.

The loss of three senior starters combined with the fact that Texas State got 22 wins vs. a bland schedule has me thinking the Bobcats will revert to average in 2017-18. 

Remember, beloved local Terry Porter is coaching this team. The Pilots get the pleasure of playing in the PK80 ... and likely will lose by an average of 20 points to a bunch of big-conference programs.  

Evan Boudreaux is one of the true hidden gems in all low-major college basketball. 

Preston Spradlin is the new coach here, having been promoted for good at Sean Woods' firing in the wake of multiple physical abuse allegations by Morehead State players. Spradlin is 30 years old, the youngest head coach in D-I. 

The Golden Griffins (the MAAC is in the running for best collection of team monikers) aren't overwhelming, but they do have Jermaine Crumpton, who's the best big man in the league. Other than that, it's a rebuild for Reggie Witherspoon.

Went 13-19 under Jimmy Allen but brings back a lot of contributors from last season. A top-175 defensive team at KenPom despite being in the bottom five of block percentage. What an Army stat that is. Undersized but undeterred.  

travinthibodeaux.jpg
It won't be easy for New Orleans'  Travin Thibodeaux to get the Privateers back to the NCAA Tournament. USATSI

New Orleans pays rent in the Southland, which has a strong stable of forwards, and for a low-major league, it's got quality bigs. The Privateers thrive in that world. Mark Slessinger got this team to the NCAA Tournament last season thanks to PF Makur Puou, 6-9 point forward Travin Thibodeaux (led team in assists) and power wing Michael Zeno. 

Guard Mike Cunningham will lead the Spartans, who figure to fight for top-half status in the Atlantic Sun. Lotta teams are going to be vying for that No. 2 spot behind Florida Gulf Coast. 

There will be gains for this team this season. Remember, the scars of NCAA sanction from Donnie Tyndall's time there have started to fade. 

Probably the No. 2 team in the SWAC, thanks to its balance of big men and guard play. Jared Sam is the best center in the league, and Chris Thomas can get by anybody with the ball in his hands. 

Impressive hire by the Mocs in landing Wisconsin assistant Lamont Paris. But how much coaching change can one mid-major program withstand? Paris is the fourth chief in five seasons at this program. The Mocs will rebuild this season after losing a quintet of seniors from 2016-17.  

No more Tra-Deon Hollins, who was one of the most opportunistic thieves in recent mid-major history. Hollins stole the ball at a top-five clip in college hoops the past two seasons. Mitch Hahn becomes the go-to guy.

They got a guy named Ed Polite Jr. And I'm telling you: he is rude to opponents. What a great name for a power wing. 

Zach Spiker is still trying to get a toehold in the Philadelphia recruiting world, a necessity if you're going to win at Drexel. The Dragons will rely on Kirk Lee and build around him over the next three seasons.  

One of the longest tenures in college hoops ended last spring, when Dave Loos retired. In comes South Carolina assistant Matt Figger. It's not every year we see a young coach take over at a small-major program that had the same guy running the joint for three decades. Change of pace ahead, most certainly. 

Had the worst 3-point offense and the worst 3-point defense in the Sun Belt last season. The good news is there's no way that repeats. You literally have to try to be that bad on both ends two seasons in a row -- and lose out. 

Wasn't that good of a team last season, and by all accounts this year's squad is a lesser one. Predicted to finish last in the WCC. 

Led by a kid named Nick Materson. Kennesaw's style of play should keep them in many games, but it's unlikely this will be a top-four team in the A-Sun. 

A top-three job in the Horizon, but the Panthers are on their third coach in three years after LaVall Jordan left in June when Butler, his alma mater, offered him the job. 

I might be too harsh on Corpus-Christi here. Joe Kilgore is an unheralded low-major guard, and Ehab Amin is one of the best defenders in any mid- or low-major league. Team won a lot of games, but the feeling in the league is a lot of other teams have caught up. 

Jack Perri (off a 20-win season) was unfairly fired, but nonetheless, Derek Kellogg takes over and has a Blackbirds team in desperate need of replacing Jerome Frink and Iverson Flem. Look for guard Jashaun Agosto to become the go-to guy.

Not a ton to say here, because the roster is going to look near-unrecognizable from last season. 

