The first updated AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Polls came out on November 14:

AP Top 25
RK    TEAM    RECORD    PTS
1    North Carolina (62)     2-0    1,620
2    Kentucky    1-0    1,519
3    Ohio State (1)     1-0    1,486
4    Connecticut (2)     1-0    1,429
5    Syracuse    1-0    1,358
6    Duke    2-0    1,274
7    Florida    1-0    1,132
8    Louisville    2-0    1,122
9    Pittsburgh    2-0    1,084
10    Memphis    0-0    1,017
11    Baylor    2-0    962
12    Kansas    1-0    835
13    Xavier    1-0    806
14    Wisconsin    1-0    801
15    Arizona    3-0    607
16    Alabama    1-0    497
17    Michigan    1-0    475
18    Vanderbilt    1-1    454
19    Texas A&M    2-0    444
20    Cincinnati    1-0    410
21    Marquette    1-0    406
22    Gonzaga    1-0    311
23    California    2-0    295
24    Missouri    1-0    200
25    Florida State    1-0    132

Others receiving votes: Temple 79, Michigan State 78, Washington 47, Cleveland State 43, New Mexico 34, UCLA 34, Belmont 21, Creighton 19, Villanova 19, Texas 18, Drexel 13, UNLV 9, Saint Mary’s 6, Purdue 5, San Diego State 3, George Mason 3, Harvard 3, Butler 3, Long Beach State 3, Utah State 3, Illinois 2, Marshall 1, Minnesota 1, Akron 1, West Virginia 1

Complete Rankings »

ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll
RK    TEAM    RECORD    PTS
1    North Carolina (30)     2-0    774
2    Kentucky (1)     1-0    732
3    Ohio State    1-0    701
4    Connecticut    1-0    669
5    Syracuse    1-0    654
6    Duke    2-0    632
7    Louisville    2-0    538
8    Florida    1-0    519
9    Pittsburgh    2-0    502
10    Memphis    0-0    452
11    Kansas    1-0    393
12    Baylor    2-0    390
13    Wisconsin    1-0    359
14    Xavier    1-0    333
15    Alabama    1-0    261
16    Arizona    3-0    254
17    Michigan    1-0    240
18    Texas A&M    2-0    218
19    Marquette    1-0    182
20    Cincinnati    1-0    176
20    Vanderbilt    1-1    176
22    California    2-0    145
23    Gonzaga    1-0    126
24    Florida State    1-0    103
25    Missouri    1-0    88

Others receiving votes: Texas 80, Purdue 55, Temple 54, Washington 49, Villanova 34, New Mexico 27, Creighton 23, UNLV 21, Michigan State 20, Cleveland State 13, George Mason 11, Georgetown 10, UCLA 10, West Virginia 10, St. John’s 8, Oklahoma State 8, Saint Mary’s 6, Butler 6, Drexel 5, Long Beach State 3, Virginia Commonwealth 3, Wichita State 1, Brigham Young 1

After a week of games, I want to personally apologize to UConn’s Jeremy Lamb.  That kid is the truth, and I deeply regret leaving him off of my Pre-Season All-American First and 2nd teams.  Just check out this highlight dunk against Columbia in a game where he dropped 28 points.  Dunk of the year so far, hands down.  With the apology out of the way, let’s move on to the review.

Contenders:

After a full week and a half of games it’s clear that UNC, Kentucky, UConn, OSU, Duke, ‘Cuse, Florida, Kansas and Wisconsin are all legit.  Memphis, Xavier and Baylor are all noise makers too.  Any of these teams can (and will) go deep in March, I guarantee it.

UNC isn’t blowing out teams like everyone expected them to, but they are winning convincingly.  We have to wait for the real tests against Wisconsin on November 30th and Kentucky December 3rd to see where they’re really at.  Kendall Marshall is playing like the best PG in the country and the ‘Heels will be a force to be reckoned with all year long.

Florida is the best 1 loss team in the country.  They battled Ohio State in a great game last night.  If this one was played down south, I suspect the outcome would have been different.

I seem to be the only sports writer in America who is high on Saint Johns, but after a 3-0 start they’re definitely on the right track.  If they beat Arizona, expect them to break into the top 25, but that’s a big if.  Like I’ve said, 3 of their star recruits are ineligible for the Fall semester and can’t join the team until the end of December (if at all).

Texas has yet to hit their stride but they’re 2-0 regardless.  This is a team I expect to get better as the season goes on, but they’ll struggle a bit against the bigger teams.  Myck Kabongo should be a household name come March if he develops the way I expect him to.

Pretenders:

In my NCAA Preview, I told you I thought Vanderbilt was overrated.  Sure enough they get waxed 71-58 by Cleveland State.  Don’t get me wrong, Cleveland State is a tough, experienced team, but a true #7 team would not lose to them.  To follow that up, Vandy was only up by 1 at halftime against Bucknell (who they eventually beat by 12).  Both of these games were at home.  The Commodores can make all the excuses they want (starting center out for another 6 weeks) but they just aren’t the team the poll makers thought they were.  The ceiling for this team is the Sweet 16, not the Final Four like some sports writers originally thought.

