234. Chicago State: This Independent Conference team has a long road ahead of them. Having lost two senior leading scorers, David Holston (25.9 ppg) and John Cantrell (19.8 ppg), the bulk of the scoring is left on the shoulders of the now go-to guy, junior forward Carl Montgomery (11.0 ppg 7.2 rpg). Montgomery is considered a banger in the low-post, but foul trouble could limit his contributions. Montgomery fouled out 11 times last season. There are a lot of good basketball players in Chicago, unfortunately none of them attend Chicago State University.
233. Quinnipiac: Last year, the Bobcats finished fifth at 10-8 while leading the league in injuries. The Bobcats will have to find a way to improve their perimeter shooting in order to be legitimate contenders for the NEC title. Quinnipiac will expect strong play from forwards James Feldeine (17 ppg, the league's top scorer) and Justin Ritty, the top rebounder with 9.8 per game. Look for the Bobcats to move up in the conference standings.
232. Eastern Washington: Guard Benny Valentine will be the main attraction for the Eagles this season. Valentine is a quick scoring guard, and one of the most dynamic players in the league. He led the team in scoring last season as a junior with 15.1 ppg. However although the 5'7" transfer from Texas Tech is fun to watch, the Eagles need more help with their struggling offense. Valentine and center Brandon Moore (11.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg) work well with each other to form a powerful inside-outside combination, but third year coach Kirk Earlywine needs to dig deep to find more contributors for the Eagles shaky offense.
231. Central Connecticut State: Just about every player who contributed to last season's 13-17 record has returned, which should be good news for Central Connecticut. Forward Ken Horton (16.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg) has two solid years ahead of him and guard Shemik Thompson (11.5 ppg) is a double threat with his passing and shooting ability. The team needs to improve dramatically from behind the arc shooting only 31.6 percent last season. The Blue Devils may improve upon last year, but don't look for them anywhere near the other Blue Devils from Durham, N.C.
230. Yale: Having lost their number one and number three scorers, the Bulldogs are going to struggle offensively, which could result in a second-division finish in the Ivy League. With Ross Morin and Travis Pinick gone, number two on the list, guard Alex Zampier (13.2 ppg) will be the subject of a lot of defensive discussions this season. However the ability of point guard Porter Braswell to take control as a floor general this season will determine whether Yale will finish in the upper half of the league.
229. Samford: The Bulldogs return four starters this season, and their well-disciplined style will make them a contender for the Southern Conference title. In their first season in the league, Samford reached the semifinals in the league tournament, and with the help of forward Bryan Friday (12.5 ppg), the Bulldogs will be competing for the league crown.
228. Colorado: This Big 12 squad has all of its key players returning, but will it make a difference on a team that won a total of 9 games, and only 1 in conference play? Coach Jeff Bdzelik is in the hot seat as fans expect a lot more from him in his third year at the helm. The Buffaloes seem to have a star in guard Cory Higgins who averaged 17.4 points last season. Colorado had two other players starting as true freshmen, Nate Tomlinson and Austin Dufault. Things may get better. Or not. All of this could lead to some drastic improvement in 2009-2010, but don't look for the Buffaloes to make it out of the Big 12 bottom half.
227. IPFW: This Summit League team has reason to create some buzz this season. Former Indiana guard Dane Fife is gradually elevating this program and proving he belongs as head coach. After a rough start last season, the Mastadons turned it on at the end of the year, and now have enough experienced talent to move up in the division. They lost their top scorer David Carson, but they retain lethal shooter Ben Botts (11.3 ppg), and 6'6" forward Deilvez Yearby (9.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg) has as much potential as anyone in the league.
226. Stetson: Look for another unproductive season offensively for Stetson, as the Hatters were atrocious last year, and lost their best offensive player, forward Garfield Blair. The Hatters shot just 38.4 percent from the floor last season. Guard A.J. Smith remains as the only legitimate offensive threat. He does have some skills, and he needs to show them off this season. Stetson also brings in a five man recruiting class, including two from Australia. The Hatters better hope they teach you how to shoot the ball down under.
225. Delaware: Despite posting a 32-62 record in three seasons, UD coach Monte Ross received a contract extension through 2015, which leaves him to focus on a CAA title, and not his job security. The Blue Hens return three guards each of whom averaged in double figures, although Brian Johnson (in his fourth season as a starter) tore his ACL in August and is likely out for the season. Star forward Marc Egerson is gone, so Alphonso Dawson and Jawan Carter will have to team up to handle most of the scoring. With a decent bench and explosive guards the Hens may rise in the conference standings.
224. Denver: Denver returns all of it's key players this season, including star guard Nate Rohnert. The Pioneers run a version of the "Princeton offense," and Rohnert and forward Rob Lewis are one of the best tandems in the league. Denver was outrebounded by 5.8 boards per game last year, but they do play solid defense as well as take care of the ball. Look for the Pioneers to rise in the Sun Belt Conference.
