November 5, 2011

Ranking them all: Preseason No. 1-345

Today we finished our countdown of the nation's top 32 teams.

Why 32? Frankly, if these teams don't win one game in the NCAA tournament (i.e., get to the round of 32), the season likely will be termed a disappointment.

Here's a recap of the month of previews, and a ranking of the rest of the 345 Division I teams. Preseason Top 32 Countdown
1. North Carolina
North Carolina sure looks like the nation's best team this season. The Heels' chances of winning the title depend on whether they can stay healthy, improve their outside shooting and avoid running into bad luck in March. [ Season preview ]
2. Kentucky
This is as talented a starting five as you'll find. There likely will be a feeling-out process of sorts in November and December because of the true freshman point guard, but by the time January rolls around, UK should be humming along. [ Season preview ]
3. Connecticut
UConn might not be quite as talented as North Carolina or Kentucky, but if you want to go against the grain and not pick one of those two teams to win the national title, the defending champs are as good a choice as anyone. [ Season preview ]
4. Ohio State
This group is talented and many of the key players have a year's worth of experience, but last season's team was anchored by seniors and had impeccable chemistry. Still, the Buckeyes have the talent to win another Big Ten title. [ Season preview ]
5. Duke
The lack of experienced scorers offers at least some reason for worry, but it shouldn't be that much cause for concern. This team simply has too much talent to fall out of the top 10. [ Season preview ]
6. Syracuse
There is a lot of size and the big guys are athletic, which means Syracuse's zone could be even more problematic than usual for foes. One negative about the Orange: They haven't advanced beyond the Sweet 16 since 2003. [ Season preview ]
7. Florida
Because of their backcourt, the Gators look primed for another successful March. A Final Four run is unlikely because of the lack of depth in the frontcourt. But if everyone in the backcourt meshes, another Elite Eight spot is a legit goal. [ Season preview ]
8. Vanderbilt
The non-conference portion of the schedule has some challenging opponents, which should help the Commodores prepare for the SEC race - and for March. There is no reason this team shouldn't be a viable factor in the SEC race. [ Season preview ]
9. Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh again will be a tournament team and the Panthers are looking to redeem themselves after a heartbreaking second-round loss to Butler last season. Gibbs is a star, but the Panthers need some of the supporting cast to grow. [ Season preview ]
10. Baylor
This is a tough team to figure. On paper, Baylor should be the pick to win the Big 12 title. But if you believe in the notion that a quality backcourt is the biggest key to success, Baylor's lack of experienced guards offer cause for concern. [ Season preview ]
11. Memphis
In the first round of the NCAA tourney, Memphis lost by two to Arizona, which advanced to the Elite Eight. Assuming the usual progression for all its sophomores, Memphis would seem to have a legit shot at an Elite Eight berth itself this season. [ Season preview ]
12. Kansas
On paper, this team doesn't seem nearly as strong as most Kansas squads. Then again, Self has proved he can win even when he's coaching a young team. This team is reminiscent of the 2009 Kansas squad that reached the Sweet 16. [ Season preview ]
13. Wisconsin
The Badgers are long on unproven players. How players such as Bruesewitz and Gasser transition from role players to starters and how the remainder of the roster steps up to take roles will determine how far Wisconsin goes this season. [ Season preview ]
14. Marquette
Marquette has won at least 22 games in each of the past five seasons and should win at least that many again this season; the question is whether the Golden Eagles can win two or three - or even four - in March. [ Season preview ]
15. Arizona
Arizona will begin the season in the top 20 and as a slight favorite over California, UCLA and Washington in what should be a wide-open Pac-12 race. That the Wildcats have the depth and talent to win their league in what could be a transition year. [ Season preview ]
16. Louisville
Louisville overachieved last season by winning 25 games and finishing third in the Big East. The Cardinals have a good chance of matching or exceeding those accomplishments this season. [ Season preview ]
17. Xavier
Tu Holloway is one of the best players in the country, so none of the new players will be asked to carry the team. Xavier, though, is too talented and too deep not to finish in the top two of the Atlantic 10. [ Season preview ]
