I know it is early, but 1/2 the fun is revising after everyone has hired agents, recruits are final, etc... I will be doing this in increments with my 1 - 10 today.
1. Kansas - With Aldrich and Collins staying they would already be the favorite. Add that to their already signed recruiting class with 5-star commits from Elijah Johnson (#6 SG according to Scout.com) and Thomas Robinson (#7 PF) and the possible signing of Xavier Henry (#1 SG) and Lance Stephenson (#1 SF). I think they will most likely sign either or Henry/Stephenson, but it is anyone's guess. We should know more Saturday.
2. Duke - I believe that Henderson will be back. I don't believe financial difficulty is a problem with his family with his father playing 13 years in the NBA and both parents being real estate agents. If they do return all 5 starters with their signed recruits being 6'10.5 Ryan Kelly (#3 PF) and 6'11" Mason Plumlee (#6 PF) they should be a team with high expectations. The weakness will once again be no inside presence. Even with the addition of Plumlee (205 pounds) and Kelly (210) they are still really light in the middle other than Zoubek.
3. Michigan State - A return to the final four is a possibility for this MSU team returning 5 of its top 6 scorers. Losing Suton may be a bit more damaging than a lot of people think. They played much better with him in the line-up this year. They do have 2 four star centers signed (#'s 8 and 19 respectively). Derrick Nix is a beast at 6'9" and 275 pounds but needs a little polish before being a steady contributor. MSU is always a contender because of the fine coaching by Tom Izzo and I expect similiar results next year.
4. Villanova - While losing Cunningham from the final four team, Nova has a recruiting class highlighted by 5-star #3 SF Dominic Cheek and 3 4-star players, Villanova will be a team that should be able to go deep in the tournament once again. They should once again be a stifling defensive squad and a slightly relaxed Big-East should prepare them well for the post-season.
5. UCONN - Assuming that Thabeet is gone, they have a hole to fill in the middle. They will try to fill the hole with rising senior 7'0" 240 pound Mandeldove and incoming freshman recruit Alex Oriakhi (#4 C). I expect that Oriakhi will get the majority of minutes. Mandeldove was known as a shot blocker when coming out of high school but hasn't averaged more than 2.5 minutes a game since his frosh season. The bonus is that UCONN doesn't expect many points coming from the center position with the most likely return of Stanly Robinson combined with Walker and Dyson.
6. Purdue - With their top 4 scorers all returning (3 rising juniors and 22 year old senior leader Keaton Grant), Purdue could be a team to watch. They will have experience and should be ready to take that next step. All of Purdue's top players are very coachable and play hard. Matt Painter should be able to guide them in the right direction.
7. UNC - Will most likely start the season with only 1 starter returning from their NCAA title squad. The Heels will reload with one of the top ranked recruiting classes. The class combined with seniors Marcus Ginyard and Dion Thompson and sophomores Ed Davis, Tyler Zeller and Larry Drew II, the Heels should be back in the mix for a deep run in March. The recruiting class brings in 3 PF - John Henson (#1 PF) and twins David (#15 PF) and Travis Wear (#14 PF) and 2 SG - Dexter Strickland (#4 SG) and Leslie McDonald (#13 SG). The biggest hole UNC will have to fill is PG. Larry Drew II received respectable minutes in the backup role this year. I look for Davis to have a huge year and for the Heels to gel towards the middle of the year.
8. Kentucky - If both Meeks and Patterson return UK could be in the top 5, however, I believe at least one of the 2 will leave. If either do indeed leave, UK will still be a very talented but young team for 1st year head coach John Calipari. With DeMarcus Cousins (#2 C) and Daniel Orton (#3 C) coming in UK should have a strong front court especially if Patterson stays. UK is still in the running to land John Wall (#1 PG) and Xavier Henry. Regardless of anyone staying or going, UK should be poised to be a solid contender in the SEC next season.
9. Butler - Should return every body from their 2008-09 team. They did not have a single senior on their roster last year and started 3 true freshman. With head coach Brad Stevens signing a contract extension, the team looks poised to continue their recent success. Although they lost to LSU in the first round of the tournament the experience should prove to be invaluable. Barring injury, I believe Butler should be a definite sweet 16 team with the possibility of reaching the Elite Eight.
10. Clemson - This is the year Clemson doesn't fold down the stretch. Clemson will be solid. They are returning three of their top scorers and they will be ready to prove that they are the team that we saw the first half of last season, not the latter half of last season. Purnell is a good coach. Clemson has a recruiting class coming in featuring the Milton Jennings (#8 PF) and ACC player of the year candidate Trevor Booker's younger brother Devin (# 24 PF). Look for Jennings to contribute early. This Clemson squad is definitely a player for a run to the elite eight.