Duke, Kentucky lead Vitale's top 40

Guard Grayson Allen returns to play with a talented incoming freshman class at Duke. Mark Dolejs/USA TODAY Sports

The season is right around the corner, so this is a perfect time to sit down and figure out my preseason Top 40.

Of course, we can go back and forth on so many teams. There is parity in the sport, and the competition is great. The key is to live up to your billing and make it to the Big Dance.

I know a few teams in my top 40 will surprise you. That is part of the fun of picking the creme de la creme and then comparing notes as the season goes on. This is just a first opinion. Injuries and ineligibility could change the fate of a team.

1. Duke Blue Devils
Grayson Allen should be the preseason player of the year. Amile Jefferson is back, and a stellar recruiting class comes in.

2. Kentucky Wildcats
John Calipari will not rebuild, he will reload. De'Aaron Fox will be special at the point guard slot. Isaiah Briscoe has a year of experience that will help.

3. Villanova Wildcats
The defending national champions have Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins returning. Coach Jay Wright is glad they didn't enter the NBA draft.

4. Kansas Jayhawks
Frank Mason III and Devonte' Graham form an outstanding backcourt. Look for big things from diaper dandy Josh Jackson.

5. North Carolina Tar Heels
Joel Berry II, Justin Jackson, Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, Nate Britt, Theo Pinson ... a lot of experence returns.

6. Michigan State Spartans
Miles Bridges will become a star in East Lansing. Eron Harris will step up his game and develop into a consistent, double-figure scorer.

7. Louisville Cardinals
Last year's top scorers are gone, so guys like Donovan Mitchell and Ray Spalding will have added responsibilities. Keep an eye on diaper dandy V.J. King.

8. Virginia Cavaliers
Tony Bennett always gets the most out of his talent. London Perrantes is the team leader, and big things are expected from transfer Austin Nichols.

9. Xavier Musketeers
Chris Mack's team will make more noise this season. I love Trevon Bluiett and Edmond Sumner.

10. Indiana Hoosiers
Thomas Bryant will have to step up his production inside. The Hoosiers also need a healthy James Blackmon Jr.

11. Oregon Ducks
If Dillon Brooks started the season healthy, I would have had the Ducks higher. Dana Altman has a special group.

12. Wisconsin Badgers
Nigel Hayes has stated he's hungry. Bronson Koenig is a clutch performer. Greg Gard will have a Big Ten contender.

13. Arizona Wildcats
Newcomer Rawle Alkins teams up with Allonzo Trier for coach Sean Miller. It helps to have Ray Smith back from injury.

14. West Virginia Mountaineers
Bob Huggins' team will always scrap and claw, playing tenacious defense. Backcourt play is a key with Daxter Miles Jr. and Tarik Phillip.

15. Purdue Boilermakers
I love the size inside with Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas. Vince Edwards is an underrated forward.

16. Connecticut Huskies
Kevin Ollie will expect big things from Rodney Purvis. Amida Brimah has to stay healthy in the post. Transfer Terry Larrier from VCU is a nice addition.

17. Maryland Terrapins
This is going to be Melo Trimble's team, and I think he is going to enjoy a monster season.

18. Saint Mary's Gaels
Randy Bennett has a roster loaded with experience and a desire to make the Big Dance after being left out last season.

19. Texas Longhorns
Shaka Smart's kids will get better and better as the season rolls on. The Longhorns lost their top scorers from last season but can show balance this time around.

20. Syracuse Orange
Jim Boeheim had to be happy to add Nebraska transfer Andrew White III late in the process. Tyler Lydon will be very tough to stop.

21. Florida State Seminoles
Dwayne Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes decided to return, making Leonard Hamilton very happy.

22. Gonzaga Bulldogs
It helps to have transfers Nigel Williams-Goss (Washington) and Jordan Mathews (California) stepping in. They will miss Kyle Wiltjer.

23. San Diego State Aztecs
Guard Trey Kell is one of the top players in the Mountain West. Malik Pope will improve and Montaque Gill-Caesar (Missouri) is an important transfer coming in.

24. Iowa State Cyclones
Monte Morris will have a lot of pressure on him. Cyclone fans will miss Georges Niang.

25. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Mike Brey's team will surprise a lot of people. V.J. Beachem gets his opportunity to shine on a nightly basis.

26. Cincinnati Bearcats
27. Creighton Bluejays
28. Miami Hurricanes
29. Oklahoma Sooners
30. California Golden Bears
31. Wichita State Shockers
32. Colorado Buffaloes
33. Texas A&M Aggies
34. Ohio State Buckeyes
35. Iowa Hawkeyes
36. Rhode Island Rams
37. Michigan Wolverines
38. UCLA Bruins
39. Florida Gators
40. Virginia Tech Hokies