Virginia Cavaliers

POSTERIZED: Virginia’s Darius Thompson finishes with authority

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Saturday afternoon Virginia’s Darius Thompson threw down a dunk that is one of the best thrown down to this point in the season in the Cavaliers’ 67-52 win over William & Mary.

After the Virginia defense forced a turnover by William & Mary’s Omar Prewitt, Thompson and Malcolm Brodgon took off on a 2-on-1 with Daniel Dixon being the lone defender. Dixon tried but he could not keep Thompson from scoring, as the Tennessee transfer threw down a vicious one-handed dunk while being fouled.

Thompson, whose role became even more important when starting point guard London Perrantes underwent an appendectomy less than a week ago, continued his solid run of play with 12 points, three rebounds, two assists and four steals in Saturday’s win. Brogdon and Anthony Gill scored 16 points apiece to lead the way for Virginia, which scored 20 points off of 19 William & Mary turnovers.

As for the dunk, it brings back memories of Mustapha Farrakhan’s dunk on NC State guard Javier Gonzalez in 2010. That clip is below for those who need a refresher.

Thompson dunk credit: ESPN (Farrakhan’s dunk courtesy of the ACC Digital Network)

LATE NIGHT SNACKS: No. 6 Duke, No. 12 Virginia win comfortably

Marshall Plumlee, Matt Jones, Amile Jefferson
Associated Press
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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 5 Kansas 70, No. 19 Vanderbilt 63

Wayne Selden Jr. scored a career-high 25 points and grabbed seven rebounds as the Jayhawks rebounded from a early deficit to win the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. Selden played well all week in Maui, and against the Commodores he made eight of his eleven shots from the field. Fellow guard Devonte’ Graham and Frank Mason III also scored in double figures, with Graham adding 12 points and Mason ten.

Damian Jones led the way offensively for Vanderbilt with 17 points while also grabbing ten rebounds and blocking four shots, but the Commodores’ cold night from three hurt them in the end. Vanderbilt shot just 6-for-27 from three on the night, while Kansas finished 8-for-16 from distance.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES 

UNLV 72, No. 13 Indiana 69: The Runnin’ Rebels held off the Hoosiers in Maui, winning the fifth place game at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational and going 2-1 in the event. Patrick McCaw led the way for UNLV with 20 points, six assists and five steals, and Ben Carter’s block of a Nick Zeisloft three-pointer in the final seconds preserved the victory. Zeisloft scored 17 points and James Blackmon Jr. 13 for the Hoosiers, who went 1-2 in Maui and looked nothing like the Big Ten contender many expected them to be.

No. 14 Gonzaga 80, Washington 64: The Bulldog front court once again led the way, with Kyle Wiltjer scoring 24 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in a 16-point victory. Domas Sabonis added 17 points and nine rebounds, and Przemek Karnowski accounted for 12 points and six rebounds.

No. 18 Connecticut 74, Michigan 60: Daniel Hamilton led five Huskies in double figures with 16 points while also grabbing nine rebounds as UConn beat Michigan at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Caris LeVert led all scorers with 20 points, but his early foul trouble led to a major shift in momentum in the first half. The other Wolverines combined to shoot 11-for-44 from the field. Next up for UConn is old conference foe Syracuse in Thursday’s semifinals.

STARRED

Chris Boucher, Oregon: Boucher set a school record for blocks in a game with nine while also scoring 17 points and grabbing nine rebounds in the Ducks’ win over Arkansas State.

Christen Cunningham, Samford: Cunningham shot 8-for-10 from three, scoring 26 points in the Bulldogs’ 75-58 win over Idaho.

Darien Nelson-Henry, Penn: In a game that included the nation’s leading scorer in La Salle’s Jordan Price, Nelson-Henry scored 31 points and grabbed 14 boards in the Quakers’ 80-64 win over the Explorers.

