Maladroit44's Pre-Season Ballot

1 Gonzaga Gonzaga is the only top team that gets back so much production and its coach, and Malachi Smith is that guy. You can say they haven't won a title, but hey, B1G teams get #1 votes all the time.
2 North Carolina UNC has almost as much coming back as Gonzaga does. They finished last year insanely hot, but it was quite a departure from how they played up until February.
3Houston The roster is really encouraging, but also: Houston just needs credit for being among the best teams in March Madness in back-to-back years.
4 Duke I am not a recruiting follower, but Duke has like three top-ten recruits this season. Hard to bet against that.
5 Kansas The roster is kind of a hodgepodge, but I trust Bill Self to put together more than the sum of its parts.
6Arkansas Arkansas is in the Houston category: lots of talent, lots of turnover, but also lots of overdue credit for being reliably great in March of late.
7 Baylor Baylor's consistently been one of the very best teams in basketball lately. There's a lot of turnover, but they'll be good again.
8 Kentucky Oscar Tshiebwe is really good, obviously. I have my doubts about the roster beyond him, though. A lot of doubts.
9UCLA UCLA, like Baylor, is a team that could've made the Final Four if they hadn't run into the UNC juggernaut. It's not hard to see the lineup coming together, despite how different it looks.
10Tennessee There's some interesting talent on the Volunteers' roster. I have to wonder how much Santiago Vescovi can put this team on his back, though.
11 Creighton I was a minor Creighton believer last year, but I'm not sure they've added enough to be a legitimate title contender.
12 Virginia I expect Tony Bennett to do Tony Bennett things. He's got a talented, experienced roster and made some strong additions this offseason.
13Auburn Auburn has a couple of first-rounders to replace, but it's easy to like the players they brought in, and they've got a solid veteran core.
14 Villanova Losing Jay Wright, Collin Gillespie, and Jermaine Samuels in one offseason is a lot to replace. I don't think they'll be *terrible*, but...I'm waiting and seeing.
15Arizona Tommy Lloyd had a ridiculously good debut season, although he has a lot to replace this year. I wouldn't be surprised if they find a way back to the #1 chase again, however.
16 San Diego State I'm buying all the SDSU hype this offseason. They only lost four games from February on last year—three by a point each, one in overtime—and Seattle's Darrion Trammell is a great add.
17 UConn Adama Sanogo is fantastic, but UConn direly needed to add pieces around him—and they did, bringing in numerous impact transfers over the offseason. I'm intrigued.
18 Texas Put another name on these jerseys and I don't think they're getting top-ten votes. That being said, they're not *bad* and bring back some solid players.
19 TCU As with Texas, I have my doubts about TCU, in spite of the fantastic returns from last year. Mike Miles is really good, but I need to see somebody else step up.
20Texas Tech We just watched Texas Tech completely revamp their roster with transfers, and it worked. Lightning rarely strikes twice, but maybe it has for the Red Raiders, who added nine transfers this offseason.
21 Dayton Easily one of the top two teams in the nation with a Malachi Smith in the lineup. Beyond that, who knows? The Flyers were super young last year, but can they find consistency this season?
22 Alabama Alabama wilted horribly down the stretch last year, washing out of the SEC and NCAA tournaments without a win in either. But they do bring in a couple of great recruits and some solid transfers.
23 Indiana Let's pump the brakes a bit on Indiana—which went 5-9 in February and March—though the returns are pretty encouraging.
24 Miami (FL) Why complicate matters? Miami is a reigning Elite Eight team and figures to start three players who posted 15+ points per game last year (including KSU transfer Nigel Pack). They're gonna be good.
25 Wisconsin There's a fair bit of turnover for Wisconsin, but Greg Gard has consistently put together ranked teams and has a great veteran core to build around. In a reloading Big Ten, the Badgers stand to gain.

Overall Rationale

Next five: Oregon, Illinois, Saint Mary's, USC, Xavier