Gary Parrish, CBS Sports' College Basketball Insider, released his preseason Top 25 today and the Cincinnati Bearcats appear to have just made the cut. The Bearcats are ranked No. 25 in Parrish's preseason Top 25, one spot behind SMU and just in front of Purdue. North Carolina is ranked first.
The return of all but one starter and the return of head coach Mick Cronin are cited as part of their ranking. Coming off a 23-win season, the Bearcats will head into the season with a hard-nosed defense that torments opponents, but has question marks offensively. The expectation is that the offense will be better this season with some of the incoming players and the development of the returning players. Here's what Parrish wrote:
All but one player from a 23-win team is back -- as is head coach Mick Cronin, who missed most of last season for medical reasons. Consequently, it's reasonable to assume the Bearcats will be really good defensively again. And they could challenge for an AAC title if they improve offensively considering Cincinnati has won 42 straight games when scoring at least 60 points.
As I wrote above, SMU is ranked No. 24 in these preseason rankings. They still have the whole "NCAA violation" thing to deal with, but the talent is still there. Also noteworthy is the No. 16 ranking for the UConn Huskies. That matchup figures to be a major rivalry as basketball season plays on. Iowa State is No. 6 in these initial preseason rankings. Cincinnati will have an early season test with the Cyclones on Dec. 22.
Basketball season is right around the corner. The Under Armour basketball uniforms are to be unveiled this Friday, Oct. 16. The first exhibition is Nov. 3 against Grand Valley State.