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SI'S 2005 Top 10 Here's our extremely early projection of the teams who'll be battling to reach next year's Final Four in St. Louis


1 WAKE FOREST This season's Sweet 16 squad, sporting size (center
Eric Williams), shooting (guard Taron Downey) and smarts (point
guard Chris Paul), will return virtually intact.

2 GEORGIA TECH The Yellow Jackets lose only guard Marvin Lewis
and are the favorites to sign 7-foot center Randolph Morris.

3 ILLINOIS All of the starters from the Elite Eight team are
back, including next season's best set of guards: Dee Brown and
Deron Williams.

4 NORTH CAROLINA The Tar Heels' depth problems disappear if two
signees, guard J.R. Smith and power forward Marvin Williams,
don't go pro.

5 LOUISVILLE Point guard signee Sebastian Telfair is likely
NBA-bound, but the Cards are boosted by the return of injured
forward Ellis Myles.

6 KANSAS If forward Wayne Simien is in Lawrence for his senior
season, the St. Louis Regional finalist Jayhawks are a title

7 DUKE The Blue Devils have four starters back, but with heralded
recruit Shaun Livingston likely going pro, who will play the

8 TEXAS The Horns love L.A., as in LaMarcus Aldridge, a 7-foot
center who's one of three McDonald's All-Americans they hooked.

9 ALABAMA A surprise Phoenix Regional finalist, the Tide keeps
rolling behind deadeye shooter Kennedy Winston, one of four
returning starters.

10 WASHINGTON The run-and-gun Huskies resume their Pac-10 rise
behind 5'9" spark plug Nate Robinson.

Sleepers: Maryland and Kent State.

--Gene Menez and B.J. Schecter