Nickname: The Vaqueros. That means Cowboys. But Vaqueros sounds way cooler, especially given how close this program is to the Mexican border. A school-wide overhaul -- from branding to colors to nickname -- has put UTRGV in the dark a bit from a college hoops perspective, but this will be a competitive team in the WAC.  

The Braves boast the preseason SWAC Player of the Year in Reginal Johnson. And in looking across the SWAC, the bottom is still awful but the top four teams are undeniably stronger in 2017 than what was there in 2012, 2013, and so on. 

Set to surprise because Richie Riley has 10 seniors at here. A soup of JUCOs and grad transfers. Probably has a shot at the top half of the Southland. 

Will probably be a smidge better in the Big West this season. Enough pieces return, so the Highlanders should make moves to getting closer to .500 a season from now. 

The Ospreys have fallen from what they were two years ago because of graduation cycles, but this could still be a dangerous team in the A-Sun. Wajid Aminu, a young small forward with promise, will try to replace the loss of Dallas Moore. 

Matthew Graves' team went 7-11 in the Sun Belt last season and loses a lot of seniors. Probably a few steps back for these Jaguars, who thrive on turnovers. 

Pretty solid veteran squad for Todd Bozeman, who's a reasonable long shot to take the MEAC title. Phillip Carr is not to be messed with.

John Cooper averaged 12 wins per season in five campaigns in Oxford. The school hired longtime Purdue assistant Jack Owens to jack the program up -- in a good way. He'll need a few years. Every MAC coach I spoke with pegged Miami as a bottom-two team in the league this season. 

Rick Ray's got a dude in Denzel Mahoney, and he'll be nearly everything for SEMO this season. The Redhawks lose a metric ton of production from last season. 

Probably, again, will be the worst team in the Missouri Valley. Here's the good news if you're a Bulldogs fan. You've got Niko Medved as your coach now, and he just helped turn Furman from an afterthought into a top-three team in the SoCon. That program had almost no history. Drake could be in good hands here. 

Interesting situation here, as the Gauchos have had a lot to digest this offseason. New coach Joe Pasternack came over from Arizona, and in college hoops circles there's general curiosity as to whether Pasternack's time at U of A will in any way wind up being part of this FBI investigation. Maybe it will, maybe it won't, but it's an undeniable element in play now. In terms of the roster, last season was a disaster with injuries and academic ineligibility. A lot of critical big guys return, as does all-league-capable guard Gabe Vincent.  

Fairly surprisingly, Scott Sutton was let go. Former Baylor assistant Paul Mills now has his first D-I head coaching job. This program is in the Summit League.  

Not much here. Let's check where ULM was ranked in last season's 1-351 ... No. 230! Gah, the inevitable slip. 

Gone is Steven Spieth, younger brother to Jordan, and the best player Brown had last season.   

Probably a year away from bolting up the rankings. Jordan Howard is the leading scorer in the Southland, and now this 7-foot-7 beanpole named S.K. Shittu who got looks from LSU and Houston has joined the roster.  

Jaylen Shaw and Demario Beck are back. What does that mean? It means Coastal's going be just OK in the Sun Belt. 

The Roos are just not in the right league. The school should be better than this, but it's stuck in the WAC and can't find its footing. Now it's a start-over season after losing a bunch of seniors.  

Some expect this group to be the worst in the NEC, but I think Andy Toole's too good of a coach to let that happen. It's a team burdened by freshmen. The Colonials won't be that good, but they have a shot to surprise.

A lot of starters back, but I'm wondering if Hampton played beyond expectation last season and could slip back to the mean in 2017-18. The MEAC isn't short on good guards, and Hampton's similarly built in that style. 

The worst team in the MAAC a season ago, and almost certainly going to be bottom-three again. The team was bad on defense, and many of those guys return. How much will be improved? 

Josh Ibarra, a 6-11 big-bodied center at 285 pounds, is an enigma in the Southland. Ibarra's impact could be dulled by the loss of five seniors. David Caraher could be the best freshman in the league. 

The Vikings hired Dennis Felton to replace Gary Waters. It's a total construction job here. CSU last made the NCAAs in 2009. 

Almost an entire roster of new guys. The most enigmatic team in the A-Sun this season.

John Gallagher insisted to me this will be the surprise team in the America East. I'll eat crow for the Hawks if i'm wrong. Apparently, it's as deep a team as he's had.

