The 2014-15 college basketball season has come to a close, but it’s never too early to look ahead to next season. Here's your ridiculously early top 25 for next season:
Kentucky will lose several of their key contributors from this season’s 38-1 team, but they’ll still have plenty of talent left over for next year. Tyler Ulis, Dakari Johnson, Alex Poythress, and Marcus Lee (maybe more) are all expected to stay, and they’ll be joined by another class of five-star recruits featuring Skal Labissiere, Isaiah Briscoe, and Charles Matthews. Assuming head coach John Calipari doesn’t bolt for the NBA, the Wildcats will be at the top of the standings again.
Virginia will only lose starting forward Darion Atkins from this year’s team, but he’ll be easily replaced in the lineup by center Mike Tobey. As long as Justin Anderson returns to school (as expected), UVA will be the favorite to win the ACC for a third consecutive year.
Iowa State will return six of their top eight scorers, and the arrival of transfers of Hallice Cooke and Deonte Burton will add depth for the Cyclones.
Everyone will be back for the Terrapins (with the exception of graduating senior Dez Wells), including star point guard Melo Trimble. Maryland was a small team last year, but five-star center Diamond Stone and forward transfer Robert Carter turn this team into one of the most dangerous in the country.
UNC will return all 10 of their rotation players if no one elects to enter the NBA Draft, and it doesn’t appear that anyone is going to. Head coach Roy Williams will have a veteran team and a loaded roster headlined by star point guard Marcus Paige.
Freshman Kelly Oubre has already declared for the NBA Draft, but the Jayhawks will still be in good shape for 2016. Even if they lose forward Cliff Alexander to the draft as well, Kansas will return five of their top seven scorers and welcome in another highly-rated recruiting class.
Villanova loses three starters from last year’s team that won the Big East and grabbed a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but Big East Sixth Man of the Year Josh Hart and McDonald’s All-American Jalen Brunson are very capable replacements.
Key starters Travis Trice and Branden Dawson will be gone next season, but they’ll be replaced by West Virginia transfer Eron Harris and McDonald’s All-American Deyonta Davis. Plus, Tom Izzo is still Michigan State’s head coach, and he’ll have his team playing at a high level.
Head coach Mark Gottfried's squad loses only one starter, and the core of Anthony Barber, Trevor Lacey, and Beejay Anya will only improve upon their Sweet 16 appearance this year. NC State is also a major player for four five-star recruits, and if the Wolfpack land one or two of them, they'll move even higher up the rankings.
Wisconsin will lose Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker (probably) to the NBA Draft, but starters Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes will be back to lead a revamped Badgers team. They do have a decent recruiting class coming in, headlined by four-star prospects Brevin Pritzl and Alex Illikainen, but they'll be relying on the development of their current players.
11) Wichita State Shockers
12) Oklahoma Sooners
13) Duke Blue Devils
14) Cincinnati Bearcats
15) Gonzaga Bulldogs
16) UCLA Bruins
17) Notre Dame Fighting Irish
18) Butler Bulldogs
19) Purdue Boilermakers
20) Syracuse Orange
21) Arizona Wildcats
22) Miami Hurricanes
23) SMU Mustangs
24) Indiana Hoosiers
25) Baylor Bears
Others in consideration:
Texas A&M Aggies
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
West Virginia Mountaineers
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