The USA Today/ESPN preseason coaches Top 25 poll was released today, and the Texas A&M Aggies are the third-highest rated Big 12 at No. 19. They trail Baylor at No. 12, Kansas at No. 13 and are ahead of Missouri at No. 25.
Mark Turgeon, now at Maryland, left a full cupboard for first-year coach Billy Kennedy. Khris Middleton, a 6'7 210 small forward, would have been a first-round pick last year, and he's surrounded by a core of veteran players (forwards David Loubeau and Kourtney Robinson as well as guards Dash Harris, Naji Hibbert and Elston Turner) who have played in multiple NCAA Tournaments.
Texas A&M's experience could give them a leg up on their Big 12 competitors, many of whom are depending on freshmen to play key roles this season. After making six straight NCAA Tournaments and only one Sweet 16, this could be the Aggies' best chance to take the next step as a program and make a deep run into March.
With only 10 teams this season, the Big 12 has a full round-robin schedule, letting Texas A&M visit every school in the conference for one last time before moving to the SEC.