Ranking the Power Conferences

1. ACC: Three AP top 10 teams and Duke isn't one of them.

2. Big 12: Kansas, Oklahoma State and Texas are all capable of landing in St. Louis.

3. Big East: The football-diluted league has four stout hoops teams: U-Conn., Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame.

4. SEC: Kentucky is young but talented; Alabama and Mississippi State will rule the West.

5. Big 10: Illinois and Michigan State are the cream of the crop; Northwestern could be NCAA bound.

6. Conference USA: How's this for a coaching roster? Pitino, Huggins, Penders, Crean, Calipari and Eustachy.

7. Pacific-10: Arizona is on the rise; Stanford falls after losing coach Mike Montgomery to NBA.

8. Atlantic 10: Xavier and George Washington look like the only NCAA tournament-bound teams.

9. Mountain West: UNLV and new coach Lon Kruger will challenge Utah for league title.

10. Western Athletic: Nevada and Texas-El Paso will try to repeat last season's success with new coaches.

Bracket Busters

The nation's best mid-majors:

1. Pacific: Upset alert: Tigers play at Kansas on Dec. 4.

2. Toledo: Rockets senior Keith Triplett is one of the nation's best-kept secrets.

3. Vermont: Catamounts star Taylor Coppenrath and Coach Tom Brennan go out winners.

Preseason Top 25

1. Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets have all the ingredients for a championship: talent, size, experience, depth and great coaching.

2. North Carolina: Tar Heels need to show more poise after losing nine games in last 90 seconds last season.

3. Kansas: In only his second season, Coach Bill Self could do what Roy Williams couldn't at Kansas -- win a national championship.

4. Kentucky: The Wildcats are young -- really, really young. But they're talented -- really, really talented.

5. Michigan State: The young Spartans took their lumps early last season, but grew up in a hurry.

6. Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons have a great back court, but how far will Eric Williams and Vytas Danelius take them?

7. Syracuse: The Orange has all five starters back, including stars Hakim Warrick and Gerry McNamara.

8. Duke: The Blue Devils are flying under the radar on Tobacco Road; who would have ever thunk it?

9. Connecticut: The defending national champions lost Ben Gordon and Emeka Okafor; Rudy Gay will help the Huskies forget about both of them.

10. Illinois: Illini have one of the nation's best back courts in Dee Brown and Deron Williams.

11. Maryland: Will the Terps be the team that hovered on the NCAA bubble for weeks, or the team that won the ACC tournament?

12. Arizona: Wildcats grossly underachieved last season; Coach Lute Olson won't let it happen again.

13. Oklahoma State: How's this for experience? The Cowboys have four starters whose average age is 23, and Eddie Sutton begins his 43rd season as a head coach.

14. Notre Dame: Coach Mike Brey is turning Notre Dame into the basketball school with the football problem.

15. Texas: Longhorns could end up starting three freshmen -- all all-Americans.

16. Alabama: Four starters back from last season's NCAA quarterfinal team.

17. Louisville: Cardinals Coach Rick Pitino is raving about freshman Juan Palacios, whom he compares to Jamal Mashburn.

18. N.C. State: Julius Hodge will need some help if the Wolfpack will challenge its ACC neighbors.

19. Pittsburgh: Replacing veterans Julius Page and Jaron Brown will be difficult.

20. Mississippi State: Star forward Lawrence Roberts is back, but he'll miss unsung front-court mate Brandon Vincent.

21. Memphis: Star forward Sean Banks will get scoring help from freshman Darius Washington.

22. Florida: Gators are ultra-talented but haven't proved they can win when it matters.

23. Wisconsin: Badgers Coach Bo Ryan must find a way to replace Devin Harris's scoring.

24. George Washington: Colonials finally overshadowing that other team in the District.

25. Washington: Huskies will again benefit from a watered-down Pacific-10.