College basketball is just around the corner with a cast of new names, fresh faces and the same old dominating programs that are expected to be in contention come March.
But the beautiful thing about college basketball is that unproven talent and small-time schools can shock the NCAA on any given night, which makes the run to the NCAA Tournament so much fun.
With the season tipping off on Friday night, here is a look at Metro’s first poll of the season:
Metro’s Preseason Top-25 Rankings
1. Duke- Grayson Allen returns for another season as he will be expected to lead a Duke team loaded with talent ranging from Trevon Duval to Marvin Bagley III.
2. Arizona- This is a roster loaded with talent headlined by Allonzo Trier and Emmanuel Akot reclassifying to join the team this year was the cherry on top of it.
3. Michigan State- Miles Bridges is one of the frontrunners for the Wooden Award and will be a human highlight reel this season. The Spartans will go as he goes.
4. Kansas- Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk are going to need help to stay this high all season. That will fall on freshman power forward Billy Preston, who has to buck the trend of young big men not panning out in Kansas.
5. Kentucky- No Isaiah Briscoe, no Isaac Humphries, no problem as long as Wenyen Gabriel can step up and be the marquee man for the Wildcats.
6. Villanova- Jalen Brunson could garner consideration as the best point guard in the nation by year’s end. If that happens, Villanova will go far.
7. Wichita State- If the end of Landry Shamet’s freshman season is any indication of how things will be this year, Wichita State is going to be a menace.
8. West Virginia- The Jevon Carter-led defense is going to wreak havoc on the Big 12 and the nation this year. Most teams will have no idea how to deal with it.
9. Florida- KeVaughn Allen’s coming out party during a 35-point effort against Wisconsin should be replicated a few more times this season. Watch out.
10. North Carolina- The defending champions are in trouble given their lack of depth in the frontcourt, but point guard Joel Berry will ensure that the Tar Heels remain in the hunt.
11. USC- Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu both returned to ensure that USC will be in the hunt for a Pac-12 title.
12. Cincinnati- A 30-win Bearcats team from last season received a big boost when Cane Broome transferred from Sacred Heart.
13. Notre Dame- The double-double machine that is Bonzie Colson will carry ACC Preseason Player of the Year honors into his senior season where he will carry the Fighting Irish to the Tournament.
14. Miami (FL)- The Hurricanes have a scary-good backcourt in Lonnie Walker and Bruce Brown, but their lack of depth holds them from being higher.
15. Xavier- Head coach Chris Mack is the type of coach to get the most out of his players and he’ll need to do that with point guard Quentin Goodin. If he performs, this is a very good team with Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura.
16. Minnesota- The Gophers’ success relies on their two big men in shot-blocking extraordinaire Reggie Lynch and Jordan Murphy. This will be a tough, grind-it-out team that should challenge for the Big Ten title.
17. Gonzaga- Last year’s national runner-ups will have plenty of new faces, which is going to put pressure on Johnathan Williams to put up some serious offense.
18. Northwestern- After making the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever, Northwestern returns its five-leading scorers and should make the big dance once again.
19. Louisville- The program itself is in shambles after the latest scandal. But this team has the talent to be a top-five program. The problem is the state of the school.
20. Saint Mary’s- Jock Landale will average a double-double this season and be the man to challenge Gonzaga for the WCC.
21. Purdue- Isaac Haas might be without Caleb Swanigan, but he will have Matt Haarms, a 7-foot-2 redshirt freshman. If those two can work well together, Purdue might be much better than 21st.
22. Seton Hall- Angel Delgado is an absolute animal under the basket and is going to fuel the New Jersey school to a serious run in the Big East.
23. Texas A&M- Like Northwestern, A&M is bringing back all five of its leading scorers while adding Marquette transfer Duane Wilson.
24. Baylor- I think Manu Lecomte will be a darkhorse for the Wooden Award while seven-footer Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. is going to be the Bears’ stalwart down low.
25. UCLA- This is a team that should be higher, but after the arrests of three players, including LiAngelo Ball, the program is momentarily in limbo.