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Barstool’s College Basketball Top-25 Rankings: Teams 11-14

J.P. Macura, Angel Delgado

It’s officially October, which means we’re in basketball season. You can take your Hocus Pocus. Take your pumpkin beer. Take your flannel and Halloween. I’ll take basketball starting.

So with all that said, we’re going to do the top-25 a little different this year. I want to break up the teams to focus a little bit more on what to expect with each team – think of what Luke Winn did with his power rankings. The blogs will be broken up in teams of 5 and then we’ll focus on the top-10 or so on an individual level and go a little more in depth. As I mentioned in other blogs we’ll be doing conference previews and a betting guide and more season previews so everyone is ready to go here in a few weeks. 

25. Oregon

24. Baylor

23. Northwestern

22. St. Mary’s

21. Gonzaga

20. Notre Dame

19. Alabama

18. Cincinnati

17. UNC

16. UCLA

15. West Virginia

14. Minnesota Golden Gophers

Key Players: Nate Mason, Amir Coffey, Reggie Lynch

Minnesota was arguably the biggest surprise in college basketball last year when they competed for a Big 10 title and were a top-5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. However, an injury to Akeem Springs hurt them in March, but the good news is they return literally everyone but Springs to this year’s team. Most importantly, they get Nate Mason back, who will be on All-Big 10 teams and could potentially make his way on to an All-American team. Mason is coming off a year where he led the team with 15 points and 5 assists per game while shooting 36% from the 3-point line. Mason also happens to be one of the four guys who were in double-digits scoring average last year coming back this year. The other three are Coffey, Jordan Murphy and Dupree McBrayer. The one thing with this team that you can know is a guarantee is that they will protect the rim defensively. They ranked second last year in block percentage and return Lynch (3.5 blocks per game) and Murphy (1.1 blocks per game). The other thing that will make Minnesota good this year? The lack of turnovers. They were 31st in the country last year turning it over just 16% of possessions. They are going to use Mason in a ton of pick-and-roll sets this year. Last year Minnesota scored .939 points per possession when Mason was the ball handler in a pick-and-roll set, which they used 53% of the time on offense.

13. Xavier Musketeers 

Key Players: Trevon Bluiett, JP Macura, Quentin Goodin

I’d assume that most people will rank Xavier based on what type of season they think Trevon Bluiett will have. He has been good yet inconsistent during his first three years at Xavier but you can see what sort of team they can be when he’s rolling. For instance think just back to the NCAA Tournament when he was one of the 10 best players in the country and Xavier was able to get him to certain spots on the floor to be successful. That’s what I expect again this year as Bluiett has turned into a sneaky pick for some to be National Player of the Year while I think he’s more of a second-team All-American type guy. The real reason I have Xavier this high though is Chris Mack. He’s one of the 15 best coaches in the game, a thought that’s shared by those I trust a lot more than my own self. Throw in the fact that Mack can get very creative with his lineups this year and let Bluiett run some small ball four (his best position), this team will have high expectations for the second year in a row. From what I’ve heard the coaching staff really likes freshman Naji Marshall – so don’t be surprised if you see him in the starting lineup early. Something to keep an eye on this year will be the set halfcourt plays Mack draws up for Bluiett. He’s excellent at coming off of screens and reading the defense. He’ll use a curl where he can take advantage of his size and shot release point to create space or flare out and uses a quick release like you’ll see below. Part of this is the flex offense that Mack will run, but as we saw against Arizona, he’ll set designed plays for this.

12 Seton Hall Pirates

Key Players: Angel Delgado, Khadeen Carrington, Myles Powell, Desi Rodriguez

This is the one team that I’m pretty sure I’ll be higher on than most. The main reason is Angel Delgado, who will contend for National Player of the Year. He’s similar to Caleb Swanigan in the sense that the moment he’s on the floor you can bank on a double-double. Last year he was sixth in the country in offensive rebounding percentage and 14th in defensive rebounding percentage. While he’s the star of this team, it’s not like Seton Hall just relies on him. He was their third leading scorer last year behind Carrington (17.1) and Rodriguez (15.7). Seton Hall’s a team though that will beat you defensively. They force turnovers, as they ranked in the top-70 nationally in steal percentage and hold teams to just one shot as they were were the 31st best defensive rebounding team last year. Those free points they get from Delgado’s offensive rebounds combined with the defense will go a long way this year. There are questions from a point guard standpoint, but I think Powell as a sophomore can slide over and be more of a ball handler this year. What makes Delgado such a good offensive rebounder is the fact he tracks the ball and then goes right back up with it. He hardly will drop the ball, instead keeping it high and using his second jump right away.

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11. Florida Gators

Key Players: Chris Chiozza, KeVaughn Allen, Kevarrius Hayes

Florida is another one of those teams that we won’t truly know about until January or February due to John Egbunu’s recovery from a torn ACL. That said, this team still has a veteran backcourt in Chiozza and Allen and those two are the reason why I have Florida this high. Allen led Florida in scoring last season while Chiozza just did a little bit of everything while filling in for Kasey Hill. The other reason why I have Florida this high? They really don’t have a weakness. When you look at where they stood last season in categories, they graded out as average to above average in pretty much everything. They ranked 24th in ORtg and 5th in DRtg. But, what I really loved is how they dictate tempo – something that they’ll do this year. They played the 65th fastest tempo on offense, but defensively would drain the clock. They would do that by pressing about 18% of the time and mixing in some zone to their regular man-to-man defense. It made other offenses think about what they were doing whenever they were bringing the ball up the court. Offensively, they’ll still look to run. That’s where Chiozza is at his best and Florida can surround him with shooters to fill the wings.