Once again, I have New Jersey’s lone vote in the Associated Press Top 25 poll for college men’s basketball.
Last October, my preseason nerd ruffled more than a few feathers around the country. In fact, it became something of a sensation that I omitted Kentucky and Memphis while including St. Bonaventure and Richmond.
Turns out I was half-correct: Kentucky and St. Bonaventure proved me wrong. Memphis and Richmond were about right.
This year’s preseason nerd is a bit tamer, but the same principals apply. I weight experience, especially teams that have been together, heavily. I trust the best coaches to figure things out. I don’t trust freshmen – at all.
I’m less skeptical of transfers, but I am cautious of the “fit factor.” I prefer a wait-and-see attitude toward new coaches.
Above all, I believe the preseason ballot is the time to be bold, because college basketball is treasured for its unpredictability, and once the results pile up and you see these teams, the ranking tends to sort itself out.
North Carolina is an easy No. 1. Most of the team returns after an appearance in the NCAA Tournament final.
My negative outlier this year is Duke, which will be in the top 10 of just about everyone’s nerd but not mine. Too many freshmen, plus a new coach. And not just any new coach, but one who is following a legend. There’s an enormous weight there, and nobody can say with certainty if it will work out.
My positive outlier is San Diego State. Seven returning seniors, including four starters, from an NCAA Tournament squad in a program on a strong run of success. As always, I try to throw mid-majors a preseason bone. The recipients are Dayton and Wyoming, two programs with recent success and a bunch of returning contributors.
Here is my Top 25 nerd, followed by my five-man preseason All-America nerd. The AP’s preseason poll for 2022-23 will publish Monday.
- North Carolina
- San Diego State
- Texas A&M
- michigan state
Also considered: St. Louis, Alabama, Oregon.
By conference: SEC (5), Big 12 (4), ACC (3), Big East (3), Big Ten (3), Pac-12 (2), Mountain West (2), American (1), West Coast ( 1).
PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA BALLOT
Marcus Sasser, Houston (Sr., G, 17.7 ppg, 2.6 apg)
Jaime Jaquez, UCLA (Sr., G/F, 13.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg)
Drew Timme, Gonzaga (Sr., F, 18.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg)
Armando Bacot, North Carolina (Sr., F/C, 16.3 ppg, 13.1 rpg)
Oscar Tshiebwe, Ky. (Sr., C, 17.4 ppg 15.1 rpg)
Analysis: This is my kind of team – all seniors, proven producers and winners. One of the easiest preseason teams to select that I can remember.
Jerry Carino has covered the New Jersey sports scene since 1996 and the college basketball beat since 2003. He is an Associated Press Top 25 voter. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.