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Dick Vitale’s college basketball preseason top 40 for 2020-21

The start of the 2020-21 college basketball season has been pushed back. Instead of opening in early November, it will begin around Thanksgiving.

I can’t wait to tip it off, baby! It should be thrilling to see teams progress and improve as the season rolls on. You see players and teams learn their strengths and weaknesses and adjust.

I’m going to go out on a limb and give up my preseason top 40. There have been a lot of rosters change across America, and the NBA draft happening much later has affected several teams. Right now, college schedules are absolute chaos. Some schools will have limited nonconference schedules. It is not easy to figure out how this season will go, but I will base this on players returning and players lost, coaching and the VBDI (Vitale Bald Dome Index), which is in overdrive, baby!

Here we go:

A team without its former WCC Player of the Year, Filip Petrusev, is my choice for No. 1 in America. Mark Few’s squad is loaded, and it helped to have Corey Kispert and Joel Ayayi withdraw from the draft and return to Spokane, Washington. Kispert is the best player in the WCC. One reason for enthusiasm is diaper dandy Jalen Suggs, ranked in the top 10 on the ESPN recruiting list. A super player who also competed in football in high school, Suggs will be one of the premier diaper dandies in America. Up front, Drew Timme has showed signs of potential, and he will be called upon to produce more. He can handle the added responsibility. Forward Anton Watson can be a factor if he stays healthy; injuries have hampered him in the past. This could be the year Few cuts down the nets.

Jay Wright lost Saddiq Bey, the Julius Erving forward of the year. The Wildcats return a ton of talent, led by guard Collin Gillespie, who will be on preseason All-America lists. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Jermaine Samuels each averaged double-figure scoring, and they can do more damage. Bryan Antoine was highly recruited but plagued by injuries last season; if he returns to form, watch out. Wright also welcomes former Tulane standout Caleb Daniels to the court, and he has double-figure scoring potential.

The Bears are a legitimate national championship contender with the return of Jared Butler and MaCio Teague, as both withdrew from NBA draft consideration. The Bears were one of seven teams to be ranked No. 1 during the last regular season. Defense was a key as Baylor ranked seventh nationally in scoring defense and held opponents below 40% on field goals. Davion Mitchell and Mark Vital are veteran factors. Tristan Clark, if he can stay healthy, can contribute. The Bears face Gonzaga in a nonconference contest and could meet Villanova in a tournament.

Tony Bennett’s teams always do it with defense. The Cavaliers led the nation in scoring defense at 52.4 points per game and were second in field goal percentage defense at 36.9. They add a