An undersized team in a league with solid bigs. Inefficient on defense. The Mustangs, I fear, are trending down in the Big West. 

Scott Pera was promoted from within. The program endured, like others in the Houston area, a hellish summer due to the effects of Hurricane Harvey. From an on-court standpoint, losing Marcus Evans (maybe the most talented player in C-USA) to transfer (he followed Mike Rhoades to VCU) is a dream-killer. 

Not expected to be a mover and a shaker in the Big Sky. Interesting note: Coach Jack Murphy, 38, is a huge Bob Dylan fan. Was born a month before Slow Train Coming came out in '79. 

The Hornets get slotted right next to their Big Sky brethren in NAU. I can't tell the difference between the teams. Justin Strings should be mentioned plenty on opposing scouting reports. 

Not a ton here. Expect the Eagles to flounder with a young team that's a near-lock to finish in the bottom two of the Patriot League. 

As a Bears fan, Jackson State will forever be aligned with being Walter Payton's alma mater. This season, these Tigers could punch up at the Texas Southern Tigers in the SWAC to contend for a league title. Paris Collins (offensively) and Treshawn Bolden (defensively) give this team it's best chance in seven seasons. 

The Cardinals like to play in the 80s. Unfortunately, opponents are frequently known to score in the 90s against them. 

One of the 47 schools with a coaching change. Tony Benford's out, Grant McCasland -- by way of Arkansas State -- is in. Non-basketball take from a music nerd: UNT's music program is among the best in the country. Notable alumni: Roy Orbison, Don Henley, Norah Jones, Meat Loaf. 

A sleeper choice to lead the NEC in scoring: Adam Grant. He's just a sophomore. If he develops into a top-three or -four player in the league, Bryant's going to be the best program in the conference when he's a senior. 

Guard-oriented team that appears to be a full recruiting cycle away from climbing to the top of the America East. 

The Buccaneers are bound to bash it out in the bottom third of the Big South, unless Christian Keeling superhero's his way to being a top-three player in the league. If so, I've underrated this team. 

 Absolutely devastated by losing seven players to transfer -- and there's not even a coaching change! Talk about a fractured locker room.  

So many schools in Division I. In fact, there are about 150 too many, if we're being real. Regardless, South Carolina State projects as a middle-of-the-road MEAC team. 

Stetson was expected to be better this season, then took a big hit when Derick Newton didn't return. Senior speedster Divine Myles will be the small man carrying the big load. 

Will be looking for consistency at positions 1, 2 and 3. Gary Blackston will be handed the keys to the car. Probably a top-five team in the SWAC. 

Weird season in 2016-17, as JMU only beat one D-I team (lowly Longwood) out of league play. JMU was improved in CAA play, but this roster still has much to prove. 

One of two Catamounts in D-I (Vermont being the other). Not too good of a team last season, but everybody's back. As I get into the 300s I often think I squeezed four or five teams too low, and that feeling lingers with this team. 

Made the MEAC semis last season. Got a guy named Logan McIntosh, who sounds like he'd be just as good as lacrosse as he is as basketball.  

You know the saying "It's like ______ on steroids?" What's the opposite of that? I guess you could say Western Illinois is like Wisconsin basketball on pain meds. Slow tempo without the length, without the Ethan Happ, and key pieces have departed.  

Not a good sign when you're the clear-cut best team from the foul line in the Sun Belt but still finish in the bottom three. The Trojans are going to need to hit the rest button this season, methinks.  

Coaching change alert: Tyler Geving out, Barret Peery in. It just hasn't been the same since Ken Bone was running thing at PSU nearly a decade ago. Portland State is nicknamed the Vikings. 

Looks to be universally regarded as the weakest team this season in the Southland. 

Matt Klinewski leads a team in search of a backcourt that can keep up with the top half of the league. The Leopards were sub-par on both ends of the floor last season, amounting to nine wins. 

Still spinning its wheels while the program develops under Donyell Marshall in the NEC. Mustafa Jones and Austin Nehls are the standouts. 

This will still be a team that struggles to get out of the Big South basement, but the good news is it can't get worse than last season. No team was more handicapped by injuries -- I mean no team -- than Longwood. It was so bad, the Lancers were sliced to just six healthy players.  

By most projections, going to again be the weakest team in the America East. Coach Bob Walsh hasn't been given the support he deserves, considering how hard it is to win in Orono. 

