Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 10/14/11

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.

Maybe I haven’t learned my lesson and should be ranking the Butler Bulldogs higher after back-to-back trips to the National Championship game.  However, Brad Stevens loses three of his top four scorers and has a lot of inexperience on his roster.

BUTLER BULLDOGS
Last Season: T-1st, 13-5 in Horizon, 28-10 overall
Predicted Horizon Finish: 1st

Projected Depth Chart
C: Andrew Smith (Jr)/Erik Fromm (So)/Emerson Kampen (Jr)
F: Khyle Marshall (So)/Garrett Butcher (Sr)/Kameron Woods (Fr)
G/F: Roosevelt Jones (Fr)/Andy Smeathers (Fr)
G: Chase Stigall (Jr)/Chrishawn Hopkins (So)
PG: Ronald Nored (Sr)/Jackson Aldridge (Fr)

Gone: G-Shelvin Mack, F/C-Matt Howard, G-Zach Hahn, G-Shawn Vanzant, SG-Grant Leiendecker

2011-2012 Outlook:
Big man Andrew Smith is the team’s top returning scorer and the only player to average more than six points per game last season.  He is a fundamental post player who is not very agile or athletic but takes up space inside.  Smith will be joined in the starting frontcourt by Khyle Marshall.  The 6’6 sophomore is a bit undersized but plays with terrific energy and could be poised for a breakout season.

The depth up-front is rather thin and inexperienced.  Garrett Butcher and Erik Fromm each played sparingly while Emerson Kampen only saw minutes during mop-up duty.  Kameron Woods is an athletic forward and could work his way into the rotation but needs to get stronger.

Ronald Nored will anchor the backcourt and take over the full-time ball handling responsibility with Shelvin Mack leaving early for the NBA Draft.  Nored is known more for his defensive prowess than his ability to score.  Chase Stigall started 13 games a year ago and figures to see an expanded role.  He is a three-point specialist but will need to become a more well-round scorer this season.

The fifth and final starting spot is up for grabs.  The baby-faced Chrishawn Hopkins was a role player early on but saw his playing time diminish as last season progressed.  He would give Butler a true three guard line-up but Stevens could give the nod to freshman wing, Roosevelt Jones who is only 6’4 but is very physical.  Youth is again the story off the bench with freshmen Jackson Aldridge and Andy Smeathers the only other options.

Stevens also picked up a key transfer this off-season.  Sharpshooting Rotnei Clarke comes to Butler from Arkansas but will sit out the up-coming season due to NCAA transfer rules and will have one year of eligibility remaining in 2012-13.

Stevens is easily one of the best young coaches in the country and this season will put that to the test.  With only four players who saw significant playing time returning, the Bulldogs have plenty of questions.  Can the backcourt replace the scoring production left behind by Mack and Shawn Vanzant?  Will the young, inexperienced reserves step into significant roles off the bench?  Can Marshall make the leap this season to become Butler’s main guy?

Until these questions are answered, I cannot but the Bulldogs in my top 25.  Their streak of five straight Horizon League regular season titles could also be in jeopardy as a Detroit team that returns a lot of talent could be poised to knock them out of the top spot.

Player to Watch: Khyle Marshall
Marshall received an invaluable experience this summer playing for the U.S. U-19 team this summer.  He has a nice combination of strength and athleticism, and is very active on the glass.  Marshall averaged nearly six points per game in just fifteen minutes a night as a freshman and should see those numbers at least double.  If Butler is going to re-live the magic of the past two seasons, Marshall must become a dominant Horizon League player.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/19 vs. Louisville
11/27 at Indiana
12/7 vs. Xavier
12/17 vs. Purdue
12/20 at Gonzaga
12/22 at Stanford
2/18 vs. TBA (ESPN BracketBusters)

OTHER 111 IN 111′S:
#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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