Virginia capped off one of the greatest redemption stories in recent memory as they defeated #3 Texas Tech last night to win their first national championship.
From UMBC to on top of the world, its something Cavalier fans can hold on to for a very long time.
With the end of the basketball ball season begins the offseason and also the Way Too Early Top 25’s to come around. These rankings are based solely off of which players end up leaving and which ones stick around.
A lot of this is based off of the decision for Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy. Jerome has a chance to be in the first round, but Guy would benefit of staying another year. Virginia also brings make Mamadi Diakite and Kihei Clark. Rather than rebuilding, Virginia is reloading in the upcoming season and should be one of the favorites to be a consistent Top 5 team.
#2: Michigan State
Michigan State returns a lot even if Winston decides to declare, but they wouldn’t be a Top 5 team. The Spartans bring back some really good players in Aaron Henry, Joshua Langford, and Xavier Tillman as well as Top 100 commits F Malik Hall and Combo Guard Rocket Walls.
Reid Travis is expected to be out the door and gives opportunity for the trio of Top 25 players coming in Kahlil Whitney, Tyrese Maxey and Keion Brooks. EJ Montgomery and guards returning will be the deciding factor on who comes back (In Tyler Herro and Asthan Hagans).
3/4 of the “Amazing 4” are heading to the NBA and it will be Tre Jones team. Duke has some players returning with experience, but most of those guys will remain as rotation players. Duke has Vernon Carey Jr, Wendell Moore and Boogie Ellis. Carey and Moore should become huge factors immediately and Bolden will have to step up and be a full time starter for the Blue Devils.
Gonzaga has big time forward talent leaving in Hachimura and Brandon Clarke. Drew Timme and Oumar Ballo led a Top 5 recruiting class and they have Zach Norvell, Killian Tillie, and Corey Kispert returning. Gonzaga has a lot of hype around this season and next year team’s might be a bit deeper than the team was this year which is really hard to believe.
Kansas loses Dedric Lawson, but have so many players returning. Quentin Grimes shouldn’t declare yet and Udoka has another year to prove himself after the injury that ended his last season. Other notables that return is Devon Dotson, Ochai Agbaji, and David McCormack. Kansas is going no where from the Top of the Big 12 and should be a contender to try and create a new conference championship streak.
This spot is solely off of Markus Howard’s decision as to stay in school or take a risk at the NBA. He is considered by many to be a late 1st-early 2nd round talent and another year would help Howard with his defense and a slightly more efficient offensive game (excels there, but more work wouldn’t hurt).
The good news to Maryland is that they were able to get Jalen Smith back. The bad news is double-double machine Bruno Fernando is more than likely heading pro. They return Anthony Cowan and guys like Eric Ayala and Aaron Wiggins will have much bigger roles this upcoming year for the Terrapins.
Louis King is still up in the air, but Oregon ended the season red hot. They return a ton of talent including Payton Pritchard, Kenny Wooten, Victor Bailey, among others. Oregon was able to do it through lockdown defense and not letting anybody stand in their way offensively. Oregon is the “team with a ton of experience” to watch out for.
Michigan is a hit or miss at this spot with so many question marks. Ball handling Jordan Poole, leading scorer Iggy Brazdeikis as well as Charles Matthews all 3 have decisions. I think 2 of the 3 stay and guys like Zavier Simpson and Isaiah Livers will be able to step in nicely in the starting lineup.
G Bryce Brown was the heart and soul of that team, so it’s going to be very hard to see him go for Tigers fans. The good thing is that the Tigers exceeded expectations in every way possible and bring back a lot of that same team. Jared Harper, Samir Doughty and Anfernee McLemore are the headliners of player returning. It may be awhile until Chuma Okeke returns, but once he does, he’ll boost this team tremendously on the defensive side.
Baylor this season is essentially Kansas State from last. They bring back everyone except for G Makai Mason and the best dual guard transfers in the nation in Macio Teague (UNC Ashville and Davion Mitchell (Auburn). With all of that returning, as well as F Tristan Clark recovering from a knee injury that kept him out the last half of the year. Baylor didn’t go heavy on the recruiting trail as they just signed one 4 Star SF in Jordan Turner. But Baylor should be a legit threat to contend in the Big 12.
Florida has a ton of really good talent. What makes them a potential bust is how young they are. The Gators return Noah Locke and Andrew Nembhard from last year’s squad and incoming Top 50 SF Scottie Lewis, PG Tre Mann and C Omar Payne. Mike White has done a tremendous job at recruiting and the guys he has now which makes Florida such a wild card.
Louisville brought in a plethora of talent including 4 Top 100’s, headlined by SF Samuel Williamson. Jordan Nwora is trying out for the NBA, but it is unlikely that’ll leave Louisville, which will be huge for Head Coach Chris Mack. Virginia is the consensus #1 in the ACC, but there isn’t a clear #2. That spot could be Louisville’s at some point.
