Ultimate Rankings Countdown: 152-102

152. Lipscomb:   Four starters are back for the Bison, led by their center Adnan Hodzic, a Bosnian native who played high school ball with Eric Gordon in Indianapolis. Hodzic (17.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg) is a beast in the lane. If George Washington transfer Johnny Lee comes through at guard, Lipscomb could win the league and go to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.

151. Vermont: The key to Vermont's season? Forward Marqus Blakely. Blakely is looking to sweep America East player of the year and defensive player of year honors for the third year in a row. Blakely (16.1 ppg, 9.0 rpg) is a star, although he certainly will miss the help of departing PG Mike Trimboli. F Colin McIntosh is gone as well, so the Catamounts will need much more from Michigan State transfer guard Maurice Joseph (8.1 ppg).

150. Arkansas: There already are rumblings about third-year coach John Pelphrey and the direction of the program. Experience could make all the difference for Arkansas this season. Foward Michael Washington will help in that area. The Razorbacks depended heavily on freshmen last season and eventually paid the price. Arkansas followed early season upsets of Texas and Oklahoma by going 2-14 in league play. Arkansas returns all five starters and ought to be far more competitive this season, though the Razorbacks look to be a year away from seriously contending for an NCAA bid.

149. Oral Roberts:  The Golden Eagles have a strong frontcourt, including center Kevin Ford, but they need to find some guys to score from the perimeter. After winning three consecutive titles from 2006-08, then falling in overtime to South Dakota State in an opening-round upset last season, the Golden Eagles will try to reclaim the crown behind Ford (9.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg) and versatile forward Dominique Morrison (9.6 ppg). Star guard Robert Jarvis (17.2 ppg) has moved on, though, so coach Scott Sutton needs perimeter help.

148. Boise State: The Broncos started well, then cooled off late. They have a shot at an upper-division finish in the WAC. Boise State will miss leading scorer and rebounder Mark Sanchez, a second-team all-conference pick after a surprisingly good senior season. They retain guard Anthony Thomas, plus their only two newcomers likely to play this season. The Broncos will have to count on secondary players from last season's team to pick up the slack. A big question is whether the Broncos can find the consistency they lacked last season.

147. Rutgers: Rosario will do his part. The task for coach Fred Hill is to find more players like Rosario. The best news for the Scarlet Knights is that things can't get much worse. Rutgers went 2-16 against Big East competition last season while winning just 11 games overall. Granted, a lot of teams would've floundered against the Scarlet Knights' schedule. Hill's squad played all four of the NCAA tournament's No. 1 seeds and became the first school in history to face the country's No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3-ranked teams in the same calendar week. This season, if Rosario continues to improve and some complementary players come through, there's no reason Rutgers can't win 16-18 games.

146. Murray State: The Racers return their top three scorers and should be Morehead State's main competition in the OVC. The top three scorers include forwards Ivan Aska and Danero Thomas. Aska did a nice job as a true freshman last season. Murray State must become more efficient offensively after shooting just 31.3 percent from 3-point range. The Racers can be expected to be one of the best, if not the best, defensive teams in the league. But until their outside shooting improves, it's tough to pick them to win the league.

145. Hofstra: Guard Charles Jenkins is the main reason the Pride could win 20 games for the fifth time in the past six seasons. If the Pride are going to win 20 again, Jenkins (19.7 ppg, All-CAA first-team pick) must have another huge season. Jenkins needs help from guard/forward Nathaniel Lester and center Greg Washington.

144. Tennessee-Martin:  High-scoring guard Lester Hudson is gone, so the Skyhawks will sink into the lower depths of the OVC, even with guard Marquis Weddle. Forgive the Skyhawks if they're reeling when the season begins. First, they lost Hudson, who averaged 27.5 points and was the league's best player last season. Then, coach Bret Campbell was fired during the summer for some financial improprieties. Delrico Lane and Weddle form a solid backcourt duo, but there's no one up front who scares anybody. 

143. Cleveland State: The Vikings hammered Wake Forest in the first round of the NCAA tournament last season but lost too much to make a return visit. Yes, the Vikings lose a lot of talent, including guard Norris Cole, but it's hard to drop Gary Waters' program any lower than this. Coming off a Horizon title-game win over Butler and an NCAA first-round rout of Wake Forest, Waters has serious momentum. Departed stars J'Nathan Bullock and Cedric Jackson can't be replaced, but Cole (13.3 ppg) is ready to take over as a junior.

