Commentary 2006-07 April Top 25 (11-25)

Updated: April 5, 2006, 2:58 PM ET
By Andy Katz |

Not satisfied with just the top 10? Here are the other 15 teams to watch as we turn our focus to the 2006-07 season.

To go back to the top 10, please click here.

11. Connecticut (30-4)
UConn OK, let's think for a minute here. If Rudy Gay, Marcus Williams and Josh Boone all return, where would UConn be ranked? Possibly at No. 1. The problem is that the word around Storrs is that Williams is gone and Gay is as well. That could change, but the feeling right now is that the Huskies won't have either back. Boone is a question mark -- he's not ready but still is possibly considering the jump. Still, the Huskies got sensational bench play this season from Jeff Adrien, a potential star in making in the post, and the recruiting class is one of Jim Calhoun's best, with a stud at each spot. The collection of Stanley Robinson, Ben Eaves, Curtis Kelly, Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins could win a title before they're done.

12. Duke (32-4)
Duke The Blue Devils have to drop without J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams, but they won't fall that far. Assuming Josh McRoberts returns, which he should despite talk that he could be a first-round pick, the Blue Devils have the anchor they need in the post. They already have the point guard in Greg Paulus, and they're bringing in a serious haul of recruits, led by Gerald Henderson and Jon Scheyer.

13. Georgetown (22-16)
Georgetown Two names for you here: Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert. With them, the Hoyas have the top frontcourt in the Big East. Hibbert is a rising star while Green continues to develop into a steady scorer. The Hoyas do lose experience with the departures of Brandon Bowman, Ashanti Cook and Darrel Owens, but they had a solid recruiting season, with Vernon Macklin, a power forward, as the head of the class. Georgetown's style is playing well in the Big East and the Hoyas should be one of the tougher offensive teams to stop next season.

14. California (20-11)
Cal There were a few gasps in the RCA Dome press room when we discussed putting Cal this high, but we're projecting (for now) that Leon Powe will return to the Bears. If he does, he returns as the top player in the Pac-10, and the Bears aren't too shabby in other spots. Cal also returns Ayinde Ubaka, who had a solid junior season, as well as big man DeVon Hardin, who some think could end up being a better pro than Powe. Theo Robertson and Omar Wilkes had solid seasons in their first runs at Cal. This team has size and depth along the frontline.

15. Arizona (20-13)
WVa Wildcats' coach Lute Olson isn't shying away from why Arizona will be a factor again next season. He said the Wildcats only lose Hassan Adams and Chris Rodgers. The first one is a big hit because of his versatility, but assuming Marcus Williams doesn't declare, the Wildcats bring back their second, third and fourth scorers, including point guard Mustafa Shakur, who finally played to his potential down the stretch. The Cats also can't wait to start coaching small forward Chase Budinger, who was impressive during the McDonald's All-American game.

16. Villanova (28-5)
Nova The easy thing would be to assume the Wildcats won't be any good next season because they lose Randy Foye, Allan Ray and Jason Fraser, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Expect the Wildcats to again be a contender for the Big East title with the likely return of Kyle Lowry, who would be joined in the backcourt by Mike Nardi. 'Nova also will enjoy the return of a potential Big East player of the year candidate in Curtis Sumpter (back from ACL injury) and forwards Will Sheridan, Shane Clark and Dante Cunningham. Adding Antonio Pena, a 6-6 power forward, only increases the frontcourt depth.

17. Wisconsin (19-12)
Wisconsin The Badgers could be much higher by season's end. They return more than any other Big Ten contending team. Back for Wisconsin is Alando Tucker, the likely preseason Big Ten player of the year, along with Kammron Taylor in the backcourt and Brian Butch upfront. Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said he expects Greg Stiemsma and Marcus Landry, both of whom were ineligible for the second semester this season, to make it back as well. The Badgers also are pumped to add point guard Jason Bohannon. Wisconsin struggled at times offensively down the stretch, but a lot of that had to do with depth. That shouldn't be an issue next season with more scoring options.

