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November 6, 2009

Roundtable: Which team is most overrated?

At the College Basketball Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college basketball coverage staff for his opinion about a topic in the sport.

Today's question: What is the most overrated team in the nation going into the season?

David Fox's answer:
I'm a little surprised to see Louisville ranked in the top 20 of The Associated Press poll, though the Cardinals are the fourth team from the Big East. The conference ranking probably makes more sense than the national ranking. Instead, Clemson coming in at No. 24 in both polls screams overrated. I guess someone has to be the fourth ACC team in the top 25 after North Carolina, Duke and Georgia Tech (a reach). After starting 16-0, Clemson fumbled around to a 7-9 finish. That includes losses to Georgia Tech in the ACC tournament and a loss to 10th-seeded Michigan in the NCAA tournament. Without K.C. Rivers and Terrence Oglesby, I don't see Clemson keeping up with the top teams in the ACC. And with early games against Texas A&M, Illinois and South Carolina, another fast start isn't a guarantee, either.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
I'm not sold on two top-20 teams, Louisville and Michigan. Louisville's returning backcourt players can play defense, but their offense is spotty - and inconsistent. But the team I really question is Michigan. I don't question coach John Beilein, nor the talent of Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims. But the Wolverines were 9-9 and finished tied for seventh in the Big Ten last season, and the only teams that finished ahead of them that will be appreciably worse are Penn State and Wisconsin. Two teams that finished below the Wolverines will be better -- Indiana and Northwestern. That's not to say Indiana and Northwestern will finish ahead of the Wolverines, but they will be capable of beating them. To me, Michigan looks like a 10-8 team in the Big Ten -- and a 10-8 team in the Big Ten isn't going to finish 15th in the polls.

Jason King's answer:
I realize that Rick Pitino is one of the top coaches in the game - and that should count for something. Still, I think Louisville is extremely overrated. The Cardinals lost their two leading scorers (Terrence Jennings and Earl Clark) to the 2009 NBA draft, and it's not like they're replacing them with anything significant. And, yes, I realize Rakeem Buckles and Peyton Siva are highly touted signees. But it's tough to depend on freshmen. As for the returnees, forward Samardo Samuels -- who averaged 10.9 points last season -- could blossom into a star as a sophomore. But other than that, the Cardinals don't seem to have much offensive firepower. Edgar Sosa, Jerry Smith, Preston Knowles, Jared Swopshire and Terrence Jennings are nice complementary players, but are they really good enough to keep Louisville in the top 25 and in contention for the Big East title? The guess here is no.

Steve Megargee's answer:
I wonder if Duke's top-10 ranking is based more on the Blue Devils' tradition than on their 2009-10 roster. The Blue Devils haven't advanced beyond the Sweet 16 in the past five seasons, and it's hard for me to imagine that streak ending this season. Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer give Duke a heck of an inside-outside tandem, but the lack of depth in the backcourt is a major concern. Scheyer and Nolan Smith are the only guards on the roster with any real college experience, though incoming freshman Andre Dawkins clearly has talent. Singler's versatility could allow him to play on the perimeter as well as in the frontcourt, but this team still might not have enough guards to make a deep NCAA tournament run.

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