50 in 50 is a feature here at RCT counting down until the Jayhawks kick off the 2011 basketball season on November first. Got an idea for something you'd like to see featured here? tweet @rockchalktalk or @fetch9 or email me at fetch9 at gmail dot com.
Yesterday I offered up the first half of my preseason Top 25, and while I was going to hold off on posting part two until next week, some time constraints plus a couple of the comments in yesterday's post led me to publish part two today.
This year I think there are 4 or so tiers in the college basketball landscape. My 1 and 2 teams are a tier, and then 3 through probably 11 or so are a tier, then 12 through 20, and then the rest.
In any event, that's not important. Having everyone rip on my picks is important, so let's get right to it:
There was a reason I stopped at 15 yesterday, obviously. Kansas has less depth than they've had probably since I have been a fan of the team, but I still think they'll be a top 15 team and possibly a three seed in the NCAA tournament because 1. the Big 12 is really bad this year and 2. HCBS is a wizard.
Get to know Tu Holloway. The Senior played more minutes than all but five other guys last year and he managed to shoot almost 50% from two and have an assist rate north of 30%. He also was one of the best rebounding guards in the country, grabbing 13.6% of the available defensive rebounds despite standing just 6'.
Maybe a bit of a reach, as they lose Derrick Williams and Momo Jones transferred. Still, they shot 40% from three as a team last year, they return three starters, and they have the 4th rated recruiting class by Rivals, headlined by 11th overall prospect Josiah Turner.
Wisconsin lost three starters, including the great Jon Leuer, but expanded roles for Josh Gasser and Mike Bruesewitz should help lessen the blow. Oh yeah, and Wisconsin has the most valuable player in the country, so there's that.
top 10 after the jump
Baylor has as much talent as anybody. Perry Jones is a phenomenal talent, Quincy Acy and Anthony Jones are Senior leaders, and they have the 14th rated recruiting class including 7th overall prospect Quincy Miller. The two main questions about Baylor is can someone get them the ball (AJ Walton had a 27.3 assist rate but 32.1% turnover rate) and will Scott Drew be able to channel all that talent towards winning? Baylor was probably the 2nd most talented team in the Big 12 last year, and you see where that got them.
I really don't love Vanderbilt. Honestly they should be lower. They were just 9-7 in the SEC last year, which is terrible. But they have all five of their starters back, and experience is huge. Hopefully they give John Jenkins, who had a 58.4% eFG and a 22.7% usage rate, the ball and get out of his way.
Probably lower than anyone else has the defending champs, but consider: 1. they were just 9-9 in Big East play last year, which ranked 9th. 2. The main source of their offense is gone: Kemba Walker played in 90% of their minutes (9th nationally) and had the 20th highest usage rate and took the 26th most shots nationally last year. As for assertions that Jeremy Lamb can be that guy, he did well in the tournament as a secondary option last year, but shot just 42% at the U-19 World Championships last summer, though he did lead the US team in scoring.
Four starters return for the Orange, including enigmatic PG Scoop Jardine. Jardine at his worst isn't anyone you want on your team, but at his best he's one of the best playmakers in the country. His 34.7% assist rate was 30th in the country, and he'll have a lot of great guys to pass it to. Kris Joseph shot 36.6% from three and over 50% from two. The Orange also have no shortage of lanky defenders to execute that 2-3 zone. If Fab Melo improves they could be phenomenal, and watch for Freshman Rakeem Christmas, perhaps the best shotblocker in this year's Freshman class (apparently).
Louisville was the 4th best defensive team in the country last year and lose just one starter. They also ended up being a 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament despite being ravaged by injuries. Peyton Siva is Louisville's version of Scoop: he had a 34% assist rate but also turned it over quite a bit. Senior Kyle Kuric wasn't a big part of the offense last year, but he had the 5th best eFG in the country.
Pitt loses three starters, but they return their most important player. Ashton Gibbs took a lot of shots and managed to still post an eFG of 60.9%. That, plus his ability to not turn the ball over, led to him having the 17th best offensive rating in the country last year. They also nabbed the 9th overall Freshman in Khem Birch. They might struggle to put the ball in the basket at times, but don't confuse that with their offense being bad: They were the second best team in the country in offensive rebounding, they have a majority of those guys back, and they've generally been good at it under Jamie Dixon anyways.
4. Ohio State
Jared Sullinger is awesome. He had a 120.4 offensive rating as a Freshman, and was efficient as a shooter (54.5% eFG), and a rebounder (14% offensive, 26.2% defensive). However, with the graduation of Jon Diebler (50% from three) and David Lighty (43%), defenses will be able to key on Sullinger a bit more. Aaron Craft is a phenomenal defender, but offensively his game is still a bit limited: he had a higher turnover rate than assist rate last year.
The Blue Devils bring in three Freshman who will contribute right away, including Austin Rivers, the #1 overall prospect in the class. I'm personally not a big Rivers guy, but everyone else seems to love him so I'll defer to expertise. Hopefully for his sake he fares better than Rivals's #1 recruit of 2010. The Plumlee brothers and Ryan Kelly provide Duke with a solid front line, and I think Seth Curry is going to have an absolutely monster year.
This group of Kentucky Freshmen is probably the most talented that John Calipari has ever assembled. Even better than the John Wall/DeMarcus Cousins group. Anthony Davis is already being talked about as the #1 pick in the next NBA draft, Michael Gilchrist is a versatile forward, and Marquis Teague looks like he'll be a better fit than Brandon Knight was last year. And if that wasn't enough, Terrence Jones, who doesn't need the ball to be effective, is back. Hilarious jokes aside, I do have some doubts about Calipari's coaching ability, but he should be able to roll the balls out and watch this year.
1. North Carolina
They're really, really good. They were the 6th best defensive team last year, Harrison Barnes got a lot better as the year went on, Tyler Zeller had a 54.7% eFG, and John Henson was a great rebounder. Also, Kendall Marshall had the 7th highest assist rate in the country as a Freshman. And oh by the way they also add talented recruits James McAdoo and PJ Hairston. I honestly think they are as big of favorites as they were in 2009.