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Vol. 54, No. 1 • November 2016 • .pdf version
Men's Preview: Allen and Duke, Jackson are favorites
Duke and its returning All-American, Grayson Allen, are favored to take home honors this season, according to the USBWA's annual preseason poll.
The Blue Devils received 14 of a possible 18 first-place votes from USBWA officers and board members.
The remaining first-place votes wen to fifth-place Oregon, with two, and third-place Kansas and fourth-place Villanova, with one apiece. Second-place Kentucky received no first-place votes but was second on eight ballots.
Allen received eight votes as the preseason favorite to win the Oscar Robertson Trophy, given to the nation's top player, edging Villanova's Josh Hart, who received five votes.
Oregon's Dillon Brooks received two votes. Markelle Fultz of Washington, Nigel Hayes of Wisconsin and Edmond Sumner of Xavier received one vote apiece.
Josh Jackson of Kansas received nine votes for the Wayman Tisdale Award, which is given to the nation's top freshman, topping Fultz, who received six votes.
Others who received one vote were Lonzo Ball of UCLA, Harry Giles of Duke and Lauri Markkanen of Arizona.
The rest of the top 10 included, in order: North Carolina, Xavier, Wisconsin, Arizona and Virginia.
The rest of the top 20 included: Michigan State, Louisville, Indiana, Purdue, Gonzaga, Connecticut, UCLA, Syracuse, Saint Mary's and West Virginia.
Rounding out the top 25 are Creighton, Rhode Island, Iowa State, Cincinnati and Texas.
Other teams receiving votes included: San Diego State (34), Maryland (30), Florida (29), Dayton (27), California (17), Florida State (16), Virginia Tech (14), Georgia (13), Wichita State (13), Miami (11), North Carolina State (11), Colorado (8), Texas A&M (8), Notre Dame (7), Oklahoma (7), Butler (4), Valparaiso (3), Pittsburgh (2), Baylor (1) and Monmouth (1).
Eleven ACC schools received votes, more than any other conference.
USBWA Men's Preseason Poll: 1. Duke  444; 2. Kentucky 407; 3. Kansas  402; 4. Villanova  394; 5. Oregon ; 385; 6. North Carolina 375; 7. Xavier 318; 8. Wisconsin 317; t9 Arizona 293; t9. Virginia 293; 11. Michigan State 277; 12. Louisville 232; 13. Indiana 208; 14. Purdue 193; 15. Gonzaga 159; 16. Connecticut 154; 17. UCLA 150; 18. Syracuse 147; 19. Saint Mary's 133; 20. West Virginia 85; 21. Creighton 65; 22. Rhode Island 56; 23. Iowa State 51; 24. Cincinnati 44; 25. Texas 35.
Women's Preview: With Stewart gone, race is up for grabs
Those two words have been absent a long time from NCAA women's title race preseason forecasts.
But with the Breanna Stewart era concluded at Connecticut, where she was part of an unprecedented four-for-four title run as well as an equally unprecedented three-time USBWA Ann Meyers Drysdale national player of the year honoree, the landscape is altered for 2016-17.
Stewart's coach Geno Auriemma is still around after she and him and several other UConn prominent alumnae helped the USA claim a sixth straight Olympic gold medal at the Rio Games in Brazil last summer.
However, for the first time in four seasons, the Huskies are not the unanimous choice, or even majority choice, to take home another trophy, which this year gets claimed at the Women's Final in Dallas.
Furthermore there is no prohibitive favorite at the outset. But that doesn't mean there's pure parity at last in the women's game, even though a move in that direction occurred in April when the dark horse trio of Washington and Oregon State out of the Pac-12, and Syracuse out of the Atlantic Coast Conference made their way to first-ever Women's Finals appearances.
Unlike that threesome, teams at the top of our preseason women's 25 have won titles or gotten to the final weekend in the past, such as our top four Notre Dame, South Carolina, Baylor, and, yes, still a threat, UConn, which has enough talent to be a surprise winner though the Huskies are bound to get nicked up a bit on their demanding schedule.
Ohio State, Louisville, Maryland, Texas and UCLA have plenty of talent also to make their way to the American Airlines Center.
Several other changes also occurred last season, with Tennessee dropping out of the AP Poll for the first time in three decades and Duke also dropping out after a long run.
The Lady Vols are still on our preseason list but, in a rarity, not in our top five or top 10.
Meanwhile, with Stewart gone, just like the team outlooks, there is no Meyers Drysdale frontrunner for national honors but there's definitely an array of talented contenders, with the likely winner being a player who either leads their team to glory or claims the prize with a dominating statistical performance.
So it would be no surprise to see the hardware in Dallas handed to the likes of Diamond DeShield (Tennessee), Brianna Turner (Notre Dame), Myisha Hines-Allen (Louisville), Nina Davis (Baylor), Kelsey Mitchell (Ohio State), Leticia Romero (Florida State), A'ja Wilson (South Carolina), Kia Nurse (UConn), Brionna Jones (Maryland), Kelsey Plum (Washington) or Victoria Vivians (Mississippi State), to name just a few of the top contenders.
USBWA Women's Preseason Poll: 1. Notre Dame; 2. South Carolina; 3. Baylor; 4. Connecticut; 5. Ohio State; 6. Texas; 7. Louisville; 8. Maryland; 9. UCLA; 10. Mississippi State; 11. Kentucky; 12. Tennessee; 13. Florida State; 14. Syracuse; 15. Stanford; 16. Miami; 17. Syracuse; 18. Arizona State; 19. Auburn; 20. West Virginia; 21. Oregon State; 22. Washington; 23. Michigan State; 24. Oklahoma; 25. DePaul.
– Mel Greenberg
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