The college basketball season ended before it should have. With COVID-19 causing the tournament to shut down, all fans have to look forward to is next season. Here is the college basketball way too early preseason top 25.
25. UCLA Bruins
Mick Cronin had the Bruins playing well down the stretch and return all critical players. Even with Daishen Nix’s decision to go to the G-League, UCLA should be able to compete for a Pac-12 title. Chris Smith, the leading scorer, and Tyger Campbell provide a good backcourt duo, while Jalen Smith, their leading rebounder returns on the inside.
24. Texas Longhorns
After being a bubble team to end the 2019-2020 season, Texas doesn’t lose anything heading into next season. They even add Greg Brown, a very talented power forward recruit. The Longhorns will be deep, but will need their three guards who scored in double figures last year (Matt Coleman, Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey) to step it up.
23. North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina would likely like to forget about last season. What makes things tough for them heading into the 2020-2021 season is that they’ll be without point guard Cole Anthony, who was by far their best player when healthy. Garrison Brooks will continue to be a force inside, but they need better guard play to do any real damage.
22. Richmond Spiders
Last season, the Spiders went 24-7 and had no seniors on the team. The A-10 is there for the taking with Dayton likely to take a step back. With four double-digit scorers returning, including Blake Francis who averaged 17.7 points per game, the Spiders have a chance to advance deep in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
21. West Virginia Mountaineers
Oscar Tshiebwe will continue to man the middle well for the Mountaineers, while Derek Culver should continue to score well. If guard Miles McBride can improve as a sophomore after averaging nearly 10 points per game, West Virginia will be tough to beat.
20. Florida State Seminoles
Patrick Williams and Devin Vassell currently have their names in the NBA Draft, but Florida State is at a point where they replace their players every year with relative ease. If they come back, Florida State will move up this list, but if not they still have M.J. Walker returning. With 10 players who averaged at least 10 minutes per game, the Seminoles will figure it out.
19. Arkansas Razorbacks
Eric Musselman did way better than anyone expected in year one. Mason Jones currently has his name in the NBA Draft, but they had three other guards who averaged double figures with two of them returning. Pair that with a top 10 recruiting class and the Razorbacks should be even better in 2020-2021.
18. Florida Gators
Florida returns their leading scorer in Keyontae Johnson and their best athlete in Scottie Lewis. Andrew Nembhard should also be back, giving them a great trio to lean on. Florida will be in the hunt to do some damage next March.
17. Oregon Ducks
Losing Payton Prichard is going to hurt a lot, but Oregon returns enough to give fans a decent amount of confidence. Chris Duarte and Will Richardson, the team’s second and third-leading scorers, return to lead the way. They have also added a handful of transfers, which should help them deal with the loss of Pritchard.
16. Arizona State Sun Devils
Remy Martin and Romello White are a great duo that could return to school. Alonzo Verge is another double-digit scorer returning along with some transfers becoming eligible. The Sun Devils also got a commitment from Josh Christopher, who is the best recruit in Arizona State history. There is potential for a deep run in the tournament if Martin and White return to the lineup.
15. Ohio State Buckeyes
While replacing the Wesson brothers won’t be easy, Ohio State has some high-level transfers coming into the program. Seth Towns, who last played at Harvard, averaged 16 points per game and is immediately eligible. C.J. Walker and Duane Washington should make the Buckeyes a good perimeter-oriented team.
14. Creighton Blue Jays
If Ty-Shon Alexander and Marcus Zegarowski both return, Creighton can compete for a National Championship. Denzel Mahoney and Mitch Ballock will likely return as double-digit scorers. With Jacob Epperson healthy and some recruits coming in, Creighton should be able to be national contenders.
13. Houston Cougars
Houston returns all important components of last year’s team after Quentin Grimes decided to return to school. With he, Caleb Mills and Nate Hinton back, the backcourt is set. Fabian White needs to get better, as the frontcourt will be thin, but the backcourt will be ready to put on a show.
12. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Even if Jahmi’us Ramsey goes pro, the Red Raiders will be very competitive next year. Davide Morretti and Kyler Edwards return on the perimeter after averaging double digits last season. Add to them a great recruiting class and Chris Beard’s tutelage and Texas Tech will be among the top Big 12 teams.
11. Tennessee Volunteers
With John Fulkerson on the interior, Ives Ponds as one of the best defenders in the country and Santiago Vescovi running the point guard spot, Tennessee could win the SEC next year. They also have a few good recruits coming in, which could help them be one of the best teams in the country.
10. Kentucky Wildcats
Everyone is leaving Lexington except for Keion Brooks. He’ll need to be a leader, along with Davion Mintz who is graduate-transferring in. Both will have to be leaders, but Kentucky’s best players will come from their top-ranked recruiting class. B.J. Boston, Terrence Clarke and Devin Askew have chances to be stars.
9. Iowa Hawkeyes
The Hawkeyes should return National Player of the Year Candidate Luka Garza, along with a lot of key players. Jordan Bohanon, C.J. Frederick and Joe Weiskamp all played key roles and will help Iowa have their best team in a long time.
8. Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin made a run at the end of the 2019-2020 season and will hope to keep that momentum. D’Mitrick Trice and Brad Davison create a great backcourt duo, while Nate Reuvers is developing on the inside. Micah Potter is also a solid forward for the Badgers after averaging 10.1 points per game last season.
7. Michigan State Spartans
Cassius Winston is leaving, so Rocket Watts will need to step up and lead the team. Everyone else could be back though, which is good news, as Xavier Tillman could be an x-factor down low. The better news is that Joe Hauser will be eligible after sitting out a year.
6. Duke Blue Devils
The Blue Devils are losing their best players to the NBA, but they have Matthew Hurt and Wendell Moore returning. Add in another loaded recruiting class, which includes Jalen Jones, who is likely their best draft prospect. If the pieces come together, Duke will be a top team again.
5. Kansas Jayhawks
Kansas is losing Udoka Azubuike and Devon Dotson who were critical for their team last year. Marcus Garrett will likely take over the point guard position, while Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack and Silvio De Sousa all need to take their games to the next level in 2020-2021. Bryce Thompson is a recruit who should have a big impact next year.
4. Baylor Bears
The backcourt for Baylor was star-studded last season and all three players could return. If Jared Butler, MaCio Teague and Davion Mitchell are truly back next season there won’t be many teams that can match up with them. After only losing four games last season, Baylor is ready to compete again.
3. Virginia Cavaliers
Mamadi Diakite and Braxton Key are key losses, but Virginia has enough left in the tank for another good run this season. Kihei Clark took a huge step forward last year and will be one of the best point guards in college basketball. With Jay Huff returning and Sam Hauser becoming eligible, Virginia will have some offensive firepower to go with their patented defense.
2. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Gonzaga is always deep, so losing Admon Gilder, Ryan Woolridge and Killian Tillie will be manageable. Filip Petrusev, Corey Kispert and Joel Ayayi will be the leaders next year and will lead the Bulldogs to another 30-win season.
1. Villanova Wildcats
Collin Gillespie, Jermaine Samuels, Cole Swider, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree and possibly Saddiq Bey could bring home Jay Wright‘s third championship. Villanova has the talent and depth to beat anyone in the country and should be the preseason favorites for the 2020-2021 season.
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