18. Texas A&M (22-9)
A&M The Aggies could be the sleeper team that challenges for the Big 12 title. We're not convinced they could take out Kansas and Texas with all that those schools have coming back, but what if either team loses a key player or two? The Aggies could return their top six players, notably Acie Law and Joseph Jones. Adding freshman power forward Bryan Davis only piles on the depth up front. Billy Gillispie didn't need to entertain any offers because he has something really good going with the Aggies. He has a chance to make Texas A&M a basketball school next season.

19. Florida State (20-10)
Florida State The politicking that the Seminoles are going to be a fine squad next season has begun in Tallahassee. Well, they should be with the talent that is returning. There really is no excuse if the Seminoles aren't in the NCAA Tournament, with Al Thornton, Alexander Johnson, Jason Rich, Isaiah Swann and the eligibility of Auburn transfer Toney Douglas. With that kind of athleticism, scoring and potential for shot-altering along the backline, the 'Noles should be a tourney team.

20. Boston College (28-8)
BC The easy thing would be to punt the Eagles out of the Top 25 because Craig Smith and Louis Hinnant are gone, but that would show you haven't been following Al Skinner lately. He maximizes his talent and there is still plenty left on the roster. Jared Dudley will be the premier small forward in the ACC with his ability to score inside and outside. Sean Williams is emerging as the most feared shot-blocker in the country and has the offseason to get an offensive game. Sean Marshall needs to find a consistent stride but can hit the jumper. Tyrese Rice, Akida McLain and John Oates all had their moments where they were major contributors on the Sweet 16 Eagles.

21. Oklahoma State (15-14)
Ok. State The Cowboys, whether it's Eddie or Sean Sutton coaching, should be a major player in the Big 12 race. Everyone -- and we mean, everyone -- is back. The Cowboys return their top 10 scorers, led by Mario Boggan inside and JamesOn Curry on the perimeter. The Suttons also corralled shooting guard Obi Muonelo with the expectation that he could come in and help right away. Expect the Cowboys back in the Dance.

22. Tennessee (22-8)
Tennessee The Vols were the surprise team in the SEC this season. They ran, and pressed, and converted. Bruce Pearl's style of play was a major hit in Knoxville. Losing C.J. Watson, Andre Patterson and Stanley Asumnu hurts the experience of this club but the Vols still have a solid core returning in Chris Lofton, Major Wingate, JaJuan Smith and Dane Bradshaw. The Vols also added a major contributor in power forward Duke Crews.

23. Gonzaga (29-4)
Gonzaga We have to keep the Bulldogs on the list because we're not 100 percent sure that Adam Morrison will declare for the draft. Can they be this good even without Morrison and J.P. Batista? Well, we're taking a leap of faith, but the there is still plenty of talent with Derek Raivio, Pierre Marie Altidor-Cespedes, Jeremy Pargo, the men up front in Josh Heytvelt, Sean Mallon and David Pendergraft, and the addition of Matt Bouldin. This team might lack star power but will still win its share of games.

24. Marquette (20-11)
Marquette This is the second consecutive season the Golden Eagles will lose a senior starter who was the heart and soul of the team. Last year it was Travis Diener. Now it's Steve Novak. Still, the Eagles are loaded, with the Big East's top newcomer in guard Dominic James, and fellow freshmen Jerel McNeal and Wes Matthews. The Eagles will play with passion and energy and will be an exciting team to watch.

25. Michigan (23-7)
Michigan OK, we've been here before with the Wolverines. They've had injuries, but the talent is in place to be an NCAA Tournament team next season. Michigan should have three senior starters next season in Dion Harris, Courtney Sims and Lester Abram. Ron Coleman is back as a junior and Brent Petway should be a senior role player. Never short on recruiting, Tommy Amaker added small forward Deshawn Sims so the depth shouldn't be an issue.

