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Key Players NBA-Bound, Who's 2011 NCAA Favorite?

Michigan State and Butler are among the early favorites to win next year's title. AP

After the frenzy of March Madness comes the tedium of April Announcements.

It's the month when college basketball's top underclassmen make potentially life-altering decisions about their futures. The announcements fall into three categories:

1) I'm taking the money and declaring for the NBA draft. (Half of the Kentucky Wildcat roster and AP player of the year Evan Turner of Ohio State head this list).

2) I'm not sure how high I'll be drafted so I'm making myself eligible but not hiring an agent. (Dayton's Chris Wright, Xavier's Jordan Crawford and Butler's Gordon Hayward, for example.)

3) Life's good on campus - I'm returning to school. (Michigan State's Kalin Lucas and Duke's Kyle Singler are among these select few players)

Underclassmen must declare their NBA intentions by Sunday, but most of the big-name players have already made their intentions known.

So who's the team to beat next year?'s Gary Parrish says Michigan State and Duke should be considered the preseason favorites, especially in light of their star underclassmen's decision to come back.

Should Gordon Heyward opt to return, 2010 runner-up Butler would also be a contender to cut down the nets in Houston's Reliant Stadium next year.

Of course, the return of star underclassmen is no guarantee of repeat success. In recent years, freshmen have proven they can be key pieces to a championship run, so recruiting classes are paramount.

According to, Memphis, Ohio State, North Carolina, Kentucky and Michigan State have landed the top five incoming recruiting classes.

The Spartans' returning core players and impressive recruiting class would seem to make them the slight favorite.