STRUGGLED

Anthony Lindauer, High Point: Lindauer went scoreless in the Panthers’ 49-46 loss at Georgia, missing all ten of his field goal attempts.

Amar Stukes, La Salle: Stukes shot 1-for-12 from the field in the Explorers’ Big Five loss to Penn, scoring two points.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 2 Maryland put together its most complete effort of the season to date in the title game of the Cancun Challenge, beating Rhode Island 86-63. Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon scored 17 apiece (on combined 13-for-14 shooting from the field) and Robert Carter Jr. added 15 for the Terrapins, who had five players score in double figures.
  • No. 6 Duke pulled away from preseason Ivy League favorite Yale in the second half winning by 19 in Durham. Matt Jones led four Blue Devils in double figures with 17 points.
  • No. 12 Virginia also pulled away in the second half of its game, outscoring Lehigh 45-28 over the final 20 minutes in their 80-54 win in Charlottesville. Malcolm Brogdon led the way with a game-high 23 points.
  • No. 21 Oregon moved to 5-0 with a 91-68 win over Arkansas State. Chris Boucher (17 points, nine rebounds, nine blocks) nearly tallied a triple-double, and Dwayne Benjamin scored 25 off the bench for the Ducks.
  • No. 25 Texas A&M beat Texas 84-73 at the Battle 4 Atlantis, winning the first meeting between the two programs since the Aggies moved from the Big 12 to the SEC. Danuel House scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds and Anthony Collins added 15, five and six assists. They’ll play Gonzaga in Thursday’s semifinals.

NOTABLES

  • Michael Gbinije scored 26 points, Trevor Cooney added 19 and freshman Tyler Lydon racked up 18, eight rebounds and six blocks at Syracuse took care of Charlotte, 83-70, at the Battle 4 Atlantis.
  • Florida rebounded from its loss to Purdue on Sunday with an 86-62 win over Vermont. Dorian Finney-Smith accounted for 20 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals.
  • Wake Forest beat UCLA 80-77 to earn a third-place finish at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. Devin Thomas led the Demon Deacons with 21 points and nine rebounds, with Tony Parker pacing the Bruins with 18 points and 15 rebounds.
  • Bronson Koenig led six players in double figures with 16 points as Wisconsin beat Prairie View A&M 85-67 in Madison. Ethan Happ grabbed eight rebounds and Nigel Hayes dished out seven assists for the winners.
  • Jeremy Senglin scored 23 points as Weber State beat Murray State 75-59 to win the Gulf Coast Showcase in Florida. Joel Bolomboy added 15 points and ten rebounds.
  • Geoffrey Groselle scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds as Creighton rolled to the Men Who Speak Up Main Event title with a 97-76 win over UMass in Las Vegas. Five Bluejays scored in double figures, and as a team they shot 51 percent from the field.

SUNDAY’S SNACKS: Three ACC teams, No. 21 Purdue win tournament titles

Grayson Allen, Reggie Cameron
Associated Press
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GAME OF THE DAY:  No. 5 Duke 86, Georgetown 84

In the finals of the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden, Grayson Allen went for 32 points as the Blue Devils rallied then held off the Hoyas for the win.

I went more in-depth on this game here.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

No. 21 Purdue 85, Florida 70: Matt Painter’s Boilermakers ran off a 12-0 second half run to take control of their game against the Gators in Uncasville, Connecticut. Their depth, talent and commitment to the defensive end make the Boilermakers a team to watch in the Big Ten. More can be read about them here.

Miami 85, No. 22 Butler 75: The Hurricanes won the Puerto Rico Tipoff, grabbing control in the first half and hanging on after the Bulldogs managed to cut the deficit to four with just over three minutes remaining. Angel Rodriguez scored 19 points and Ja’Quan Newton added 17 and three assists off the bench.

