NBA-DRAFT.COM top 65 College Teams (#30 - 26)

The countdown continues with 30 and heads to 26.....
#30 Michigan State

Surprised to see the Spartans this high after finishing last season 19-15 overall and lose their starting backcourt in Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers. We are counting on Tom Izzo bouncing back and returning his Spartan team to form that won an average of 29 games the previous three seasons.

The keys to the team will be handed to combo-guard Keith Appling, a rising-sophomore who played a limited role last season, but worked on his game with Team USA's U-19 team this summer. He will play side-by-side with Draymond Green, an all-around All-American talent who also participated with Team USA in the World University Games this summer. The frontcourt will also feature Delvon Roe, an oft-injured, albeit talented power forward and athletic and lanky forward/center Adreian Payne, last season's top recruit. High school All-American Branden Dawson will garner playing time in the rotation as well.
#29. Temple

Coach Fran Dunphy finally won his first NCAA Tournament game with Temple in four straight appearances and will compete for an A-10 title and another NCAA Tournament again this season. The program's all-time leading rebounder, Lavoy Allen, has graduated and was drafted by the local 76ers in the second-round, which leaves an enormous void in the frontcourt where injury-prone and ever-developing Michael Eric is the lone true big man on the roster. An offensively-challenged Rahlir Jefferson will start at the 4, like he did down the stetch last season, and the scoring will be relied upon by the backcourt yet again.

Juan Fernandez had a down year in his junior season after moving shifting over to full-time point guard duties. Shooting guard Ramone Moore broke out and could challenge Xavier's Tu Holloway for the most gifted offensive player in the A-10 this season. The Owls have two talented scorers on the perimeter in Khalif Wyatt, who excelled off the bench, and Scootie Randall who carried the offensive load, along with Moore, before suffering an injury that held him out of the final nine games; Randall averaged 20 points per game in the seven games prior to injury. If Randall and Eric can stay healthy this season, Temple will be competing for its fourth league title in five seasons.
#28. New Mexico

The Lobos were as talented as anyone last season, but Steve Alford couldn't quite get his together to put forth a consistent effort. They were blown out by Cal, swept by UNLV and San Diego State in league play, but managed to take down BYU twice in the regular-season, the Cougars' only two Mountain West losses.

Speaking of losses, a major departure from last season's 22-win New Mexico squad is point guard Dairese Gary, a under-the-radar team leader and slasher. He led the team in assist rate and free-throw rate and was amongst the nation's best in both categories. Sophomore Kendall Williams, who played off the ball last season, will handle most of the point guard duties, yet will be counted on for scoring as well; in 2010-12, Williams averaged 11.5 points and 4 assists per game.

Look for former UCLA big Drew Gordon to have the inside track at player of the year in the MWC. After missing the first nine contests in 2010-11, Gordon averaged a double-double (12.8 points, 10.8 rebounds), despite playing in just over half of the Lobos' minutes (51.3); his offensive rebounding rate was 21st in the nation, while his defensive rate was third.
#27. Mississippi State

The Bulldogs will have a different look to start the year- having both the troubled Renardo Sindey and Dee Bost in the top five, while starting forwards Ravern Johnson and Kodi Augustus have since graduated. But even with these two back for seemingly a full season, Rick Stansbury needs to cut down on his turnovers and pressure opposing offenses into more. Even more so, Sidney and Bost need to use their talents to get to the foul line instead of settling for jumpers.

UTEP transfer Arnett Moultrie will play a crucial role for an team lacking depth in the frontcourt, but neither Moultrie, nor Sidney are true post-players; both prefer to play out on the perimeter despite their size. Their starting frontcourt is very talented, but need to put it all together and then, and only then, does MSU have a chance to be a tough out in the SEC.

While the duo will earn most of the attention from defenses, Stansbury will count on several youngsters to challenge Alabama atop the SEC West. Freshmen Rodney Hood and DJ Gardner, both top 100 recruits at the small forward spot will get changes to join the starting lineup next to senior guard Brian Bryant
#26. California

The Golden Bears are one of the biggest risers on our pre-season Top 65 countdown from a year ago. Four returning starters, led by fiery senior guard Jorge Gutierrez and the ever-tough Harper Kamp down low, plus nearly every other significant contributor will suit up again for Cal this season in an attempt to catch Arizona and UCLA at the top of the conference.

In the backcourt, Gutierrez can do it all with the ball- run the team's offense, distribute, penetrate the lane or knock down perimeter shots, although he needs to get better back in the last standing; he shot 41 percent from behind the arc as a sophomore and just 33 percent last season. He is the leading-returning scorer in the Pac-12 this season.

Gutierrez is the undisputed team-leader, sophomore Allen Crabbe and his lethal perimeter jumper is the team's best player; Crabbe, a 6'5" swingman, knocked down 62 of his 155 3-point shots last season, but his season was really more impressive than statistics can tell. When Gary Franklin decided to leave the team and transfer 13 games into the 2010-11 season, Crabbe was averaging 8.4 points and shooting 30 percent from distance. In the final 18 games of the season, as the starting 2-guard, Crabbe more than doubled his scoring to 16.9 points and was shooting 46.3 percent from 3-point range at year's end.

The front court absence left behind by graduating senior Markhuri Sanders-Frison will be felt, but Kamp, along with sophomore Richard Solomon, will be counted on for increased production. Sanders-Frison led the team in field-goal percentage and rebounding. Despite his size at 6'8", 250, Kamp's defensive rebounding rates were nearly half of his teammates; Solmon's rates on both ends of the glass were nearly identical, if not better, so expect a breakout campaign from him if he can stay out of foul trouble.