Monday, November 3, 2008

Men's College Basketball Preseason Rankings, 16-20

With apologies to Wally Szczerbiak, here are teams 16-20 in the ESPN/USA Today poll.

(16) Miami (of Florida

The Hurricanes notched home wins against Duke and Clemson last year, but lost a relatively early (end of December) game to Winthrop at the BankUnited Center. The home court advantage is there, but Miami is mortal.

The toughest early home game for Miami this season is against Ohio State, which is followed by a road game at Kentucky. They would be fortunate for a split.

Clemson comes into town for the only matchup of the year between the two teams on December 21, which is very early for conference opponents to play their only game against each other. If they run into each other in the ACC Tournament, it would almost be as if they hadn't met at all yet.

Bad news for Miami is they only play AT Duke and have two games against the best UNC squad they've seen since joining the ACC.

(17) Marquette (of Wisconsin)

With four Big East teams ranked above them, Marquette might fly under the radar for much of this season, which can be beneficial. The Golden Gophers have pulled some early upsets each of the last two years (Wisconsin last season, Duke two years ago), and have Wisconsin and Tennessee on the schedule for December.

The toughest stretch for Marquette comes right before the regular season ends. At Georgetown, hosting Connecticut, at Louisville, at Pittsburgh. I'd be happy with 1-3 if I were them, how about you?

(18) Georgetown (of the District of Columbia)

Speaking of the Hoyas, this could be a very rough season for them. Early games against Wichita State and American, ranked non-conference opponents in the form of Memphis and AT Duke aren't the story here.

Georgetown has a pair of three-game stretches that could be devastating:
Dec. 29 - @ UConn
Jan. 3 - vs. Pittsburgh
Jan. 5 - @ Notre Dame

Feb. 18 - vs. Marquette
Feb. 23 - vs.Louisville
Feb. 25 - @ Villanova

Hey, at least they have Roy Hibb---oh...uh oh.

(19) Florida (of Florida)

The Gators don't have a strong schedule this year, but that doesn't mean there won't be some potential upsets. Bradley is one of the MVC teams that can give anyone a scare if they leave the door open. At Syracuse and at Florida State will be good non-conference road tests, and Winthrop and NC State head south to try to play spoiler.

Florida lost seven of their final 10 regular season games last season. A talented, young team this year will give the Gators a new look that will only get better over the next few years.

(20) Davidson (of North Carolina)

Sorry boys, you're not fooling anyone this year. Teams are gunning for you this time.

The Wildcats, however, still have that Stephen Curry kid in the backcourt.

Winthrop is on the schedule--the Eagles may not pull off the upset, but they will stun at least one team early this season.

At Purdue and at Duke are the big non-conference games for Davidson, which has gone 37-1 in-conference the last two years. Can the Wildcats earn a number one seed in the Big Dance? Early-season love in the polls and a couple of big games gives them the opportunity.

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