Maybe it's the Kentucky loss, maybe it's the weather starting to change, or maybe it's the fact that practice is now less than a month from starting, but I've caught myself several times this week starting to get excited about basketball season.
Both long-time fans of this blog know that I have a little bit of history with one Richard Vitale, but that doesn't mean that when he comes out with a preseason Top 40 list it doesn't deserve attention...when he ranks Louisville third.
Indeed, Mr. Vitale used his VBI, which of course stands for Vitale Bal--OK I can't do this, just cue the top ten.
- North Carolina: Roy Williams has to be thrilled to have Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington all returning. Deon Thompson will step up big-time in place of Brandan Wright up front.
- Memphis: After back-to-back trips to the Elite Eight, John Calipari's team is ready to move to national championship contention. Chris Douglas-Roberts will have a phenomenal season.
- Louisville: Rick Pitino will have national championship aspirations with this club. David Padgett has to stay healthy.
- Georgetown: Even without Jeff Green (now a Sonic), John Thompson III has a solid squad, led by big man Roy Hibbert. The addition of diaper dandies to strengthen the backcourt is a positive.
- UCLA: Darren Collison will be the maestro man, leading a very good club. Ben Howland welcomes the premier high school player of the year in Kevin Love, and he will provide an immediate impact up front.
- Kansas: Rock, chalk, Jayhawk will be celebrating another super season. This is a deep and talented Bill Self-led team. A key will be the health of Brandon Rush.
- Michigan State: Look for big things from Drew Neitzel and Raymar Morgan as Tom Izzo has the team to beat in the Big Ten. The Izzone will be rocking and rolling, baby!
- Indiana: Kelvin Sampson is thrilled to have diaper dandy Eric Gordon, and the newcomer will make a difference right out of the blocks. DJ White has to have a strong season.
- Tennessee: Bruce Pearl has brought energy and enthusiasm to Rocky Top. Chris Lofton spurned the NBA and returned to Knoxville, and the addition of Tyler Smith is a major plus.
- Oregon: Ernie Kent has a veteran nucleus returning. Even without Aaron Brooks, this will be a tough team to beat out west.
Other notables include Marquette at No. 11, Kentucky at No. 15, Syracuse at No. 18, Pitt at No. 24, Notre Dame at No. 28, Villanova at No. 29, Connecticut at No. 33 and Providence at No. 38.
Carleton comes to the Hall in just 39 days.