East Tennessee State 69, Georgia Tech 68: Ge’Lawn Guyn buried the game-winning 3-pointer with three seconds left as the Buccaneers picked up a big road win at Georgia Tech. Guyn finished with 24 points and seven rebounds to pace East Tennessee State, who moves to 3-1 on the season. Marcus Georges-Hunt led Georgia Tech with 20 points, as the Yellow Jackets took a bad loss at home.

Wisconsin 74, VCU 73: A Bronson Koenig spin move and layup with seven seconds remaining was the difference as the Badgers beat the Rams in a thriller at Madison Square Garden. Koenig led four Badgers in double figures with 22 points. Melvin Johnson, whose three-pointer as time expired missed the mark, led VCU with 21 points.

STARRED

Shavar Newkirk, Saint Joseph’s: Newkirk buried a long two with one second left to break a 64-all tie as the Hawks escaped with a win over Old Dominion. Newkirk had 10 points in the game. 

Grayson Allen, Duke: Allen’s 32 points capped a good weekend in New York for the sophomore, as he scored a total of 62 points in wins over VCU and Georgetown.

Jakob Poeltl, Utah: Poeltl racked up 32 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in the Runnin’ Utes’ 74-68 win over Temple at the Puerto Rico Tipoff.

Jarrelle Reischel, Eastern Kentucky: Reischel racked up 37 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in the Colonels’ 110-97 win over Longwood.

STRUGGLED

Kasey Hill and DeVon Walker, Florida: Hill and Walker combined to shoot 2-for-13 from the field in the Gators’ 85-70 loss to No. 21 Purdue.

Aaron Bacote, Old Dominion: Bacote scored nine points, making all seven of his free throw attempts, but he shot just 1-for-7 from the field in a two-point loss to Saint Joseph’s.

Northwestern State’s turnover count: The Demons were in trouble at No. 12 Arizona, especially with Jalan West out for the year with a torn ACL. But 18 turnovers with just four assists in the 61-42 loss isn’t good.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 11 Villanova rebounded from a slow start to beat Akron 75-56 in an unbracketed Preseason NIT matchup. Josh Hart led the way with 27 points and nine rebounds, and Ryan Arcidiacono added 15 points, eight assists and five rebounds.
  • No. 16 Utah held off Temple 74-68 to win third place at the Puerto Rico Tipoff. The key stat in this one: Jakob Poeltl, who finished with 32 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, shot 12-for-14 from the foul line. The sophomore shot 44 percent from the charity stripe last season.
  • No. 25 Oregon held off Valparaiso 73-67 in Eugene, as Dillon Brooks leading the way with 26 points and 13 rebounds. Tevonn Walker paced the Crusaders with 14 points.
  • No. 12 Arizona moved to 4-0 on the season with a 61-42 win over Northwestern State. Gabe York scored 18 to lead the way, with forward Ryan Anderson (ankle) being held out.
  • No. 6 Virginia won the Charleston Classic title, beating surprising finalist George Mason 83-66. Tournament MVP London Perrantes racked up 16 points and 11 assists, and Malcolm Brogdon scored a game-high 21 points.

NOTABLES

  • Cincinnati earned a big win over Arkansas Pine-Bluff as Farad Cobb went for 20 points. The Bearcats are 4-0 but they haven’t played any real competition yet.
  • Boston College erupted for 53 points in the second half  as they beat Harvard at home. Matt Milon paced the Golden Eagles with 16 points.
  • Tennessee had big games from Kevin Punter (24 points, seven rebounds, six assists), Devon Baulkman (22 points) and Armani Moore (15 points, 16 rebounds) as they cruised past Gardner-Webb.
  • Gavin Ware had 25 points as Mississippi State beat Missouri State in a consolation game at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
  • Tulsa advanced to the title game of the Paradise Jam with a 67-59 win over Indiana State. James Woodard tallied 16 points and ten rebounds for the Golden Hurricane.
  • Oklahoma State made things a little more interesting than they had to be down the stretch, but the Cowboys hung on for a five-point win over Long Beach State to win third place at the Charleston Classic.
  • South Carolina advanced to the Paradise Jam title game with a 94-84 win over Hofstra. All five Gamecock starters reached double figures, with Lamonicus Chatkevicius scoring a team-high 18 points. Juan’ya Green scored 28 points and dished out seven assists for the Pride, but it wasn’t enough to advance.
  • Joe Rahon put on a show in leading Saint Mary’s to a 78-61 win over Stanford, racking up 24 points, six rebounds and three assists. Emmett Naar and Evan Fitzner scored 15 apiece for the Gaels, with Naar also dishing out six assists.

