Believe it or not, we're only a few weeks away from the start of college basketball season! While last year was ruled by upperclassmen like Oklahoma's Buddy Hield and Michigan State's Denzel Washington, a new crop of freshmen is poised to take over the headlines - and it also has a couple of blue-blood programs back at the top of the rankings. Here is our preseason top 25:
25) Washington Huskies
Washington hasn't made the NCAA Tournament in five straight seasons. That should change this year thanks to freshmen point guard Markelle Fultz, who is projected to be the top pick in the 2017 draft by DraftExpress. The Huskies have a very young team with just one senior on the roster, but head coach Lorenzo Romar is one of the better coaches in the country. Led by Fultz, this team will be dangerous.
24) Florida State Seminoles
The 'Noles are the kind of off-the-radar team capable of doing a lot of damage. Dwayne Bacon (15.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and Xavier Rathan-Mayes (11.8 ppg, 4.4 apg) give them one of the best backcourts in the country, and five-star forward Jonathan Isaac will be real go-to they need. Don't look now, but Florida State looks like they could throw a wrinkle atop the ACC.
23) UCLA Bruins
UCLA had a disastrous 2015-16 season, going 15-17. However, there's reason to believe they'll turn it around in a big way next year. Center Tony Parker is the only player the lost, and the Bruins are welcoming the No. 4 recruiting class in the country, headlined by five-star recruits Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf.
22) Dayton Flyers
Dyshawn Pierre is the only contributor leaving the Flyers, giving this 25-win team a strong chance to win the Atlantic 10. This spot could go to either them or Rhode Island, but Dayton has had the upper hand of late thanks to head coach Archie Miller, one of the rising stars in the coaching world.
21) Iowa State Cyclones
Georges Niang is gone (after what felt like a decade in Ames), but point guard Monte Morris is ready to take over as the leader of a revamped Cyclones team. They won't be the team competing with Kansas for the Big 12 title, but they are good enough to be a factor on the national scale.
20) St. Mary's Gaels
The Gaels swept Gonzaga in the regular season, won 29 games and finished third in the country in effective field goal percentage. Yet, a loss to the Zags in the WCC Tournament final kept them out of the NCAA Tournament. Guess what? EVERYONE from that team is back. St. Mary's is going to be really, really good.
19) Syracuse Orange
Last year's Final Four run was a surprise, and this team looks capable of making noise in March as well. Syracuse will get a boost from transfers Paschal Chukwu (Providence) and Andrew White (Nebraska), but versatile sophomore forward Tyler Lydon is the guy who can make everything go.
18) UConn Huskies
UConn needed a miracle full-court buzzer beater against Cincinnati to make the NCAA Tournament last year - that won't be the case in 2017. Senior stars Amida Brimah and Rodney Purvis are back, and have been joined by the No. 8 recruiting class in the country.
17) Purdue Boilermakers
Caleb Swanigan (10.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg) will be able to adequately replace A.J. Hammons in the middle of Purdue's attack, 7'2" center Isaac Haas (9.8 ppg) will step in nicely into the starting lineup and Vince Edwards (11.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg) will continue to provide some punch from the outside.
16) West Virginia Mountaineers
The Mountaineers surprised many with their outstanding season this year - they're not going to sneak up on anybody anymore. Six of their top nine players return, headlined by guards Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles, Jr.
15) Indiana Hoosiers
The Yogi Ferrell era of Indiana basketball is over, but head coach Tom Crean has the players in place to keep this team competitive in the Big Ten. James Blackmon is one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the conference, and if center Thomas Bryant develops as expected, they could win the Big Ten.
14) Louisville Cardinals
Louisville will be eligible for the NCAA Tournament in 2017, and they plan to make the most of that opportunity. Damion Lee and Trey Lewis, their two leading scorers this year, are gone, but stud freshman V.J. King, transfer Tony Hicks (Penn) and senior big man Mangok Mathiang are ready to carry the load.
13) Gonzaga Bulldogs
Domantas Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer are in the NBA, yet the Zags won't take too much of a step back. Preseason All-American center Przemek Karnowski is the star, but several transfers are going to play big roles as well. Jordan Matthews (Cal) will be heavily relied on the get-go, while guard Nigel Williams-Goss (Washington) and Jonathan Williams (Missouri) will also have big roles.
12) Arizona Wildcats
Arizona's disappointing 2015-16 season has only set the table for what will be one of their most talented teams under Sean Miller. Losing five-star commit Terrance Ferguson hurts (playing professionally in Australia), but McDonald's All-American Kobi SImmons and fellow five-star Rawle Atkins are more than capable of carrying the load. Sophomore Allonzo Trier also has a chance to be Pac-12 Player of the Year.
