And Now for Something Completely Different

Ok, ok, we know what this looks like. You've seen this before. It's starts innocuously enough -- perhaps just some tempo free aerials of other conferences linked discreetly in the sidebar. Maybe a recap of a visit to a mid-major contest. By the end of March, two weeks notice has been given, and then later your ex-girlfriend drops off a forwarding address where she's been shacking up with some weird dude from Utah.

We swear this isn't that. We have no current plans to jump ship. But we do want to show that we have an understanding of college basketball that extends west of Minneapolis, and east of State College. So with that, here's a quick look at the 2009 Pomeroy Top 50, and whether we expect improvement ("Up") or decline ("Down") or neither ("--").

Rank

Team

Up/Down

Comments

1

UNC

Down

UNC loses a lot from last year. How do you replace a guy like Bobby Frasor?

2

Memphis

Down

Memphis sees talent leave, but perhaps more importantly, a pretty good defensive coach (for all his off-the-court controversy) exits as well

3

UConn

Down

This is still a very good team, but one that loses too many minutes to be this high

4

Louisville

Down

It's the loss of Terrence Williams, not Earl Clark, that hurts the most here

5

Pitt

Down

Was DeJuan Blair really a 2nd round pick? Related question: are NBA GMs taking crazy pills?

6

Mizzou

--

Missouri returns a lot more minutes than you might think. Kim English and Marcus Denmon are breakout candidates.

7

Gonzaga

Down

Bouldin is a nice player, but he can't carry the team by himself.

8

MSU

--

The national runner ups will again be dangerous, though catching fire in the Tournament again is hardly a sure thing

9

WVU

Up

Huggins' team returns a ton of minutes from a really good team. Darkhorse title contender

10

Kansas

Up

Memphis' loss is again Kansas' fortune: Calipari's departure led to Kansas nabbing #2 RSCI recruit Xavier Henry

11

Duke

Up

Gerald Henderson is gone, but Singler, Scheyer, and Nolan Smith return. Is this the best PG-less team in the country?

12

UCLA

Down

It's an exodus in Westwood, and the Bruins are rebuilding. A tournament bid is still within reach.

13

Oklahoma

Down

This is Willie Warren's team now. The Sooners do bring in some bulk to help replace the rebounding monster known as Blake Griffin.

14

Villanova

Up

63% of the minutes return, and Jay Wright welcomes one of the country's best recruiting classes.

15

Syracuse

Down

After losing Flynn, Devendorf, and Harris, don't be surprised if Boeheim renews his call for a 128 team tournament.

16

ASU

Down

ASU was the second-best 2 point shooting team in the country last year. Without Harden and Pendergraph, they won't be this season.

17

Washington

Up

For this prediction to pan out, the Huskies will likely have to re-tool the offense without offensive rebounding monster Jon Brockman.

18

Purdue

Up

Step aside, Levance Fields: This year's "He's _Still _in School?" Award goes to Chris Kramer.

19

Marquette

Down

The Golden Eagles are very young this season, welcoming six new faces.

20

Xavier

Down

Former Hoosier and Internet Legend Jordan Crawford will help fill in the shoes of Anderson, Raymond, and Brown.

21

BYU

Up

The Cougars are loaded, and it won't surprise us if they beat up on 'Zona in the December matchup in Tuscon.

22

Clemson

Up

If Terrence Oglesby had stuck around, this team could have been thinking about a Final Four run.

23

Texas

Up

The Longhorns return over 70% of the minutes and welcome a monster freshman class highlighted by Avery Bradley.

24

Illinois

Down

The shooting in Champaign needs to improve if the Illini are to make the Dance again.

25

Wake Forest

--

Sometimes when you catch lightning in a bottle the lightning decides to declare for the NBA draft.

26

USC

Down

Kevin O'Neill sure has a thing for putting out fires.

27

Georgetown

Up

Monroe's decision to return for his sophomore season should put the Hoyas near the top of the Big East.

28

Oklahoma St.

Down

This is a nice change of pace from the repetitive "I don't care about awards" talk.

29

Wisconsin

--

Despite the bad luck from last year, the record might not improve much given the quality of the conference.

30

Utah

Down

Pack it in: The Utes led the country in defensive rebounding percentage, but were 341st in forcing turnovers.

31

Tennessee

Up

Probably will rank as the best bad shooting team in the country this season.

32

California

Up

Jerome Randle is a frontrunner for the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award.

33

SDSU

Down

There were 5 20-win teams in the Mountain West Conference last year. That was 56% of the conference, but we don't think many noticed.

