Duke, Wisconsin, Arizona, Villanova, UNC lead early top 25 for 2014-15
The 2013-14 college basketball season is barely over, but it's never too early for a look at next season's top 25. Each of this year's Final Four teams will be a factor again, but it will be team that didn't win a game in this year's tournament but is no stranger to the Final Four that will open next season on top.
Even if Jabari Parker leaves, veteran guards Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon will return to lead the nation's top recruiting class, headlined by by 6-foot-10 Chicago native Jahlil Okafor.
Frank Kaminsky will be tempted to enter the NBA draft, but if he comes back that means the Badgers will lose just one starter from their Final Four team.
Forward Aaron Gordon is leaving and All-America guard Nick Johnson will likely follow, but point guard T.J. McConnell, forwards Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Brandon Ashley and center Kaleb Tarczewski should all be back. Stanley Johnson, a 6-6 forward, will be the most versatile scorer in the freshman class.
The Wildcats lose just one starter (leading scorer James Bell) from a 29-win team, which means they won't fly under the radar like they did heading into this season.
5. North Carolina
Losing James Michael McAdoo to the NBA will hurt, but the Tar Heels get Marcus Paige back and welcome an elite three-man freshman class headlined by Justin Jackson, a 6-7 forward from Houston.
Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins went pro, but the Jayhawks will still be favored to win their 11th consecutive Big 12 regular season crown, thanks largely to the arrival of 6-9 freshman Cliff Alexander.
The Wolverines' rank assumes that forward Mitch McGary will return after missing most of his sophomore season following back surgery.
This rank could fluctuate in the coming days depending on which players head to the NBA draft, but John Calipari has again signed a stellar recruiting class that features 6-10 power forward Trey Lyles and 6-5 shooting guard Devin Booker.
Assuming 6-6 senior point guard Spencer Dinwiddie recovers fully from his ACL injury, the Buffaloes will have a veteran lineup that will also include rising star Josh Scott, a 6-10 junior forward.
The Longhorns return all their players from one of the nation's most suprising teams this season. Sophomore center Cameron Ridley should be one of the Big 12's best post players.
The Bears return three important cogs from their Sweet 16 team -- point guard Kenny Chery, center Isaiah Austin and bruising power forward Rico Gathers.
12. Wichita State
Cleanthony Early is graduating, but the backcourt trio of Fred VanVleet, Tekele Cotton and Ron Baker will be back to make another run at postseason glory.
Shabazz Napier is leaving, but the Huskies are returning point guard Ryan Boatright and adding a strong shooting guard in Rodney Purvis, a 6-4 transfer from N.C. State.
It won't be easy replacing four senior starters, but a full season from 6-10 forward Chris Walker and the addition of 6-8 freshman forward Devin Robinson will soften the blow.
The Cavaliers are losing two seniors, but Tony Bennett has made this a high-level program that returns three starters from the ACC champs, including leading scorer Malcolm Brogdon.
The Mustangs lose just one starter and add top-five recruit Emmanuel Mudiay, a dynamic 6-5 shooting guard from Dallas.
17. Michigan State
Tom Izzo has had a lot of misses on the recruiting trail of late, but rising seniors Branden Dawson and Travis Trice will return, and look for 6-5 rising junior guard Denzel Valentine to emerge as an All-Big Ten caliber player.
Tyler Ennis' decision to turn pro was a setback, but Jim Boeheim says incoming freshman forward Chris McCullough is also good enough to be one-and-done.
19. Iowa State
The Cyclones lose two high-scoring seniors in Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane, but as usual Fred Hoiberg will re-stock with transfers like 6-8 junior forward Jameel McKay, who came from Marquette.
Russ Smith is leaving and I'm assuming Montrezl Harrell will follow, which means Rick Pitino will depend heavily on four top-75 freshmen.
The Crimson bring back their top three scorers, plus 6-foot-9 forward Zena Edosomwan should make a big leap in his sophomore season.
The Zags' backcourt tandem of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr., will return alongside Kyle Wiltjer, a gifted 6-10 shooter who transferred from Kentucky.
Top-30 freshman Jaquan Lyle, a 6-5 guard from West Virginia, will join a loaded perimeter that will also include Joseph Young, Domonic Artis and Brandon Austin, a 6-6 transfer from Providence.
The Huskers lose one senior and will bring back Terran Petteway, the 6-6 shooting guard who will probably be the Big Ten's preseason player of the year
The Rams will have the Atlantic 10's best perimeter corps in Briante Weber, Melvin Johnson and Treveon Graham, and they will be joined by Shaka Smart¹s best recruiting class.