College Basketball: SI's Extremely Early Top-25
The extremely early Top-25 basketball poll assembled by SI.com's Jeremy Woo was released today and notable by its absence is the Pac-12 Conference.
No Oregon. No Arizona. No USC.
Only UCLA finds its way into the rankings, at No. 17. The Bruins are currently projecting all five starters to return, although things can quickly change in the fluid modern college hoops landscape.
Villanova, based on its substantial returning talent, tops the list at No. 1.
Here's what Woo cautiously says about the Wildcats:
It’s way too early to properly anoint a preseason No. 1, but Villanova is set to bring back its entire team save for projected first-round pick Saddiq Bey, who has a strong case to turn pro. Interior defense and depth might be an issue, but as long as Jeremiah Robinson-Earl returns, it should feel comfortable. The Wildcats will have shooting and experience at each position, a senior point guard in Collin Gillespie, rock-solid Justin Moore at the two, Tulane transfer Caleb Daniels on the wing and a potential X-factor in former McDonald’s All-American Bryan Antoine, who should be due for playing time. It will miss Bey, but on paper Villanova looks like the most stable and most dangerous team at this early juncture.
Gonzaga checks in at No. 2, although that ranking is tied to the status of big man Filip Petrusev, who has not yet announced whether he'll return or try the NBA draft. Petrusev was the West Coast Conference Player of the Year and a finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year award.
Woo's analysis of Gonzaga:
Provided Filip Petrusev returns, Gonzaga will roll out as much talent as anyone, with Corey Kispert and Joel Ayayi at this point expected to return and talented forward Anton Watson on the mend from injury. If Petrusev leaves, Drew Timme and Oumar Ballo provide plenty of cover up front. Mark Few also brings in a strong trio of freshmen headlined by SI All-American Jalen Suggs, although the five-star guard may still opt to forgo college and play professionally in Australia. Without Suggs, point guard becomes a major question, perhaps one Gonzaga could address with a grad transfer. Regardless, there’s talent and size at every position, and if Suggs makes it to campus, Gonzaga will have a strong case to move into the top spot.
His next three schools are Baylor, Virginia and Creighton.