Friday, November 18th, 2011

Top 10 Mid Majors for the 2011-12 College Basketball season

Published on November 14, 2011 by Scott Shirley   ·   1 Comment

No, I did not forget about the mid majors.  Here are my top 10 mid majors for the 2011-12 basketball season.

# 1. Memphis

Coach: Josh Pastner (Two seasons at Memphis 49-20)

2010-11: Record: 25-10 overall, 10-6 in Conf. USA (4th)

Starters Returning (4) Joe Jackson, Charles Carmouche, Will Barton, Tarik Black

This will be by far Josh Pastner’s best team; they were a young team last year and it showed. This year they bring back their top 6 scorers therefore the higher expectations. Leading the way for the Tigers is wing Will Barton (12.3 ppg). He does a little bit of everything; he excels at creating his own shot. Barton needs to improve his three point shooting. Joining him in the backcourt is point guard Joe Jackson (9.9 ppg). Jackson can break down his defender and get to the rim at ease, and also create for his teammates. Charles Carmouche (7.4 ppg) will likely start at shooting guard. The Tigers have a ton of depth here. Leading the way is Antonio Barton (8.2 ppg) and Chris Crawford (6.6 ppg), and D.J. Stephens (3.3 ppg). Barton is the Tigers best three-point shooter. Center Tarik Black (9.1 ppg) is a wide body and he knows how to score in the low post. Wesley Witherspoon and highly touted freshman Adonis Thomas will battle for minutes at power forward. Witherspoon can score inside and out, and Thomas is as athletic as they come. Providing the depth is JUCO transfer Stan Simpson, Hippolyte Tsafack (1 ppg), and Seton Hall transfer Ferrakohn Hall.

# 2. Xavier

Coach: Chris Mack (Two seasons at Xavier 50-17)

2010-11: Record: 24-8 overall, 15-1 in A-10 (1st)

Starters Returning (3) Tu Holloway, Kenny Frease, Mark Lyons

The Musketeers have won 5 straight A-10 titles, and have made the NCAA tournament 10 of the last 11 years. This year should be no different as they return their 3 top scorers from last year’s team. Point guard Tu Holloway (19.7 ppg) was the A-10 Player of the Year last season. He is a very complete player averaging at last 5 assists and rebounds per game. Holloway was also on the conference’s all defensive team. Teaming up with Holloway to give Xavier one of the best backcourts in the country is Mark Lyons (13.6 ppg), who is very athletic. The team’s best shooter will be Brad Reford, who is returning from injury. Freshman Dee Davis will be Holloway’s backup. Center Kenny Frease (11.7 ppg) is a big body that can score around the basket. He improved his conditioning last year, which helped his production. Two transfers Travis Taylor and Andre Walker will battle to start at power forward. Jeff Robinson (4.4 ppg) and Griffin McKenzie (.8 ppg) will provide depth here. Redshirt freshman Justin Martin will likely start at small forward; he needs to improve his academics. Freshman Dezmine Wells will likely back him up.

# 3.Gonzaga

Coach: Mark Few (12 seasons at Gonzaga 316-83)

2010-11: Record: 25-10 overall, 11-2 in WCC (Tie/1st)

Starters Returning (3) Robert Sacre, Marquise Carter, Ellias Harris

Head coach Mark Few and the Zags have won 11 straight conferences titles, and have made the NCAA tourney 13 years in a row. Recently, though they have struggled in the tournament. This year they will be led by a strong frontcourt. Robert Sacre (12.5 ppg) is the leader here at center. He is a 7-footer with great strength and athletic ability but he can be even more dominant. Joining him up front is Elias Harris (12.4 ppg), who can score both inside and out. An injury slowed him last year look for a lot more points this season. The Zags have quality depth here led by Sam Dower (7.6 ppg), Kelly Olynyk, and freshman Ryan Spangler. Marquise Carter (6.3 ppg) is the only sure starter in the backcourt. He really came on as last season went on. Battling for the other guard spot will be two-talened freshman, Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell. Also providing depth here are Mathis Keita (2.7 ppg) and David Stockton (2.4 ppg). Yes, he is the son of John. Freshman Kyle Dranginis and Chris Sarbaugh will also compete for playing time. Mathis Monninghoff (4.3 ppg) and JUCO transfer Guy Landry Edi will compete for time at small forward.

