Gonzaga is still the favorite to win the NCAA Tournament and they have a great chance to do so. They are one of the few teams that can beat any team in this tournament, which will lead them to be favored in most games moving forward.
The way-too-early top 25 basketball is a ranking that is released just before the season starts. Gonzaga is still considered to be the favorite in the Way.
After a busier-than-usual summer due to the NBA draft’s postponed withdrawal deadline, as well as some major reclassifications and commitments in August, roster changes decreased in September, as anticipated. We did make some changes since the previous update in late August, sending two veteran-laden teams, UConn and St. Bonaventure, to the bottom of the rankings.
It’s been almost six months since the first Way-Too-Early Top 25 of the offseason was released, and the rankings have changed often. Memphis and Texas have been the two greatest movers since the national championship game in early April, with both teams transforming their rosters through the transfer portal and recruiting trail to become clear-cut preseason top 10 teams.
However, certain elements of those early rankings haven’t changed. Gonzaga is the preseason No. 1 seed, Drew Timme remains the frontrunner for the Wooden Award, and UCLA, Purdue, Kansas, and Villanova should all be Final Four candidates.
We’re less than a month away from the start of the 2021-22 college basketball season, which means the Way-Too-Early Top 25 is no longer too early. It’s now or never.
Gonzaga begins the season as the favorite to chop down the nets after falling one game shy of a national title for the second time in five seasons. The return of Timme, the Wooden Award frontrunner, and the arrival of Chet Holmgren, the No. 1 prospect in the 2021 class, account for a large part of it. There may be some growing pains in getting Timme and Holmgren to work together successfully up front, but they should form the finest frontcourt combination in the country, with Anton Watson coming off the bench, who was a crucial component in the rotation last season and is generating good summer hype. Mark Few is also bringing in a pair of five-star guards in Hunter Sallis and Nolan Hickman, as well as Iowa State transfer Rasir Bolton, who earned all-conference honors last season. Few is currently suspended from the season opener following his citation for driving under the influence in early September. Andrew Nembhard, who started 16 games last season, including every game during the NCAA playoff run, is one of the newcomers. It’s possible that Nembhard’s comeback will go unnoticed; he’s one of the greatest point guards in the nation. This squad has a lot of talent; whether it gels as effectively as last season’s historically outstanding offense remains to be seen.
Starting lineups are expected to be as follows:
Hickman, Nolan (No. 24 in ESPN 100) Andrew Nembhard is a writer (9.1 PPG) Rasir Bolton (Rasir Bolton) (15.5 PPG at Iowa State) Chet Holmgren is a well-known musician (No. 1 in ESPN 100) Drew Timme is a writer and a musician (19.0 PPG)
Kansas returns four starters and adds one of the finest transfers in the nation after ending last season with nine victories in its last 11 games. For extended periods last season, Christian Braun and Ochai Agbaji were stalwarts in the rotation, while Jalen Wilson looked like one of the top players in the Big 12. The Jayhawks, on the other hand, were at their finest when David McCormack was on the field. He averaged 15.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in the last 12 games of the regular season, then had 22 points and nine rebounds in the NCAA tournament victory against Eastern Washington. Bill Self needed point guard reinforcements when Marcus Garrett left, and he went out and got the finest one on the market, Arizona State transfer Remy Martin. Martin, a two-time first-team All-Pac-12 pick, has exceptional quickness and scoring ability, but he must modify his game to become more of a facilitator and distributor. Dajuan Harris, a sophomore, will also put pressure on Martin for minutes.
Starting lineups are expected to be as follows:
Remy Martin is a well-known singer and songwriter (19.1 PPG at Arizona State) Braun, Christian (9.7 PPG) Agbaji Ochai (14.1 PPG) Wilson, Jalen (11.8 PPG) McCormack, David (13.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG)
Where would UCLA be rated if it hadn’t come back from a 14-point hole against Michigan State in the NCAA tournament’s First Four? With a five-game losing skid to close the season, they would have finished 17-10. That’s basically the case for UCLA being rated too high, but Mick Cronin keeps every player from the Bruins’ Final Four run, plus a lottery selection in Peyton Watson and one of the greatest defensive players in the Big Ten in Rutgers graduate transfer Myles Johnson. I believe the March enthusiasm will continue over into current season. During the NCAA tournament, Johnny Juzang emerged as one of the finest players in the nation, and he and Jaime Jaquez Jr. could make a potent attacking combo. Tyger Campbell is the quintessential Cronin point guard: rugged, calm, and a ball-handler. Cody Riley recorded a pair of double-doubles in the NCAA tournament and will now have extra assistance with the addition of Johnson. In March, something clicked for the Bruins, and I believe it will again.
