Quick notes on 2009-2010 cbb teams 41-50
Starting off my preview of the 2009-2010 year with the last at-large teams to make into the NCAA tourney. Here's some quick thoughts on each team.
41. Ohio State- A lot of pundits have the Buckeyes in the top 25 due to Matta's brilliance and the return of David Lighty, but I really think everyone's underestimating the loss of Mullens as a cudgel off the bench, and over-rating Lighty's impact a bit as well. Lighty should help the perimeter defense, but the interior game is taking a big hit without Mullens.
42. Old Dominion- If ODU can fend off Hofstra, I think they'll show they belong in the NCAA tourney. Noone should risk losing the auto-bid, but maybe, just maybe, they could get in without it. ODU's no slouch in coming off a 25-win season, and returning eight of their top nine players, but they do have mid-major height, and this will probably keep them from getting too far in the NCAA tourney.
43. Oregon State- The turnaround continues. They get nearly everyone back, and add a great recruiting class. The new depth should wear down the opposition, and hopefully improve the not-so-great defense a few notches. Calvin Haynes is pretty decent, but is Roland Schaftenaar the new Pittsnogle?
44. Seton Hall- High-visibility transfers+ returning scorers=??? Chemistry is the big question, although how good the Hall is at getting defensive stops is another key to watch early. If new arrivals Herb Pope and Keon Lawrence can provide a little defense and be happy with somewhat-limited roles in the offense (alongside Jeremy Hazell, Eugene Harvey, and Robert Mitchell), it'll be dancin' time again for the Pirates.
45. Richmond- If health holds, they've got enough talent to shoot way up this list. I'm suspecting Dan Geriot's knee recovery is slow enough to keep them from getting further than the NCAA's, tho. A fantastic backcourt is keyed by Kevin Anderson.
46. Illlinois- I'm not very high on the Illini (even now that I'm enrolled there), but I think they'll have enough to squeak into the Big Dance. Honestly, if they can lure former walk-on Jeff Jordan back on the team, it would significantly help their guard play. Right now, it's McCamey outside and Mike Davis inside and not a lot else. The frosh wings make or break this team.
47. Kansas State-Don't look now, but another program is starting to gain momentum in "bloody Kansas." Clemente may have hit the now-viral shot, but backcourt mate Jacob Pullen is pretty important, too. Wing Dominique Sutton may have a really big year, but center Luis Colon needs to continue his improvement.
48. Cincinnati- Deonta Vaughn is getting some help this season from slasher Lance Stepheson and new point Cashmere Wright, and with the maturation of Yancy Gates, this should result in a tourney bid. Big caveat here, tho- if the Bearcats aren't able to shore up their in-conference defense (1.10 points given up per possession last season), they won't even be on the bubble.
49. LaSalle- This is one I may rue, but I think they may just be due. If Vernon Goodridge had gotten another year, it would've helped shore up the interior defense, but the Explorers have a lot of firepower returning. If you get a chance, catch future pro Rodney Green with the ball.
t-50. San Diego State- Transfers should give this mediocre club a boost onto the bubble. Watch the new blood from Pepperdine (Thomas & Shelley) in particular. Illinois transfer Brian Carlwell could have a good impact as well. They'll have their troubles early, as they do lose 4 senior starters. But I think there's enough new blood to get in the NCAA's.
t-50. Western Kentucky- I boldly predict they'll have no big upsets this year, but should continue their conference dominance. With four returning starters and a balanced recruiting class, they'll be set to keep the Sun Belt under their heel. Sergio Kusch is a near-perfect combo forward, and Jeremy Evans will be an elite shot-blocker this season.