NCAA preseason power rankings: Ayo Dosunmu has Illinois on top

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November 20th, 2020

Feast Week is upon us, as NCAA college basketball teams tip off around the country.

Before the action begins, here are the best of the best entering an abbreviated pandemic-affected season.

10. Texas Tech

You won’t see the Red Raiders in many preseason top 10 lists, but they are a great dark horse Final Four team.

Head coach Chris Beard will rely on Kyler Edwards and a pair of talented transfers — Mac McClung (Georgetown) and Marcus Santos-Silva (VCU) — to keep Texas Tech in the conversation.

9. Michigan State 

Despite the loss of Cassius Winston at point and Xavier Tillman in the paint, head coach Tom Izzo has a ton of talent on the wing.

Sharpshooter Joshua Langford is expected to return, after injuries sidelined him for almost a year, and Michigan State added transfer Joey Hauser, a 42.5% three-point shooter in his one season at Marquette.

8. Tennessee

Head coach Rick Barnes hit the coaching lottery, with Yves Pons back for another year. The top shot-blocker in the SEC, Pons is a rare impact defender who uses defense to disrupt the game.

And John Fulkerson will annoy the bejesus out of teams all season, as a skilled, lengthy forward.

In a new development at Tennessee, Barnes also recruited well, with two top 20 guards in 2020 — Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson.

7. Kansas

David McCormack is more than capable of filling Udoka Azubuike’s big shoes. The question head coach Bill Self must answer is who can pick up the production left by Devon Dotson?

If the Jayhawks struggle to score, at least they have Marcus Garrett, the defending Naismith Defensive Player of the Year.

6. Kentucky

Like many other years under head coach John Calipari, the Wildcats are basically starting from scratch.

Keion Brooks is the only contributor returning from last year’s regular-season SEC championship team, and he only logged about 15 minutes per game.

Like many Calipari reloads, there are talented freshman leading the way, headlined by Terrence Clarke and B.J. Boston, and Boston will play his way to a top-five pick in the NBA Draft.

With the help of Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr in the paint (and the surprise emergence of freshman Isaiah Jackson), Kentucky will once again be poised to make a Final Four run.

5. Iowa

The Hawkeyes will go as far as Luka Garza takes them. The preseason favorite to win National Player of the Year, the 6-foot-11 center makes everyone around him better.

4. Villanova  

The loss of Saddiq Bey, the No. 19 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, will certainly hurt the Wildcats, but head coach Jay Wright’s top producer is prepared for an All-American campaign.

Senior Collin Gillespie shot better than 40% from the field to average 15.1 points, 4.5 assists, and 3.7 rebounds last season.

3. Gonzaga 

Many think the Zags are the best team in the country, but I can’t say that — yet.

Luckily, they have games scheduled against Kansas, Auburn, Baylor, and Iowa to prove they aren’t the same team we see run through the West Coast Conference every year.

If they’re still undefeated by the team they get to WCC play, I’ll become a Gonzaga believer.

2. Baylor

The Bears were one of the best teams in the country a year ago, but they still couldn’t get over the Kansas hump. Now is the time to prove they’re the best team in the Big 12.

1. Illinois

They’re partying like it’s 2005 in Champaign.

Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn is the best combination on campus since Deron Williams, Luther Head and Dee Brown took the Illini to the National Championship Game.

If this terrific tandem can stay healthy, Illinois might provide similar results.