While Vanderbilt obviously hasn’t impressed thus far, they aren’t this year’s most over-rated team.  That dishonor goes to the UCLA Bruins.  Ranked 17/20 in the preseason they start the year 0-2 after losses to Loyola Marymount and Middle Tennessee.  Their star player Reeves Nelson was suspended in their second game for conduct detrimental to the team, which lead to the Bruins getting worked by 20 points.  Funny, he’s already been reinstated.  They’re going to need him if they want to salvage this season.  Personally, I’m a seller.  We’re talking NIT for UCLA.

As I’m writing this, Pittsburgh just lost to Long Beach State.  Like Cleveland State, Long Beach State is a decent team, but c’mon man!  They may still put it together this season, but they’re struggling early.  Ashton Gibbs really needs to elevate his game if they expect to make some noise later in the season.  I’m not counting out Pitt just yet, but my tune can change by the next article and my early predictions for this squad don’t feel so on point right now.

Early Season Stars:

As I alluded to early in this article, Jeremy Lamb is playing like a man possessed.  His outside shooting is stellar.  His athleticism is underrated.  UConn is a strong team that bookies have incorrectly set at 20/1 to repeat as NCAA Champions this year.  If this kid stays healthy and keeps playing the way he’s playing, I imagine the Huskies in the Final Four.

UNC’s Kendall Marshall isn’t scoring a ton of points (6 in each game so far), but that’s not his role on the team.  He’s a true point guard who can distribute.   With a 10/3 assist/turnover ratio so far he’s playing as well as any point guard in the country. Harrison Barnes is playing well too, but the real story is John Henson.  He’s a terror on defense.  If only he put some meat on his bones he’d be an absolute force.

Texas’ J’Covan Brown has surprised me so far this season.  He’s averaging 31.5 points through 2 games and has caught the attention of the Big 12 as a must-guard player.  With Myck Kabongo getting this guy the ball, expect his scoring to continue (although a more realistic 22 points per game will probably be his average on the season)

Freshman forward Anthony Davis of Kentucky has lived up to the hype so far.  A big man who has handle like a shooting guard, Davis leads the team in points (18.5), rebounds (8) and blocks (6) per game as the team comes off of an impressive win over Kansas at Madison Square Garden.  While his outside shooting needs improvement, he’s an alley-oop waiting to happen as he plays above the rim with regularity.  Stud is an understatement.  Sophomore forward Terrence Jones is off to a slow start, mainly due to a car accident he was in before the 1st game.  He’s ok, and he played (although he did not start) but he was obviously shaken up.  Jones was a beast against Florida though, he’s still a frontrunner for All-American honors.

Jared Sullinger and Will Buford are men on a mission.  They’re not happy with the end result for Ohio State last year and they’re playing like it.  This tag-team is one of the best duos in the country and could lead the Buckeyes to a national championship.

Baylor’s Quincy Miller is another Freshman living up to the hype.  Dropping 18 points per while Perry Jones serves his suspension is a good way to fill the void.

Early Season Stutters:

Terrence Jones of Kentucky got off to a slow start, coming off the bench in game one.  Unfortunately for the sophomore star player, he was involved in a car accident leading up to the game.  He bounced back with a strong performance against Kansas and should be on the incline.

Austin Rivers is off to a slow start so far for Duke.  12 points per game on 37.5% shooting isn’t going to get it done if Duke is going to take it to the next level.  Lucky for the Blue Devils, Andre Dawkins caught fire against Michigan State and carried the team.  I’m not counting out Sub Zero just yet, he gets into the lane just as good as anyone in the NCAA.  Now he has to start finishing.

Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney is a fat mess.  He averaged 14.2 points per game last year at a fat 270, he’s easily over 300 right now and has scored 12 and 9 in his first two games this season.  If Mississippi State is going to have any type of success, this lard-ass needs to hit the treadmill.

As stated before, UCLA’s Reeves Nelson has an attitude problem.  That cost him to miss the 2nd game of the season and most likely takes him out of PAC 12 player of the year contention.  He was a double double monster last year, now hes nothing but trouble.  You should never judge a book by it’s cover, but… This guy has an attitude problem? Who would have thought?

Updated Predicted All-Americans:

First Team

Jeremy Lamb, UConn

Kendall Marshall, UNC

Tu Holloway, Xavier

Anthony Davis, Kentucky

Jared Sullinger, OSU

Second Team

J’Covan Brown, Texas

Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin

Harrison Barnes, UNC

John Henson, UNC

Will Buford, Ohio State

Honorable Mention: Kenny Boynton, Florida and Kris Joseph, Syracuse

I’ll be coming back with updates periodically during the season.  No rhyme or reason to my madness, it won’t be a weekly column but be sure to follow me on twitter @HookTSB for updates.

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