Upon reading Dick Vitale's Top 40, I started to think about the massive group in the middle of the college basketball world that feels forever disrespected by not being on such a list. Not that whining gets you anywhere in life; it's just that once you get past the top 10 or so, many teams are similar. That's why making a list such as Dickie V's is not an easy task.
So I decided to sit down and think of how many teams could end the season on such a list and, if everything worked out, be right in the NCAA tourney discussion. To do so, I needed a hook, and being left out was the first and most obvious tie among teams. But there also had to be a good storyline or two and some chatter in college hoops about a certain team's potential.
In the end, I picked 30 teams that weren't in Vitale's rankings -- 30 teams worth watching and discussing. Last week, we published the first 10. That group consisted of Maryland, Northern Iowa, Creighton, Washington State, Oregon, Cincinnati, BYU, Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt and Nevada.
So without further ado, here are the next 10 ...
Missouri was an Elite Eight team that won the Big 12 tournament this past season, yet it is garnering no love right now. Some might say rightfully so because the Tigers lost their interior twosome of Leo Lyons and DeMarre Carroll, plus sharpshooting Matt Lawrence. Coach Mike Anderson landed his most high-profile recruit since arriving in Columbia with 6-foot-10 athletic freak Keith DeWitt, but there's a question as to whether he will qualify academically. So with the entire backcourt of Zaire Taylor, defensive savant J.T. Tiller, Kim English and Marcus Denmon all back, only the NCAA Eligibility Center stands between Mizzou and another postseason tournament of some kind.
How many years must we underrate Wisconsin and coach Bo Ryan before we realize the Badgers will find a way to win at home and when it counts on the road? Do you realize this program has reached the NCAA tournament in 11 straight seasons? Remarkable. Trevon Hughes, Jon Leuer and Jason Bohannon all return this season, and if freshman Mike Bruesewitz, the 2009 Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year, can give the team some instant production, Wisky somehow will find its way back into the tourney yet again.
Iowa State brings back potential NBA lottery pick Craig Brackins (how often can you say you're bringing back a 20-10 guy?) and German national-teamer Lucca Staiger. With incoming talent such as Marquette transfer Scott Christopherson, Chicago high school product Chris Colvin and junior college transfer Marquis Gilstrap, the Clones' rebuilding job should finally be complete. Remember, lost in the mess that former coach Wayne Morgan left is an unreal home-court crowd at Hilton Coliseum and the coaching ability of Greg McDermott, who built Northern Iowa into an NCAA tourney team before heading to Ames.
Boston College lost a 2,000-point scorer in Tyrese Rice, but everyone else is back. Rice had a good, not great, senior season, and although he is a talent, so, too, are the players whom Al Skinner will use in that nasty tight-flex offense. Rakim Sanders seems to be the next star; Joe Trapani, Corey Raji and Reggie Jackson all have that innate BC toughness; and Josh Southern has a chance to mature into the post presence needed in a league with outstanding low-post scorers at places such as UNC, Georgia Tech and Florida State.
Arizona may have lost two NBA draft picks, its head coach, its staff and part of its identity, but the Wildcats return a solid college point guard in Nic Wise, Jamelle Horne (who had two horrendous fouls that led to two losses but has some skills) and Kyle Fogg. Although I am not high on Lamont "Mo Mo" Jones, Kyryl Natyazhko and Solomon Hill can play right away, and Derrick Williams and Kevin Parrom have a ton of athletic upside. Oh, and did I forget to mention that Sean Miller is one heck of a coach and the Pac-10 as a whole is down? Bear down -- but do not be down -- on the U of A.
Oregon State won the College Basketball Invitational this past season and returns its top four scorers. In the disciplined Princeton system of Craig Robinson, Roeland Schaftenaar found a perfect offense for his face-up game. In addition, the Beavs landed Rhys Murphy, an Aussie who is 6-7 and long and can really shoot. Incoming freshman Roberto Nelson is a thin but very capable 2-guard who will stretch defenses and make those cuts more open. With Gill Coliseum set to be finally redone and the energy of the biggest turnaround in college hoops at OSU's back, do not be surprised to see it in the NCAA tourney discussion.
Northwestern. Yes, I wrote it, and I'll write it again -- Northwestern is a potential top-40 team. Granted, Michael "Juice" Thompson and Kevin Coble have to find some shooting help, as Craig Moore graduated. But John Shurna played great for Team USA and is a tough cover, and although the Wildcats' rebounding and interior defense remain problematic, they beat Michigan State and Purdue on the road last season and might have made it to the NCAA tournament for the first time had they not collapsed against Illinois at home. Rising sophomore Kyle Rowley is the key. He needs to use his massive frame to rebound and stay out of foul trouble.
So it finally happened -- Southern Illinois had a bad season. I bet it won't happen again, though. Although Bryan Mullins graduated, Tony Freeman, who was Iowa's leading scorer before transferring, will debut for the Salukis. Carlton Fay is not a true post, but he should have more help with Anthony Booker in his second season (after a disappointing freshman season). Power forwards Gene Teague and Jordan Meyers should compete for minutes right away, especially Teague, who is huge and must get into better shape. Look for John Freeman, a juco recruit from Vincennes (Ind.), to push for minutes at the 3.
Richmond, in fashion similar to Oregon State, runs pure Princeton offense. And like the Beavers, the Spiders have a ton of returning talent. Although most of the country has not heard of Kevin Anderson, David Gonzalvez and Justin Harper, the A-10 sure has. Gonzalvez and Anderson have started since day one and are now juniors. Those two know the matchup zone very well, but the season may rest on center Dan Geriot, who's coming back from an ACL injury. He was the team's leading scorer during the 2007-08 season. If he's healthy, he'll give Richmond some inside punch, like the 22 points he had in his last game in the CBI two seasons ago against Virginia.
Sure, San Diego State lost Kyle Spain, Lorrenzo Wade and Richie Williams, but after some early-season bumps and hiccups, expect Steve Fisher to have one of the most talented yet least heralded clubs in college basketball. Kelvin Davis should be the team's best shooter as he returns from a season lost to recovering from Hodgkin's lymphoma. And remember the name Kawhi Leonard. He's the best incoming frosh on the West Coast, period. If his attitude holds up, he could have a monster season. Malcolm Thomas played really well in junior college after having a good year as a freshman on a bad Pepperdine club. Tyrone Shelley, another former Pepperdine player, should be a scoring machine, and Brian Carlwell, who never was great at Illinois, is massive and in better shape than he was while playing for Bruce Weber. The Aztecs' fortunes may ride on returners Billy White, who is a great slasher, and point guard D.J. Gay. Gay must beat out scoring point Chase Tapley and keep everyone happy. Everything needs to click, but the Aztecs are loaded.
So there it is, the second installment of my "other teams that should be receiving votes" list. If your team isn't on here yet, don't worry -- there are 10 more to come next week.
Doug Gottlieb is a college basketball analyst for ESPN and a contributor to ESPN.com. "The Doug Gottlieb Show" can be heard weekdays from 4-7 p.m. ET on ESPN Radio and ESPNRadio.com.