The college basketball season is almost here. With the season starting, it is time to look at the best teams in the country. Here is the college basketball preseason top 25.
25. USC Trojans
Losing Evan Mobley will hurt. Luckily, Isaiah Mobley is still on the roster. Isaiah White and Drew Peterson also come back from the starting lineup and provide solid-scoring wings. With Boogie Ellis transferring in from Memphis in the backcourt, USC should be contenders in the Pac-12.
24. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Chris Beard is now at Texas, but Mark Adams getting the job will give the program some consistency. Terrence Shannon and Kevin McCullar can score in the backcourt, while Oral Roberts transfer Kevin Obanor will join Marcus Santos-Silva in the frontcourt. Obanor’s shooting ability should stretch the floor for the other playmakers.
23. St. Bonaventure Bonnies
After making the 2021 NCAA Tournament, St. Bonaventure returns all five starters. They all score double-digit points per game. The Bonnies were also solid on the defensive end of the floor. St. Bonaventure is a team to know when March comes around.
22. Virginia Cavaliers
The Cavaliers likely aren’t going to be competing for titles this season. They do have an experienced point guard in Kihei Clark, who will need to take on more of a scoring role this season. With him will be Reece Beekman and ECU-transfer Jayden Gardner, who scored over 18 points per game last season.
21. North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina did not have a season to remember in 2020-2021. They do return four starters and bring in Oklahoma transfer Brady Manek. If the backcourt can improve their shooting between Caleb Love and Leaky Black, the Tar Heels can be formidable in the ACC.
20. Florida State Seminoles
How does a team that doesn’t return a starter end up in the preseason top 25? Leonard Hamilton plays his bench consistently every season. Anthony Polite will have to take on a larger role and Caleb Mills transferring in from Houston will help the backcourt. The team will have to rely on younger players, but they have the talent to win a game in March.
19. Baylor Bears
Matthew Mayer and Flo Thamba return as impact players from the National Championship team. Arizona-transfer James Akinjo joins the backcourt at point guard, but so many other players need to step up for the Bears. They may not compete for the title this year, but they have a solid team.
18. Ohio State Buckeyes
Four returning starters will make the Buckeyes contenders in the Big Ten. E.J. Liddell is a Big Ten Player of the Year candidate. Their three-point shooting should be much improved as well with the transfer of Cedric Russell from Louisiana.
17. Auburn Tigers
Bruce Pearl went hit the transfer portal hard and came out with center Walker Kessler from North Carolina and guard K.D. Johnson from Georgia. Add those two to Jaylin Williams, Allen Flanigan and Devan Cambridge and the Tigers can compete.
16. Memphis Tigers
The Tigers’ fortunes for the season were changed when Emoni Bates signed with the school. He will join three returning starters, which will give the team great expectations for the season. Penny Hardaway should be able to get his team to the NCAA Tournament.
15. Tennessee Volunteers
With a combination of returning starters, great recruits and transfers, Rick Barnes has a lot to work with. John Fulkerson is back for his sixth season and will be rejoined by Victor Bailey and Santiago Vescovi in the starting lineup. Justin Powell, who played well for Auburn last season, and top-recruit Kennedy Chandler will help bring the reinforcements.
14. Arkansas Razorbacks
Connor Vanover and Davonte Davis are the only returning starters, but J.D. Notae is ready to take the next step after being one of the best sixth men in the country. Chris Lykes transferring in will help at the point guard position and the Razorbacks will have the depth to make a run this season.
13. Houston Cougars
After making the Final Four, the Cougars need Marcus Sasser to step up more in the scoring department from his 13.7 points per game last year. Texas Tech transfer Kyler Edwards will join him in the backcourt to make a tough duo. If some of the other young players can step up, the Cougars can win the AAC.
12. Alabama Crimson Tide
While the Crimson Tide lost a decent amount of last year’s team, they also return enough pieces to compete in the SEC. Jahvon Quinerly, Jaden Shackelford and Keon Ellis return to a talented backcourt. They will be joined by freshman J.D. Davidson. The team will need some unproven big men to step up.
11. Illinois Fighting Illini
Andre Curbelo will take over at the starting point guard after impressing off the bench last season. He has all the tools to be successful with potential Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Kofi Cockburn down low and Trent Frazier aiding him in the backcourt. Role-players will need to step up, but the talent is there for the Illini.
10. Texas Longhorns
Chris Beard has a track record of turning around programs quickly. He brought in some transfers in Marcus Carr and Devin Askew to help the backcourt. The backcourt will also feature returning starters Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey. Utah transfer Timmy Allen and UMass transfer Tre Mitchell gives them good players in the frontcourt as well.
9. Oregon Ducks
Will Richardson will be in the backcourt again and will be joined by Oklahoma transfer De’Vion Harmon and Rutgers transfer Jacob Young. Eric Williams is a good rebounder and scorer, but is undersized in the frontcourt. They’ll need other players to step up on the interior.
8. Duke Blue Devils
Paolo Banchero will provide some star-power to Duke from the forward position. Marquette transfer Theo John will join him in the frontcourt as a blue-collar player. The frontcourt will need a lot of young players to step up along with Jeremy Roach, who played decently last season.
7. Kentucky Wildcats
Is there such a thing as too much depth? Kentucky boasts 12 players who could earn minutes. The 3-point shooting should be much improved with the additions of Kellan Grady and C.J. Frederick. TyTy Washington and Sahvir Wheeler will provide good guard play, while Oscar Tshiebwe will help protect the rim. If John Calipari can figure out the rotation, the team has enough talent to win it all.
6. Villanova Wildcats
Getting Colling Gillespie back at point guard will be huge for the Wildcats. He will be joined by returning starters Justin Moore and Caleb Daniels in the backcourt, while Jermaine Samuels is expected to do big things in the frontcourt. Villanova has the talent and depth to make a run.
5. Michigan Wolverines
Michigan gets Hunter Dickinson back on the interior after he posted 14.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Eli Brooks also returns as a member of the backcourt. Pair that with the best recruiting class in the country and the expectations are high for the Wolverines.
4. UCLA Bruins
Five returning starters come back from UCLA’s Final Four team. With Tyger Campbell at the point and Jaime Jaquez and Johnny Juzang scoring the ball. UCLA has their best shot at a championship in years.
3. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Gonzaga lost a lot from their team last season when they went to the Final Four, but they return Drew Timme on the interior. Andrew Nembhard also will take over point guard duties after playing a lot of last season off-ball. Add in a good recruiting class and players who have been buried on the bench because of all the talent and Gonzaga has a chance at another Final Four this season.
2. Purdue Boilermakers
Getting all five starters back is huge for the Boilermakers. With Trevion Williams on the interior, Purdue can run four out-one in very well. With Jaden Ivey and Mason Gills taking steps forward after solid freshman seasons, there is a lot of potential in this team. Add in Eric Hunter, a defensive-minded point guard, and a shooter in Sasha Stefanovic, and Purdue could make a very deep run in the tournament.
1. Kansas Jayhawks
In a year where it looks like plenty of teams can win, the Jayhawks have set themselves up well. Remy Martin has transferred in from Arizona State to play point guard. He’ll fit in nicely with returning starters Ochai Agbaji, Christian Braun, Jalen Wilson and David McCormack. With some depth coming from freshman, returning starters and other transfers, the Jayhawks could have a magical season under Bill Self.
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