Assuming Oklahoma's Blake Griffin, North Carolina's Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington, Arizona State's James Harden, Memphis's Tyreke Evans, UConn's Hasheem Thabeet, Pitt's DeJuan Blair, Wake Forest's James Johnson and Duke's Gerald Henderson all turn pro....
1. MICHIGAN STATE
If only the Final Four were in Detroit again: Motown products Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers (as well as Ohioans Raymar Morgan and Delvon Roe) will lead a Spartans team stacked enough to overcome the loss of seniors Goran Suton and Travis Walton.
A second national title in three years is a possibility—especially if the Jayhawks land top shooting guard Xavier Henry, who reopened his recruitment after John Calipari left Memphis. Henry would join an already fearsome inside-outside duo of point guard Sherron Collins and center Cole Aldrich, who emerged as a premier defensive force this season.
Noticing a theme? Our top three teams feature the nation's top three point guards. As long as Jonny Flynn returns for his junior year, the Orange will have its entire starting lineup back and should be the favorite to win a less-loaded Big East.
April 12, 2009
The big question in Storrs regards coach Jim Calhoun: Is he leaning toward retirement as the possibility of NCAA sanctions looms? Among the incentives to stay is the trio of Kemba Walker, Jerome Dyson and Stanley Robinson, who are capable of leading the Huskies back to the Final Four.
The guard ranks will be ridiculously deep—McDonald's All-Americans Dominic Cheek and Maalik Wayns join a strong backcourt crew that could return intact—but the frontcourt will miss Dante Cunningham and Dwayne Anderson.
The Blue Devils are finally adding some quality size in 6'9" Ryan Kelly (a faceup power forward) and 6'10" Mason Plumlee (a traditional center), who could help potential All-America Kyle Singler on the glass. Sophomore Elliot Williams should flourish in his first full season at the point.
The Boilers could break through to the Elite Eight or beyond—as long as the L5 vertebra fracture that plagued Robbie Hummel this year doesn't continue to nag him as a junior. Frontcourt mate JaJuan Johnson could be the Big Ten Player of the Year.
8. NORTH CAROLINA
In Ed Davis, Deon Thompson, Tyler Zeller and newcomer John Henson the Heels will have an NBA-level frontcourt rotation. But how good will their speed game be without Lawson? The pressure will be on sophomore Larry Drew II to efficiently run the break.
9. WEST VIRGINIA
Bob Huggins will start to make his mark in Morgantown, in part because matchup nightmare Devin Ebanks will take the Big East by storm as a sophomore. The Mountaineers lose only gunner Alex Ruoff, but forward Da'Sean Butler can pick up the slack.
Guard Willie Warren wants to come back "without Blake Griffin to see how good [he is]"—and there's a chance Warren could be an All-America as a sophomore. Two McDonald's All-Americans, point guard Tommy Mason-Griffin and big man Keith (Tiny) Gallon, are joining him, so the Sooners should finish near the top of the Big 12 again.