# 4. Temple

Coach: Fran Dunphy (Five seasons at Temple 110-57), overall, 420-220, 20 years

2010-11: Record: 26-8 overall, 14-2 in A-10 (2nd)

Starters Returning (4) Juan Fernandez, Scootie Randall, Ramone Moore, Micheal Eric

This will be Fran Dunphy’s best team since he has been at Temple. They return 4 double-digit scorers from last year’s team and only lose one contributor off that team. The Owls have a very talented backcourt, it is led by shooting guard Ramone Moore (15.2 ppg). He is a very versatile scorer who can shoot the three and get to the rim with ease. Point Guard Juan Fernandez (11.2 ppg) is a very good ballhandler that isn’t afraid to post up his defenders. Scootie Randall (10.7 ppg) really came on last season at the 3 spot. The Owls have great depth here led by Khalif Wyatt (10.1 ppg), who is their best three-point shooter. Also providing depth is Aaron Brown (3.3 ppg), T.J. DiLeo (2.2 ppg), and freshman Will Cummings. Center Micheal Eric (7.1 ppg) is the leader of the frontcourt. Eric missed the last half of the season due to injury, but he is a good shot blocker. Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson (5.6 ppg) will be the starter at power forward. He is very athletic, but he needs to score more. The depth in the frontcourt will be the only question for this team. Providing that depth will be two redshirt freshman Anthony Lee and Jimmy McDonnell.

#5. New Mexico

Coach: Steve Alford (Four seasons at New Mexico 98-39), overall, 406-222, 19 years

2010-11: Record: 22-13 overall, 8-8 in Mountain West (5th)

Starters Returning (4) A.J. Hardeman, Drew Gordon, Kendall Williams, Phillip McDonald

This will be head coach Steve Alford’s best team at New Mexico. They do lose their leading scorer, but they also return 3 double-digit scorers from last year’s team. Drew Gordon (13 ppg) is the Lobos best player; he transferred from UCLA. Gordon is a double double machine. Joining him up front will be power forward A.J. Hardeman (7.6 ppg). This will be his 3rd year as being a starter. Depth up front could be a question for this team. Cameron Bairstow (2.6 ppg) is really the only reserve here. The injury to Alex Kirk hurts. Kendall Williams (11.6 ppg) was the Mountain West Freshman of the Year. He is a deadly shooter. Joining him on the wing will be Phillip McDonald (10.9 ppg). He may have to play inside some with the team’s lack of depth there. Jamal Fenton (5.4 ppg) will likely run the point; he put good numbers in limited minutes. The Lobos have a ton of depth in the backcourt. The depth will come from Arizona State transfer Demetrius Walker, Tony Snell (4.4 ppg), and Chad Adams (3.1 ppg). Freshman Hugh Greenwood and Dominique Dunning will also be in the mix for playing time.

# 6. UNLV

Coach: Dave Rice (First year at UNLV)

2010-11 Record: 24-9 overall, 11-5 in MWC (3rd)

Starters Returning (4) Oscar Bellfield, Quintrell Thomas, Anthony Marshall, Chace Stanback

Longtime assistant Dave Rice takes over as the head coach at UNLV. Luckily for him Lon Kruger left him a lot of talent. They do return 4 of their 5 top scorers from last year. Chace Stanback (13 ppg) is their best player at small forward. He can do it all. He led the team in rebounds last season, and he can also hit the three pointer. Karam Mashour (2.3 ppg) will be his back up. Oscar Bellfield (11.2 ppg) and Anthony Marshall (9.7 ppg) are two versatile guards that know how to score and defend. Bellfield can shoot it while Marshall needs work there. The Rebels have quality depth in the backcourt led by Marquette transfer Reggie Smith, Kendall Wallace returns from injury, and Justin Hawkins (5 ppg). Leading the way in the frontcourt is Quintrell Thomas (6.7 ppg). The other starter will likely be UCLA transfer Mike Moser. He will likely start at power forward. The Rebels have 2 quality backups here led by Brice Massamba (3.6 ppg) and Carlos Lopez (4.8 ppg).

# 7. Creighton

Coach: Greg McDermott (First season at Creighton 23-16), overall 303-211, 17 years

2010-11 Record: 23-16 overall, 10-8 in Missouri Valley (Tie/4th)

Starters Returning (3) Doug McDermott, Gregory Echenigque, Antoine Young

The Bluejays hope to return to the NCAA tournament this year and there is a lot of reason to believe that it will happen. They bring back 7 of their top 8 scorers from last year’s team. Leading the way is the coach’s son; power forward Doug McDermott (14.9 ppg). McDermott can score inside and out; he led his team in three pointers made and rebounds also last season. Center Gregory Echenique (10.5 ppg) is a big body upfront that knows how to score. Ethan Wragge (5.3 ppg) is a great shooter off the bench. Freshman Will Artino and Geoffrey Groselle also provide depth upfront. Leading the way in the backcourt is point guard Antoine Young (13.1 ppg). Young has one of the best assist to turnover ratio in the country. Shooting guard Jahenns Manigat (5.4 ppg) really came on last season as a freshman. Josh Jones (5 ppg) will likely also start in the Blue Jays 3 guard system. Providing the depth here are Ross Ferrarini (.5 ppg) and Gonzaga transfer Grant Gibbs. Three freshman will also compete for playing time Austin Chatman, Avery Dingman, and Nevin Johnson.