Starting lineups are expected to be as follows:
Campbell, Tyger (10.2 PPG) Johnny Juzang is a character in the film Johnny Juzang (15.5 PPG) Watson, Peyton (No. 12 in ESPN 100) Jaime Jaquez Jr. is a character in the film Jaime Jaquez (12.1 PPG) Riley, Cody (9.8 PPG)
Villanova was a foregone conclusion as soon as Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels declared they would take advantage of their additional year of eligibility. Jay Wright has a talented group with a lot of depth and flexibility, particularly on the perimeter. Gillespie is probably the greatest point guard in the nation, while Samuels improves his game each season in college; last season, he was one of the most efficient players in the Big East, shooting 45 percent from three in league play. Last season, Justin Moore blossomed offensively, while Caleb Daniels, a former Tulane transfer, adjusted nicely to the Big East in 2020-21. On the perimeter, junior Brandon Slater and freshman Trey Patterson are two players to keep an eye on; both have received good buzz in the summer. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, the co-Big East Player of the Year, is the lone significant loss, leaving a large vacuum up front. ESPN 100 prospect Nnanna Njoku and rotation returnee Eric Dixon are two of Wright’s possibilities. Nova has a potential to return to the Final Four if those two players can produce at a high level.
Starting lineups are expected to be as follows:
Justin Moore (12.9 PPG) Caleb Daniels (9.6 PPG) Jermaine Samuels (12.0 PPG) Eric Dixon (14.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG) Collin Gillespie (14.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG) Collin Gillespie (14.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG) Collin Gillespie (14.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG) Collin Gillespie (14.0 PPG, 4.6 R (3.0 PPG)
It would be difficult to place Texas lower than No. 2 if we just looked at on-paper talent. However, there are some concerns about how Chris Beard fits all of the parts together, and it will be one of the most interesting stories to watch in the early weeks of the season. In Courtney Ramey and Andrew Jones, the Longhorns return two experienced players on the perimeter, and Beard is complementing that guard combination with six of ESPN’s top 30 transfers. Marcus Carr (Minnesota), Timmy Allen (Utah), and Tre Mitchell (Utah) stand out among the transfer class (UMass). Carr was probably the greatest transfer in the Pac-12 this spring, while Allen was named first-team All-Pac-12 and Mitchell was a dominating force on the defensive end. Dylan Disu of Vanderbilt, Christian Bishop of Creighton, and Devin Askew of Kentucky have all shown their ability to play at the top level. Jaylon Tyson, a top-40 recruit, has also gotten great reviews thus far. Beard has a lot of transfer expertise and has made it work in the past; if he can do it again, this squad will be a monster.
Starting lineups are expected to be as follows:
Carr, Marcus (19.4 PPG at Minnesota) Ramey, Courtney (12.2 PPG) Jones, Andrew (14.6 PPG) Timmy Allen is a character in the film Timmy Allen (17.2 PPG at Utah) Mitchell, Tre
Matt Painter returns almost every important player from a squad that finished the season by winning 11 of its last 14 games, while also adding two ESPN 100 prospects. The inside, led by All-American contender Trevion Williams and breakthrough big man Zach Edey, will be the focal point. Last season, Williams was one of the most productive players in the nation, while Edey averaged 15.1 points and 14.1 rebounds in seven games for Canada in the FIBA U19 World Cup in Latvia. However, most of the summer focus has been on Jaden Ivey, who is the top-ranked returnee in ESPN’s NBA draft rankings for 2022. Ivey only started 12 games last season, but he averaged 14.8 points per game and had a strong showing at the World Cup. Starters Eric Hunter Jr., Brandon Newman, and Sasha Stefanovic are all back, although Mason Gillis will miss the first four games of the season due to a suspension. One of the two aforementioned freshmen, Trey Kaufman or Caleb Furst, may take Gillis’ position. Both are in-state goods that provide a unique perspective.