142. Middle Tennessee: The Blue Raiders need a rebuilt backcourt to play well. If it doesn't, coach Kermit Davis could be gone. Forward Desmond Yates, a big inside presence,will do his job, but a rebuilt backcourt may not hold up, especially in the Sun Belt's East Division.

141. Mercer: Keep an eye on guard James Florence and forward Daniel Emerson as they have a chance to be the most productive scoring duo in the nation this season. Four starters return, including Florence (23.2 ppg in league play) and Emerson - who averaged a double-double (13.8 ppg, 10.7 rpg). Will that duo get enough help? The four returning starters are seniors, so there are no excuses.

140. Stanford:  The Cardinal were OK in coach Johnny Dawkins' first season. The second season, though, could be a bad one. Although they retain G/F Landry Fields, Stanford could be in for a long season. The talent from the 2008 Sweet 16 run has dried up, and it may be tough for Dawkins to find a lineup that can realistically compete in the Pac-10. This season certainly will be a test.

139. Long Beach State: A good recruiting class joins nine lettermen for the 49ers, including star guard Larry Anderson, who are the Big West favorite. Dan Monson has brought a mid-major to high prominence before (Gonzaga in the late 1990s), and he might just do the same thing in Long Beach. A recruiting class that would stand up against some Pac-10 teams features three big men who could help immediately. Anderson (10.8 ppg) and T.J. Robinson (11.4 ppg) are the standouts.

138. Troy: The Trojans'  and guard Brandon Hazzard's offensive game plan is simple - run down the court and fire away. The Trojans live and die by the 3-pointer, and they should be fine this season. Hazzard and Richard Delk have great range, and point guard Michael Vogler does a nice job running the offense. Troy actually played some tough defense at times last season, and that needs to continue.

137. Morehead State: Center/Forward Kennetth Faried is a double-double machine for the Eagles, who are looking for their second NCAA bid in a row. The Eagles have a nice inside-outside combination in Faried and Gs Demonte Harper and Maze Stallworth. Four starters return from an NCAA tournament team, and the Eagles again will have great board work and play tough defense. Faried is a big-timer, especially as a rebounder, and his presence in the paint means the perimeter players will have ample openings to fire it up from 3-point range.

136. Drexel:  Five of the Dragons' eight CAA losses last season were by one point or in overtime. Bruiser Flint was named CAA coach of the year after guiding the Dragons, picked in the preseason to finish last, to a 10-8 league finish. Guard Gerald Colds (9.0 ppg), a junior, is the top returning scorer for the defense-minded Dragons.

135. Morgan State:  Another NCAA bid may mean coach Todd Bozeman will get some calls from bigger schools. As long as Bozeman is on the sideline - he just received a five-year contract extension - the Bears should be tough to beat in the MEAC, especially with guard Reggie Holmes. Bozeman helped Morgan State earn its first NCAA trip a year ago, resulting in a first-round loss to Oklahoma. The Bears lost key seniors but can make it two NCAA trips in a row behind Holmes (16.8 ppg) and potential-packed sophomore forward Kevin Thompson.

134. Iowa: Coach Todd Lickliter is finding that it's a lot tougher to win in the Big Ten than it is in the Horizon League. A lot of roster turnover happened at a bad time for Lickliter, whose team looks certain to miss the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive season. This season could offer signs of the overall direction of the program. The Hawkeyes will be carried by two Lickliter recruiting classes; only one player on the roster predates the signing class of 2008, and that includes guard Matt Gatens. The performance of such a young roster could mean either good news or bad news for Lickliter's future.

133. Miami University: The RedHawks lost four key seniors, but retained guard Matt Hayes, and even in the not-so-strong MAC, that's too much to overcome. Miami was in the thick of things in the MAC East last year and finished just a game out of first place, but the RedHawks could have trouble keeping pace this season. The loss of 2008-09 MAC player of the year Michael Bramos and three other seniors could prove costly. The RedHawks are hoping the return of Hayes helps them withstand the personnel losses. Hayes, an honorable mention All-MAC selection two years ago, missed most of the 2008-09 season with a wrist injury.

132. Georgia State: Rod Barnes, the former Ole Miss coach, has the Panthers moving up the charts in the Colonial with the help of forward Rashanti Harris. Barnes pulled off a recruiting coup by signing Harris, a four-star forward who picked Georgia State over Memphis, Mississippi State and Ole Miss. The Panthers also return a solid backcourt in Joe Dukes and Trae Goldston.

