Others' defections may make UNC tops, for now

Originally Published: April 13, 2007
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

The pre-preseason Top 25 already needs an overhaul. Too many players are declaring for the draft to leave the poll untouched, even in April, so for the next few weeks, this assessment will continue to get adjustments.

Let's begin with Florida. The Gators lost all four of their juniors (Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer and Taurean Green) when they declared for the draft and opted to sign with agents. That means Florida is now definitively out.

Moving on to the Top 25, let's address the teams' relative movement since April 4 (in their original order).

Kansas
Kansas 2006-07 Record: 33-5, 14-2
The Jayhawks have to slide from the top perch after losing Julian Wright and having the instability of not knowing whether Brandon Rush will stay. KU coach Bill Self said the Jayhawks still should be a good team, possibly a great one, as long as Rush stays, but losing Wright does limit their options a bit on the wing.

UCLA
UCLA 2006-07 Record: 30-6, 15-3
As good as the Bruins can be without Arron Afflalo, they still lost the Pac-10's best shooting guard and an All-American. Sure, UCLA was able to get back to the Final Four without Jordan Farmar, but the Bruins had a replacement in Darren Collison. They will look different next season with Kevin Love inside and can move Josh Shipp to Afflalo's spot, but Afflalo's still not going to be there, which means the Bruins have to slide.

North Carolina
UNC 2006-07 Record: 31-7, 11-5
The Tar Heels survived the first wave of defections when Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson said they were staying. Brandan Wright still needs to make up his mind. For now, because the Tar Heels are losing only Reyshawn Terry, a senior, at this juncture, they are looking like the top team.

Memphis
Memphis 2006-07 Record: 33-4, 16-0
The Tigers creep higher because they haven't been hit by the defection bug. Memphis still could lose Chris Douglas-Roberts but, so far, there is no discussion about his jetting. The addition of Derrick Rose makes the Tigers a possible national title team.

Ohio State
Ohio State 2006-07 Record: 35-4, 15-1
Mike Conley Jr., Greg Oden and Daequan Cook will make up their minds in the next week or so as to whether they're declaring. That means the Buckeyes are holding their ground, but are likely to slide soon assuming at least one (if not all three) decides to go to the NBA.

USC
USC 2006-07 Record: 25-12, 11-7
The Trojans also are in a tenuous position. There's still no word as to whether Nick Young or Gabe Pruitt will declare. The good news the USC coaching staff received was that Taj Gibson won't declare -- at least that's what was said this week. That at least gives the Trojans an anchor inside.

Georgetown
Georgetown 2006-07 Record: 30-7, 13-3
The Hoyas' legs are wobbly with the decisions by Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert to enter their names in the NBA draft, though neither has hired an agent.

Washington State
Washington State 2006-07 Record: 26-8, 13-5
Maybe the Cougars should move up, in that there is no chance Washington State is sliding with no one outside of senior Ivory Clark leaving the team. Tony Bennett is back and the Cougs look as solid as any other team.

Louisville
Louisville 2006-07 Record: 24-10, 12-4
The Cards don't have any early-entry issues, making them a solid bet to hold their footing in the top 10. Louisville lost assistant coach Kevin Willard, but that shouldn't alter this team one bit.

Tennessee
Tennessee 2006-07 Record: 24-11, 10-6
Nothing has changed for the Volunteers. Bruce Pearl has this squad on the verge of being a top-10 team next season and maybe the pick to win the SEC.

Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech 2006-07 Record: 20-12, 8-8
Paul Hewitt still hasn't been told of any decisions by Thaddeus Young and Javaris Crittenton. Until he hears otherwise, he's assuming they're staying, and until that decision comes, the Yellow Jackets aren't moving in this poll.

Indiana
Indiana 2006-07 Record: 21-11, 10-6
No word from D.J. White yet, which means the Hoosiers are staying on the brink of the top 10. Eric Gordon still is an impact player coming in the fall. Kelvin Sampson has the Hoosiers ready for a breakout season.

Michigan State
Michigan State 2006-07 Record: 23-12, 8-8
The Spartans got word that Maurice Joseph is going to check out other options and may transfer. The reason that doesn't send this squad down a peg is that MSU has a talented group of freshman guards coming in who could make his defection a moot point.

Marquette
Marquette 2006-07 Record: 24-10, 10-6
Tom Crean's name was on the Kentucky list but it never got that far, so he's staying. All indications are that Dominic James is, too, so the Golden Eagles aren't going anywhere.