East Carolina: The Pirates front court is established, but they still need some help on the perimeter. ECU lost their two leading scorers from last season, but point guard Brock Young is one of the most productive in the nation, who ranked second nationally in assists per game at 7.6. The problem is trying to find scorers to be on the receiving end of those assists. The lack of scoring threats eliminates the Pirates from Conference USA contention, but with their frontcourt talent, they could become more of a low-post offensive threat, which may cause problems for opponents this season.
222. Fresno State: This year there is reason to believe that the Bulldogs will escape the bottom of the Western Athletic Conference standings. The frontcourt should be fine, but Fresno is searching for two new starting guards to help complement the play of forwards Paul George and Sylvester Seay. Coach Steve Cleveland is entering his fifth season with Fresno State, but his first with all of his scholarships. The program has been under NCAA sanctions stemming from excessive phone calls by the previous coaching staff. Cleveland has dealt with roster turnover during his years at Fresno, and this season will be no different. Look for the Bulldogs to rise a little in the WAC.
221. Gardner-Webb: The Runnin' Bulldogs return sophomore forward Joshua Henley, who led all freshmen in rebounding last season with 309, while also contributing with 6.8 ppg. Senior guard Grayson Flittner (14.5 ppg, 3.5 apg) also returns. Flittner battled a leg injury during the second half of the season last year. Also returning Auryn MacMillan who averaged 9.4 ppg and 5.2 rpg. Look for Gardner-Webb in the top 5 for the Big South this season.
220. South Alabama: Look for the Jaguars to drop significantly in the Sun Belt Conference standings this season. South Alabama returns only one of their top five scorers and just two of their top nine players. The success of the team is left in the hands of a heavy recruiting class of seven, including three Junior College transfers. These guys have to produce immediately for the Jags to have any sort of impact. Coach Ronnie Arrow is a veteran coach who will be dealing with a big roster turnover. Not having finalized his staff until August, Coach Arrow has his work cut out for him.
219. Coppin State: 2009-2010 is not looking good for this Mid Easter Athletic Conference team. Coach Ron Mitchell may have something up his sleeve, but Coppin State has lost some of its edge. The Eagles lost Tywain McKee, their leading scorer as well as MEAC player of the year, and nobody else posted double figures last season. But with guard Michael Harper (9.3 ppg), Sam Coleman (8.2 ppg), and Vince Goldsberry (7.1 ppg), Coach Mitchell and his squad may not have to suffer through a losing season.
218. Florida International: FIU was definitely held back by injuries last season, however even with a healthy roster it is still hard to imagine them finishing better than fourth in the division. There is a lack of talent for the Golden Panthers, especially after center Freddy Asprilla (freshman of the year last season and the program's best player) announced his plans to transfer. Guard Michael Dominguez is the best player that remains for this Sun Belt squad. If anything, the program has been brought unprecedented publicity due to Isiah Thomas' hiring, so the program will not be lacking in media coverage this season.
217. Rice: Freshman forward Arsalan Kazemi will be the first Native Born Iranian to play basketball in the United States. At least that gives the Owls one highlight this season, but don't expect it to be wins. Rice won only four conference games last season, and that was after coming from a winless conference season in 2007-2008. Coach Ben Braun needs to find a way to make his team more productive offensively in his third season as head coach. Forward Lucas Kuipers should help, but the Owls had only one player to average in double figures last season, and that player, guard Rodney Foster, is gone.
216. Indiana: The Hoosiers should be happy about their notoriety as a program, if nothing else. After having the worst season in school history, second year coach Tom Crean was able to create a top-ten signing class. The Hoosiers were the only team in the Big 10 to allow more than 70 points per game, as well as ranked last in scoring. Now Crean has signed six players, including three potential stars, and is now the top recruiting class in the Big 10. Forward Christian Watford returns, including the addition of transfer guard Jeremiah Rivers, who played in the Final Four as a freshman at Georgetown. It may take longer than expected, coach Tom Crean has Indiana back on the right track.
215. Presbyterian: This team is going to have to use more than its nickname (The Blue Hose) in order to strike fear into their opponents. Still in transition to Division I, coach Greg Nibert is likely to redshirt all-conference player Al'Lonzo Coleman (15 ppg, 8.4 rpg), Josh Johnson, and Pierre Miller, so that they will be around when the Blue Hose are eligible for the conference and NCAA tournament in 2011-2012. If that happens, guard Chase Holmes would be the returning leading scorer at 7.8 ppg.
214. Colorado State: Having lost two of their top 3 scorers (from the backcourt), the Rams should finish below .500 again this season. Colorado State may have one of the better frontcourts in the Mountain West, but they need to improve their perimeter defense dramatically. The Rams finished last in the league a year ago in field goal percentage defense (.487) and three point percentage defense (.372). Colorado State should finish ahead of Air Force in the league, but look for them at the bottom of the Mountain West standings.
