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Top of the Arc - April 7, 2009

April 7, 2:45 p.m.: Just got back from Detroit, where North Carolina pulverized Michigan State on Monday night. It’s never too early to look ahead at the 2009-2010 season. Now, I’m not ready to post a 65-team bracket for next season just yet. And a lot can and will obviously change based on who declares and remains in the NBA draft. So this list remains extremely fluid. But here is a very early top five for next season.

1) Kansas
If Sherron Collins returns, the Jayhawks will be strong. Add in the legitimate possibility of adding recruit Xavier Henry and Kansas will have a chance to win a second national title in three season.
2) Syracuse
A lot hinges on whether guard Jonny Flynn returns to the ‘Cuse. Eric Devendorf, who seems like he has played for the Orange for eight seasons, should be back.
3) Michigan State
Goran Suton and Travis Walton are gone, but expect Kalin Lucas and Raymar Morgan to raise their games.
4) Villanova
Dante Cunningham and Dwayne Anderson will no longer be patrolling the front court, but Coach Jay Wright brings in two high school all-Americans to assist Scottie Reynolds.
5) Purdue
If Robbie Hummel is at full strength all of next season, the Boilermakers could make a deeper run in the NCAA tournament because Coach Matt Painter’s team is expected to return the majority of his top scorers.

Wild card:

Kentucky: If Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson return to school, and if Coach John Calipari can lure former Memphis commitment DeMarcus Cousins and recruit John Wall to Lexington, the Wildcats could make a case for a top three spot in preseason polls. But those are big ifs.

By Eric Prisbell  |  April 7, 2009; 2:45 PM ET
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Mr. Prisbell's pro-Big East, anti-ACC bias continues. He picks a Villanova team as a top-5 pick that loses its two best players, and the two high school All Americans coming in won't replace them eve 75%. Next, he picks a Michigan State team that loses its top two players, which by his own words was "obliterated" by UNC, and they're a top-5 team?

On the other hand, he ignores a Wake Forest team that will return its top six scorers. Moreover, UNC, despite losing its top four players, will return veterans Ginyard, Thompson (likely), Davis, and Zeller to go with the top recruiting class in the country (5 high school All Americans). By the end of the year, the freshman -- most of whom will get plenty of playing time -- will be veterans. Certainly this team can replicate what Kansas did this year after losing five of its top six players.

In addition to Mr. Prisbell, there is a similar, pro-big East, anti-ACC bias among the other Post sportswriters, all but two of whom excluded UNC from the Final Four (of those who made their picks public). Only Messrs. Berman and Steinberg chose UNC to make the Final Four, and only Mr. Berman chose UNC to win. Eight of 12 chose a Big East team to win. As we know, the Big Least didn't have a team in the finals.

Now, Mr. Prisbell is carrying his bias into next year. When will they learn? Though his Kansas and Syracuse picks are plausible, his Michigan State and Villanova choices are not. Neither team has enough talent coming in to replace what it's losing.

Prediction: Wake and UNC will get farther in the tourney next year than either Michigan State or Villanova.

Posted by: RobBrantley | April 7, 2009 7:14 PM

Hmm...sleeping on USC?

Daniel Hackett, Dwight Lewis, DeMar DeRozan, Renardo Sidney, Taj Gibson...could be the best starting 5. Of course how good they will be depends on DeRozan and Gibson. Trojans will dominate a WEAK Pac-10.

Jodie and Pat, will/should return if they aren't lottery guarantees. If John Wall and Cousins come (possibly Lance Stephenson), Kentucky will play for a 1 seed all year long.

Wake Forest is a nice pick "RobBrantley", but James Johnson isn't going to come back (family issues). I still like them as 2 seed next year.

BTW - Since when did Suton and Walton become the Spartans' best players? State will still be nasty next year. And Larry Drew needs to do some growing up for UNC to be a Final Four contender (I do love Henson though...should be a stud). However, you can't lose what the Heels are losing and be as successful (Big XII is obviously not as difficult as the ACC). I see them much the same as the Carolina team that lost to George Mason as 3 seed in 2006. A young team, really good players, but at times inconsistant. I would peg them as about 3-5 seed.

I hate Duke, but they will stay around the top 10. However Gerald Henderson should go to the Association.

Texas should be back up with Bradley and Hamilton coming in. Really nice athletic roster, shooting could be an issue.

Sleeper long shots for Final Four/Elite Eight run: Ole Miss, Seton Hall, Minnesota, and Georgia Tech.

Bold Prediction: SEC 7 or 8 teams in 2010 NCAA's (Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Miss St, and Arkansas) it.

The reason why the SEC was down last year was because every team except LSU was young, and I'm not sure why that didn't get talked about.

Posted by: wildcatZ | April 7, 2009 7:55 PM

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