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November 13, 2008
Ranking them all: The Rivals.com 343
1. North Carolina – The Tar Heels received all 31 first-place votes in the coaches' poll and deserved them.
6. Duke – The guards are great. The concern for the Devils is in the paint.
9. UCLA – To borrow from Madonna: A way to come together, and make things better ... we need a (Jrue) holiday.
12. Michigan State – There's talent, depth, perimeter shooting, rebounding, i.e. the makings of a Final Four team.
13. Gonzaga – The return of Jeremy Pargo, who took a long look at the NBA, makes the Zags a big-time threat.
14. Texas – Can the 'Horns compensate for the loss of D.J. Augustin?
16. Kansas – No team lost more, but the Jayhawks never should be counted out.
18. Wake Forest – A good young team gets younger and better with a superb recruiting class.
22. Davidson – How far can one skinny guard take a team? Ask defending national champion Kansas.
24. West Virginia – Anyone expecting the Mountaineers to take a step back isn't paying attention.
26. San Diego – Bill Grier's Toreros are for real, as Kentucky and UConn are aware.
28. Baylor – The Bears are a tough matchup with a talented stable of guards.
29. Wisconsin – The best example of how far defense can carry a team.
30. Ohio State – For the second time in three years the Buckeyes welcome the nation's top prospect.
33. Saint Mary's – Gaels PG Patrick Mills was the only collegiate player at the Summer Olympics in Beijing.
34. Siena – The Saints have nearly everybody back from last year's team that shocked Vanderbilt in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
43. Tulsa – Hard-nosed defense is the calling card of the Golden Hurricane.
49. Creighton – Remember the name P'Allen Stinnett.
50. Massachusetts – New coach Derek Kellogg brings a new scheme to the high-scoring Minutemen.
52. St. Joseph's – Ahmad Nivins will be a focal point for the new-look Hawks.
53. Kent State – The Flashes are one of eight Division I programs to win 20 games each of the past 10 seasons.
56. Northeastern – The Huskies return the top nine scorers from a team that went 9-9 in the Colonial last season.
57. Miami University – The RedHawks figure to start five seniors, which makes them plenty long on experience.
62. Wisconsin-Green Bay – All five starters return, including three who averaged double-figures in points.
65. American – Eagles guards Garrison Carr and Derrick Mercer carry the flag for the Patriot League.
66. Providence – Can new coach Keno Davis weave the same kind of magic he did in one season at Drake?
69. Southern Illinois – Senior G Bryan Mullins has to lead an inexperienced but talented Salukis team.
78. Illinois State – Three starters are gone, but G Osiris Eldridge returns to lead the Redbirds.
80. Cornell – The Big Red went unscathed through the Ivy last season and have enough firepower to repeat the feat.
89. Michigan – Year Two of the Beilein System should yield more fruit for the Wolverines.
94. Old Dominion – With four returning starters and Blaine Taylor at the helm, the Monarchs are a threat in the Colonial.
95. Stephen F. Austin – The Lumberjacks have four starters returning, including reigning Southland Player of the Year Josh Alexander.
96. Drake – First-year coach Mark Phelps won't duplicate last year's stunning success, but neither will the Bulldogs fade from view.
97. New Mexico State – The Aggies have only one returning starter, but both players in the backcourt averaged double figures last season.
99. Eastern Michigan – Three starters return for the Eagles, including PG Carlos Medlock - their leading scorer and distributor.
100. Portland State – The Vikings are the class of the Big Sky, led by league player of the year Jeremiah Dominguez.
104. St. John's - Without dramatic improvement, Norm Roberts' tenure will come to a close.
108. Morgan State – Todd Bozeman deserves credit for establishing the Bears as the team to beat in the MEAC.
109. Nebraska – Three perimeter starters return, but can they compensate for the loss of graduated C Aleks Maric?
114. Cal State Northridge – Big West coaches made the Matadors their runaway pick to win the league.
115. Winthrop – The Eagles lose three starters and four of their top five scorers yet still are the pick to win the Big South.