213. UNC Asheville: The Bulldogs were the first Big South team to make a trip to the post-season NIT in 2007-2008, and then fell to 15-16 last season but did not reach the conference tourney semi-finals for the third consecutive season. This year, three double-digit scorers return, giving UNC Asheville a chance to contend for the conference title. Although leading scorer Reid Augst is gone, forward John Williams (12.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg), and guards Matt Dickey (10.9 ppg) and Sean Smith (10.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg), return to help make up for Augst's departure.
212. Loyola (Chicago): The Panthers start the season having lost their two leading scorers, and may find themselves a seat in the Horizon basement. The team does return forward Andy Polka, and sophomore forward Jordan Hicks (4.5 ppg) showed promise despite modest numbers. Coach Jim Whitesell also has some recruits on the way who look to make an immediate impact. However, with the loss of top scorers J.R. Blount and Justin Cerasoli, the Panthers will be in a battle to avoid last place in the conference.
211. Missouri State: The Bears will look to rebound from last season's despicable offensive display, during which scoring was a major problem. In his first year as head coach, Cuonzo Martin and his squad ranked 303rd in the nation in field goal percentage, and the Bear's 60.9 scoring average was the lowest it has been since 1949-1950. Coach Martin's emphasis on defense is starting to be effective, but it is crucial the team scores more points. Forward Kyle Weems will assist in that department. Look for Missouri State to be a much more athletic group this season.
210. UC Riverside: The Highlanders return star forward Kyle Austin, who began his career at USC. Austin is the best player in the Big West, so look for this team to create a little buzz. Senior point guard Javon Borum (9.7 ppg) and shooter Brandon Dowdy (40.6 percent on 3-pointers) will complement Austin, who is a 6'7" do-it-all player (16.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg). However the Highlanders must become more consistent offensively in order to be a legitimate threat to take the Big West Conference title.
209. Montana State: Pay attention to the Bobcats this season as they have the potential to pull off a few upsets. The Bobcats came incredibly close to the NCAA tournament last season, despite finishing with a losing record. They upset their way into the conference tournament title game, before falling to Portland State 79-77. Montana State lost their low-post presence in Divaldo Mbunga, but should do well with guard Will Bynum (10.7 ppg) and forward Bobby Howard (10.1) ppg. Don't expect the Bobcats to win the Big Sky, but keep an eye out for the upsets.
208. Charlotte: Coach Bobby Lutz is on the hot seat this year, and almost certainly needs an NCAA bid to remain head coach. Charlotte had been one of the better teams in the Conference USA, making five tournament apperances in seven seasons, but the 49ers have not been back since 2005. Charlotte's 11-20 record last season (its worst since 1985-1986) was partly due to team injuries. Some new additions to the frontcourt should help improve upon that record, as well as guard DiJuan Harris. If not, a new coach may be the answer.
207. Lamar: The Cardinals have lost their top three scorers, and will most likely be a disappointment for the second season in a row. The Cardinal's hopes for a better season lie in the hands of forward Ashton Hall (8.8 ppg), and Justin Nabors, a returning senior who was out last year with an elbow injury. Lamar said goodbye to 3 scorers, including post presence Jay Brown, who combined for over 40 points per game. The Cardinals, who were one of the Southland Conference's biggest let-downs, must come into this season with very different expectations.
206. New Hampshire: If everything works out, the Wildcats may be looking at an upper-division finish in the America East. Coach Bill Herrion finished 8-8 with his team last season, and nearly upset top-seeded Binghamton in the conference tournament semifinals. The Wildcats lost star guard Tyrece Gibbs (14.6 ppg), but guard Alvin Abreu (12.8 ppg) should be a good replacement. Add in the Wildcat's young, deep, supporting cast and New Hampshire could finish in the top six in the America East this season.
205. George Washington: Things have not been going well for this Atlantic 10 squad. George Washington's A-10 championship in 2005-2006 is a distant memory. The Colonials have slumped in the past two season, going 19-35 overall and 9-23 in conference play. During one point last season, GW lost 11 games in a row. The offense was not a problem last year, but after three dismissals in 2008, the departure of a fourth player last January, and the loss of 4 seniors, it looks like the Colonials will be in rebuilding mode again. The team is young, but the key guy is senior forward Damian Hollis (13.4 ppg).
204. Idaho State: The Bengal's defense is not a question, with their perimeter play being a major strength, but Idaho State must find a way to be more effective offensively. This team has plenty of players returning from their 9-7 finish last season, including f/g Amorrow Morgan (13.6 ppg) and senior big man Chron Tatum. It does not help that top 3-point shooter Matt Stucki (12.0 ppg) is gone, but Junior College point guard Broderick Gilchrest should do a good job sparking the offense.