Starting lineups are expected to be as follows:
Eric Hunter Jr. is a member of the Eric Hunter family (8.5 PPG) Ivey, Jaden (11.1 PPG) Stefanovic, Sasha (9.3 PPG) Mason Gillis is a young man who has a lot (5.2 PPG; suspended for first four games) Williams, Trevion (15.5 PPG, 9.1 RPG)
prior to: 7
Penny Hardaway secured projected top-five selections Jalen Duren and Emoni Bates when they reclassified into 2021 late in the summer, making the Tigers perhaps the most interesting squad in the nation heading into the season. Duren will have an instant impact on both sides of the floor, while Bates, who is very talented, will be the team’s go-to player offensively and will be given the ball to start the offense. In a loaded incoming group, ESPN 100 prospects Johnathan Lawson and Josh Minott, four-star Sam Onu and three-star John Camden, as well as transfers Earl Timberlake (Miami), Tyler Harris (Iowa State), and Chandler Lawson (Oregon), are joined by ESPN 100 prospects Johnathan Lawson and Josh Minott, four-star Sam Onu, and three-star John Camden. Timberlake, in particular, has the potential to be a game-changer for Memphis. That’s on top of three returning starters, including Landers Nolley II, the AAC’s leading scorer, and DeAndre Williams, one of the league’s most underappreciated players. The Tigers will accomplish more than simply get over the hump and into the NCAA tournament if Bates can be the team’s facilitator and Hardaway can get all of the parts to fit.
Starting lineups are expected to be as follows:
Emoni Bates is a character in the film Emoni Bates (No. 3 in ESPN 100) Earl Timberlake is an American singer and songwriter (9.3 PPG at Miami) Landers Nolley II is a fictional character created by Landers Nolley (13.1 PPG) Williams, DeAndre (11.7 PPG) Duren, Jalen (No. 7 in ESPN 100)
After guiding a Wolverines team rated No. 25 in the preseason to a 1-seed, a Big Ten regular-season championship, and one possession away from the Final Four, what does Juwan Howard do for an encore? In Ann Arbor, there are great expectations, but Howard has the ability to maintain Michigan near the top of the rankings. The newcomers will be crucial. DeVante’ Jones, a Coastal Carolina transfer, will have to modify parts of his offensive game to get others involved, but he’s a high-level playmaker and two-way player who will be in charge of the offense from the start. Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate, both five-star freshmen, will get extensive playing time right away, with Houstan a possible one-and-done top-10 selection. All-American big man Hunter Dickinson is the most notable returnee, but experienced guard Eli Brooks and forward Brandon Johns Jr., who started the last five games of the season, are also back. How soon will this team’s defense adjust? Last season, they were rated in the top five in the country at that end of the floor.
DeVante’ Jones, DeVante’ Jones, DeVante’ Jones, DeVante’ Jones, DeVante’ Jones (19.3 PPG at Coastal Carolina) Brooks, Eli (9.5 PPG) Caleb Houstan is a student at Caleb Houstan (No. 8 in ESPN 100) Brandon Johns Jr. is a football player from the United States (4.9 PPG) Dickinson, Hunter (14.1 PPG, 7.4 RPG)
Kentucky, the greatest letdown in college basketball last season, could return to the Final Four discussion this year. This year’s team was constructed differently than previous years, with John Calipari relying heavily on the transfer portal rather than accumulating five-star freshmen. Calipari landed two top-20 prospects, point guard TyTy Washington and forward Daimion Collins, so don’t panic. This season, though, the moves will have a greater effect. Kellan Grady (Davidson) could be the best of the group, as he brings experience, scoring, and high-level shooting skills to the table. Georgia’s Sahvir Wheeler topped the SEC in assists, while Iowa’s CJ Fredrick was perhaps the greatest shooter in the portal. Oscar Tshiebwe (West Virginia) is the X-factor; he was exceptional as a freshman but regressed last season. Calipari also returns five players from last season’s rotation, including Davion Mintz and Keion Brooks Jr., who both scored in double figures. Brooks has showed glimpses of his talent throughout his two seasons in Lexington, and Mintz started 21 games last season.
