â†µThe best team in the SEC will be Mississippi State. Forget about the John Wall Show at Kentucky: The teams in the SEC coming off an NCAA Tournament berth and returning all five starters play in Starkville and Knoxville. And it's Mississippi State that has the defensive identity that could stymie the Wildcats: Add Renardo Sidney, currently caught in eligibility limbo, and the Bulldogs may have the most imposing frontline in college hoops in Sidney and one-man block party Jarvis Varnado. Maintaining the quietly above-average guard play of last season could be their key. â†µâ†µ
â†µKansas' turmoil will not matter. Sure, the Jayhawks have had their fair share of drama in the off-season, but in Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrige, they have the best inside-outside duo in college hoops, and if super-recruit Xavier Henry is coming off the bench, it is clear that depth is not an issue for this talented squad. Their biggest problem could well be Texas, which is similarly loaded and adds lightning bug Jai Lucas at point guard. â†µâ†µ
â†µThere will be no dominant West Coast team. Only two Pac-10 teams show up on our Top 25 Countdown, and each has problems: Washington may have problems inside without Jon Brockman if Quincy Pondexter can't tap his potential, and Cal hasn't dealt with a full season of high expectations in a little while. Gonzaga lurks, as always, and as long as UCLA is coached by Ben Howland, the Bruins are a fringe candidate, but either the Huskies or Golden Bears become behemoths, or the NCAA champ comes from east of the Rockies. â†µâ†µ
â†µThe most exciting player in the country will remain Chris Wright. Dayton's stud is just one reason to love the Flyers, who go from a sexy sleeper last year to a sexy sleeper this year. But it's Wright who will make the highlight reels while his team plays defense (61.4 ppg allowed in 2008-09): The guy isn't nicknamed "Flight" for his cement shoes. â†µâ†µ
â†µThe most interesting player in the country plays for Missouri. And his name is Kimmie English. Apologies to blogger/snarky bench-warmer Mark Titus, but English is the most fascinating college baller on Twitter, a journalism major and poetry scribbler who happens to be part of "one of the best backcourts in the country," according to his coach, Mike Anderson. Oh, and he literally sleeps in the gym. I think we can safely admire him for his work ethic, too. â†µâ†µ
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