NBCSports.com’s Preseason All-Defensive Teams

Chasson Randle, Gary Payton II
Associated Press
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“Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships.”

Whether or not you agree with the statement made by the late Paul “Bear” Bryant, there’s no denying the importance of defense when it comes to winning games. Teams can score as much as they want, but if they can’t get stops on the other end they’ll be in trouble. Ahead of the start of the 2015-16 season, we’ve put together our picks for the best defensive players in the country. Some will be shot blockers and others masters of the steal, and there will be a couple strong positional defenders as well.

Who’d we miss? Who should they replace? Feel free to leave your answers below.

FIRST TEAM ALL-DEFENSE

G Kris Dunn, Providence
As a redshirt sophomore the 6-foot-4 Dunn averaged 2.7 steals per game, with his length and athleticism allowing the national Player of the Year candidate to make life difficult for opposing point guards. He can be a bit of a gambler at times, but overall he’s a very difficult matchup at a position where many point guards hover around the 6-foot mark.

G Ron Baker, Wichita State
If you don’t know Baker’s résumé by now, that’s on you. Baker is one of the nation’s top on-ball defenders, keeping his man out of the paint while also challenging scoring opportunities on the perimeter. As a junior Baker led the Shockers in both defensive rebounds (157) and blocked shots (27).

G Gary Payton II, Oregon State
Payton’s selection as Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year was a controversial one, with many believing that Arizona’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson should have been the choice. But neither that nor the fact that Oregon State relied on a matchup zone to mask its lack of depth should not overshadow the impact “The Mitten” had defensively as he led the Beavers in steals (95) and was second in blocks (39).

F Hassan Martin, Rhode Island
The 6-foot-7 Martin became just the second player in URI history to record 100 blocks or more in a season, tallying 103 (3.1 bpg). The Staten Island native is also a good rebounder (7.7 rpg), and his length and athleticism allow Martin to play “bigger” than his height in the paint.

C Amida Brimah, Connecticut
The 7-footer from Ghana led the nation in blocked shots a season ago, recording 121 which was good for an average of 3.46 rejections per game (second nationally). Having a rim protector the caliber of Brimah helps teams be more active on the perimeter, as they have a big man capable of cleaning up mistakes.

Kentucky's Tyler Ulis (Michael Chang/Getty Images)
Kentucky’s Tyler Ulis (Michael Chang/Getty Images)

SECOND TEAM ALL-DEFENSE

G Tyler Ulis, Kentucky
The 5-foot-9 Ulis is an absolute pest defensively, thanks to a combination of effort and quickness. Ulis played in a reserve role last season, which somewhat explains the average of just one steal per game. But defending isn’t all about impressive stats, and with Kentucky’s shot blockers Ulis can afford to be aggressive in defending the ball. We’re betting that his reputation grows in this area in 2015-16.

G Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia
Virginia’s pack line defense doesn’t lend itself to eye-popping individual stats. But that shouldn’t be used as a reason to overlook what the fifth-year senior does on the defensive end of the floor. One of the top players in the country, the 6-foot-5 Brogdon was also named to the ACC’s All-Defensive Team in 2014-15.