18. Gonzaga
In addition to a non-conference schedule featuring the likes of Xavier, Arizona, Illinois and Butler, Gonzaga's league schedule won't be as pushover-laden as it was during the early years of Mark Few's coaching tenure. [ Season preview ]
19. Alabama
It's hard to overstate how tough this team is on the defensive end. Alabama also is effective on the boards. The Green-Mitchell duo can be devastating up front. Neither is overly big, but they know how to score, rebound and defend. [ Season preview ]
20. Michigan
Expectations are higher for the Wolverines this season because its core group of freshmen now are sophomores. Coach John Beilein looks to have the talent on the roster to make a title run in the Big Ten, but the question mark at point guard is a barrier. [ Season preview ]
21. Texas A&M
The Big 12 doesn't look to be as good as it was last season, and if everything breaks right for the Aggies, they could challenge for the league title. At the least, they should finish in the top three. [ Season preview ]
22. California
Mike Montgomery has a team whose players know their roles, and he has more depth to work with this season. While league foes such as Washington, Arizona and UCLA are replacing key players, Cal has a clear identity. [ Season preview ]
23. Cincinnati
The Bearcats could be headed for a breakout season in the Big East. If Gates can play to his potential for the entire season and Wright can stay healthy, Cincinnati will be a dangerous team in the Big East race. [ Season preview ]
24. Florida State
Florida State's run to the Sweet 16 last season should give the Seminoles a confidence boost, and the heartbreaking overtime loss to VCU in a regional semifinal ought to provide plenty of incentive. But there are reasons for worry. [ Season preview ]
25. Temple
With everyone healthy, Temple -which has won 20 games in four consecutive seasons - should be in its normal spot: contending for the Atlantic 10 title. This is a veteran group that should be hungry for a banner season. [ Season preview ]
26. Mississippi State
The talent is there for a run at the SEC title, and given the teams at the top of the SEC this season, that's saying a lot. If the SEC still were divided into divisions, Mississippi State would vie with Alabama for the West Division title. [ Season preview ]
27. New Mexico
Overshadowed last season by resurgent San Diego State, BYU and UNLV, New Mexico will try to reclaim its former spot atop the Mountain West. It's an attainable goal considering the Lobos return four starters from a 22-win team. [ Season preview ]
28. Missouri
Missouri's backcourt is outstanding, but the Tigers' lack of size will be a problem. What happens if Ratliffe gets in foul trouble? Missouri needs a breakthrough season from 6-9 senior F Steve Moore or 6-8 redshirt freshman F Kadeem Green. [ Season preview ]
29. Purdue
If Robbie Hummel's knee holds up, a scorer or two on the wing emerges and there's decent production in the paint, the Boilermakers could challenge for the Big Ten title. At the least, this is a team capable of a run to the Sweet 16. [ Season preview ]
30. West Virginia
Just nine wins shy of 700 for his career, Bob Huggins should reach that before the New Year despite a challenging early non-conference schedule that includes Baylor, Mississippi State and Kansas State. [ Season preview ]
31. Michigan State
Michigan State entered last season as a popular pick to win the national title. Injuries and inconsistency ended that bid as the Spartans had their most losses (15) since 1995-96 and finished 9-9 in the Big Ten. [ Season preview ]
32. UCLA
The current roster certainly isn't bad, and the frontcourt could be one of the best in the country. But guard play will be the key. The Bruins need veterans to step up and newcomers to make an immediate impact. [ Season preview ]
Ranking the teams No. 33-345
33. Villanova
34. Washington
35. Texas
36. Creighton
37. Miami
38. Marshall
39. UNLV
40. Drexel
41. Clemson
42. BYU
43. Wichita State
44. George Mason
45. Butler
46. Belmont
47. Saint Louis
48. Notre Dame
49. Indiana
50. Virginia
51. Oregon
52. Utah State
53. Illinois
54. Oklahoma State
55. San Diego State
56. Saint Mary's
57. VCU
58. Oral Roberts
59. Georgetown
60. Tulsa
61. Iona
62. Stanford
63. Colorado State
64. Saint Bonaventure
65. ODU
66. Fairfield
67. Harvard
68. Long Beach State
69. Arkansas
70. USC
71. Virginia Tech
72. Northwestern
73. Detroit
74. Austin Peay
75. Long Island
76. Akron
77. Kansas State
78. North Carolina State
79. Ole Miss
80. UCF
81. Indiana State
82. Davidson
83. Bucknell
84. Georgia
85. Minnesota
86. James Madison
87. UW Milwaukee