119. Arkansas-Little Rock – The Trojans return all five starters from a team than went 20-11, 11-7 in the Sun Belt.
122. Rhode Island – The Rams won 21 games last season but faded down the stretch. G Jimmy Baron, the son of the coach, is the top scorer.
123. Butler – The Bulldogs lost as much if not more than any team in the country. The weight shifts from a terrific senior class to post player Matt Howard.
125. Bowling Green – Every player returns - including senior F Nate Miller - from a team that went 13-17, 7-9 in the MAC.
126. Central Michigan – Replacing PG Giordan Watson is priority No. 1 and could evolve into point-guard-by committee.
127. Mount St. Mary's – Junior PG Jeremy Goode helped the Mount get hot late and make it all the way to the NCAA tournament.
129. Fairfield – The Stags return all five starters from a team that went 11-7 in the MAAC.
130. Holy Cross – The Crusaders resembled a M*A*S*H unit last season. If they can stay healthy, they'll make a push in the Patriot League.
131. Georgia State – Coach Rod Barnes turns to a host of transfers from the Big Six conferences to turn the fortunes of the Panthers.
132. Toledo – Tyrone Kent, the MAC's leading scorer a season ago, returns to fuel the Rockets.
133. Delaware – The Fightin' Blue Hens have a talented trio of guards that rivals any backcourt in the Colonial.
135. Colgate – Raiders captain Kyle Roemer, a fifth-year senior, is one of the best the Patriot League has to offer.
136. San Jose State – The Spartans are in position to make a big jump with all five starters returning.
137. Rider – Coach Tommy Dempsey had a security blanket in lottery pick Jason Thompson. His new blankie is Jason's little brother Ryan, a preseason All-MAAC pick.
139. Niagara – A pair of Big East transfers join holdover Tyrone Lewis in the backcourt.
140. Boise State – There may be only one returning starter from last year's NCAA tournament team, but there are eight other returning lettermen.
142. La Salle – The Explorers should be strong in the frontcourt with a couple of returning starters.
144. South Florida - Help is on the way in December when Georgia transfer Mike Mercer and 6-10 Maryland transfer Gus Gilchrist will become eligible.
147. Air Force – The Falcons have three returning starters from a team that went 16-14, 8-8 in the MWC.
148. Belmont – Longtime Bruins coach Rick Byrd has turned the Nashville school into a model program with three consecutive NCAA bids.
149. UC Santa Barbara – The Gauchos will rely on bruising post man Chris Devine.
150. Chattanooga – Three starters return for the Mocs, including two who averaged at least 12 ppg.
152. Indiana – The Hoosiers will take their lumps this season, then start delivering them again soon.
153. UT Arlington – Three players who averaged at least 12 ppg return for a team that won 21 games and punched a ticket to the NCAA tournament.
154. Boston – All five starters return for the Terriers, who won 11 of their last 14 games.
156. Murray State – With four starters back from a team that finished second in the league last season, the Racers are the favorite in the Ohio Valley.
157. George Washington – Senior F Rob Diggs returns after leading the Colonials in scoring and rebounding last season.
161. Pacific – The Tigers are regrouping after some offseason problems, but there still is plenty of talent returning.
163. Penn – The Quakers threw three freshmen into the fray last season and suffered their lumps, but the move should start to pay dividends.
164. Montana – The Grizzlies will be built around senior F Jordan Hasquet, their top scorer and rebounder last season.
165. Northwestern State – Coach Mike McConathy has guided the Demons to the past four Southland Conference tournament championship games.
166. Cal State Fullerton – Only one starter returns, but the good news it's senior G Josh Akognon (20.2 ppg).
167. South Alabama – The Jaguars must transition from a guard-oriented lineup to relying on the frontcourt.
169. Loyola, Md. – The Greyhounds have a shot at their fourth consecutive winning season, something they last achieved from 1983-87.
170. Oakland – The Golden Grizzlies return all five starters, including three who averaged at least 14 ppg last season.
171. Houston – The Cougars have only one returning starter and look to be on a downturn while the rest of the league is surging.
172. Louisiana Lafayette – F La'Ryan Gary could be the breakout guy for the Ragin' Cajuns, who return four starters.
174. Elon – The Phoenix gained some valuable experience and confidence last year with a surprise run to the SoCon tournament title game despite a seventh-place finish in the regular season.
