By Luke Winn
May 10, 2010
NCAA Basketball Power Rankings
9 Brigham Young Cougars
Last Week: --
The Cougars received the best draft-deadline news of any team when senior-to-be Jimmer Fredette opted to put the NBA on hold after a flurry of workouts with interested teams. There were rumors swirling in the final 2-3 days that Fredette, whose father had initially said he was "99 percent" coming back to BYU, was getting enough positive feedback to justify turning pro, and the Knicks reportedly considered giving him a second-round guarantee. Not only would the Cougs have been in trouble -- Fredette is nearly everything to them, and backup point guard Michael Loyd Jr. was strangely forced out of the program -- but the residents of Glens Falls, N.Y., would've been seriously bummed. That's Fredette's hometown, and BYU scheduled a Dec. 8 game there against Vermont -- a "Jimmer Fredette Homecoming Celebration" that was contingent on him still being on the roster. Other than the Slayer-Megadeth-Testament triple-bill that's scheduled for August, the Jimmer game should be the event of the year at Glens Falls Civic Center.
10 North Carolina Tar Heels
Last Week: --
This is a reach, given how anemic the Heels were on offense last season, ranking 92nd in efficiency -- 82 spots lower than the next-worst Roy Williams team in's seven-year database. But help is on the way: mega-recruit Harrison Barnes is the complete, inside-out scorer that UNC desperately needs, and could average 20 points per game as a freshman. Fellow rookie Kendall Marshall should help stabilize the point-guard situation along with a more seasoned Larry Drew, and freshman two-guard Reggie Bullock gives them a second long-range shooter to go with senior Will Graves. A healthy Tyler Zeller gives them a legit seven-foot post presence, and NBA scouts still believe that 6-10 stringbean John Henson, who did very little as a frosh, is a possible lottery pick who'll blossom as he adds muscle and plays a more natural role at the four. As bad as '09-10 was for the Heels, a second-place finish in the ACC is a reasonable expectation.
11 Temple Owls
Last Week: --
Owls forward Lavoy Allen didn't have the same kind of draft buzz that BYU's Fredette did -- in fact, I didn't hear anyone talking about Allen as a potential draftee, and the Philly Intelligencer reported that he participated in just one pre-draft workout, with Portland, and missed out on a second, with Chicago, because of a canceled flight. So he made the right call and came back to school, where he'll be the key interior force in Temple's bid for back-to-back Atlantic 10 titles. NBA scouts may not love him yet, but Allen is one of the most underrated big men on the East Coast: His offensive- and defensive-rebounding percentages (12.2 and 23.7, respectively) are excellent, and he's a strong finisher around the rim, shooting 56.1 percent from the field.
12 Kentucky Wildcats
Last Week: --
Now that the draft entries are all public -- with Wildcats John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Daniel Orton and Eric Bledsoe all NBA-bound, and likely to be selected in that order in the first round -- there's only one semi-major thing left to be decided: the college destination of Portland, Ore., forward Terrence Jones. He committed to Washington in a press conference 10 days ago -- not because he had solidly decided on the Huskies, but because he had scheduled the press conference and felt compelled to announce some kind of decision. After speaking with UK coach John Calipari on the phone a few minutes later, Jones wasn't so sure of his choice anymore, and essentially re-opened his recruitment. He told the Oregonian last week he was still "committed" to Washington but not ready to sign a Letter of Intent. UW fans are understandably up in arms over perceived meddling by Calipari, but if Jones truly did just choose a hat at the press conference for the sake of choosing a hat, then I don't think it's wrong for Calipari to at least ask him to take more time to think. My prediction? Jones takes another week, sticks with Washington, and gets nasty Tweets from Kentucky fans who'll forget about him by November, when Turkish rookie Enes Kanter has his first 20-point game.
13 Baylor Bears
Last Week: --
The Bears' defense is going to take a step back without Ekpe Udoh in the middle, but the focal point of their offense, LaceDarius Dunn, is back for another year in the 31 Percent Club -- a crew of about 70 players nationwide who take at least 31 percent of their team's shots while on the floor. There are only eight returning 31 Percent Club members on major-conference teams:

1. Trey Thompkins, Georgia (33.3 percent)
2. Klay Thompson, Washington State (33.2 percent)
3. Jimmer Fredette, BYU (31.7 percent)
4. Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall (31.6 percent)
5. Kim English, Missouri (31.6 percent)
6. Courtney Fortson, Arkansas (31.3 percent)
7. LaceDarius Dunn, Jr., Baylor (31.1 percent)
8. E'Twaun Moore, Purdue (31.0 percent)
14 Old Dominion Monarchs
Last Week: --
My inclusion of the Monarchs in my early-early 2010-11 rankings (released the day after the title game) generated a significant amount of ridicule. Most of the comments were along the lines of "You realize they lost Gerald Lee, their leading scorer?" or "You realize no one else has them in their top 25, much less top 16?" I realize both of those things, and I'm keeping ODU in the same spot. The Monarchs won the CAA last year because of their offensive rebounding (they ranked No. 1 in the country in OR%) and their defense (they ranked No. 10 in efficiency). Lee was a nice player, but didn't have a lot to do with either of those things; I'd argue that junior Frank Hassell, their leading offensive rebounder and the star of their first-round upset of Notre Dame, was more important. And their defensive success was keyed on locking down three-point shooters (they ranked 17th in three-point percentage allowed) and forcing steals (20th in steal percentage), categories where guys like 6-5 Kent Bazemore, 6-5 Ben Finney and 6-1 Darius James made the biggest impact. The Monarchs will control the offensive glass, play solid D, and start four seniors and one junior, all of whom have NCAA tournament experience. I don't think ranking them is all that big of a reach.
15 Wisconsin Badgers
Last Week: --
The Badgers' ranking probably requires an Old Dominion-like justification, given that they lost their starting backcourt of Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon to graduation. UW's defense, which ranked in the top 20 last year in large part because it rarely ever allowed second-chance opportunities, should still be stingy: All of its key defensive rebounders are back. Jon Leuer, the 6-10 forward who missed a key part of his junior season with a broken wrist, is ready to have a monster senior year. By season's end, we'll be calling Leuer and junior point guard Jordan Taylor one of the best inside-outside duos in the country. Bo Ryan's biggest issue is finding a few consistent long-range shooters to fill the void left by Hughes and Bohannon; the Badgers scored a third of their points on treys last year, and the swing offense tends to sputter when they're cold from the outside.
16 Butler Bulldogs
Last Week: --
Ralph Reiff, the head of the Indianapolis facility where former Bulldogs star Gordon Hayward is doing his pre-draft workouts, said one of the more eyebrow-raising things I've heard this month: "If I were managing an NBA franchise, I would star with Gordon Hayward. He is capable of making a team-building impact similar to Kevin Durant."

Kevin Durant?!!? I like Hayward, had a great time covering him during the tournament, but Durant? I'm more inclined to envision G-Time in a spot-up shooter/occasional slasher role than becoming the centerpiece of a team-building effort. And the question I'm more concerned with here is, can his old team thrive without him in the lineup? I decided to keep the Bulldogs in the top 16 because of their veteran backcourt (of Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored) and strong defensive principles ... and also because I'm not really in love with any of the teams listen in my "second 16" enough to elevate them to this spot. But Matt Howard, who took on a complementary role last year as Hayward grew into a star, will need to have a monster (or "Too Big Yo"-level) senior season for Butler to be dangerous on a national level once again.

The rest: 17. Georgetown. 18. Florida. 19. Missouri. 20. Gonzaga. 21. Washington. 22. Illinois. 23. Xavier. 24. Texas. 25. Memphis. 26. Tennessee. 27. Murray State. 28. West Virginia. 29. Syracuse. 30. Vanderbilt. 31. Virginia Tech. 32. Richmond.

(If you'd like to send the Power Rankings a note, I'm here.)

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