Sahvir Wheeler is expected to start (14.0 PPG, 7.4 APG at Georgia) Washington, TyTy (No. 14 in ESPN 100) Grady, Kellan (17.1 PPG at Davidson) Brooks, Keion Jr. (10.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG) Oscar Tshiebwe is a member of the Oscar Tshiebwe Foundation (8.5 PPG, 7.8 RPG at West Virginia)
Waco is entering a new age. Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell, MaCio Teague, and Mark Vital are gone from a squad that won the national title last season and went 54-6 in the previous two seasons. Despite the losses, Scott Drew will depend heavily on three guys who didn’t start a single game last season but showed enough potential to keep the Bears in the Big 12 championship chase. Before transferring to Baylor, Adam Flagler was a big-time scorer at Presbyterian and has gotten a lot of attention in the summer. Matthew Mayer is an NBA prospect because of his agility and shooting skills; last season, he hit almost 40% from three. Then there’s Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, who has been a bright light off the bench every night this season and may challenge Flo Thamba for a starting place. Last season, Arizona transfer James Akinjo was named first-team All-Pac-12 and will be entrusted with being the team’s main playmaker with the ball in his hands. Kendall Brown and Langston Love, both top-30 prospects, may potentially compete for a starting position.
James Akinjo, James Akinjo, James Akinjo, James Akinjo, James Akinjo, James A (15.6 PPG at Arizona) Flagler, Adam (9.0 PPG) Kendall Brown is a model who is known for her (No. 17 in ESPN 100) Mayer, Matthew (8.2 PPG) Tchamwa Tchatchoua Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua (6.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG)
Everyone in Durham is focused on Mike Krzyzewski’s last season as head coach, but the Blue Devils have a deep and talented squad as well. From start to finish, last season was a disaster, with COVID-19 problems pushing them out of the ACC tournament and putting an end to any lingering NCAA tournament aspirations. This season, it shouldn’t come to that stage. Paolo Banchero, an elite recruit, may be the most college-ready freshman in the nation and may be the offensive go-to player and anchor this team needs. A.J. Griffin is attracting lottery attention, while Trevor Keels is a true scorer. Jeremy Roach, Wendell Moore Jr., and Mark Williams, among the returnees, are expected to make significant progress. Williams averaged 13.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks during his last 10 games; Roach has another year under his belt at point guard; Moore is said to be excellent and poised for a breakthrough season; and Roach has another year under his belt at point guard. Transfer to Marquette On the interior, Theo John offers tenacity and defense.
Jeremy Roach, Jeremy Roach, Jeremy Roach, Jeremy Roach, Jeremy Roach, Jeremy (8.7 PPG) Wendell Moore Jr. is an American actor who is most known for his role in the (9.7 PPG) Griffin, A.J. (No. 29 in ESPN 100) Banchero, Paolo (No. 4 in ESPN 100) Williams, Mark (7.1 PPG, 4.5 RPG)
Dana Altman is at his finest when he has a squad with size, flexibility, and interchangeable components. This season, Oregon has precisely that. Will Richardson and Eric Williams Jr. are back as starters, while N’Faly Dante and Franck Kepnang, both 6-foot-11 centers, are also returning. Altman, as usual, went to the transfer market and found three impact players in Jacob Young (Rutgers), Quincy Guerrier (Syracuse), and De’Vion Harmon (Syracuse) (Oklahoma). All three were starters on NCAA tournament teams, with Guerrier garnering the most attention in the summer. We’ve come this far without mentioning Oregon’s acquisition of Nate Bittle, a top-15 talent. He has to bulk up a little, but he’s a talented big man who will provide matchup issues for opposition big men. Ethan Butler, a native of Canada, joined the Ducks in late September, making them the only club in the Top 25 to acquire a player since our previous Top 25 update. He’s a dynamic defender who will have a larger role in Eugene later in his career.
Will Richardson, Will Richardson, Will Richardson, Will Richardson, Will Richardson, Will Richardson, Will (11.3 PPG) De’Vion Harmon is a professional basketball player (12.9 PPG at Oklahoma) Young, Jacob (14.1 PPG at Rutgers) Eric Williams Jr. is a member of the Eric Williams family (10.0 PPG) Quincy Guerrier is a character in the film Quincy (13.7 PPG at Syracuse)
The Fighting Illini’s possible dream season came to an end sooner than anticipated, as they lost to Loyola Chicago in the second round of the NCAA tournament after winning 15 of their previous 16 games, including the Big Ten championship. Ayo Dosunmu, college basketball’s greatest closer, has retired. Despite his departure, Brad Underwood may still have the greatest inside-outside combination in the league. Kofi Cockburn has returned to the team’s interior. Cockburn, collegiate basketball’s most dominating physical force, entered the NBA draft, withdrew his name at the deadline, then entered the transfer portal… before returning to Champaign. Andre Curbelo, one of the most intriguing point guards in the nation and a possible All-American contender, will take Dosunmu’s place in the starting lineup. Trent Frazier, a longstanding starter, and veterans Da’Monte Williams and Jacob Grandison will back them up. Coleman Hawkins, a sophomore forward, and Alfonso Plummer, a Utah transfer, are two possible shocks in Champaign.
