Congratulations to the UConn Huskies!!
March Madness is over and Midnight Madness is just under 7 months away.
We don't even know which Kentucky players will declare for the NBA Draft, and/or whether Jabari Parker is coming back to Duke. Not to mention who will and who won't transfer across the country.
Nonetheless it is fun to prognosticate.
With out further delay here is my College Basketball Top 10 for 2014-15:
#1 Kentucky Wildcats -
The rich get richer. Kentucky could lose Julius Randle, both Harrison brothers, and James Young to the NBA and still field a line-up of Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress, Dakari Johnson, 4 star guards Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis, with 5 star 7 footer Karl Towns Jr. coming off the bench. And Marcus Lee should also be back. This year's Cats proved that it sometimes takes a while for young squads to find their footing, but no matter what they lose to the pros in the coming weeks, Kentucky promises to have the most talented roster in the Nation next season. They should also have a chip on their shoulders after coming so close last evening.
#2 Arizona Wildcats -
Aaron Gordon likely goes pro, but TJ McConnell, Nick Johnson, and a healthy Brandon Ashley will keep AU formidable and on top of the PAC-12. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson really came on late as well, and Kaleb Tarczewski is a monster around the rim. It's a wonder how they will find playing time for their top 5 recruiting class that includes the very gifted wing Stanley Johnson, and hard working inside force Craig Victor.
#3 Louisville Cardinals -
How will Rick Pitino's team adjust to their new ACC digs, minus Rusticulous? Probably pretty well. Montrezl Harrell is a beast in any conference. PG Chris Jones will also be back. Mangok Mathiang is a developing big man, and the incoming class is sick, Shaqqan Aaron and Quentin Snider in particular. Something about Pitino coached teams and peaking just before the Tourney also makes them a safe pick.
#4 Florida Gators -
So they lose Patric Young and Scottie Wilbekin, they still have Michael Frazier, Dorian Finney-Smith, and what should be an improved Kasey Hill. Billy Donovan also has a strong group of incoming freshman featuring Devin Robinson, Brandone Francis, and flashy PG Chris Chiozza. Plus they play in the SEC, and although it is an improving conference (and Kentucky will reload), it is still not to be mistaken with the SEC for football.
#5 Kansas Jayhawks -
Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embid are already going to the NBA. I have little to no doubt that both will be lottery picks. But like Duke, Kansas has a couple of blue chippers to reload with in PF Cliff Alexander and SF Kelly Oubre. Additionally Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden Jr. should also be back. PG Naadir Tharpe will be a senior, and his play could be the key.
#6 Michigan State -
The Spartans had a rough year with injuries and still looked like a title contender before running into UConn. However if star SG Gary Harris heads to the Association, this lofty ranking becomes null. Branden Dawson should take the next step as a player either way. Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine are also nice pieces. They will miss Keith Appling and Adreian Payne, but who wants to bet against a Tom Izzo coached squad?
#7 Michigan Wolverines -
Nik Stauskas is the real deal. Should he and Glenn Robinson Jr. both stay, and you still have one of the best scoring teams in the country in Ann Arbor. Caris Levert can also fill it. The big question will be whether inside force Mitch McGary can comeback from back surgery to balance the attack? An improved Jon Horford would also help the cause.
#8 Wisconsin Badgers -
They do lose sharpshooter Ben Brust, but versatile Big Man Frank Kaminsky, Wing Sam Dekker, and PG Traevon Jackson all return. And Nigel Hayes is going to get better. In fact, 7 of Wisconsin's top 8 players overall, will be back from a team that was one bucket away from making the National Championship game. With their consistent defensive approach and efficient offense to match, they should be a force again next year. The rebounding will need to improve however, if they hope to go further next season.
#9 Duke Blue Devils -
Perhaps it is a bit premature to put the Devils in this spot before knowing for sure the status of Parker. But here is what we do know, sensational consensus #1 C Jahlil Okafor and PG Tyus Jones are two incoming freshman who can flat out play. Wings Justice Winslow and Grayson Allen also promise to be very good, and upperclassmen PG Quinn Cook, PG Amile Jefferson, and SG Rasheed Sulaiman should all be back as well. But can Duke improve their perimeter defense enough to be more than just a regular season juggernaut?
#10 Miami Hurricanes -
Yes I know, this looks incredibly homer-ish on the surface. But upon closer examination, there is a very realistic possibility that the 'Canes make a lot of noise next season and contend for an ACC Crown. K State transfer Angel Rodriguez has the ability and experience to lead the way at PG, and UM has the luxury of Manu Lecomte to back him up. Texas transfer Sheldon McClellan is a 6'6 wing with a 44 inch vertical leap. Deandre Burnett is a pure scorer the likes UM fans haven't seen since the days of Jack McClinton. The key will be the development of Junior big man Tonye Jekiri and whether or not Miami can find a 5th year senior PF (they are looking very hard) to supplement TJ, freshman Omar Sherman, and JUCO transfer Ivan Cruz Uceda inside. Chemistry will also be key, but does anyone doubt Coach L and staff will get the best out of this very talented squad? More on the 2014-15 'Canes here.
Just missed the cut (in no particular order):
Virginia: Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell graduate, but London Perrantes, Malcolm Brogdon, and ACC 6th Man of the Year, Justin Anderson, return.
UNC: Marcus Paige is arguably the best returning player in the ACC, and the Heels add 3 blue chip prospects in Joel Berry, Theo Pinson, and Justin Jackson. James Michael McAdoo has already declared for the draft.
Maryland: Welcome to the B1G! Can the Terps figure out their PG woes quick enough to help Jake Layman and a very talented incoming class make some noise in a new conference?
UCLA: Still lots of talent on the roster despite Kyle Anderson's departure for the NBA, Jordan Adams and Kory Alford in particular. As usual they have a nice class coming in as well.
Villanova: JayVaughn Pinkston, Darrun Hilliard II, and Ryan Arcidiancono are all back next season.
SMU: Larry Brown has found the fountain of youth....again. Emmanuel Mudiay is the best H.S. PG in the country, and Brown, to everyone's surprise, landed him.
UConn: No more Shabazz Napier, but Deandre Daniels and Ryan Boatright are still around for the defending champs.
Syracuse: Can Kaleb Joseph come in and replace what Tyler Ennis gave the 'Cuse?
Ohio State: How do you replace Aaron Craft's leadership? You don't! But a Top !0 recruiting haul headlined by D'Angelo Russell makes the Buckeyes a legit threat.
Seton Hall: Get used to the names Sterling Gibbs (returning) and Isaiah Whitehead (incoming).
Wichita State: 35-0 is 35-0! They will miss Cleanthony Early though.
San Diego State: Xavier Thames may be graduating but Winston Shepard returns. They also have a very nice player in Malik Pope coming in.