I did a far-too-early Top 25 for next season in April the day after Louisville won the title, but some things have changed. Marquette and Colorado were hit hardest by NBA defections, while the teams that benefited most were Oklahoma State and Michigan State, and too a lesser extent, Michigan.
1. Kentucky – Wiggins or not, the Wildcats are here. With Wiggins, fire up the undefeated talk. Relax, I said talk.
2. Louisville – Russ Smith staying means six of their top eight scorers return. Weakness? Everyone thinking NBA.
3. Oklahoma State – Top 4 scorers are back, including arguably the best returning player in the country, Marcus Smart. Biggest issue will be coaching.
4. Duke – Top 3 scorers graduate, but four regulars, one key transfer, one star freshman and Andre Dawkins (who sat out last season) should be enough to get Duke back to at least the Elite 8.
5. Ohio State – Six of their Top 8 scorers return, and I think they’re narrowly the best team in the Big Ten. Weakness? Scoring could be an issue.
6. Michigan State – Six of top seven scorers return, including super athlete Adreian Payne. Final Four talent is there. Issues: depth, point guard.
7. Michigan – It’ll be a logjam atop the Big 10 because McGary and Glen Robinson stayed in Ann Arbor. Spike will be a sophomore. Strong recruiting class.
8. North Carolina – Four of their top six scorers are back, and the Tar Heels will be nipping at Duke’s heels all year.
9. Florida – Top three scorers are gone, but five key players return in addition to two Top 10 high school players.
10. Arizona – Three of top four starters are gone, but Nick Johnson will be a star, and they’ve got the big-time star Aaron Gordon entering the mix.
11. Memphis – Absurd level of individual talent again, but the same question remains: Can Pastner coach?
12. VCU – Shaka. Five of top seven scorers back. Final Four sleeper, if you can ever count the Rams as a “sleeper” anymore.
13. Syracuse – CJ Fair will be the centerpiece of a team that I think will underwhelm, having lost three of their top four scorers.
14. Kansas – Everyone’s gone, but the No. 2 recruiting class in the country will keep the Jayhawks near the top of the Big 12, again.
15. Connecticut – One of the best backcourts in the country and Napier/Boatright.
16. Indiana – Three best players depart, but the recruiting class is stacked.
17. Georgetown – Going to take awhile to remove the stench from the loss to Gulf Coast, but six of their top seven players return.
18. Harvard – Top three scorers are back, and seven of their eight players return.
19. Virginia – Four best players return. Sleeper pick in the ACC.
20. Colorado – Previously 10th, but then Andre Roberson decided to leave for the NBA. Still a good team in the Pac-12.
21. Marquette – Vander Blue departure is devastating. Final Four dreams out the window without him, but still Sweet 16 talent.
22. Boise State – All five starters return. They play Kentucky in December, which should be fun.
23. UCLA – Kyle Anderson sticking around has them here, and Steve Alford’s not a bad regular season coach.
24. Butler – Brad Stevens. No. I don’t need to say more.
25. SMU – Random pick, I know, but Larry Brown still knows basketball and the recruiting class, led by Keith Frazier, is pretty good.