With the NBA and NHL Finals going on right now there are plenty of reasons to be excited about sports right now. But there are plenty of fanbases across America sitting at home idly waiting for their shot to be in a championship situation. So as we look to the future in sports let's make a pit-stop over who I think will be the 25 best teams in College Basketball.
25. Miami Hurricanes
The losses of Jaquan Newton, Lonnie Walker and Bruce Brown will sting but I've seen Jim Larranaga coach through worse. The return of stud center Dewan Huell was a big development in the offseason. Expect 5'7" point guard Chris Lykes to shoulder a much heavier offensive load as well as 6'8" forward Anthony Lawrence.
24. Maryland Terrapins
The return of superstar center Bruno Fernando is absolutely huge for this team that has been hurting for depth in recent seasons. The loss of sharpshooters Kevin Huerter and Justin Jackson don't help but Mark Turgeon put together another strong recruiting class headlined by 5-star power forward Jalen Smith and 4-star guard Aaron Wiggins.
23. Clemson Tigers
The losses of Donte Grantham and Gabe Devoe will be felt throughout the program but Clemson is going to return 4 starters from last years Sweet Sixteen group. Chief among those will be 6'4" guard Marcquise Reed, the leading scorer from last season and 6'9" center Elijah Thomas, the leading shot blocker in the ACC a year ago.
22. Cincinnati Bearcats
Cincinnati is going to have a hard time stomaching the losses of their three best players, Jacob Evans, Gary Clark, and Kyle Washington all leaving. Defense will not be the issue as Mick Cronin has fielded a top 25 defense in each of his 10+ seasons at the helm for the Bearcats. But reinventing the offense without Evans will be the key. Are guards Cane Broome and Jarron Cumberland up to the task? We'll find out soon enough.
21. Arizona State Sundevils
The graduation of the entire starting backcourt has some Sundevil fans worried. Expect Remy Martin as a sophomore point guard to take the reigns of the offense and never let go. Romello White and Kimani Lawrence are expected to have larger roles as well but incoming transfer Carlton Bragg from Kansas will be a gamechanger for Arizona St.
20. Nevada Wolf Pack
With the return of superstar twins Caleb and Cody Martin the Wolf Pack are in excellent shape for the upcoming regular season. With the return of 6'7" forwards Jordan Caroline and Josh Hall along with point guard Lindsey Drew enough key experience is coming back to lead the rest of the squad. Eric Musselman also pulled off the biggest recruitment steal in recent memory when 5-star power forward Jordan Brown spurned big time programs to head to Reno. The Only reason this team isn't top 10 is because of the conference they play in and relative lack of depth on their bench.
19. Indiana Hoosiers
Archie Miller has begun to create a culture at Indiana and I believe they will be ready to win big games as soon as this season. The last second grab of 5-star shooting guard Romeo Langford has a lot to do with this ranking but so does the rest of the returning cast. Big men Juwan Morgan and Deron Davis will make life a living nightmare for teams in the paint while Langford and the backcourt assaults from the perimeter.
18. Wichita State Shockers
The fact that this team lost its entire starting lineup and three key bench players in the offseason and is still ranked this high is a testament to how deep Gregg Marshall's teams are. The departure of Landry Shamet will give Samajae Haynes-Jones a chance to show case his talent and super sub Markis Mcduffie will be handed the oppurtunity to start as well as incoming West Virginia transfer Teddy Allen,
17. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Most teams aren't built being able to lose 5 seniors and one uber freshman and be completely OK after it. Texas Tech is. 6'8" wing Jarrett Culver and 6'10" center Norense Odiase are expected to lead the offensive charge this season. Don't sleep on Brandone Francis being a mega contributor this season after sitting behind Niem Stevenson last year.
16. Tennessee Volunteers
Tennessee is the complete opposite of Texas Tech and Wichita State. Outside of James Daniel III, who played sparingly off the bench last year, the Vols return everybody from last years team including SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams. Admiral Schofield and Jordan Bone are expected to be leaders on offense whereas 6th man Kyle Alexander will continue to block everything in sight. The only reason this team is not higher is because Rick Barnes has yet to get to an Elite Eight despite all the talented teams he's been given. Will he finally get over the hump? We'll find out this season.
15. Purdue Boilermakers
After losing the winningest senior class in Purdue history to graduation this offseason, it would be fair not to expect much from this team. But the return of star guard Carsen Edwards and the continued development of 7'3" center Matt Haarms will make for very exciting basketball. And Matt Painter is a master of developing lesser talent into superstars. We shall see what he can mold with this group.
14. Florida Gators
The graduations of Egor Koulechov and Chris Chiozza will hurt the team early on but talent should prevail in the end. And man do the Gators have talent. With Jalen Hudson withdrawing his name from the draft and Kevaughn Allen returning after a disappointing season in 2017-18. Don't forget super role players Keith Stone and Kevarrius Hayes taking on bigger roles this year. And Mike White always gets his teams to hustle for forty minutes.