175. IUPUI – George Hill is gone to the NBA, but coach Ron Hunter believes there's enough talent to be as good as last year's team that won a school-record 26 games.
176. Robert Morris – The Colonials return three starters from a team that posted a 14-game winning streak last season.
177. Lamar – The Cardinals will lean heavily on 5-9, 155-pound PG Kenny Dawkins, an all-conference pick last year.
178. Central Connecticut – The Blue Devils return three double-digit scorers and could surprise.
179. Idaho State – There are signs of progress in Pocatello, with four starters returning from a team that was .500 in the Big Sky.
181. Yale – The Bulldogs return only two starters and are in the same trouble spot as the rest of the league: Cornell will be tough to beat.
182. Sam Houston State – The Bearkats posted a 12-1 non-conference slate and a school-record 22 regular-season victories by playing stout defense.
184. East Tennessee State – Bucs G Courtney Pigram is a big-time scorer with plenty of range on the perimeter.
185. Radford – PG Amir Johnson is adept at getting into the lane and creating for the Highlanders talented wings.
186. Southeastern Louisiana – Name the only program in Louisiana with a winning record each of the past five seasons? You guessed it.
187. Northern Iowa – The Panthers' hopes center around the health of 7-footer Jordan Eglseder, their top returning scorer and rebounder, who only recently was cleared to practice.
188. Hofstra – All-time leading scorer Antoine Agudio is gone, but Colonial freshman of the year Charles Jenkins (15.0 ppg) is ready to take the reins.
189. Wisconsin-Milwaukee – The strength is on the perimeter, where three players are back who averaged at least 7 ppg.
190. Bucknell – The Bison could struggle this season. They have a new coach and only two returning starters.
192. Akron – The Zips are one of the youngest teams in the MAC and they will have a great deal of difficulty matching last season's win total.
193. Fairleigh Dickinson – The Knights lost three starters from an 8-20 team, but three Division I transfers could make them a real sleeper.
194. Manhattan – The Jasper got knocked around last season but they return four starters and still have only one senior.
198. IPFW – With only two starters returning, the Mastodons will look to some transfers for immediate help.
199. Long Island – The Blackbirds were picked last in the 11-team NEC last season and finished sixth, and now they have four starters returning.
200. Northern Arizona – The Lumberjacks return only two starters, but Mike Adras has pushed his team to the Big Sky title game three years in a row.
201. Louisiana Tech – Summer turmoil was not the best recipe for a team trying to follow up a six-win season.
203. Jacksonville – The Dolphins are building toward a push against Atlantic Sun kingpin Belmont with all five starters returning from an 18-win team.
207. Valparaiso – The Crusaders' transition to the Horizon League from the Summit was a bit rough, but Homer Drew will keep things upbeat.
208. Ball State – The Cardinals are in a more stable position to begin this season and will be led by fifth-year senior Anthony Newell, their leading returning scorer and rebounder.
209. Indiana State – The Sycamores went 2-13 in non-home games last season, something second-year coach Kevin McKenna hopes to rectify.
211. High Point – It's a good thing coach Bart Lundy is enamored with his recruiting class because Big South Player of the Year Arizona Reid is no longer around.
212. Weber State – No returnee averaged more than 8.8 ppg for the Wildcats, so there are opportunities for newcomers to step in.
213. Hartford – Junior G Joe Zeglinski was the first Hawks sophomore to be named first-team all-conference since Vin Baker.
214. UMBC – Senior PG Jay Greene helped the Retrievers lead the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio, which helped them make the NCAA tournament.
215. Alabama State – With three starters returning, the Hornets will battle Jackson State for supremacy in the SWAC.
216. Hampton – Three starters and nine lettermen are back to give coach Kevin Nickelberry a chance at the MEAC title.
218. Jackson State – Four starters return, including three who averaged double-figure scoring last season.
220. Hawaii – Longtime Riley Wallace assistant Bob Nash found the going rough in his first season, and it could stay that way.