# 8. Harvard

Coach: Tommy Amaker(Four seasons at Harvard 66-51), overall 243-189, 14 years

2010-11 Record: 23-7 overall, 12-2 in Ivy (Tie/1st)

Starters Returning (5) Brandyn Curry, Oliver McNally, Christian Webster, Kyle Casey, Keith Wright

Harvard was one game away from reaching the NCAA tourney, but that didn’t happen. Now they bring back every player from last year’s 23-win team. Center Keith Wright (14.8 ppg) is the returning Ivy League Player of the year. He almost averaged a double double last season. Joining him upfront is the very athletic Kyle Casey (10.7 ppg). He was the conference’s Rookie of the Year last season. Harvard has a ton of depth in the frontcourt. The depth will come from Andrew Van Nest (2.1 ppg), Ugo Okam (.6 ppg), Jeff Georgatos (1.2 ppg), and freshman Kenyatta Smith and Wesley Saunders. Smith has the most talent of the bunch. Christian Webster (13 ppg) can shoot it and drive to the rim at the three position. Backing up Webster are Dee Giger and freshman Jonah Travis. Brandyn Curry (9.3 ppg) is a very heady point guard that knows how to involve his teammates. Shooting guard Oliver McNally (10.1 ppg) is the teams best three-point shooter percentage wise. Laurent Rivard (11 ppg) knows how to score coming off the bench. Providing the depth in the backcourt are Matt Brown (1.4 ppg), and freshman Corbin Miller and Alex Nesbitt.

# 9. VCU

Coach: Shaka Smart (Two seasons at VCU 55-21)

2010-11 Record: 28-12 overall, 12-6 in CCA (4th)

Starters Returning (1) Bradford Burgess

The Rams had a magic season last year, making it all the way to the final four that  included a win over Kansas, but gone are the top 4 of the top 5 scorers off that team. Small forward/guard Bradford Burgess (14.3 ppg) returns as the only returning starter. He can do it all from shooting the three well, and  being a strong rebounder, and dishing the ball outBacking Burgess up are redshirt freshman Reco McCarter and freshman Treveon Graham.. Shooting guard Rob Brandenberg(4.9 ppg) is the team’s next returning leading scorer. He played well in limited minutes last year. Point guard Darius Theus (3 ppg) like Brandenberg played well when he played last year. The backups here are Troy Daniels (2 ppg) and freshman Teddy Okereafor, and Briante Weber. Leading the way in the frontcourt is power forward Juvonte Reddic (3.5 ppg). Reddic earns some starts as a freshman last season. D.J. Haley (1.1 ppg) will be the starter and center. Providing the depth here are David Hinton (.6 ppg), redshirt freshman Heath Houston, and freshman Jarred Guest.

# 10. Belmont

Coach: Rick Byrd (26 season at Belmont 518-278), overall 610-333, 31 years

2010-11 Record: 30-5 overall, 19-1 in Atlantic Sun (1st)

Starters Returning (4) Ian Clark, Mick Hedgepeth, Drew Hanlen, Trevor Noack

The Bruins bring back 6 of their 7 top scorers from last year’s team that had 30 wins. This team can really shoot the three with 3 players shooting over 40 % last season. Shooting guard Ian Clark (12.2 ppg) is the team’s best player. Clark does a little bit of everything for Belmont. Drew Hanlen (6.4 ppg) is a great leader and passer at the point. Kerron Johnson (7.9 ppg) is a quality guard off the bench. Providing the depth in the backcourt are Adam Barnes (1 ppg), freshman Spencer Turner, and redshirt freshman Holden Mobley,Reece Chamberlain. J.J. Mann (6 ppg) will start at small forward and Blake Jenkins (3.8 ppg) will back him up. The Bruins bring back everyone in the frontcourt. Leading the way is center Mick Hedgepeth (10.8 ppg). He is a versatile player that can score inside and out. Scott Saunders (9.9 ppg) is a great backup here; he is more of an inside player. Trevor Noack (5.2 ppg) will start at power forward with Brandon Baker (3.1 ppg) backing him up. Redshirt freshman Chad Lang might also earn some playing time in the frontcourt.

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