Curbelo, Andre, Curbelo, Curbelo, Curbelo, Curbelo, Curbelo, Curbel (9.1 PPG) Trent Frazier is a professional basketball player (10.2 PPG) Williams, Da’Monte (5.5 PPG) Grandison, Jacob (4.6 PPG) Cockburn, Kofi (17.7 PPG)
Eric Musselman had an immediate impact in Fayetteville, winning 20 games in his first season with the Razorbacks and then going 25-7 in his second season, falling one game shy of the Final Four. Since last season, the roster has been revamped in classic Musselman manner, with six new players slated to enter the rotation. Musselman can construct his team around a trio of returnees: Last season, JD Notae was one of the best sixth men in the country, and he could return to that role off the bench this year; Davonte Davis elevated his game in the NCAA tournament, averaging 14.3 points and 6.5 rebounds while establishing himself as an elite perimeter defender; and Jaylin Williams showed flashes of his potential impact in the second half of the season. Up to three transfers may begin right now. Stanley Umude was a three-time All-Summit pick at South Dakota, and Au’diese Toney averaged 14.4 points per game last season for Pittsburgh, but Chris Lykes will be the key. Despite dealing with ailments last season, he scored 15.5 points per game and shot 38 percent from three-point range in his last complete season with Miami.
Chris Lykes is expected to lead the starting lineup (15.5 PPG at Miami) Au’diese Toney (8.5 PPG) Davonte Davis (14.4 PPG at Pittsburgh) Stanley Umude is a character in the film Stanley Umude (21.6 PPG at South Dakota) Williams, Jaylin (3.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG)
Kelvin Sampson had a 111-24 record in his past four seasons at Houston, with two AAC regular-season titles, one conference tournament victory, seven NCAA tournament victories, and one Final Four trip. It’s safe to say that hiring former athletic director Mack Rhoades has gone better than anticipated. It’s come to the point where the Cougars are simply placed somewhere in the top 15-20 in the preseason, and we just think everything will work out because they’ll be great defensively and figure things out on the offensive end soon. Last season’s starters, Quentin Grimes, DeJon Jarreau, and Justin Gorham, are gone, but Sampson has added three major transfers in Kyler Edwards (Texas Tech), Taze Moore (Bakersfield), and Josh Carlton (Bakersfield) (UConn). Edwards quickly establishes himself as one of the top scorers in the AAC. Marcus Sasser, who ended last season with back-to-back 20-point games in the NCAA tournament against Oregon State and Baylor, may be in line for a Player of the Year season. Up front, Fabian White Jr. and Reggie Chaney have returned, while guard Tramon Mark is expected to make an impact.
Marcus Sasser, Marcus Sasser, Marcus Sasser, Marcus Sasser, Marcus Sasser (13.5 PPG) Mark Tramon (8.0 PPG) Kyler Edwards is a young man with a lot of potential (10.1 PPG at Texas Tech) Fabian White Jr. is a member of the Fabian White family (6.3 PPG) Reggie Chaney is a character in the film Reggie Chaney (4.6 PPG)
The Crimson Tide have a bullseye on their back going into this season. Alabama was unranked and projected to finish in the middle of the SEC standings a year ago, but Nate Oats’ squad went on to win the conference regular-season championship and earn a 2-seed in the NCAA tournament. Expectations are greater now that the Tide are winning on the floor and in recruiting. What will they do if they have a chance to do it again? With Jahvon Quinerly and Jaden Shackelford returning to the roster and five-star freshman J.D. Davison joining the mix, the Oats could have one of the most dynamic perimeter groupings in the nation. Quinerly has a deft touch with the ball, Shackelford is a natural scorer, and Davison is a powerful athlete. Alabama has lost some depth due to the injury of Texas Tech transfer Nimari Burnett, but Keon Ellis is an under-the-radar perimeter player. Who Oats gets output from up front will be crucial. Juwan Gary played a major part in the NCAA tournament and provides plenty of flexibility. Noah Gurley was a second-team All-Southern Conference player, and Charles Bediako is a top-40 prospect, but Juwan Gary played a significant role in the NCAA tournament and offers plenty of versatility. There are alternatives.