131. St. John's: It seems like all too long ago when St. John's was contending for Big East titles. St. John's went 16-18 in 2008-09 and has had just one winning season in five years under Norm Roberts, who might be in trouble if things don't turn around soon. A quick glance at the Red Storm's roster, with G/F Anthony Mason Jr., suggests that good things may be in store. St. John's returns all five starters from last year's squad - and that doesn't include Mason, who learned in August that the NCAA had granted him an extra year of eligibility following an anterior cruciate ligament tear three games into last season.

130. Portland State: The Vikings are looking for their third consecutive NCAA bid, and former assistant Tyler Geving was promoted to coach. Ken Bone, the former Lorenzo Romar assistant at Washington and a rising star in the coaching profession, left Portland State for Tony Bennett's old job at Washington State in April. That hurts - as does the departure of star guard Jeremiah Dominguez - but Geving can lead the Vikings to their third consecutive NCAA trip. Three starters and explosive sixth man guard Dominic Waters (11.4 ppg) return.

129. Nebraska:  As long as the football program is on the right track, no one really cares about Nebraska basketball. Nebraska enjoyed one of its best seasons ever under Doc Sadler, going 18-13 and finishing eighth in the Big 12. This season, though, could be more of a struggle. Leading scorers Ade Dagunduro and Steve Harley graduated, and point guard Cookie Miller transferred. As a result, Nebraska will have one of the most inexperienced teams in the conference, with eight scholarship players having never suited up for a Division I game. The Corn Huskers will rely heavily on the play of guard Lance Jeter.

128. Mount St. Mary's: The Mountaineers have a solid nucleus returning which contains guard Jeremy Goode, and should win the conference. The Mountaineers came up just short of defending their NEC title, falling to Robert Morris in the title game, then capped another strong season with a loss to James Madison in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. Coach Milan Brown's team should be back on top this season behind floor leader Goode (14.9 ppg, 4.1 apg) and its Nos. 2-4 scorers. Forward Kelly Beidler (10.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg) mans the paint.

127. Radford: The Highlanders' talented frontcourt again should be too much for Big South opponents. Center Artsiom Parakhouski and forward Joey Lynch-Flohr return, and 6-foot-8 Binghamton transfer Lazar Trifunovic is eligible. Trifunovic's presence makes the Highlanders' frontcourt even stronger.

126. Wisconsin-Milwaukee:  Most of the key players return for the Panthers, including 300-pound center James Eayrs, and guard Tony Boyle. With 80 percent of its scoring expected back, this team can make a big jump after a frustrating 17-14 season. As long as senior guard Ricky Franklin makes the academic progress to get a fifth year, Rob Jeter's club can absorb the loss of point guard Avery Smith. The Panthers are paced by Boyle (13.2 ppg) and the 6-7 Eayrs (11.2 ppg).

125. Auburn:  Coach Jeff Lebo did a nice job last season. Can he do the same with a depleted roster this season?The Tigers went 24-12 last season and reached the NIT for their first postseason bid of any kind in five years. Now the Tigers must prove it wasn't an aberration. Auburn could struggle to match its 2008-09 success while breaking in three new starters. The Tigers will get points from guard DeWayne Reed, but may need immediate contributions from freshmen and transfers as they try to cope without Korvotney Barber, Rasheem Barrett and Quantez Robertson.

124. Charlotte:  Coach Bobby Lutz almost certainly needs to get a postseason bid to keep his job. Charlotte was one of the better teams in C-USA, going to five NCAA tournaments in seven seasons. The 49ers haven't been back since 2005. Injuries played a role in Charlotte's 11-20 record last season, its worst since 1985-86. Several new additions in the frontcourt could help Charlotte turn things around. If not, a coaching change might be in order. Expect big things from guard DiJuan Harris.

123. Rider: It wouldn't be a surprise if guard Ryan Thompson joined his brother, Jason Thompson, in the NBA next season. Thompson - whose brother had a sterling career at Rider - is one of the best mid-major players in the nation, and he and forward Mike Ringgold are a potent duo. But the Broncs don't look to have enough to be legit challengers for the league title. Rider has postseason hopes because of Thompson, but a CBI or CIT appearance is far more likely than an NCAA bid.

122. TCU:  The Horned Frogs might not crack the top half of the MWC standings, but Jim Christian has the program headed in the right direction. TCU returns three of its top four scorers including forward Zvonko Buljan from last season and also brings in some newcomers who could contribute immediately. TCU isn't yet in the class of a BYU, UNLV or Utah, but the Frogs should be more competitive this season.

