Well the 2015-2016 college basketball season did not disappoint but for everyone but Villanova fans we are already looking at next season and all the hope and opportunity that it entails. A bunch of our student writers wanted to put together a poll for how we view teams will be next year. A majority of our writers submitted their top 25 to the poll to eliminate bias. We will update our poll after the May 25th NBA draft deadline as we will know more about who will be back for each team next year. Without further ado here is the College Pride Press Top 25 for next season.
1.Duke Blue Devils
Duke will lose Brandon Ingram to the NBA and Marshall Plumlee is out of eligibility but the Blue Devils have a loaded recruited class of Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, and Frank Jackson. Those 3 guys will look to gel with the already sturdy core of Grayson Allen and Luke Kennard. The combination of top recruiting class and talent coming back for next year make Duke the slam dunk #1 team.
2. Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky will have to replace most of its starting lineup but as no surprise John Calipari has a top recruiting class coming in. This Kentucky team is built more like the teams of 2014 and 2015 with tons of size to overpower everyone inside.
3. Kansas Jayhawks
Kansas will have to replace longtime cog Perry Ellis but will have Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham coming back to run the show. Unlike the other blue bloods, Kansas does not look to have any immediate impact players in their recruiting class. This team will have to rely on Graham and Mason to carry them to another Big-12 title.
4. Villanova Wildcats
The reigning national champions check in at #4 for next season. They must fill the voids left by Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu. Jalen Brunson looks like he is more than capable of taking over the ball handling duties next season. The big question will be whether incoming freshman Omari Spellman can hold his own down low while staying out of foul trouble. Nova looks to be the king of the Big East again next season.
5. Oregon Ducks
Chris Bucher and Dillon Brooks look like they will be back in Eugene next season which make the Ducks the favorite to win the Pac-12 again.
6. Michigan State Spartans
This will be a significantly different team than you are used to seeing from Michigan State. They will rely heavily on freshman next season as they have a loaded recruiting class to replace seniors Denzel Valentine and Bryn Forbes. Miles Bridges, Joshua Langford, and Cassius Winston are all highly touted freshman who will expect to play significant minutes. Tom Izzo has never had a recruiting class of potential “one and done’s” so it will be an interesting season to watch in East Lansing.
7. Indiana Hoosiers
Thomas Bryant returns and all of Hoosier Nation rejoices! IU will have to find a way to replace the production and leadership of Yogi Ferrell. If Troy Williams is not back for next season OG Anunoby will need to step up for the Hoosiers to reclaim the Big-Ten title.
8. Arizona Wildcats
No fear Arizona fans Sean Miller will be back! Alonzo Trier will pair up with Kobi Simmons and Rawle Alkins to make an unstoppable backcourt. Arizona will be my pick to win the Pac-12.
9. North Carolina Tar Heels
Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson will be gone but Isiah Hicks and Joel Berry are ready to step into larger roles next season. UNC will not skip a beat. They will not shoot well from outside (like this season), but they will be able to rebound and score in the paint better than anyone in the country.
10. Virginia Cavaliers
Tony Bennett will lose Malcolm Brogdon but London Perrantes will be back and will be joined by All-American freshman Kyle Guy. The Cavaliers will need Guy’s scoring punch if they want to get over the hump of the Elite 8.
11. Louisville Cardinals
Louisville will be hungry coming off an empty season full of NCAA scandals. Anas Mahmoud will be a stud for the Cardinals down low next season. Look for the Egyptian forward to improve on the flashes of greatness he showed before his injury.
12. Xavier Musketeers
Most of Xavier’s core will be back including standout point guard Ed Sumner. Xavier will be gunning to take down the national champion Villanova Wildcats in the Big East.
13. Wisconsin Badgers
Bronson Koenig, Nigel Hayes, and Ethan Happ will all be back in Madison. Greg Gard will have a whole summer to work with them. This Wisconsin team will be dangerous next season as Ethan Happ will only improve over the offseason.
14. Syracuse Orange
Syracuse will lose Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije but Tyler Lydon and Malachi Richardson will be back. Combine the returners with phenom freshman Tyus Battle and the Orange will be a sneaky team in the ACC.
15. West Virginia Mountaineers
Bob Huggins can get any team in the country to turn the ball over. The main core will be back. Big-12 coaches should start practicing their press break right now.
16. Miami Hurricanes
Miami will need to replace most of their core from this season but have a very talented recruiting class including Bruce Brown coming in. I gave them my vote just on their recruiting class.
17. UCLA Bruins
Prince Ali and Thomas Welsh will be back. Bryce Alford will become a walk-on this year to clear a scholarship for this loaded recruiting class. UCLA may have underachieved this season but their players should improve and the addition of TJ Leaf and Lonzo Ball make UCLA a young and dangerous team next season.
18. Seton Hall Pirates
If Isiah Whitehead comes back the Pirates will be in the top 25 to start the year. His scoring and athleticism is enough to put them into the poll for next season. Whitehead will need a sidekick like Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil at Providence this year.
19. Texas A&M Aggies
Tyler Davis was a stud this year for the Aggies. His growth and development will be key to the Aggie’s success next season as they will need to replace so many graduating role players.
20. Purdue Boilermakers
Isaac Haas will be the big man in West Lafayette next season as he steps out of AJ Hammons’s shadow. Freshman Carsen Edwards will look to finally solidify the point guard position for the Boilermakers.
21. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Gonzaga will lose most of its core that went to the Sweet 16 but will have Josh Perkins and 4 4-star recruits moving to Spokane.
22. Texas Longhorns
This ranking is based on 2 things. Isiah Taylor pulling his name out of draft consideration after the NBA combine and 5-star center Jarrett Allen comes to Austin. If neither happen then Shaka Smart will have to go back to the drawing board.
23. Maryland Terrapins
Maryland will have to go back to the drawing board after likely losing all 5 starters from this year’s team. 4-star freshmen Anthony Cowan and Kevin Heurter will combine to make a formidable backcourt.
24. Oklahoma Sooners
Buddy Hield and Ryan Spangler are graduating leaving Jordan Woodard and Khadeem Lattin to pick up the slack for the Sooners.
Daniel Hamilton is surprisingly not going to be back but Kevin Ollie is bringing in 4 4-star freshmen.
Vanderbilt, USC, and Dayton just missed the cut. Mississippi State also had a significant amount of votes due solely to their impressive recruiting class and Ben Howland.