11) Maryland Terrapins
Maryland's 2015-16 season was very up and down and ultimately fell short of their Final Four expectations, yet that has put them in better position for next season. Star point guard Melo Trimble is back and is the preseason favorite for Big Ten Player of the Year. Add in four other experienced starters - headlined by Jared Nickens and Damonte Dodd - and the No. 12 recruiting class, the Terps are ready to make noise.
10) Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin started last season 9-9, then finished 13-4 and made the Sweet 16. The entire roster is back, led by All-American Nigel Hayes. The question is, which one of those Badgers teams is for real?
9) North Carolina Tar Heels
Despite their loss to Villanova, UNC is poised to put forth another team capable of making the Final Four again next year. Top recruits Tony Bradley and Seventh Woods will pick up the slack with Brice Johnson, Marcus Paige and Joel James all gone. Oh yeah, they still have stars like Justin Jackson and Kennedy Meeks as well. UNC's success will depend on if those two can elevate their games.
8) Virginia Cavaliers
Virginia will undoubtedly take a step back without ACC Player of the Year Malcolm Brogdon, but point guard London Perrantes will lead young, talented roster, headlined by star Memphis transfer Austin Nichols and incoming freshman Kyle Guy.
7) Michigan State Spartans
Yes, losing Denzel Valentine is going to be a major blow to this team, but the No. 3 recruiting class in the country will ease those woes. Miles Bridges is one of those freshmen who will wow you every single time he steps on the court, and he's being counted on to lead a young - but extremely talented - group. Head coach Tom Izzo will have them playing at a high level again.
6) Oregon Ducks
Oregon's dream season ended just short of the Final Four, but they're poised to repeat as Pac-12 champs in 2017. Replacing two of their top five scorers will be tough, yet Dillon Brooks, Tyler Dorsey and Chris Boucher will keep the Ducks as one of the top teams in the country. Brooks is a preseason first-team All-American and the unquestioned favorite to win conference player o the year.
5) Villanova Wildcats
Losing Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu - the winningest senior class in school history - will undoubtedly hurt, but this group will still return three key starters. Josh Hart is a preseason first-team All-American in every publication, while the young backcourt of Jalen Brunson and Phil Booth are ready for their closeup. And they still have Kris Jenkins, who did this last time he put on a Villanova uniform.
4) Xavier Musketeers
I'm higher on Xavier than most, but this team is oozing with potential. They'll be much more perimeter-oriented without James Farr and Jalen Reynolds, but that might not be a bad thing. Leading scorer Trevon Bluiett will be one of the preseason favorites to win National Player of the Year, and point guard Edmond Sumner has the potential to be THE breakout superstar in college basketball this season.
3) Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky's star backcourt of Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray is gone, but head coach John Calipari once again has a loaded freshman class coming to Lexington in the fall. Stud freshmen De'Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo are all names to get familiar with now before they become stars in 2016-17.
2) Kansas Jayhawks
Kansas would have been very good with Frank Mason and Devonte' Graham leading the way. With No. 1 recruit Josh Jackson and fellow McDonald's All-American Udoka Azubuike in Lawrence, the Jayhawks have their sights set on the national title.
1) Duke Blue Devils
A "down" year for the Blue Devils ended with a Sweet 16 loss to Oregon. Now, Coach K has perhaps his most talented team ever. Junior guard Grayson Allen is a preseason favorite for every award they give out, and he leads a group of returning starters with Luke Kennard, Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson.
That's good enough for most teams, but Duke added the top recruiting class in the country. Forwards Harry Giles (No. 2 recruit), Jayson Tatum (No. 4), point guard Frank Jackson (No. 13) and center Marques Bolden (No. 15) could all be lottery picks in the 2017 draft. It's an embarrassment of riches in Durham, and they have nothing short of championship aspirations.Back to the NCAA Newsfeed
Related Topics: UConn Huskies Basketball, West Virginia Mountaineers Basketball, Oregon Ducks Basketball, Big East Basketball, Iowa State Cyclones Basketball, Kansas Jayhawks Basketball, Villanova Wildcats Basketball, Florida State Seminoles Basketball, NCAA Basketball, Xavier Musketeers Basketball, Kentucky Wildcats Basketball, SEC Basketball, Gonzaga Bulldogs Basketball, ACC Basketball, American Athletic Basketball, Pac-12 Basketball, North Carolina Tar Heels Basketball, Atlantic 10 Basketball, Dayton Flyers Basketball, Virginia Cavaliers Basketball, Arizona Wildcats Basketball, UCLA Bruins Basketball, Michigan State Spartans Basketball, Maryland Terrapins Basketball, Purdue Boilermakers Basketball, Big Ten Basketball, Indiana Hoosiers Basketball, St. Mary's Gaels Basketball, Washington Huskies Basketball, Louisville Cardinals Basketball, West Coast Conference Basketball, College Basketball, Big 12 Basketball, Duke Blue Devils Basketball, Wisconsin Badgers Basketball