221. Wofford – The Terriers have three returning starters but lost their top two scorers.
222. UNC Greensboro – There is talent returning, but life will be dramatically different without two-time SoCon Player of the Year Kyle Hines.
223. Towson – The mainstays are Georgetown transfer Josh Thornton and forward Junior Hairston, who must propel the Tigers up the standings in a crucial year for Pat Kennedy.
224. Duquesne – Only two starters return from a team that tied for ninth in the Atlantic 10.
227. UTSA – Coach Brooks Thompson has remade the Roadrunners in his two seasons, and things are looking up. The team is led by Southland frosh of the year Devin Gibson.
228. Delaware State – The Hornets were in rebuilding mode last year and still finished fourth in the MEAC at 10-6.
230. Oregon State – Maybe the new coach's brother-in-law, President-elect Obama, can suit up for the undermanned Beavers.
231. UMKC – The Kangaroos take their cues from senior G Dane Brumigan, but they're still likely to struggle to reach the first division in the Summit.
232. Harvard – Tommy Amaker's first season yielded just an 8-22 mark, but all five starters return.
233. Lipscomb – The Bisons are built around a trio of sophomores who each averaged between 8-9 ppg last season.
234. UC Irvine – Without Patrick Sanders and Darren Fells the Anteaters will be hard-pressed to match last year's win total (18).
235. UNC Wilmington – The Seahawks used four senior starters last season to surprise everyone with a second-place league finish, but can they avoid crumbling without them?
236. Loyola (Chicago) – The Ramblers have a go-to guy in senior G J.R. Blount and three other returning starters.
237. Evansville – All five starters return as coach Marty Simmons tries to restore the glory to the Purple Aces program.
238. Northern Illinois – The Huskies have only two starters returning from a team that struggled mightily in year one under Ricardo Patton.
241. Morehead State – The frontcourt returns intact and it's good enough to make the Eagles a contender in the Ohio Valley.
242. Norfolk State – The Spartans surprised with a tie for second last season in the MEAC, but can they keep things pointed up?
243. Stetson – A strong finish last season (12-5) probably saved Derek Waugh's job, and now he has all five starters returning.
245. South Carolina State – Senior post player Jason Johnson (11.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg) is a preseason first-team All-MEAC selection.
247. Alabama A&M – Four starters, led by PG Trant Simpson, will keep the Bulldogs near the front of the pack in the SWAC.
248. Fordham – The recruiting class will have a chance at significant minutes. Last season, all five starters were seniors.
250. Utah Valley State – The Wolverines are in their final year of transition to Division I, and they're led by G Ryan Toolson, the school's all-time leading scorer.
254. Wichita State – The Shockers experienced heavy losses and will be hard-pressed to contend for a spot in the MVC's upper division.
255. Buffalo – All five starters return from a Bulls team that won only three games in conference play.
256. St. Bonaventure – Washington State transfer Chris Matthews isn't bothered by the new 20-9 3-point line.
257. Iona – Three starters return as the Gaels try to work their way back from going 2-28 just two seasons ago.
258. Denver – The Pioneers may need nametags with nine newcomers on the roster.
259. FIU – The Golden Panthers return four starters, and fifth-year coach Sergio Rouco believes there is reason for optimism after a 9-20 season.
260. Army – The Black Knights lost only one starter, but Jarell Brown accounted for more than 30 percent of the team's scoring.
261. Tennessee State – The Tigers return three starters and hope to build off the momentum of a run to the OVC title game a year ago.
262. Charleston Southern – If coach Barclay Radebaug brings in more players like Big South Freshman of the Year Omar Carter, the Buccaneers will start climbing.
263. Northern Colorado – The Bears have made a solid transition to full-fledged D-I team, and F Jabril Banks aims to keep things moving forward.
264. Quinnipiac – The Bobcats have three returning starters, but Tom Moore still has a way to go to get the program on solid footing.
265. Southern – The Jaguars are loaded on the perimeter with four guards returning who started at least 15 games last season.
266. Coppin State – Fang Mitchell guided the Eagles to a surprise MEAC tournament title, making them the first team to enter the NCAA tournament with 20 losses.
