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15. North Carolina (32-6): Plenty of stars departed Chapel Hill after last season, but when has Roy Williams ever been caught without plenty of talent — well, besides that one time?

16. Missouri (30-5): Frank Haith’s whirlwind tour of the power conferences continues as a posse of transfers lead the Tigers into life in the Southeastern Conference.

17. Arizona (23-12): After a second NCAA tournament miss in three seasons, the Wildcats are poised to re-emerge as a steady force in the Pac-12 moving forward.

18. San Diego State (26-8): Not as strong as the last couple seasons, but the Aztecs are still plenty good and should challenge UNLV for Mountain West supremacy thanks to guard Jamaal Franklin.

19. Cincinnati (26-11): The Bearcats are best not overlooked after back-to-back 26-win seasons, especially with tough junior Sean Kilpatrick manning the perimeter.

20. Baylor (30-8): Point guard Pierre Jackson should ensure the Bears don’t fade too much after the departure of a talented frontcourt, but a return to a regional final might be asking a bit much.

21. Virginia Commonwealth* (29-7): Coach Shaka Smart and the Rams take their brand of “havoc” to the Atlantic 10, where they should become instant contenders after years in the CAA.

22. Memphis* (26-9): The Tigers have one last season of lording over Conference USA, though it’s no sure thing they’ll earn the first NCAA tournament victory of the Josh Pastner era this year.

23. Gonzaga* (26-7): Perpetually in the mix come March, the Bulldogs bring back four starters (including Elias Harris) and should be on their way to a West Coast Conference title.

24. Notre Dame (22-12): Heavens knows if the Irish can reverse their trend of losing to double-digit seeds four times in five NCAA trips since 2007, but they’ll almost certainly get the chance to try.

25. Wisconsin (26-10): Losing Josh Gasser (aka Jordan Taylor’s replacement at point guard) doesn’t help the Badgers a bit, but Bo Ryan always finds a way to make Wisconsin a nuisance in the Big Ten.

26. Miami (20-13): Big Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji provide a stout frontcourt for the Hurricanes.

27. Florida State (25-10): Underestimate loquacious guard Michael Snaer and the Seminoles at your own risk.

28. Texas (20-14): Hard to place much faith in the Longhorns after recent history of postseason sputtering.

29. Saint Louis (26-8): The Billikens have plenty of talent back, but sideline maestro Rick Majerus is not.

Story Continues →