13. West Virginia Mountaineers
Even though Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles graduated, Bob Huggins has his squad prepared for life without them. 6'0" guard James Bolden figures to shoulder the load on offense while forwards Wesley Harris, Esa Ahmad, and Lamont West will keep "Press Virginia" alive and well. Sagaba Konate figures to be the NCAA's leading shot blocker again and the commitments of 4-stars Jordan Mccabe and Derek Culver helps with depth immensely.
12. UCLA Bruins
The Bruins do lose key seniors Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh but besides those two everybody is back from an NCAA tournament team.Prince Ali projects as an All-Conference selection while sophomores Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes will be better after a year in college. Also the recruiting class headlined by 5- star center Moses Brown and late 4-star additions Shareef O'Neal and Tyger Campbell figures to bring the depth necessary for this school to contend for titles.
11. Oregon Ducks
The additions of 5-stars Bol Bol and Louis King will really boost this program back into the national spotlight. Payton Pritchard and Co. are ready to take over the Pac-12 while Dana Altman figures out which rotations work with this deep roster.
10. Auburn Tigers
The loss of top shooter Mustapha Heron will sting at first but when you bring nearly everybody else back from a team that was a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament last year, the loss of one player should not hurt that much. The backcourt led by Bryce Brown and Jared Harper averaged over 25 ppg combined last year while Anfernee Mclemore and Horace Spencer defend the paint like few others can. And the re-additions of the two players who were suspended last year in Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley can only make the Tigers better.
9. Michigan Wolverines
The losses of Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Duncan Robinson and Moe Wagner will definitely cause some growing pains for the new core. But with Charles Matthews and Zavier Simpson returning the defense will be as great as ever. Tournament hero Jordan Poole figures to earn a starting spot with Robinson gone as will 7'1" center Jon Teske with Wagner out of the picture.
8. Michigan State Spartans
With Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson in the NBA draft the focus shift from the frontcourt to the backcourt now for the Spartans. Starting guards Cassius Winston and Joshua Langford are set to lead the team along with big man Nick Ward. Matt Mcquaid, the best shooter in the Big Ten, returns to claim a starting spot while Xavier Tillman should start at center with the departure of Jackson.
7. Virginia Cavaliers
After the loss to UMBC many wonder how anybody could rebound from such a thing. But Virginia will with the return of backcourt mates Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy. The frontcourt is loaded with Deandre Hunter and Jack Salt along with last year's backup center Mamadi Diakite getting so much more time.
6. North Carolina Tar Heels
Although Joel Berry and Theo Pinson have moved on to the NBA, Roy Williams has got a wonderful recruiting class coming in to balance it out headlined by 5-star small forward Nassir Little. Also the returns of stars Luke Maye and Cameron Johnson make UNC so much more dangerous. And if highly rated point guard out of high school Seventh Woods is ready to breakout as a junior we could be in for another Carolina title run.
5. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Mark Few always has his teams loaded and this year is no exception. Yes Johnathan Williams and Silas Melson have graduated but with studs Josh Perkins, Killian Tillie, and Rui Hachimura returning none of that is really concerning. Also the continued development of the best shooter in college basketball in Zach Norvell Jr. will provide another boost for the Zags.
4. Kansas Jayhawks
The departure of superstars Devonte Graham, Svi Mykhailuk, and Malik Newman leaves a gaping hole in the backcourt. Luckily Kansas can recruit. Incoming 5-stars Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes expect to share the guard positions together. The return of big man Udoka Azubuike really helps bring some continuity to KU as does forward Silvio De Sousa and incoming Memphis transfers K.J. and Dedric Lawson figure to have a monster impact this year along with sophomore Marcus Garrett. Bill Self has got his team ready for contention.
3. Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky will enter the season losing four starters and one key bench player from last year but as is the motto at Kentucky just reload. In 5-star recruits, Tyler Herro, Immanuel Quickley, E.J. Montgomery, and Keldon Johnson the Wildcats will be loaded with depth this year. Also the returns of P.J. Washington, Quade Green, and Nick Richards gives the roster a sense of veteran leadership. And when sharpshotter Jemarl Baker gets healthy for next season this team John Calipari will be ready for a title push.
2. Villanova Wildcats
The defending champions will lose 4 key cogs in their roster including tournament MVP Donte Divincenzo. But with a new season comes new superstars for Jay Wright. Most notably would be 5-star super guard Jahvon Quinerly and super sub point guard Connor Gillespie. With Phil Booth, Eric Paschall, and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree returning as well this squad is in perfect position to repeat as Big East champions and maybe go farther as well.
1. Duke Blue Devils
Duke will lose every one of their starters to the NBA draft. None of that matters. Why you ask? Because Duke just pulled off the greatest recruiting class in college basketball history. With the unanimous top 3 recruits in the country coming to Durham in Cameron Reddish, Zion Williamson, and R.J. Barrett not to mention the number 12 recruit in the country coming in Tre Jones, Duke will be an absolute powerhouse.And I haven't even mentioned how they got 5-star recruit Joey Porter to reclassify a year to join the squad this upcoming season. Plus with the return of sharpshooter Alex O'Connell and center Marques Bolden nobody even comes close to the talent mix that Coach K has assembled here with the Blue Devils.
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