Preseason Top-25: Teams 20-16

This is a tough group to rank. Many of the teams in this grouping have the talent to be ranked higher, but have some huge questions that must be addressed. There are a few teams that could easily be in the top-10 in other season, but other teams have less holes or just a little more talent. Nos. 25-21

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No. 20 Utah Utes

2003-04 Record: 24-9 (9-5 MWC/3rd)
Starters Returning:3
Key Returners:C Andrew Bogut (12.5 ppg, 9.9 rpg), Richard Chaney (9.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg)
Key Additions: Luke Neville, Jermaine Calvin, Marc Jackson (year away)
Key losses:Nick Jacobson (16.5 ppg), Tim Frost (9.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg)

What we like about Utah:The Utes return the Mountain West's best player in Bogut. Jackson will team with Drisdom to form the conference's best backcourt. Jackson returns from a year off and will bolster the team with is return. Chaney was good, but could be great in his junior season.

What worries us about the Utes: Rick Majerus is gone and Ray Giacoletti takes over after Mid-Major success. The Utes lose two key starters in Jacobsen and Frost. Justin Hawkins and Bryant Markson have yet to fully develop.

Why No. 20The Utes add some talented player and Bogut withstood pressure to go to the NBA. The Utes could roll through the Mountain West. Majerus is gone, but the Utes were without him last year and still made it to the NCAA's.

No. 19 Texas Longhorns

2003-04 Record: 25-8 (12-4 Big 12/T-2nd)
Starters Returning:3
Key Returners:F P.J. Tucker (10.4 ppg), Brad Buckman (5.7 ppg)
Key Additions: G Daniel Gibson, C LaMarcus Aldridge
Key losses:Brandon Mouton (13.9 ppg), Royal Ivey (9.4 ppg), James Thomas (5.8 rpg)

What we like about Texas:There is talent, loads of it. The Longhorns have one of the top-three point guard recruits in the nation and a center who shocked folks by skipping the NBA draft. Aldridge could be one of the best big men on the Big 12, while Gibson and Kenton Paulino give Texas two solid point guards. They also return three starters off of a pretty good team from a year ago.

What worries us about the Longhorns: Only one of the three returning starters averaged double figures in scoring. Buckman has yet to become the inside force most recruiting analysts thought he could develop into. The team will have to get serious contributions from three freshmen. They will really miss Ivey, Mouton and Thomas.

Why No. 19Texas is young, but talented. They will lose some games they shouldn't, but could be really clicking by March. They could be good, but aren't quite ready to challenge Kansas or Oklahoma State.

No. 18 Maryland Terrapins

2003-04 Record: 20-12 (7-9 ACC/6th)
Starters Returning:4
Key Returners:G John Gilchrist (15.4 ppg), Nik Caner-Medley (11.0 ppg)
Key Additions: F James Gist, G Sterling Ledbetter (JUCO)
Key losses:Jamar Smith (13.1 ppg, 8.8 rpg)

What we like about Maryland:They return four starters from last year's team that peaked at the right time. In addition they have talented D.J. Strawberry and Ekene Ibekwe. Gilchrist is a top point guard, while Caner-Medley and Chris McCray are terrific scores. Mike Jones has a lot of potential as well .

What worries us about the Terrapins: They struggled for most of the season, only to get hot late in the year. Maryland plays in the loaded ACC and will lose more games than they would in a less talented conference. They need some players to step up if they hope to challenge for top ACC honors.

Why No. 18We like the talent, but they could still lose 8-10 games. They have a lot of solid performers, but other than Gilchrist they lack star quality.

No. 17 Duke Blue Devils

2003-04 Record: 31-6 (13-3 ACC/1st)
Starters Returning:3
Key Returners:G J.J. Redick (15.9 ppg), C Shelden Williams (12.6 ppg)
Key Additions: DeMarcus Nelson, David McClure
Key losses: Luol Deng (15.1 ppg), Chris Duhon (10.0 ppg), Shaun Livingston (NBA early entry)

What we like about Duke:They lost a lot, but this is still Duke. Their starting five will be among the best in the country. They still have Coach K on the bench. Shelden Williams is a solid big man, while Redick can shoot with the best of them.

What worries us about the Blue Devils: They could be in trouble at the point. Duhon is gone and Livingston skipped out for the NBA. Sean Dockery and Nelson will run the show, but both are more scorers than distributors. The team will lack depth, and this could be a fatigued team late in games.

Why No. 17Duke is Duke, so they should be pretty good, but they won't be great. They still have talent, but depth will hurt. Point guard issues could hurt them in March.

No. 16 Pittsburgh Panthers

2003-04 Record: 31-5 (13-3 Big East/1st)
Starters Returning:3
Key Returners:G Carl Krauser (15.4 ppg), C Chris Taft (10.9 ppg)
Key Additions: John DeGroat (JUCO), Keith Benjamin
Key losses: Jaron Brown (11.7 ppg), G Julius Page (11.0 ppg)< P> What we like about Pitt:Krauser is a great point guard, while Taft has the potential to be one of the top big men in the nation. The recruiting class is solid with two good freshmen and one of the nation's top junior college forwards.

What worries us about the Panthers: They will miss Brown and Page, especially Page's scoring. They need quality play from newcomers and there is a lot of talent in the Big East. A lot of little used players will have to step up and play key minutes this season.

Why No. 16Pitt has three very good players to build around and need younger talent to step up. They have great inside-outside play and could make a nice long run. They'll take some lumps in the Big East, which could hurt their seeding.

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