121. N.C. State: The thread that supports Sidney Lowe's coaching career at N.C. State is running thin. N.C. State enters the season facing more questions than any other team in the ACC. The Wolfpack finished ahead of Virginia and Georgia Tech in the ACC standings last season, but Virginia brings back its nucleus and Tech welcomes one of the nation's top recruiting classes. The Wolfpack don't have nearly as many returning starters as Virginia, nor do they have a freshman class as talented as Tech's. It all adds up to a probable last-place finish. Expect big contributions from forward Tracy Smith.

120. Idaho: With the top five scorers returning, including guard Mac Hopson, the Vandals can legitimately hope for a second consecutive postseason bid. With the nucleus of last season's team returning, Idaho hopes to build on last season's success. The Vandals could have five senior starters this season, led by first-team All-WAC performer Hopson. A recruiting class that includes four transfers and a three-star freshman will provide needed depth.

119. USC:  At one time, this had the look of a preseason top-10 team. Now? Well, its always good football weather out in Southern Cal. Kevin O'Neill never has been known for his sunny disposition. That's not likely to change during his first season at USC. The Trojans are in for a difficult season - and this probably won't be the only one - following the departure of coach Tim Floyd, who resigned amid allegations of paying a representative for former player O.J. Mayo. O'Neill will try to rebuild around Lewis, the Trojans' leading scorer last season, and a host of unproven players which includes guard Dwight Lewis.

118. Jacksonville: Coach Cliff Warren has done a great job rebuilding the program, and JU is the conference favorite, especially with guard Ben Smith. The Dolphins won the regular-season title last season but fell in the league tournament. This season, they should make it back to the NCAAs for the first time since 1986, when current Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith was a JU star. Smith is a nice fit in the fast-paced attack, and forward Lehmon Colbert is the team's best big man. Warren has done a great job in near anonymity; JU won one game in his first season (2005-06).

117. St. Joe's: A lot of young guys have to come through if the Hawks are to contend in the Atlantic 10. Relying heavily on Ahmad Nivins, the league's player of the year, and Tasheed Carr didn't help Saint Joseph's land a postseason berth last season. Many members of this season's team will be learning on the fly which includes forward Idris Hilliard. That combination could lead to some growing pains as the Hawks return to a refurbished home arena.

116. Sam Houston State: Guard Corey Allmond gives the Bearkats the talent to win the Southland, but they frequently seem to come up short. It's time for the Bearkats to put things together and win a Southland tournament. First-round upset victims last season, they'll have a team good enough to contend for the title this time. Ashton Mitchell (12.5 ppg, 6.8 apg) and Allmond (15.3 ppg, 43.6 percent 3-point accuracy) make up the best playmaker-shooter combo in the Southland, and Preston Brown scores inside.

115. Miami: Sharp-shooting guard Jack McClinton is gone, forward Dwayne Collins is left, and McClinton took any NCAA tournament hopes with him. This season could represent the toughest challenge yet for Miami coach Frank Haith. Although Miami went 19-13 and reached the NIT last season, the Hurricanes were expected to reach the NCAA tournament. That won't be the case this season. Miami returns only two starters and must replace McClinton. The Hurricanes could have a tough time matching last season's 7-9 finish in ACC competition.

114. Rhode Island: The Rams came close to an NCAA bid last season, but they'll gladly take another NIT bid this season. Rhode Island isn't likely to be as efficient offensively as it was last season, but that won't stop the Rams from running up and down the court. Guard Keith Cothran returns, so the Rams could actually be even more up-tempo this season. Whether that translates to success is anyone's guess.

113. Wyoming: The Cowboys have to replace three of their top four scorers, but sophomore forward Afam Muojeke is a good building block. Wyoming reached the College Basketball Invitational last season for its first postseason bid of any kind since 2003, but the rebuilding process now starts all over again. Coach Heath Schroyer has done a nice job in his first two seasons, but all the roster turnover could make it tough for the Cowboys to take the next step in their development by challenging for an NCAA bid.

112. New Mexico State:  The Aggies have just one key senior, so next season could be a big one. New Mexico State will be one of the youngest teams in the WAC, but it won't be short on experience. The Aggies' up-tempo style led to high-scoring games on both ends of the court. The Aggies led the league in scoring (76.3 points per game) while finishing last in scoring defense (74.4). The Aggies will be tested early. Forward Wendell McKines was the only player in the league to average a double-double last season, but he will be ineligible for the first semester. Guard Jahmar Young will contribute heavily on offense.