G Rapheal Davis, Purdue
Last season the Boilermakers’ team leader was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, winning the honor despite finishing the year with eight blocks and 28 steals. He isn’t going to dominate those statistical areas, but that doesn’t mask his ability to make life difficult for whoever head coach Matt Painter asks him to guard (usually the opponent’s best perimeter player).

F Skylar Spencer, San Diego State
Spencer is the rim protector on one of the nation’s best defenses, averaging 2.5 blocks per game as a junior. The 6-foot-10 Spencer finished the year with an individual block percentage of 12.7 per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers, a figure that ranked seventh nationally. Teams don’t get many chances to penetrate the SDSU defense, and once in the paint Spencer serves as quite the deterrent.

C Vashil Fernandez, Valparaiso
Fernandez receiving his fourth year of eligibility was a big boost to a program expected to make a return trip to the NCAA tournament. Last season the 6-foot-10 center earned Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year honors, as he ranked 11th in the country with an average of 2.9 blocks per game and sixth in block percentage (13.0).

Also considered: Anthony Gill (Virginia), A.J. Hammons (Purdue), Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), Brice Johnson (North Carolina), Jameel McKay (Iowa State), A.J. West (Nevada)

North Carolina preseason pick to win ACC championship

Roy Williams
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) North Carolina is the preseason favorite to win the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tar Heels return one of their most-experienced lineups in seven seasons,

The Tar Heels received 60 of 89 first-place votes from media members at Wednesday’s ACC media day, leading two-time regular-season champion Virginia and defending NCAA Tournament champion Duke. North Carolina returns four starters and nine of its 10 leading scorers from last year’s team, which finished 26-12.

North Carolina’s Marcus Paige and Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon shared preseason player of the year honors. Duke freshman Brandon Ingram was named the league’s preseason rookie of the year, and was also picked for the preseason all-ACC team along with Paige and Brogdon.

The rest of the all-conference team picks were Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Notre Dame’s Demetrius Jackson.

Ranking College Basketball’s Top Back Courts

Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker
Associated Press
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We’re labeling this as the nation’s top back courts, but truthfully, it’s the nation’s top perimeters. That’s why you’ll see guys like Brandon Ingram and Jaylen Brown, small forwards that will play the four a lot this season, listed here. 

One thing we realized making this list: There are an inordinate number of talented guards in college basketball this season, especially those that will get labeled as lead guards. So many, in fact, that the likes of Miami, Iowa State and Texas A&M didn’t even crack the top 15.

Here is our list. What did we get wrong?

1. Kentucky (Jamal Murray, Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe, Charles Matthews, Mychal Mulder)

They don’t rebuild in Lexington they reload, and John Calipari has quite the perimeter rotation at his disposal despite losing three of his top four guards from a season ago. The returnee is 5-foot-9 sophomore Tyler Ulis, who has emerged as this team’s leader. But he isn’t the only guard in the group who operates will with the ball in his hands, as both Briscoe and Murray will also have ample opportunities to create offensively. The 6-foot-4 Murray was one of the standouts at the Pan-American Games in Canada this summer, as he went off to lead the hosts past the United States in the semifinals. Matthews and Mulder aren’t slouches either, giving Kentucky additional talent and depth with their presence.

2. Wichita State (Ron Baker, Fred VanVleet, Conner Frankamp, Landry Shamet, Evan Wessel)

Baker and VanVleet are two of the nation’s best at their respective positions and they’re going to appear on multiple preseason (and end of season, for that matter) All-America teams as a result. Wessel gives this group added toughness, and Kanas transfer Conner Frankamp will give Wichita State another capable shooter when he becomes eligible in December. The 6-foot-4 Shamet is a Top 100 recruit who will fight for minutes now and be a key figure for the Shockers in the years to come.