Interesting note here: ISU's coach is the guy who specifically did not vote in the preseason Coaches Poll for any schools connected to the FBI scandal

The Bobcats were patient with Tom Moore, but the NCAA Tournament bid this administration is so wanting wasn't going to com under Moore. QU went out and landed one of the most highly coveted assistants in college hoops: Villanova's Baker Dunleavy. The team isn't going to be that good this season, but if Dunleavy can win a few recruiting battles in the northeast in the next year, the turnaround could be quick. 

Not an easy program to win at, despite the location. Anthony Evans will try to surprise in C-USA, but most I spoke with forecast the Panthers at the bottom of the barrel in that league. 

One of a handful of teams that is not eligible for postseason play due to a low APR score. This program only has a couple season left in D-I. (It's moving to Division II in 2019.)

The Cougars have five wins the past three seasons in WAC play. CSU sets up again as the worst team in the conference. Silver lining is this: Every season there are teams projected to finish last who wind up sixth, seventh, eighth place. Some of the teams grouped 315 and lower will do just that, because all projections -- computer, human or otherwise -- have misfires. 

With Wichita State moving from the Valley to the AAC, and Valpo moving from the Horizon League to the Valley, IUPUI moved from the Summit League to the Horizon. A good move at a bad time, as the Jags lose their three best players. 

The Hornets have a borderline top-five player in the SWAC in Rodney Simeon. Current coach Lewis Jackson has taken the program to two NCAA Tournaments in his 11-year tenure. 

A program that can't seem to find its footing in Division I. Still at the bottom of the Ohio Valley. Went D-I in 2008 and has never won more than 12 games. 

Could've been a much better team if Randy Onwuasor, on of the best talents in the Big Sky, didn't leave for LSU. Program is building, but the Onwuasor defection should cause a step back. 

Howard's football team made history in the first week of the college season when the Bison won outright over UNLV despite being a 45-point underdog. Looking at the schedule, the closest thing in hoops this season would be if the men's basketball team won at Gonzaga on Nov. 14.  

The Keydets weren't very good last season, and now a fresh batch of faces enter the picture. Probably two years away from being a year away, to channel Fran Fraschilla. 

Not a lot here, but G/F Anthony Tarke and forward Abdul Lewis Jr. will keep hopes alive for a big turnaround a season from now. 

The Hornets are bound to be bad because of roster turnover. Now comes the unfun part. These final 10-15 teams ... it's rough.

The Golden Lions don't have much depth, but Trent Steen and Joe'Randle Toliver are good enough to carry this team to four or five SWAC wins.  

Tough life for low-majors. This program was 23-12 and minutes from making the NCAA Tournament in 2015. Last season it won four games. 

Porous defensively, and still in need of a philosophical change in on-court operation. They play fast but don't have the talent to support it. 

When I hear Coppin State, I always think of the 15th-seeded Eagles' upsetting No. 2 South Carolina back in 1997. How about this: Coppin State's coach now? Juan Dixon, of Maryland fame. Kinda cool. 

Grambling State probably owns the title of worst college basketball program in the past decade. To move on from that, Donte Jackson was hired as the Tigers' new coach. 

Dustin Kerns takes the controls for the Blue Hose. Will probably be slow going for the Hose in the Big South, but Kerns is going to bring a needed change. Gregg Nibert, like Loos at Austin Peay, was a longstanding general in this program. Time for a reboot. The lowest rated team on my list that's not in the MEAC or the SWAC. 

Ryan Ridder is the new hire here. Young coach, could actually wind up being the perfect guy to give this program a bounce. The team has some raw pieces. I might be underestimating them by ranking so low.

Robert McCullum was hired in May to take over the Rattlers, who have won more than 10 games once in the past seven seasons.

The cupboard is empty. The Delta Devils will need three seasons to grow and compete for the top of the SWAC. 

This team legitimately has a shot to finish in the top 335 (I'm not joking), but it lost Sam Hunt to NC State. That's a big blow. 

Our lowest-rated team is starting over, having hired Donnie Marsh to replace Willie Hayes. Marsh was hired in good part because he was an assistant under Mike Davis at Texas Southern, which has become the Gonzaga of the SWAC.   

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning senior writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his eighth season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics,... Full Bio

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