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USA TODAY Sports sat down with Villanova's brightest stars to discuss how this team is different than the 2016 National Championship squad. USA TODAY Sports

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USA TODAY Sports college basketball writer Scott Gleeson and USA TODAY Sports college poll editor Eddie Timanus dissect the preseason top 25 teams for the 2016-17 season.

COACHES POLL:   Preseason top 25 teams

1. Duke Blue Devils 

Mike Krzyzewski has one of his most talented teams to date, bringing back ample talent and welcoming a star-studded freshman class that's headline by five-star recruits Harry Giles (the No. 1 recruit via ESPN and Scout), Marques Bolden, Jayson Tatum, and Frank Jackson. High-flying guard Grayson Allen (21.6 ppg) returns after an All-American campaign and will be in the running for national player of the year. He's joined by key returnees Luke Kennard  (11.8 ppg) and Matt Jones (10.4 ppg).

► X factor: Amile Jefferson. Duke's bad fortune last season could pay dividends in 2016-17. Jefferson was granted a medical redshirt after a broken foot caused him to miss most of 2015-16. The veteran big man gives Coach K both depth and experience in the frontcourt, which could be crucial early on with Giles easing into the lineup — he had a pair of knee injuries in high school and is having knee surgery shortly before this season.

2. Kansas Jayhawks 

Much like Duke, Kansas has a strong dose of returning talent and incoming talent. The Jayhawks will be vying for their 13th consecutive Big 12 title with key returning guards Frank Mason III (12.9 ppg) and Devonte Graham (11.3 ppg) in the backcourt. Then factor in coach Bill Self's dazzling freshman class, led by star forward Josh Jackson (No. 1 recruit via Rivals and 247 Sports), who is expected to make an immediate impact. And the frontcourt gets a boost from freshman Udoka Azubuike, a 6-11, 270-pound bulldozing big man.

► X-Factor:  Svi Mykhailiuk. The sharp-shooting forward showed spurts of breaking out last season — 23 points in KU's NCAA tournament opener vs. Austin Peay — and should fully blossom in a bigger role in 2016-17.

3. Villanova Wildcats

Two of Jay Wright's most important players — four-year point guard Ryan Arcidiacono and big man Daniel Ochefu — are gone. But the rest of the national championship roster remains intact, including leading scorer Josh Hart (15.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg), championship star Kris Jenkins and ready-to-breakout-even-more point guard Jalen Brunson. Fordham eligible transfer Eric Paschall (15.9 ppg) should fit in the rotation nicely.

►  X factor: Darryl Reynolds. The senior big man's role is much more important now that top-20 freshman Omari Spellman was ruled ineligible for 2016-17. He won't be expected to do much offensively but his precision in the frontcourt could be a major difference-maker this season.

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Villanova head coach Jay Wright and some of his players explain Wright's reaction to the final shot of Villanova's epic 2016 National Championship win. USA TODAY Sports

4. Kentucky Wildcats

John Calipari did it again, hauling in another No. 1 freshman class. Kentucky's overhaul this year sees All-American guards Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis gone to the NBA and the ushering in of a start-studded class that Calipari has hailed as "maybe the best I've ever had." UK's roster features three top-10 freshmen with point guard De’Aaron Fox, shooting guard Malik Monk and forward Bam Adebayo. And rounding out the dynamite class are top-25 forwards Wenyen Gabriel and forward Sacha Killeya-Jones. As Calipari often touts, it’s a process. And one that will take time for a batch of youngsters with five-star egos.

►  X factor: Isaiah Briscoe. The lone returning starter capable scorer, Briscoe (9.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 3.1 apg) gives the Wildcats necessary experience — and defensive prowess — to help with growing pains.

5. Oregon Ducks 

NCAA tournament star Dillon Brooks (16.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.1 apg) returns and makes Oregon a legitimate Final Four contender, although he'll be sidelined early on recovering from a foot surgery. Second-leading scorer Tyler Dorsey (13.4 ppg) also is back for more and factor in coach Dana Altman's freshman class (ranked No. 12 via Rivals). The Ducks will be the favorite to win the Pac-12 and remain in the elite category they played themselves into last season.

►  X factor: Chris Boucher. The shot blocking specialist and versatile big man was granted another year of eligibility by the NCAA, and he'll surely wreak havoc on Pac-12 foes once again.

6. North Carolina Tar Heels 

UNC brings back six of its eight top scorers. Granted, the two key departures — Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige — will be felt. But expect the Tar Heels to form a new identity with their returning core and a top-10 freshman class headlined by big man Tony Bradley and guards Brandon Robinson and Seventh Woods. Last year's supporting cast — Justin Jackson, Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, Nate Britt and Joel Berry II — all will have larger roles.