Jahvon Quinerly, Jahvon Quinerly, Jahvon Quinerly, Jahvon Quinerly, Jahvon (12.9 PPG, 3.2 APG) Davison, J.D. (No. 15 in ESPN 100) Shackelford, Jaden (14.0 PPG) Ellis, Keon (5.5 PPG) Gurley, Noah (15.4 PPG at Furman)
The first season in the post-Roy Williams era in Chapel Hill carries with it more uncertainty than usual, but the stakes are just as high. Some of the doubt is on whether Hubert Davis will alter the two-big strategy that Williams so successfully used, but the early-summer arrival of Marquette transfer Dawson Garcia may put those concerns on wait for the time being. The frontcourt combination of Garcia, returning big man Armando Bacot, and Oklahoma transfer Brady Manek should be one of the best in the ACC. Garcia had a fantastic rookie season in the Big East, and he’s talented enough to spread the floor and give balance for Bacot, who’s a force on the boards and near the basket. Manek scored in double digits in each of his four seasons at Norman, including last season when he shot 37.5 percent from three. Caleb Love, a former five-star point guard, will need to be more consistent and make less errors at the point guard position. Returnees R.J. Davis, Kerwin Walton, Leaky Black, and top-50 prospect D’Marco Dunn will line up beside him on the perimeter.
Caleb Love (10.5 points per game, 3.6 assists per game), R.J. Davis (8.4 points per game), and Kerwin Walton are projected to start (8.2 PPG) Garcia, Dawson (13.0 PPG at Marquette) Bacot, Armando (12.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG)
Tennessee finished 8-8 during its last 16 games last season after appearing like a genuine Final Four candidate for the first two months of the season, and was ousted in the first round of the NCAA tournament by Oregon State. How will Rick Barnes and the Volunteers rebound now that three starters have left the team? The newcomers are causing quite a stir. Kennedy Chandler, a top-10 recruit, is probably the greatest point guard in college basketball, and he’ll have the ball early. Justin Powell, an Auburn transfer, can shoot the ball effectively and is an underappreciated playmaker, while five-star forward Brandon Huntley-Hatfield adds a new dimension to the front line. The dependable foursome of John Fulkerson, Santiago Vescovi, Victor Bailey Jr., and Josiah-Jordan James is also back. Last season, all four players started at least 12 games and should offer size, experience, and flexibility. The offensive side of the ball will be crucial for Barnes’ squad, but Chandler’s arrival should instantly address some of those problems.
Kennedy Chandler is expected to start (No. 10 in ESPN 100) Powell, Justin (11.7 PPG at Auburn) Victor Bailey Jr. is a member of the Victor Bailey family (10.9 PPG) James Josiah-Jordan (8.0 PPG) Fulkerson, John (9.5 PPG)
A rocky finish to the season — a four-game losing streak at the end of the regular season, a run to the Big Ten title game, and a first-round exit at the hands of 15-seed Oral Roberts — combined with the departures of starting guards Duane Washington Jr. and CJ Walker makes predicting what the Buckeyes will look like in 2021-22 difficult. E.J. Liddell, one of the greatest players in the nation and a matchup issue for most opposition frontcourt players, will be a constant. Due to the point guard vacancies, Justice Sueing and Kyle Young are also back in the frontcourt after starting last season. Sueing may see himself being utilized as a facilitator more this season. In the backcourt, the queries are posed. At point guard, Penn State transfer Jamari Wheeler and Meechie Johnson Jr., who enrolled for the second semester last season, will compete, while Justin Ahrens is the team’s top shooter and a first-team selection. Last season, Cedric Russell, an All-Sun Belt guard, scored 17.2 points per game and shot 40% from three-point range. Then there’s Malaki Branham, a promising top-35 prospect. This rating will seem low if two or three of those players can step up and become reliable alternatives.