267. Tennessee Tech – You can't help but root for Mike Sutton, and his Golden Eagles can go 6-9, 6-9, 6-8 across the frontline – sizable for the OVC.
268. Savannah State – Once a laughingstock, coach Horace Broadnax cajoled 13 wins out of the Tigers last season.
269. Furman – The Paladins return four starters and look to make some headway in the SoCon.
271. Southern Utah – The Thunderbirds managed a .500 finish in the Summit but will be hard-pressed to match that this season.
273. New Orleans – The Privateers could have used 3-point shooter Doneal Mack, who transferred from Memphis in the summer than hightailed it back to the Tigers.
274. Loyola Marymount – New coach Bill Bayno has his work cut out for him: The Lions haven't made the postseason since 1986.
275. Rice - New coach Ben Braun faces a tough task: The Owls went 3-27 last season, including a winless slate in Conference USA.
276. VMI – Four starters return from the nation's highest-scoring team (91.3 ppg), including twins Chavis and Travis Holmes.
277. Albany – The Great Danes have only two returning starters, so replicating last year's tie for second in the America East will be a tall order.
278. Campbell – F Jonathan Rodriguez was one of seven players to average at least 20 ppg and 10 rpg last season, along with guys named Beasley, Hansbrough and Harangody.
279. Coastal Carolina – Cliff Ellis has the Chanticleers pointed north in the Big South with three returning starters.
281. Eastern Washington – The Eagles hope that four returning starters can help boost them into the upper division of the Big Sky.
282. UC Davis – The Aggies were humbled their first full season in Division I, going 9-22 and finishing last in the Big West.
283. Samford – The Bulldogs move into the North Division of the Southern Conference, which at least isn't the same side as Davidson.
284. Troy – The outlook is bleak for the Trojans, who lose four starters from a team that went 12-19, 4-14 in the Sun Belt.
285. Pepperdine – The Waves have been nothing but a ripple in the WCC over the past three seasons with 26 total wins.
286. Missouri State – Former Purdue standout Cuonzo Martin takes his first head-coaching job, but the Bears are picked to finish last in the MVC preseason vote.
287. South Dakota State – F Kai Williams is a keeper, but the Jackrabbits managed only eight wins and a 10th-place finish in the Summit last season.
288. Columbia – The Lions will struggle in the Ivy with only one starter back from a team that went .500 in the league.
289. Nicholls State – Four starters return, but the Colonels have won at least 10 games only once in the past five years.
290. Eastern Kentucky – Another team nicknamed the Colonels and another team that could take its lumps this season.
291. Kennesaw State – The Owls will rely on a frontcourt led by 7-1 Scottish center John Allison.
292. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi – Islanders coach Perry Clark started three freshmen in every game last season, which should start to pay dividends soon.
293. Cal Poly – The league preseason poll lists the Mustangs in eighth as they look to rebound from a 12-18 season.
294. Youngstown State – The Penguins won only nine games last season and lost their top two scorers.
295. Canisius – The Golden Griffins finished in last in the 10-team MAAC; climbing out of the basement starts with PG Frank Turner.
296. Drexel – The Dragons took a major dive last season and could dip further with only two starters returning from a team that tied for 10th in the Colonial.
297. Lafayette – PG Andrew Brown will have to carry the Leopards while they figure out who can fit around him.
298. St. Peter's – A talented sophomore class that already has played major minutes hopes to get the Peacocks ready to strut.
299. Texas Pan-American – Tom Schuberth coaxed an amazing 18 wins out of the Broncs last season, but they may get busted this season with four starters gone.
300. North Carolina A&T – The Aggies are coming off consecutive 15-win seasons, but this team comes up short on talent with only two starters returning.
301. UNC Asheville – The loss of 7-7 center Kenny George is a sad one, and there are other significant personnel losses as well.
302. Texas State – Four starters return for the Bobcats as they try to claw their way up the Southland standings.
303. Southeast Missouri State – How do you figure out a team that has one returning starter and a head coach on leave because of NCAA allegations?
304. Mississippi Valley State – The Delta Devils have a new head coach (former Kentucky standout Sean Woods) and three returning starters.