The problem with ‘Nova was the ability for players not named Eric Paschall and Phil Booth to score on a consistent basis. Those two are the only notables leaving, which gives hope for new guys to step up and fill in. They filled out their recruiting class nicely with adding Top 50 recruits in Bryan Antoine and Justin Moore. If the Wildcats can find a #1 scorer, they can shoot up the rankings soon.
#16: Seton Hall
Seton Hall is not use to a ton of success recently, which has me a bit hesitant. They were obviously a good team last season and Myles Powell put up Big East Player of the Year type stats (23.1 PPG). Whether he declares or not determines Seton Hall’s position. They will for sure contend for the Big East alongside Villanova with Powell.
#17: Utah State
Utah State was under the radar last season and had a freshman that put up 12 and 9 on a consistent basis. Sam Merrill is the star and he returns after posting nearly 21 PPG last season. This team lost some depth players in Quinn Taylor and Dwayne Brown Jr. But return all of their guards and add Top 150 PF Liam McChesney from Canada. Utah State is the favorite to win their conference again and the hype for Merrill might be similar to one Caleb Martin from Nevada last year.
#18: Saint Mary’s
Saint Mary’s was so close to pulling off the upset against Nova, just like they did a month prior against #1 Gonzaga. Jordan Ford might be named Preseason Player of the Year in the WCC after putting up 21 PPG. Malik Fitts also returns for his Junior year after 15 PPG and nearly 8 Rebounds. St. Mary’s only loses one player and it’s starting C Jordan Hunter. St. Mary’s is another loaded team that should be a Tournament team and the for sure #2 team in the WCC.
#19: Texas Tech
“But Andrew, they were just in the National Championship Game”. This Tech team loses a whole bunch, but I think they will still be pretty good. Jarrett Culver is essentially a Top 10 pick at this point and G Matt Mooney is graduating. Same as F Tariq Owens, G Brandone Francis and C Norense Odiase. Something Tech does have though is an elite PG in Jahmius Ramsey that will be stepping on campus next season. The 6-4 Guard out of Duncanville was a Top 30 prospect.
#20: North Carolina
It’s just something you can guarantee every year. North Carolina is going to be good every year as long as Roy Williams is alive. Cole Anthony’s decision could change that. Roy was able to lock up the #6 C in the nation in Armando Bacot out of IMG Academy. Their starting 5 is either leaving for the draft or graduating. That is troubling to look at, but promising for guys like Garrison Brooks and Seventh Woods to get games. Cole Anthony is a game changer to next year’s team if he commits (it looks like he should).
#21: Ohio State
Ohio State does lose two guards in CJ Jackson and Keyshawn Woods, but brings in the #1 recruiting class in the Big 10 from Chris Holtmann. Including 3 studts in PG DJ Carton, SF Alonzo Gaffney, and PF EJ Liddell. After the surprise success in 2018, 2019 could be their year to turn a big corner.
Purdue loses the most valuable player in all of CBB in Carsen Edwards (more than likely) as well as Ryan Cline for sure. 7-3 Matt Haarms will keep the shot blocking presence down low and Nojel Eastern will continue to be a below the perimeter scorer. It could be up to true freshman Isaiah Thompson to fill in for Edwards spot if they cant find any body through the transfer portal or on the current roster.
Amir Coffey should be staying for his senior season and Freshman C Daniel Oturu had a fantastic first season. Minnesota will be on a bit of the shorter side this season, but expect guys like Junior Isaiah Washington and incoming freshman G Tre Williams to pick up the scoring load. Amir Coffey should be able to lead the team through a couple of games, but has talent at other poisitons.
Creighton’s only known departure is Senior Kaleb Joseph (just 4.3 PPG). Everyone else returns on this team where they played a really small lineup last season. Hopefully, 7-0 Samson Froling will be able to develop and help out the Blue Jays. They were really good at hitting 3’s a year ago, and that shouldn’t change next season with the amount of returning letterman. They should compete with Seton Hall and Nova for the top spot.
The hammer could be dropped on Arizona at any moment. Even with a 17-15 season, Sean Miller was still able to sign the #1 recruiting class in the nation. The class includes Nico Mannion, Josh Green, Zeke Nnaji and Christian Koloko. Arizona struggled in putting the ball in the hoop and that is something Mannion and Green did well. The FBI is still looming over their shoulder, but if nothing crazy happens, this should be an exciting team to watch.
On the Bubble: Tennessee, Houston, LSU, Iowa, Florida State.
Image Credit: https://www.app.com/story/sports/college/2018/01/19/seton-hall-basketball-rise-and-promise-myles-powell/1047175001/