Jamari Wheeler, Jamari Wheeler, Jamari Wheeler, Jamari Wheeler, Jamari Wheeler, Jamari (6.8 PPG at Penn State) E.J. Liddell (16.2 PPG) Kyle Young (5.7 PPG) Justin Ahrens (5.7 PPG) Justice Sueing (10.7 PPG) Justin Ahrens (5.7 PPG) Justin Ahrens (5.7 PPG) Justin Ahrens (5.7 PPG) Justin Ahrens (5.7 P (8.6 PPG)
Mark Turgeon knew precisely what he needed in the offseason: a point guard and a big guy. Before the NCAA tournament had finished, he got two of the greatest ones in the portal. Qudus Wahab (Georgetown) averaged 12.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game and was one of the top big players in the Big East. Fatts Russell (Rhode Island) was a first-team All-Atlantic 10 pick in 2020 and a third-team selection in 2021. Although the departure of Aaron Wiggins to the NBA is disappointing, the Terrapins should still have enough firepower to contend — and will undoubtedly be deeper. Russell will create a powerful backcourt combination with Eric Ayala, while Hakim Hart has been a key component for the Terps in the past. Donta Scott will play alongside Wahab and will be a tough matchup for opponents owing to his 44 percent 3-point shooting skill. Early feedback on new ESPN 100 forward Julian Reese has been extremely favorable, and he’ll be a guy to keep an eye on in the NBA draft. Turgeon’s three-year extension should help relieve some of the strain.
Starting lineups are expected to be as follows: Russell Fatts (14.7 PPG at Rhode Island) Ayala, Eric (15.1 PPG) Hart, Hakim (7.1 PPG) Scott, Donta (11.0 PPG) Wahab Qudus (12.7 PPG, 8.2 RPG at Georgetown)
Few schools have had as much success as Florida State over the past five years, with three Sweet 16 trips, one Elite Eight run, and an ACC regular-season title — and Leonard Hamilton has virtually earned yearly preseason Top 25 rankings regardless of the roster. That isn’t to suggest that the squad this season isn’t skilled. Anthony Polite is an NBA prospect who has the potential to be the team’s top player. Last season, he hit 43.6 percent from three-point range and offers a lot of flexibility to the table. RayQuan Evans has returned to the starting lineup, while Malik Osborne and Wyatt Wilkes have been with the team for many years. The Seminoles are bringing a high-level recruiting class to Tallahassee, as is customary. Matt Cleveland is the best of three ESPN 100 prospects who have joined the team, and he and Jalen Warley may compete for starting positions straight immediately. Transfer to Houston Caleb Mills was one of the greatest players in the AAC two seasons ago, and he has the potential to be an all-conference player if he can maintain his form in 2019-20.
Caleb Mills, Caleb Mills, Caleb Mills, Caleb Mills, Caleb Mills (9.8 PPG at Houston) Jalen Warley is a professional basketball player (No. 61 in ESPN 100) Cleveland, Matt (No. 30 in ESPN 100) Polite, Anthony (10.1 PPG) Malik Osborne is a rapper from the United States (5.9 PPG, 4.5 RPG)
The Tigers’ anticipated starting lineup for their season opener against Morehead State next month differs from the one shown here. After hurting his Achilles in early September, Allen Flanigan, a predicted first-round selection in the NBA draft, is likely to miss another eight to ten weeks. If he returns completely healthy, he will elevate an already strong Auburn squad to new heights. In the absence of Flanigan, Bruce Pearl may turn to Devan Cambridge, who started 19 games and averaged 8.9 points last season. Apart from Cambridge and sophomore center Jaylin Williams (10.9 PPG), Auburn’s newcomers have gotten the most of the spotlight this season. Both top recruit Jabari Smith and North Carolina transfer Walker Kessler, a former five-star prospect, are expected to start up front for the Tigers. Transfers K.D. Johnson (Georgia), Zep Jasper (Charleston), and Wendell Green Jr. (Eastern Kentucky) will compete for minutes on the perimeter. This squad has the ability to compete with anybody if Pearl can find the perfect combination and Flanigan returns healthy.