Others in consideration:
Louisville: Loss of Taquan Dean puts them just outside the Top 25.
NC State: Hard to lock in on the Wolfpack without knowing who the coach is, but the talent is in place with Cedric Simmons.
Illinois: The Illini will knock on the top 25 door but losing Dee Brown and James Augustine makes the argument tough in April.
Indiana: We don't know if D.J. White and Robert Vaden are back, and until then it's hard to commit to the Hoosiers.
Washington: The Huskies lose the Pac-10 player of the year in Brandon Roy, but the talent is in place with a stellar recruiting class led by Spencer Hawes.
Oregon: The Ducks return the core of their team but this is still a squad that has underachieved for two seasons.
USC: Don't be surprised to see Tim Floyd get this squad in the Top 25 at some point next season.
Oklahoma: Have to wait on the new coach, and losing the frontcourt means the Sooners can't be in the Top 25 yet, but Kelvin Sampson did recruit his best class before he bolted to Indiana.
Kentucky: Rajon Rondo is declaring. Who knows about Randolph Morris? There are too many questions to put them in right now.
Arkansas: This could be a mistake to keep Arkansas on the outside looking in at this point but we're making an assumption that Ronnie Brewer will declare. If that happens, the Hogs would have lost their top two scorers (with senior Jonathon Modica).
South Carolina: The Gamecocks are the kings of the NIT and lose Tarence Kinsey, their top scorer. They'll be good with three potential senior starters, but we're not sure how good yet.
George Washington: The Colonials lose three key seniors in Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Mike Hall and Omar Williams, but should still have a core back with Maureece Rice, Danilo Pinnock and Carl Elliott -- enough to make a run at the top 25.
Xavier: The Musketeers finished strong, winning the A-10 tournament and nearly taking out Gonzaga in the first round. They could return four of their top five scorers and added a top shooting guard in Adrion Graves.
Nevada: Not knowing if Nick Fazekas is returning makes it hard to commit to the Wolf Pack in April.

Five mid-majors who could make a midseason appearance
These five teams won't start in the Top 25, but could find themselves there at some point next season:

Creighton -- With the return of Nate Funk from injury, coach Dana Altman will be able to run his offense the way he originally wanted to this year. With imposing post presence Nate Tolliver and eye-opening sophomore point guard Josh Dotzler, they could be a very dangerous Valley threat again.

Winthrop -- No, the Eagles never go away. They came within a shot of a 15-over-2 upset against Tennessee and Gregg Marshall's two best players are coming back: oversized shooting guard Torrell Martin and do-everything 6-10 New Zealander Craig Bradshaw. The Eagles will receive some more Big South battle-testing from Buzz Peterson's resurgent Coastal Carolina squad, and if they can secure a good non-conference schedule, they'll have chances to grab some national buzz of their own.

Butler -- The loss of the NCAA tournament's only all-senior starting five at Milwaukee means a vacuum in the Horizon League, and the Bulldogs are best positioned to take advantage. They lose three seniors but the hot-shooting, undersized-but-skilled post players who remain may win the award for "2006-07 roster that looks most like George Mason 2005-06." With their conference runner-up status this season, Butler is back on the upswing toward the run of perennial 20-plus win seasons that ended abruptly in 2003.

Akron -- The Zips will come in with the best senior class in the Mid-American, including two of LeBron's old high school teammates (quick Dru Joyce and wide Romeo Travis), as well as a stack of shoulder chips resulting from their embarrassing MAC semifinal loss to 7-seed Toledo.

George Mason -- The Patriots will have to absorb the loss of leading scorers Tony Skinn, Jai Lewis and Lamar Butler, but the junior class includes NCAA stars Folarin Cambpell and Will Thomas, and they'll get help from two current redshirts -- 6-7 Jesus Urbina (who'll replace Lewis on one block) and hot-shooting swingman John Vaughan, coming back off an ACL tear. And, of course, they have all that championship experience.

-- Kyle Whelliston

To go back to the top 10, please click here.

Andy Katz is a senior writer for

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ESPN Senior Writer