► X factor: Berry (12.8 ppg, 3.8 apg), who blossomed nicely as a sophomore, will be at the controls running the point again, this time as the face of an experienced yet unproven team.

7. Virginia Cavaliers

Coach Tony Bennett has orchestrated a renaissance era for Virginia basketball, leading the program to two ACC titles and an Elite Eight finish last season. Don't expect that momentum to stop, even with the loss of ACC Player of the Year Malcolm Brogdon. Bennett had reloaded with a top-10 recruiting class and Memphis transfer Austin Nichols, while veteran point guard London Perrantes will take on a heavier role as more of an offensive threat.

► X factor: Kyle Guy. Of all the freshmen, the guard with a high IQ is most likely to see playing time and play a key role in Virginia's ever-patient offense.

8. Xavier Musketeers

Villanova's biggest challenger in the Big East and a sleeper Final Four team is Xavier. Jay Wright picked Xavier to win it all in his 2016 bracket. Maybe that confidence was meant for 2017, as a bulk of the talent on Chris Mack's roster is back, including leading scorer Trevon Bluiett (15.1 ppg) and point man Edmond Sumner (11.0 ppg). The offseason suspension of Myles Davis doesn't do this team any favors, but he's likely to be back — giving Mack his top three scorers back from a 28-win team.

X factor: Rashid Gaston. The Nofrolk State transfer averaged 15.5 points and 9.6 rebounds as a junior and is likely to earn a starting role as a 6-9 forward.

9. Michigan State Spartans 

Coach Tom Izzo has hauled in his best-ever freshman class (No. 3 via Rivals) so expect to see a young nucleus on the court East Lansing this season. Unlike last season's veteran-laden roster, fueled by national player of the year Denzel Valentine, this year's group could have some growing pains. That makes the roles of returning point guard Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr. and off-guard Eron Harris (9.3 ppg) all the more important.

► X factor: Miles Bridges. How well the star freshman adjusts to the college game will have a lot to do with this team's identity — both early on and in March.

10. Wisconsin Badgers

Leading scorer Nigel Hayes (15.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and clutch-shooting point guard Bronson Koenig (13.1 ppg) return alongside a much more developed cast that will have a major veteran presence next season. Big man Ethan Happ (12.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg) should take another nice jump after putting together an impressive season as a redshirt freshman.

► X factor: Greg Gard. The Badgers' head coach officially became Bo Ryan's heir following a turnaround season that ended with a surprise Sweet 16 finish. He's got the pieces to steer Wisconsin back to the Final Four.

11. Arizona Wildcats

After two consecutive Elite Eight teams that very well could have won it all, Sean Miller’s program took a step down in 2015-16. The Wildcats should be better in 2016-17 with a revamped roster that's loaded with potential. Allonzo Trier (14.8 ppg) should make a big leap as a sophomore and Miller brings in two top-20 recruits in Rawle Alkins and 6-6 point guard Kobi Simmons, both of whom will see playing time right away.

► X factor: Ray Smith. The redshirt freshman was a prized recruit but tore his ACL and missed last season. If he can hit his stride and stay healthy, it will be a big boost.

12. Indiana Hoosiers

Do-everything floor general Yogi Ferrell is gone, but the Hoosiers get James Blackmon Jr., the team's best scorer, back after he missed half of last season with a knee injury. They also return blossoming sophomore big man Thomas Bryant (11.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg), who bypassed the NBA. Coach Tom Crean will need last year's role players to step into larger roles and his freshman class to develop quickly.

► X factor: Josh Newkirk. The Pittsburgh transfer guard will likely get the nod at the point. He won't replicate Ferrell by any stretch but if he can run the offense, Indiana's set.

13. Gonzaga

All-Americans Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis are gone. And yet, coach Mark Few has one of his best Gonzaga teams to date thanks to some key transfers. Washington transfer Nigel Williams-Goss (15.6 ppg, 4.9 apg and 4.7 rpg a game in 2014-15) will spearhead the backcourt. And Missouri transfer Jonathan Williams III (11.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg) will provide a major frontcourt boost. IfPrzemek Karnowski

► X factor: Przemek Karnowski. If the 7-footer can stay healthy, the 'Zags will have a weapon WCC teams — and most teams —don't have.

14. Louisville Cardinals 

It remains to be seen whether last year’s self-imposed postseason ban will ultimately be deemed sufficient by the NCAA. But in the meantime coach Rick Pitino believes he has a strong and deep team that can excel in the full-court game with Quentin Snider running the point and Deng Adel providing big numbers.