3. Indiana (James Blackmon Jr., Yogi Ferrell, Robert Johnson, Nick Zeisloft)

This group is one of the reasons why the Hoosiers will enter the 2015-16 season ranked, with senior point guard Yogi Ferrell leading the way. Ferrell led the Hoosiers in scoring and assists a season ago, and he also led the team in made three-pointers. Blackmon should be better as a sophomore after tailing off somewhat down the stretch last year and the same goes for classmate Johnson, with Zeisloft coming off of a year in which he shot 45 percent from beyond the arc.

4. North Carolina (Marcus Paige, Justin Jackson, Joel Berry II, Nate Britt, Theo Pinson, Kenny Williams)

Paige enters his senior season as one of the the best guards in the country, as he’s comfortable as either a scorer or a distributor for the Tar Heels. Jackson, who was a key contributor for North Carolina as a freshman, looks poised for a breakout year as he moves into the starting spot left vacant by J.P. Tokoto, and classmate Pinson is healthy after dealing with injuries last season. Both Berry and Britt are capable contributors but they have to get better as playmakers, thus relieving some of the pressure on Paige. The one thing this group was missing a season ago was another shooter to go with Paige, and if called upon Williams has the ability to be that guy.

5. Michigan (Caris LeVert, Zak Irvin, Derrick Walton Jr., Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Spike Albrecht, Kameron Chatman, Aubrey Dawkins, Duncan Robinson)

Irvin is working his way back to 100 percent after undergoing back surgery in early September, and his return will make Michigan’s perimeter attack one of the deepest and most talented groups in the country. LeVert was projected by some to be an All-America caliber player prior to last season, and Walton and Irvin are also players capable of earning postseason honors. Albrecht will also be a factor, with Abdur-Rahkman, Chatman and Dawkins gaining valuable experience as freshmen due to the injuries that sidelined LeVert and Walton. The “wild card” is Robinson, who sat out last season after averaging 17.1 points per game as a freshman at Division III Williams College in 2013-14.

RELATED: Top front courts in college basketball | Top 100 Players

Buddy Hield (AP Photo)
Buddy Hield (AP Photo)

6. Oklahoma (Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins, Jordan Woodard, Chrisyian James, Rashard Odomes, Dinjiyl Walker)

Lon Kruger’s perimeter rotation won’t lack for experience as reigning Big 12 Player of the Year Hield and Cousins are both seniors and Woodard will be a junior. Walker played 10.6 minutes per game as a junior last season and figures to be in a similar reserve role. As for the freshmen, both James and Odomes are players who will look to earn minutes but ultimately benefit down the line from competing with (and against, in practice) the veteran guards.

7. Villanova (Ryan Arcidiacono, Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, Phil Booth, Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo)

Big East Co-Player of the Year Arcidiacono is back for his senior season, with Big East tournament MOP Josh Hart appearing poised to take a significant step forward as a junior. And then there are the freshmen, most notably a lead guard in Brunson who enters college as one of the best at his position. DiVincenzo and Bridges, with the latter having redshirted last season, give Villanova additional skill and athleticism on the wing and Booth gives Wright another point guard to call upon.

8. Duke (Brandon Ingram, Grayson Allen, Matt Jones, Luke Kennard, Derryck Thornton Jr.)

Allen, who stepped forward in a big way in the national title game, returns for his sophomore season and Jones gives Duke an experienced wing option who’s a solid defender and capable perimeter shooter. Given the personnel losses the three freshmen will be especially important this year, with Thornton being asked to take over at the point and Ingram being a slender wing who can score from anywhere on the court. As for Kennard, he’s good enough to see time at both guard spots, and given Duke’s numbers he’ll likely have to do just that.

9. Maryland (Melo Trimble, Jake Layman, Jared Nickens, Rasheed Sulaimon, Dion Wiley, Jaylen Brantley)

The Terrapins did lose leader Dez Wells from last season’s NCAA tournament team, but most of the perimeter rotation returns led by preseason Big Ten Player of the Year Melo Trimble. Trimble’s a handful with the ball in his hands, making sound decisions in ball screen situations and getting to the foul line at a very high rate. Layman, who took a step forward as a junior, has the potential to be even better as a senior with Nickens and Wiley looking to earn more minutes as sophomores. And the newcomers, Brantley and Sulaimon, will also contribute with the latter giving Maryland another quality perimeter shooter (and he’s a good defender too).