88. Weber State
89. Iowa State
90. Rider
91. Princeton
92. North Florida
93. Boston University
94. Rutgers
95. Iowa
96. UAB
97. Cleveland State
98. Kent State
99. Florida Atlantic
100. Central Connecticut
101. UNC Asheville
102. LSU
103. George Washington
104. Nevada
105. Northeastern
106. DePaul
107. Tennessee
108. Maryland
109. Duquesne
110. Ohio U.
111. Chattanooga
112. Oakland
113. Montana
114. Oregon State
115. Dayton
116. Santa Clara
117. Seton Hall
118. Arizona State
119. Richmond
120. St. John's
121. Colorado
122. Saint Joseph's
123. Auburn
124. Oklahoma
125. Washington State
126. South Carolina
127. Tennessee Tech
128. New Mexico State
129. Northern Iowa
130. College of Charleston
131. Rice
132. Lehigh
133. North Dakota State
134. Stony Brook
135. Arkansas State
136. East Tennessee
137. UTEP
138. Charlotte
139. Evansville
140. UC Santa Barbara
141. Penn
142. Denver
143. Jacksonville
144. Robert Morris
145. Boise State
146. Valparaiso
147. Wagner
148. Northern Arizona
149. VMI
150. UT San Antonio
151. Western Carolina
152. Hawaii
153. Loyola (Md.)
154. San Francisco
155. Western Michigan
156. Appalachian State
157. Hampton
158. Georgia Tech
159. Rhode Island
160. Miami (Ohio)
161. Louisiana-Lafayette
162. Texas-Arlington
163. Tennessee State
164. Hofstra
165. South Dakota State
166. Cal State Fullerton
167. Lamar
168. Nebraska
169. Mississippi Valley
170. Southern Miss
171. Portland
172. Missouri State
173. Ball State
174. Yale
175. Coastal Carolina
176. Texas Tech
177. Boston College
178. UW Green Bay
179. William & Mary
180. Buffalo
181. Siena
182. IUPUI
183. Providence
184. Penn State
185. Massachusetts
186. Air Force
187. East Carolina
188. Morehead State
189. Morgan State
190. Eastern Washington
191. Quinnipiac
192. Idaho
193. Wright State
194. Niagara
195. Wofford
196. Middle Tennessee
197. Cornell
198. Vermont
199. Fresno State
200. UNC Greensboro
201. Drake
202. Loyola (Ill.)
203. Southern Illinois
204. Utah
205. TCU
206. Western Kentucky
207. Murray State
208. Alabama State
209. Tulane
210. UNC Wilmington
211. San Jose State
212. Saint Peter's
213. Loyola Marymount
214. La Salle
215. Delaware
216. Bradley
217. IPFW
218. North Texas
219. Cal Poly
220. Mount St. Mary's
221. Charleston Southern
222. McNeese State
223. Coppin State
224. Lafayette
225. Liberty
226. Albany
227. USF
228. Wake Forest
229. Northwestern State (La.)
230. Holy Cross
231. Columbia
232. Texas Southern
233. SMU
234. Louisiana Tech
235. Fordham
236. Wyoming
237. Houston
238. Illinois State
239. Arkansas-Little Rock
240. Stephen F. Austin
241. Georgia State
242. Southern Utah
243. UC Riverside
244. High Point
245. Central Michigan
246. Kennesaw State
247. New Hampshire
248. NC Central
249. Bryant
250. Southeastern Louisiana
251. UT Martin
252. Winthrop
253. Howard
254. Brown
255. Sacred Heart
256. Sam Houston State
257. Pepperdine
258. Portland State
259. UC Davis
260. Norfolk State
261. Jackson State
262. American
263. Eastern Kentucky
264. St. Francis (N.Y.)
265. Bethune-Cookman
266. South Alabama
267. Utah Valley State
268. Missouri-Kansas City
269. Manhattan
270. Georgia Southern
271. Lipscomb
272. Montana State
273. NJIT
274. Florida International
275. Colgate
276. Maine
277. Texas State
278. Hartford
279. Bowling Green
280. Troy
281. Mercer
282. Seattle
283. Canisius
284. Elon
285. Navy
286. Towson
287. Youngstown State
288. The Citadel
289. South Dakota
290. Pacific
291. Northern Colorado
292. Southeast Missouri
293. Nicholls State
294. Presbyterian
295. Delaware State
296. St. Francis (Pa.)
297. North Dakota
298. Alabama A&M
299. Campbell
300. Illinois-Chicago
301. Samford
302. UC Irvine
303. Monmouth
304. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
305. Maryland-Baltimore County
306. Gardner-Webb
307. Longwood
308. Marist
309. Northern Illinois
310. USC Upstate
311. San Diego
312. Cal State Northridge
313. Dartmouth
314. North Carolina A&T
315. Eastern Illinois
316. Louisiana-Monroe
317. Furman
318. Army
319. Florida A&M
320. Sacramento State
321. Eastern Michigan
322. Prairie View
323. Florida Gulf Coast
324. Western Illinois
325. Binghamton
326. Fairleigh Dickinson
327. Jacksonville State
328. Idaho State
329. Maryland-Eastern Shore
330. Radford
331. SIU-Edwardsville
332. Arkansas-Pine Bluff
333. Toledo
334. Stetson
335. Savannah State
336. Texas-Pan American
337. Cal State Bakersfield
338. Grambling
339. South Carolina State
340. Alcorn State
341. Houston Baptist
342. Central Arkansas
343. Chicago State
344. Southern
345. Nebraska-Omaha

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Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for He can be reached at

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