► X factor: The NCAA. It’s unlikely that the full investigative process will run its course while the upcoming season is still in progress, but the specter is out there nonetheless. (The Notice of Allegations was released Thursday, but that there will be an appeals process that will stretch this out deep into the season)

15. Purdue Boilermakers 

Matt Painter’s Boilermakers will once again enjoy a big size advantage against most opponents with Isaac Haas and Caleb Swanigan on the blocks. Vince Edwards is another solid option at small forward, but finding consistent guard play will be key.

► X factor: Spike Albrecht. The Michigan grad transfer’s senior season with the Wolverines was cut short due to nagging hip ailments, but any minutes and floor leadership he can provide will be a bonus for Purdue.

16. Connecticut Huskies 

The Huskies will be built around one of the American Athletic Conference’s top backcourts. Senior Rodney Purvis (12.8 ppg) will be rejoined by sophomore Jalen Adams, best known for tying 70-foot buzzer beater in the AAC quarterfinals against Cincinnati.

► X factor: Terry Larrier. The 6-8 transfer from VCU who sat out last season should be an immediate force.

17. Syracuse Orange 

The nucleus of the Orange squad that made a surprise run to last year’s Final Four is gone, but the experience of forwards Tyler Roberson and DaJuan Coleman will help. So does the return of breakout star Tyler Lydon (10.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg), who appears poised for a huge sophomore season. Jim Boeheim has won a game or two — or 888 — in his career, but replacing the likes of Michael Gbinije, Trevor Cooney and Malachi Richardson will be a challenge.

► X factor: John Gillon. The grad transfer (13.8 ppg) from Colorado State must step in immediately to an inexperienced backcourt. Nebraska transfer Andrew White (16.6 ppg in 2014-15) also will help fill voids.

18. West Virginia Mountaineers 

Points will always be hard to come by against coach Bob Huggins’s Mountaineers, but Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles Jr. must improve their point production to make up for the departures of Jaysean Paige and Devin Williams.

► X factor: Sagaba Konate. The athletic 6-8 freshman is described as a typical Huggins player who will hit the boards hard.

19. Saint Mary’s Gaels 

The Gaels return their top eight contributors from last year’s squad that fell just short of the Big Dance. The backcourt duo of Emmett Naar and Joe Rahon are excellent distributors who take care of the ball.

► X factor: Evan Fitzner. If the 6-10 sophomore can improve on the 8.7 points and 4.4 boards he averaged as a rookie, it will give this team another gear.

20. UCLA Bruins 

Records below .500 are not looked upon kindly around Westwood, so embattled coach Steve Alford really needs to turn things around. There are a lot of returning players like leading scorer Isaac Hamilton and seven-footer Thomas Welsh, but everybody must improve.

► X factor: Lonzo Ball. He was one of the most electrifying high school players in the nation, but how his fast-paced game will translate to the collegiate level could make or break the Bruins’ season.

21. Maryland Terrapins 

The Terrapins have a lot of holes to fill, but having star guard Melo Trimble back should help. More will be asked of 6-7 junior Jared Nickens.

► X factor: Justin Jackson. The most celebrated among Maryland’s recruiting class, the 6-7 freshman might be asked to play both forward positions early and often.

22. Texas Longhorns 

The top three scorers have moved on for Shaka Smart’s Longhorns. Returning guards Eric Davis and Kerwin Roach must carry the load until some touted newcomers acclimate to the college game.

► X factor: Jarrett Allen. The 6-11 freshman’s development could be the key to a successful campaign for Texas.

23. Creighton Bluejays 

The Big East is a tough neighborhood, but seniors like guard Maurice Watson and forward Cole Huff should have the Bluejays in the mix.

► X factor: Marcus Foster. Expect the Kansas State transfer to shake off any rust quickly and become a major contributor in the Bluejays’ backcourt.

24. Rhode Island Rams 

When 6-5 guard E.C. Matthews (16.9 ppg in 2014-15) went down with a knee injury in game one, URI never recovered. But now he’s back along with three other starters and should have the Rams at the top of the A-10.

► X factor: Stanford Robinson. The Indiana transfer adds depth to an already solid bench.

25. Cincinnati Bearcats 

Several key contributors are gone, but senior guard Troy Caupain will provide terrific leadership and 6-8 Gary Clark will bring solid front-court defense for the Bearcats.

► X factor: Kyle Washington. The 6-9 transfer from N.C. State becomes eligible and could be ready for a big season.

GALLERY: COACHES POLL TOP 25 TEAMS

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