How much skepticism surrounds the Top 25 teams?

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Even with 65 voters, the AP’s preseason Top 25 is still guesswork. It’s a solid sample size, but taken at face value, only die-hard hoops fans know how each team changed from last season.

How do those voters account for the massive turnover at Kansas, Kentucky, Arizona and Pitt? Do they give too much value to decent teams that return the bulk of their rosters like Cal, Memphis and Baylor? The next few months of games help those voters (mostly) sort it all out.

But when smart people like David Hess get involved, it’s a solid head start.

Hess who writes for TeamRankings.com (and other excellent sites) measured each team’s returning production and contrasted that with how those teams fared last season. It’s broken down by offense, defense and overall returning production in a table that you can here.

His conclusions are worth noting. Take ‘Bama, rated No. 19.

Alabama may be in trouble. Their main strength last year was their defense, but they return only 57% of their defensive production, for less than the 74% of their offense. Chris Hines was the biggest loss. He was below average on offense, but accounted for 16% of the Tide’s defensive production. Meanwhile, on offense, only three players account for all of the positive returning value — Tony Mitchell, JaMychal Green, and Trevor Releford.

The Tide lost three seniors and to be a Top 25 mainstay – remember, they didn’t even make the NCAA tournament last season – those three players Hess mentioned either have to be even better than they were last year (few teams boast a superior trio) and the supporting cast has to improve.

For what it’s worth, I’m mostly in agreement with AP voters. But we’re all taking a healthy leap of expectations with the Tide, not to mention teams that lost even more.

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