Gonzaga
Gonzaga 2006-07 Record: 23-11, 11-3
The Zags continue to get good reports on developments with Josh Heytvelt. All indications are that he will be reinstated to play next season and is as focused as ever to contribute to the team after his arrest on drug charges got him suspended in February.

Kansas State
Kansas State 2006-07 Record: 33-12, 10-6
(and out). The Wildcats still have a commitment from Michael Beasley, but it's one of those that you had better wait on until he's on campus before you believe it. Frank Martin hasn't been in this situation before (as a head coach) and while he may handle it fine, it's hard not to knock the Wildcats down without Bob Huggins.

Arizona
Arizona 2006-07 Record: 20-11, 11-7
The Wildcats lost Marcus Williams to the draft, as expected. That doesn't mean they won't still be a top-20 team, but they're still losing two of their top scorers (Ivan Radenovic was a senior) and will have a new point guard. The jury is still out on Arizona for a bit.

Oregon
Oregon 2006-07 Record: 29-8, 11-7
Oregon coach Ernie Kent signed an extension, so there won't be any change at the top. Malik Hairston said he's staying for his senior season. But losing Aaron Brooks, a senior, still means the Ducks will need to find new leadership (possibly Tajuan Porter?), and that's enough of a reason to keep the Ducks where they were -- just inside the top 20.

Texas
Texas 2006-07 Record: 25-10, 12-4
(and out). The Longhorns still will be one of the top teams in the Big 12, but without Kevin Durant it's hard to put them in the national Top 25 at this point. Texas will have to prove itself all over again, but the Longhorns are fully capable as they learn to play without relying on Durant.

Pitt
Pitt 2006-07 Record: 29-8, 12-4
The Panthers moved up based on not losing anyone this week and the departures at Texas and Kansas State. Pitt coach Jamie Dixon is high on this squad already, acknowledging its work ethic. He believes he has a squad that may not throw it into the post as often but will be just as tough on defense and may be more up-tempo.

Texas A&M
Texas A&M 2006-07 Record: 27-7, 13-3
(and out). Mark Turgeon will do a great job with the Aggies, but he now has to re-recruit DeAndre Jordan and he doesn't have a relationship with Joseph Jones, which means Jones may declare and, who knows, maybe sign with an agent. Turgeon has work to do in the coming weeks, but if both Jordan and Jones are locked in, the Aggies will be back in the poll.

Syracuse
Syracuse 2006-07 Record: 24-11, 10-6
The Orange climb higher based on the teams dropping ahead of them. The vibe is strong about the arrivals of Johnny Flynn and Donte Greene. Jim Boeheim will have this squad determined to make the NCAAs, so there is enough goodwill to keep the Orange in the poll.

Duke
Duke 2006-07 Record: 22-11, 8-8
The Blue Devils will climb now, too, with the arrival of Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith. The issues at the point and post are still there, but with Duke getting loads of home games again, expect the Devils to have a great record by New Year's.

Mississippi State
Mississippi State 2006-07 Record: 21-14, 8-8
The Bulldogs, led by Jamont Gordon, are holding their ground as one of the sleeper teams next season. Don't expect much to change as long as there is no offseason attrition.

Stanford
Stanford 2006-07 Record: 18-13, 10-8
The Cardinal continue to survive without losing a Lopez twin. As long as the team stays intact, Stanford's not dropping in the poll.

Welcome in …

Davidson
Davidson 2006-07 Record: 29-5, 17-1
The Wildcats return one of the top freshmen in the country in Stephen Curry and, because he had no seniors on last season's 29-5 squad that won the SoCon, coach Bob McKillop has everyone else back. Davidson, not a household name, should get some play for national games based on the talent, but likely won't since it's not a TV draw.

NC State
NC State 2006-07 Record: 20-16, 5-11
The Wolfpack do lose Engin Atsur, but that's it. The play of Brandon Costner, Gavin Grant, Ben McCauley and Courtney Fells was good enough to cause fits for teams in the ACC tournament. Now that Sidney Lowe has a season of experience behind him, expect the Wolfpack to be trouble from the start.

Southern Illinois
SIU 2006-07 Record: 29-7, 15-3
The Salukis got their biggest recruit to stay home when head coach Chris Lowery decided against pursuing other jobs and re-upped with SIU for big bucks. That means the Salukis will continue to be one of the top defensive teams in the country. And while they lose Jamaal Tatum and Tony Young, they do return Randal Falker and Matt Shaw as well as Bryan Mullins, Wesley Clemmons and Tony Boyle -- enough to be a factor throughout the year.

Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com