34

Baylor

--

While the actual quality of the team won't improve all that much this season, the record should better reflect the on-court play.

35

WSU

Down

While we think Klay Thompson will have a huge year, it won't be enough to overcome the loss of the 4 seniors.

36

FSU

Up
Sure, Toney Douglas is gone, but 70% of the minutes came back. Scoring is the concern - this is a defensive powerhouse.

37

Ohio St.

Up
Thad Matta's got a lot of returning minutes? Are we reading this right?

38

Notre Dame

Down
Harangody took 653 shots last season. With all those seniors gone, he might break 700 this year.

39

New Mexico

Down
We're tempted by the amount of returning sophomores with experience, but we think the Lobos finish a hair below last season.

40

Miami

Down
McClinton is a tough player to replace, and the Hurricanes lost a lot more minutes on top of that.

41

Arizona

Down
Nic Wise is an underrated player, but his assist numbers will surely take a dip without Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger.

42

Florida

Up
Superstar recruit Kenny Boynton will take a lot of the sting out of the loss of Calathes, but someone needs to play defense.

43

LSU

Down
Life without Marcus Thornton will be difficult. Cool stat from last year - LSU had only 1 win over a Pomeroy Top 40 team, but still won 27 games.

44

Kansas St.

Down
Some kids got pushed out the door after Frank Martin oversigned last year's class.

45

Butler

Up
Up, up, and away - the Bulldogs return everyone from last year's young and overachieving squad.

46

Texas A&M

Up
Donald Sloan shot 40% on 2 pointers last year, but was 48% on such shots as a sophomore. Expect a turnaround.

47

Temple

Down
Our long, national nightmare is over. Dointe Christmas is gone, and with him go all those bad puns.

48

UAB

Down
The DeMarcus Cousins story is complicated, and should make us think hard about the recruiting process. But surely, it sucks to be Mike Davis.

49

Stanford

Down
The good news: Stanford's performance should be more consistent this season. The bad news: not in a good way.

50

Michigan

Up
Shoot 3s! Share the sugar! Play basketball the John Beilein Way! Rebounding optional.

In addition, here's some teams we feel could break into the Top 50 this season:

  • Minnesota (#51 last year) - The Gophers return everyone (save for a couple role players), and add a stellar 4-man recruiting class, including RSCI top 50 forwards Royce White and Rodney Williams. Tubby's got depth, and he knows how to use it.
  • Kentucky (#52 last year) - Needless to say, John Calipari has brought major excitement to Kentucky hoops. Excellent big man Patrick Patterson returns, and he'll be surrounded by an incredible recruiting class that includes 3 of the RSCI top 20 and two other top 100 prospects. The Wildcats will be young, but they'll be oozing with talent.
  • Maryland (#54 last year) - Another team with tons of returning minutes, Maryland will need to shoot better if they hope to make some noise this season. Greivis Vasquez, for all his great ballhandling and playmaking, could stand to greatly improve his 46.7 eFG%. His superb FT shooting indicates that an uptick is attainable.

  • *Siena *(#59 last year) - The Saints lose leader Kenny Hasbrouck, but they otherwise return a lot of experience from a solid team. Hasbrouck's impact may be felt most on the defensive end - on a team that relies on getting steals and not fouling, Hasbrouck was among their best at both. Still, there's enough here for the Saints to challenge for an at-large tourney bid.

  • Mississippi State (#61 last year) - The Bulldogs would have been a potential top-50 team anyway, with lots of minutes and shot-swatter supreme Jarvis Varnado returning, but they have the potential to really make some noise if PF Renardo Sidney (#7 RSCI) is cleared by the NCAA. Fellow top 100 big man John Riek could provide another boost if he can stay healthy.

  • Tulsa (#63 last year) - Seven-footer Jerome Jordan is a legit NBA prospect, and he's got a solid sidekick in fellow senior Ben Uzoh. If Glenn Andrews - he of the higher shot diet (26.7%) than 3-point accuracy (25.2%) - can start hitting the broad side of a barn, Tulsa's offense has a chance to catch up to its very solid defense.

  • Vanderbilt (#77 last year) - A.J. Ogilvy, Jermaine Beal, and a ton of returning freshman minutes - is that enough reason? Oh, did I mention they add SG John Jenkins (#29 RSCI)? This team could be top 25 this season, and even better in 2010-11.

So there you have it, the Geeks go national. We'll be back to our regularly-scheduled midwestern programming on Monday.