Wendell Green (15.8 PPG, 5.0 APG at Eastern Kentucky) and K.D. Johnson are projected to start (13.5 PPG at Georgia) Allen Flanigan is an American actor who is most known for his role (14.3 PPG) Smith, Jabari (No. 6 in ESPN 100) Walker Kessler is a writer (4.4 PPG at North Carolina)
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Because of the departure of James Bouknight, I’ve had a worse opinion of the Huskies this summer than others. Last season, Bouknight was one of college basketball’s really top scorers, and the Huskies don’t have a ready-made substitute. However, I believe UConn still has enough alternatives to take up the slack and, like most Dan Hurley-coached teams, should be difficult on defense. Hurley also returns the majority of his core players from a 7-seed in the NCAA tournament, while adding four ESPN 100 prospects. R.J. Cole returns to run the point and, as shown by his seasons of 21.4 and 23.7 points per game at Howard, can improve his scoring. Tyrese Martin is a double-digit scorer and a great offensive rebounder, while shot-blockers Isaiah Whaley and Adama Sanogo, who had a fantastic season, are back as starters up top. Tyler Polley, Jalen Gaffney, Andre Jackson, and a healthy Akok Akok are all back, so there will be battle for spots. Keep an eye on Jordan Hawkins, one of the newbies. He has length, athleticism, and the ability to make shots.
R.J. Cole (12.2 PPG, 4.3 APG) and Andre Jackson are projected to start (2.7 PPG) Martin, Tyrese (10.3 PPG, 7.5 RPG) Sanogo, Adama (7.3 PPG) Whaley, Isaiah (8.0 PPG, 2.6 BPG)
previous: following in line
The Bonnies are another club I’ve been on the fence about all summer, but I believe they’re deserving of a place in the preseason Top 25. They had the top offense and defense in the Atlantic 10 last season, and they’ve returned all five starters while adding two high-major transfers to bolster the bench. In the nonconference, Mark Schmidt’s squad has a number of opportunities to make a statement. In the Charleston Classic, St. Bonaventure may be the favorite and play West Virginia in the final game. In December, it plays neutral-site matchups against UConn and Virginia Tech. Guards Kyle Lofton and Jaron Holmes, as well as big man Osun Osunniyi, the league’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year, return as all-conference players. Dominick Welch and Jalen Adaway are back in the starting lineup as double-digit scorers, and Schmidt has added depth and experience with the additions of Abdoul Karim Coulibaly (Pittsburgh) and Quadry Adams (Wake Forest).
Kyle Lofton is expected to start (14.4 PPG, 5.5 APG) Jaren Holmes is a character in the film Jaren Holmes (13.8 PPG) Welch, Dominick (11.4 PPG) Adaway, Jalen (12.2 PPG) Osunniyi Osunniyi Osunniyi Osunniy (10.7 PPG, 9.4 RPG)
I couldn’t bring myself to leave Virginia off of the preseason rankings, even when other teams entered the Top 25. It’s all because of Tony Bennett. In all but one of the past eight seasons, the Cavaliers have ended in the top 20 on KenPom.com, and in that season, they won 11 of their last 12 games. During that time, they’ve only finished second in the ACC once. Bennett will be able to construct his team around a strong quartet of players. Kihei Clark, who has started 73 games in three seasons in Charlottesville, is the starting quarterback. He’s one of the ACC’s top defensive players. As a freshman, Reece Beekman was a key contributor, starting 20 games and making an impact with his distribution and defense. Jayden Gardner (East Carolina) and Armaan Franklin (Indiana) are two transfers who will start right away. Gardner was a first-team All-AAC player last season and has put up big numbers for three years in a row, while Franklin hit 42.4 percent from three last year. Bennett will have to rely on some untested players, whether it’s Francisco Caffaro and Kadin Shedrick up front or foreign signings Igor Milicic and Taine Murray.
Kihei Clark, Kihei Clark, Kihei Clark, Kihei Clark, Kihei Clark, Kihe (9.5 PPG, 4.5 APG) Beekman, Reece (4.7 PPG) Franklin, Armaan (11.4 PPG at Indiana) Gardner, Jayden (18.3 PPG at East Carolina) Caffaro, Francisco (1.2 PPG)
Following in line:
Cowboys of Oklahoma State (previous: No. 23) Hokies of Virginia Tech (previous: No. 24) Red Raiders of Texas Tech (previous: Next in line) Spartans of Michigan State University (previous: Next in line) Rams of Colorado State (previous: Next in line)
Oklahoma State (No. 23) and Virginia Tech both dropped out (No. 24)
The college basketball rankings 2021-22 is a ranking of the top teams in college basketball. Gonzaga is still considered to be the favorite in the Way.
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