The 2014-2015 College Basketball Top 25 came out the day after Connecticut beat Kentucky for the National Championship. Now that everyone who is going to the NBA has declared, and the significant transfers are out of the way, we’ve tweaked the Top 25. Kentucky is the new No. 1, Louisville cracks the Top 5 and Connecticut falls significantly.
1. Kentucky (29-11). Who knew the Harrison twins, Alex Poythress and Dakari Johnson would stay? They’ll have an NBA frontline with freshman Lyles and Towns. Only question will be 3-point shooting.
2. Duke (26-9). Class of the ACC, and when you look at all-around talent, inside and out, I think this team will have better balance than the 2010 Blue Devils which won the title.
3. Arizona (33-5). Johnson and Gordon left as expected, but they return their next five best players. Feel like a lock to be first team from the West since UCLA in 2008 to reach the Final Four.
4. Wisconsin (30-8). Only lose one starter and the Badgers could be poised to have the best season in school history.
5. Louisville (31-6). Montrezl Harrell staying was one of the biggest April wins in the sport. Rick Pitino will have Harrell/Jones/Rozier/Blackshear and four Top 75 recruits.
6. Kansas (25-10). Assuming Bill Self doesn’t leave for the NBA – any shot? Crickets? – I can’t wait for, “they’re better without two of the top three NBA draft picks!”
7. North Carolina (24-10). Paige, Tokoto, Brice Johnson and two top 20 recruits should keep the Tar Heels in the Top 10 for most of the season.
8. Florida (36-3). Can’t see Billy Donovan leaving for the NBA. The Hill/Frazier/Finney-Smith/Walker quartet will be formidable in the weak SEC.
9. Virginia (30-7). Three ACC teams in the Top 9? Gonna be a good year for the ACC (just not Syracuse).
10. Southern Methodist (27-10). Significant bump-up because I’m told to believe the hype about super frosh Emmanuel Mudiay, who looks like Russell Westbrook here.
11. Texas (24-11). Had the Longhorns ranked 7th right when the season ended, but forgot how little I trust Rick Barnes. Myles Turner, a 6-foot-11 center, is a coup, perhaps the school’s biggest get since Kevin Durant.
12. Ohio State (25-10). It sure does stink that Aaron Craft is out of eligibility!
13. Oregon (24-10). With UCLA losing so much, Ducks are clearly the 2nd best team in the Pac-12.
14. Maryland (17-15). Terps will be back dancing in 2015.
15. Villanova (29-5). Gaudy record last year, but how good was that team?
16. Michigan (28-9). No team lost more than Stauskas, McGary and Robinson (and Morgan and Horford!).
17. Wichita State (35-1). Gregg Marshall didn’t leave, and there’s a lot to love about the backcourt of Baker and Van Vleet.
18. San Diego State (31-5). Dwayne Polee II is an All-American sleeper.
19. Nebraska (19-13). Terran Petteway and the Cornhuskers’ top four scorers are back.
20. Gonzaga (29-7). If we did a 2015 March Madness bracket, it’d have Gonzaga as the 5th seed in the South where UK is 1st. Kyle Wiltjer vs. his old coach!
21. Iowa State (28-8). If Fred Hoiberg stays, and the quartet of Dejan-Jones, Niang, Hogue and Long will be good enough to have the Cyclones playing a sleeper in March.
22. VCU (26-9). They’ll be eight deep, hellacious on defense, and a candidate to reach the Sweet 16.
23. West Virginia (17-16) – Bob Huggins is going to be a problem in the Big 12 now that he has talent.
24. Michigan State (29-9). Subject to change if Tom Izzo bolts for the NBA, but the Trice/Dawson/Valentine trio ain’t bad.
25. Connecticut (32-8). Slid down from 16th because DeAndre Daniels made the mistake of leaving early for the NBA. Still have Ryan Boatright and Rodney Purvis, among others.
* Utah (21-12, top seven scorers return, big-time Final Four sleeper)
* UCLA (28-9, but lost four starters)
* Colorado (23-12, but Dinwiddie left for the NBA)
* Oklahoma (23-10, probably 4th best in the Big 12)
* Syracuse (28-6, not an NCAA Tourney lock)