111. Alabama: New coach Anthony Grant has to roll up his sleeves and bring more talent to Tuscaloosa. Alabama would love to follow the LSU model of making a surprise run at a league title in its first season with a new coach. The Tide certainly made a popular hire with Grant, who led VCU to two NCAA tournament bids in the past three years. Grant inherits a team that returns four starters and features plenty of potential. This includes forward JaMychal Green. The Tide weren't that bad last year; they won five of their last seven games to finish 18-14 after Mark Gottfried's midseason departure.

110. George Mason: Three of the top four scorers are gone, but coach Jim Larranaga will find a way to get to 20 wins again, especially with the help of guard Cam Long. The Patriots have recorded back-to-back 20-win seasons for just the second time in school history. While three of their top four scorers are gone, leading scorer Long (11.7 ppg) does return. A highly rated recruiting class - including four three-star prospects - should keep the Patriots in the league's upper echelon.

109. Robert Morris: The Colonials won the Northeast Conference last season, but they'll be hard-pressed to repeat without star guard Jeremy Chappell. Jamie Dixon prot? Mike Rice has things rolling in Pittsburgh, but he'll have to defend last year's title without Chappell, the NEC player of the year who did everything well. The Colonials will lean heavily on forward Rob Robinson (11.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg), a senior. Jimmy Langhurst (9.9 ppg) is a solid shooter and playmaker.

108. Portland State: The Vikings are looking for their third consecutive NCAA bid, and former assistant Tyler Geving was promoted to coach. Ken Bone, the former Lorenzo Romar assistant at Washington and a rising star in the coaching profession, left Portland State for Tony Bennett's old job at Washington State in April. That hurts - as does the departure of star guard Jeremiah Dominguez - but Geving can lead the Vikings to their third consecutive NCAA trip. Three starters and explosive sixth man guard Dominic Waters (11.4 ppg) return.

107. Kent State: The Golden Flashes had reeled off 10 consecutive 20-win seasons before "falling" to 19 victories last season. Kent State has been the MAC's most successful program for the past decade. The Flashes have won 142 regular-season MAC games - 22 more than anyone else - since 1998-99. A senior-dominated roster and the play of guard Chris Singletary could help the Flashes get to 20 wins again this season. Kent State's negative rebound margin haunted the Flashes last season. If they can do better on the boards, they have a legitimate shot to win the league title. If not, they could end up in the middle of the pack in the MAC East.

106. College of Charleston:  With Stephen Curry gone from Davidson, coach Bobby Cremins' team looks to be tops in the league. Cremins, who is 65-37 in three seasons, led the Cougars to a 27-9 record last season. The Cougars haven't been to the NCAAs since 1999, but that could change this season. They return three starters, including guards Andrew Goudelock (16.7 ppg) and Tony White Jr. (12.0 ppg).

105. Saint Mary's: G Patrick Mills took his talents to the NBA, and the Gaels will greatly miss their floor leader. After losing out on what many thought was a cinch NCAA bid, the Gaels lost Mills - the league's most dynamic player last season when he was healthy - to the NBA after his sophomore season.They do return center Omar Samhan. Key seniors, including power forward Diamon Simpson, are gone as well. Samhan (14.1 ppg, 9.4 rpg), a 6-11 senior, is back to guide a team that still has good talent.

104. Binghamton: See: "The Binghamton Blame Game: Who's Really At Fault?" Coach Kevin Broadus is gone. Five players have been released including star guards Emmanuel Mayben and D.J. Rivera, and an Athletic Director resigned. Do we need to continue? (This ranking was determined pre-controversial off-season.)

103. North Texas:  The Mean Green return their top four scorers including forward Eric Tramiel, and add a solid recruiting class. Tramiel might be the best big man in the league, and UNT shoots the ball well from 3-point range - especially point guard Dominique Johnson. The defense needs to improve, but the talent is on hand for a West Division title.

102. Oakland:  The Grizzlies look poised to win the league and make the second NCAA appearance in school history. Can coach Greg Kampe and the Golden Grizzlies turn last season's pain into this season's payoff? This may be a possibility with the help of guard Johnathon Jones. Devastating late-season defeats put a sad face on an otherwise terrific season. Shooter Erik Kangas (18.9 ppg) is gone, but powerful wing Derick Nelson (17.3 ppg in 2007-08) is back after taking a medical redshirt. St. John's transfer Larry Wright started 10 games for the Red Storm in 2007-08 and is a career 41 percent shooter from 3-point range. Jones (13.3 ppg, 8.1 apg) leads a loaded team and is our favorite for league player of the year honors.

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