10. California (Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Jabari Bird, Stephen Domingo, Jordan Mathews, Sam Singer)

Depth, which was an issue all over the court for the Golden Bears a season ago, won’t be a problem in 2015-16. Wallace, one of the nation’s top point guards, leads the way with a trio of juniors (Bird, Mathews and Singer) also having a wealth of experience. Add in two talented newcomers in Brown, who could see time at the four in smaller lineups, and Georgetown transfer Domingo and head coach Cuonzo Martin has a host of options at his disposal.

Tyrone Wallace (AP Photo)
Tyrone Wallace (AP Photo)

11. Virginia (Malcolm Brogdon, London Perrantes, Marial Shayok, Devon Hall, Evan Nolte, Darius Thompson)

The Cavaliers have to account for the departure of Justin Anderson on the perimeter, but it certainly helps to have veterans Brogdon and Perrantes back on campus. Brodgon was a first team All-ACC selection a season ago, and his skill on both ends of the floor merits All-America mention this season. Perrantes is a solid floor general who can do even more from a scoring standpoint. Nolte and Shayok were rotation players last season, and Hall and Thompson (who redshirted after transferring in from Tennessee) will also compete for minutes.

12. Michigan State (Denzel Valentine, Eron Harris, Tum Tum Nairn, Bryn Forbes, Matt McQuaid, Kyle Ahrens, Alvin Ellis)

This group is led by one of the nation’s most versatile players in Valentine, who can play anywhere from the one to the three depending on match-ups. Forbes should be more consistent in his second season with the program, and Nairn looks poised to step forward as the next in a long line of high-level point guards to play for Izzo. Harris is a transfer from West Virginia who many expect to hit the ground running, and Ellis will also look to solidify his spot in the rotation. As for the freshmen, they’ll look to carve out roles in what is a deep rotation.

13. Connecticut (Daniel Hamilton, Sterling Gibbs, Rodney Purvis, Jalen Adams, Omar Calhoun, Sam Cassell Jr.)

Ryan Boatright’s moved on, but UConn’s perimeter rotation is more balanced (and deeper) than it was a season ago. Part of that is due to their additions, with the explosive Adams and experienced Gibbs joining the ranks. As for holdovers, head coach Kevin Ollie has those as well with Calhoun being a senior, Cassell and Purvis (who put together some solid outings down the stretch last season) being juniors and the versatile Hamilton (AAC Rookie of the Year) being a sophomore.

14. Kansas (Wayne Selden Jr., Frank Mason III, Svi Mykhailiuk, Devonté Graham, Brannen Greene, LaGerald Vick)

This ranking could prove to be low at season’s end, depending upon (in part) the progress made by Selden. The junior played very well at the World University Games in South Korea this summer, and if he can build on that play the Jayhawks will undoubtedly have one of the top guards in the country. Mason gives them an absolute pitbull at the point, with Graham being another player capable of running the point. And in Green, Mykhailiuk and Vick, Kansas won’t lack for depth on the wings either.

15. Florida State (Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Dwayne Bacon, Devon Bookert, Montay Brandon, Terance Mann, Malik Beasley, Benji Bell, Robbie Berwick)

While he’ll once again be one of the top guards in the ACC, Rathan-Mayes will have some much-needed help on the perimeter. Bookert and Brandon give Florida State two experienced seniors, Berwick saw solid minutes as a freshman, and their newcomers arrive on campus amidst much fanfare. Bacon may be the marquee freshman, but Beasley and Mann will also compete for minutes with junior college transfer Bell looking to do the same.

Also Considered: Miami, Iowa State, UCLA, Notre Dame, LSU, Louisville, Providence, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M