Vols miss Katz's top 25

Tennessee's basketball team swept Florida last season but the Gators went on to win the NCAA title. At least one expert believes the Gators will make it two straight this winter. Worse, the Vols are nowhere to be found in his top 25.

Andy Katz of ESPN.com notes that no team since Duke (1991 and '92) has repeated as NCAA champ. Still, he believes the return of super sophomores Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer gives Billy Donovan's Gators a great shot at successfully defending the title they won in March.

Although Tennessee isn't listed among his top 25, Katz mentions the Vols in passing. He writes:

"You won't see some notable names here, but that doesn't mean we're giving up on them. We just want to be more convinced that teams like Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida State, Southern Illinois, Michigan, Cal, Hofstra, UMass, Xavier, Nevada, Indiana, Syracuse and Kansas State need to be in the Top 25."

Katz offers three reasons for picking Florida No. 1. They are:

• The starting five is back from a national championship team.

• Forward Joakim Noah could be the preseason national player of the year.

• The Gators might have had the best locker room karma of any team in the NCAA Tournament. There's no reason to believe that won't continue in 2006-07.

Interestingly enough, SEC West powers LSU (No. 5) and Alabama (No. 14) also grace Katz's top 25. Texas A&M, the program Steve Forbes recently left to join the UT staff, checks in at No. 10. Memphis, despite the loss of Rodney Carney, Darius Washington and Shawne Williams from last season's starting five, is pegged No. 16.

Katz's complete top 10 is as follows (2005-06 records in parenthesis):

1. Florida (33-6)

2. Kansas (25-8)

3. North Carolina (23-8)

4. Pittsburgh (25-8)

5. LSU (23-9)

6. Georgetown (22-16)

7. Ohio State (26-6)

8. Arizona (20-13)

9. Wisconsin (19-12)

10. Texas A&M (22-9)

To view Katz's top 25, with commentary, go to ESPN.com, scroll down to "Spotlight," wait for the photo of Joakim Noah to appear, then click on the copy underneath. The story is entitled "ESPN.com 2006-07 June Top 25."

Inside Tennessee Top Stories