Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 10/31/11

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

For the second straight year, Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals had their season end in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament; this time at the hands of 13th seeded Morehead State.  With several core players returning, the Cards are expected to be a top ten team in 2011-12 though a season-ending injury McDonald’s All-American Wayne Blackshear lowers their expectations a bit.

Last Season: T-3rd, 12-6 in Big East, 25-10 overall
Predicted Big East Finish: 4th

Projected Depth Chart
C: Gorgui Dieng (So)/Stephan Van Treese (Jr)/Zach Price (Fr)
F: Chane Behanan (Fr)/Rakeem Buckles (Jr)/Jared Swopshire (Jr)
G/F: Kyle Kuric (Sr)/Mike Marra (Jr)/Angel Nunez (Fr)
SG: Chris Smith (Sr)/Wayne Blackshear (Fr-out for season)
PG: Peyton Siva (Jr)/Elisha Justice (So)/Russell Smith (So)

Gone: SG-Preston Knowles, F/C-Terrence Jennings, F/C-George Goode (transfer)

2011-2012 Outlook:
Point guard Peyton Siva will play a vital role in Louisville’s success this season.  He is a playmaker who gets after it on the defensive but needs to cut down on his turnovers.  Elisha Justice and Russell Smith will compete to serve as Siva’s back-up.  Smith is hoping to bounce back from an injury riddled freshman campaign that limited his effectiveness.

Kyle Kuric is a three-point assassin and will start on the wing.  He provides valuable leadership and Pitino has mentioned the possibility of Kuric even seeing some minutes at this four this season if Louisville chooses to go with a smaller line-up.  Chris Smith will step into the starting line-up to replace Preston Knowles.  Smith is a physical, athletic off-guard who can also stroke it from deep.

Mike Marra thinks he is a sharpshooter and has shown that ability at times (like he did late last season against my Marquette boys in the Big East Tournament which is why I would happily punch him in the face) but has been marred by inconsistency.  243 of his 293 field goal attempts at Louisville have been from beyond the arc.  However, Marra has only connected on 26.7% of those tries.  If he can cut back on his streakiness, he will be a major weapon off the Cards’ bench.  Freshman Angel Nunez does not appear ready to be a role player right away and likely ends up the odd man out of the rotation.

Highly-touted freshman Wayne Blackshear was expected to be a major factor on the wing this season as well but he will miss all of his freshman campaign due to a shoulder injury.

Gorgui Dieng brings a defensive presence to the middle, averaging almost two blocks in less than 16 minutes per game last season.  He is still raw on the offensive end but could be a force in the paint if he improves in that area.  Stephan Van Treese is an energy role player who brings his effort and physicality to the floor.  Van Treese is battling a knee sprain but is expected to be healthy for the start of the season.  Freshman Zach Price will also factor into the equation if he can show consistency and aggressiveness on the glass.

With Rakeem Buckles still recovering from knee surgery that will likely sideline until the start of conference play, freshman Chane Behanan seems like the favorite to start alongside Dieng.  Behanan is a bit undersized at 6-6, but very physical down low and also has decent range on his jump shot.  Jared Swopshire returns from a groin injury that cost him all of last season.  He started as a sophomore but figures to come off the bench this year.

UConn and Syracuse are the teams to beat in the Big East with Louisville and Pitt nipping on their heels.  The Cards’ full-court pressure will always make them a difficult opponent and capable of beating any team on any night.  It is finding consistency on the offensive end that will determine just how good Louisville will be this season.

Player to Watch: Peyton Siva
The 5-11 point guard made a solid step from his freshman to sophomore season but will need to take an even bigger step this year.  His quickness on the floor is obvious and Siva has serious springs as he can rise above the rim.  For him to reach his potential, Siva needs to become a better decision-maker and more reliable outside shooter.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/19 at Butler
11/28 vs. Long Beach State
12/2 vs. Vanderbilt
12/17 vs. Memphis
12/31 at Kentucky

OTHER 111 IN 111′S:
#14 Arizona Wildcats
#15 Wisconsin Badgers
#16 Alabama Crimson Tide
#17 Gonzaga Bulldogs
#18 Marquette Golden Eagles
#19 Texas A&M Aggies
#20 Michigan Wolverines
#21 New Mexico Lobos
#22 Temple Owls
#23 Cincinnati Bearcats
#24 Kansas Jayhawks
#25 UNLV Rebels
#26 Washington Huskies
#27 UCLA Bruins
#28 Butler Bulldogs
#29 Missouri Tigers
#30 Texas Longhorns
#31 Villanova Wildcats
#32 Michigan State Spartans
#33 Florida State Seminoles
#34 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
#35 Harvard Crimson
#36 Illinois Fighting Illini
#37 Oregon Ducks
#38 Wichita State Shockers
#39 Cal Golden Bears
#40 Belmont Bruins
#41 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#42 Saint Mary’s Gaels
#43 Purdue Boilermakers
#44 BYU Cougars
#45 Kansas State Wildcats
#46 West Virginia Mountaineers
#47 Virginia Cavaliers
#48 George Mason Patriots
#49 Old Dominion Monarchs
#50 VCU Rams
#51 Kent State Golden Flashes
#52 Arkansas Razorbacks
#53 St. John’s Red Storm
#54 Northwestern Wildcats
#55 Georgetown Hoyas
#56 Miami Hurricanes
#57 Nevada Wolfpack
#58 Detroit Titans
#59 UCF Knights
#60 Long Beach State 49ers
#61 Virginia Tech Hokies
#62 Clemson Tigers
#63 New Mexico State Aggies
#64 Tennessee Volunteers
#65 Iona Gaels
#66 Murray State Racers
#67 N.C. State Wolfpack
#68 Fairfield Stags
#69 George Washingon Colonials
#70 Indiana State Sycamores
#71 Oklahoma State Cowboys
#72 Indiana Hoosiers
#73 UAB Blazers
#74 Iowa State Cyclones
#75 Creighton Bluejays
#76 USC Trojans
#77 Weber State Wildcats
#78 Maryland Terrapins
#79 Tulsa Golden Hurricane
#80 Minnesota Golden Gophers
#81 Western Michigan Broncos
#82 Dayton Flyers
#83 Stanford Cardinal
#84 Yale Bulldogs
#85 Georgia Bulldogs
#86 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#87 Richmond Spiders
#88 Ball State Cardinals
#89 Utah State Aggies
#90 Arizona State Sun Devils
#91 Marshall Thundering Herd
#92 Oregon State Beavers
#93 Washington State Cougars
#94 Iowa Hawkeyes
#95 Ole Miss Rebels
#96 Nebraska Cornhuskers
#97 Oklahoma Sooners
#98 South Florida Bulls
#99 LSU Tigers
#100 Colorado Buffaloes
#101 DePaul Blue Demons
#102 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#103 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#104 Seton Hall Pirates
#105 Providence Friars
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 South Carolina Gamecocks
#108 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#109 Penn State Nittany Lions
#110 Boston College Eagles
#111 Utah Utes

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.


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