305. Western Illinois – The Leathernecks will look to Summit League all-newcomer team member David Dubois to lead them.
306. Marist – The Red Foxes have only one returning starter but hope to get some immediate help from the recruiting class.
307. UC Riverside – The Highlanders are low dwellers in the Big West with 41 total wins over the past five seasons.
308. Dartmouth – Big Green senior F Alex Barnett is the leading returning scorer and rebounder in the Ivy.
310. Monmouth – Senior G Whitney Coleman has watched the Hawks slide from NCAA tournament team his freshman year to 7-24 last year.
311. Montana State – Four starters departed from a team that managed only a sixth-place finish in the Big Sky.
312. Presbyterian – Sophomore C Al'Lonzo Coleman is the real deal, but the Blue Hose will struggle.
313. Florida Gulf Coast – The Eagles have a big-time non-conference slate that includes Kansas, Florida, Butler and Michigan. Yikes.
314. New Hampshire – The guard play is solid but the Wildcats have won more than 10 games only once in the past five seasons.
315. Grambling – The Tigers return only two starters from a team that didn't win a game outside the SWAC.
316. USC Upstate – Bobby Davis, the leading rebounder and second-leading scorer, is a load on the blocks at 6-6, 230.
317. Texas Southern – First-year coach Tony Harvey has been out of the game since 2004 after resigning amid NCAA problems while an assistant at Missouri.
318. Howard – All five starters return, but the Bison has produced only 33 wins total in the past five years.
319. Maine – The Black Bears went 3-13 in the America East last season and will battle to stay out of the cellar this season.
321. St. Francis, N.Y. – Thank goodness for the other St. Francis, which NEC coaches picked last in the preseason poll.
322. Central Arkansas – The Bears won four games in the Southland Conference but lose their leading scorer and their leading rebounder.
323. Princeton – The Tigers have dropped off precipitously in recent years, and only two starters return from a 6-23 team.
324. North Carolina Central – The Eagles won four games, including two over D-I opponents and one over fellow D-I transition team Winston-Salem State.
325. Prairie View – If you can't qualify for the SWAC tournament, which the Panthers haven't done since 2005, you're program is in the weeds.
326. Cal State Bakersfield – The Roadrunners posted eight wins in their debut season in D-I playing a heavy Big West schedule.
327. Winston-Salem State – Leading scorer Jamal Durham returns to power the Rams.
328. Idaho – The Vandals have won just 24 games over the past four seasons and return only one starter from last year's 8-21 team.
329. Bryant – The Bulldogs will play all 11 NEC teams as they prepare to enter the league in 2012-13.
330. The Citadel – With seven freshmen, two redshirt freshmen and eight sophomores it's hard to make headway in the SoCon.
331. St. Francis, Pa. – Thank goodness for the other St. Francis, which provided two of the Red Flash's six wins last season.
332. Longwood – The Lancers took a serious blow when senior F Kirk Williams, the leading scorer, was ruled academically ineligible for the fall semester.
333. Bethune-Cookman – The Wildcats have only one starter returning from a team that went 5-11 in the MEAC.
334. Arkansas-Pine Bluff – New coach George Ivory promises a team that can score more than last year's 13-18 squad, which ranked 305th in scoring (60.3 ppg).
335. Stony Brook – America East coaches believe the Seawolves have no sea legs, voting them last in the league preseason poll.
336. Sacramento State – Hornets alum Brian Katz will try his hand at breathing life into the Big Sky cellar dweller.
338. Houston Baptist – Purdue transfer Gordon Watt returns after leading the Huskies in scoring and rebounding last season.
339. Jacksonville State – OVC coaches and SIDs made the Gamecocks an overwhelming choice for last in the league.
340. North Florida – The Ospreys are 4-34 in two seasons in the Atlantic Sun and are picked to finish last again by the league's coaches.
341. Maryland Eastern Shore – In the past five seasons the program has produced only 25 wins and not had an RPI higher than 319.
342. Alcorn State – Another school turns to an alum: Can Larry "Mr. Mean" Smith instill toughness in the Braves?
343. NJIT – New coach Jim Engles eventually will win his share, but you have to put a team that didn't win a game last season in this spot.
Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.