(Last year's record in parentheses)
1. Homewood-Flossmoor (23-6)
The Vikings began last season in this same No. 1 spot but failed to hold onto it as the year progressed. The absence of center Tim Williams for almost the entire campaign because of injury no doubt played a part in any underachieving, but he, Tyrone Sherman and Delvon Rencher are seniors now. That means they should have the maturity to handle high expectations.
2. Crete-Monee (25-4)
The Warriors defeated H-F and Thornton to capture their first-ever sectional title but fell one step shy of Peoria. That disappointment was followed by a tumultuous offseason, but with former Hillcrest boss Tom Cappel now in charge, calm has been restored. Illinois-bound guard Michael Orris and juniors LaQuon Treadwell and Marvie Keith are the cornerstones.
3. Bloom Township (16-12)
With skilled guard Donald Moore as their linchpin and a fair amount of talent surrounding him, the Blazing Trojans could be in a position to give Crete-Monee a run for its Southland Athletic Conference money. Bloom Township seems to always be overshadowed by some other program in the basketball-rich south suburbs, but it should get itself noticed this season.
4. Seton Academy (21-7)
The Sting probably won't be the equal of Seton's state-championship squad of three years ago, but they won't have to take a back seat to many other clubs in Class 2A. With 6-foot-9 Russell Robinson and T.F. North transfer Sylvester Tolliver as ringleaders, the Sting should contend in the Catholic League South and enjoy another decent run in the playoffs.
5. Thornwood (16-12)
These aren't Eddy Curry's Thunderbirds, or even Melvin Buckley's or David Moss', for that matter. But while Thornwood's current team likely won't reach the same kind of statewide heights as some of its storied predecessors, it should challenge for the SWSC Red crown and make a little playoff noise before the curtain comes down on the 2011-12 campaign.