Well the 2016-2017 season is officially over. It was a crazy season with tons of twist and turns that come with every college basketball season. In order to help our post NCAA Tournament depression we decided to rank the teams for next year. It is tough to predict where some top recruits will go and whether some players will be back or not but this is a fun exercise and always gives us laughs once we get into next season. So without further ado here is your first 2017-2018 Top 25 Poll.
The Wildcats could not get over the hump this season but they have their hopes up for next season. We need to figure out which backcourt pieces will be back but #1 recruit DeAndre Ayton will help fill the void of Lauri Markkenen’s early departure.
Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox are going to the NBA…but John Calipari has a top recruiting class coming in. Look for Hamidou Diallo to be the main piece of the Wildcats for the next year.
We are unsure about the status of Devonte Graham but Bill Self has set up the Jayhawks to bounce back quickly with Malik Newmman eligible to play next year and Billy Preston coming in as a top ranked freshman. Combine those incomers with Udoka Azubuike coming back from injury. That is a very well rounded roster and with Devonte Graham that is a Final Four contender.
There is a lot up in the air for the Bluedevils. Marques Bolden was transferring but seems to have changed his mind. We are not sure if Greyson Allen or Luke Kennard will be back for Coach K. Gary Trent and Wendell Carter will need to step in and play major roles if Kennard and Allen depart for the NBA.
If Donovan Mitchell and VJ King return, Rick Pitino will be right back at the top of the ACC. This team will rely mostly on returning players with Malik Williams being the only impact freshman. One more year of shot blocker Anas Mahmoud will help the Cardinal defense be elite again.
6. Wichita State
Woah. This may seem high for Greg Marshall’s squad but he will return every rotation player and the move to the AAC could provide their strength of schedule with a huge boost. Landry Shamet will be a household name by this time next year as the redshirt freshman will build off his strong freshman campaign.
7. North Carolina
Last year it was clear to see that a reload was possible for the Tar Heels after seeing Kennedy Meeks and Justin Jackson return. Isaiah Hicks and Theo Pinson could fill in for Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson and away they went. This year a reload will require much more work as Justin Jackson, Kennedy Meeks, and Isaiah Hicks are all likely departed. Seventh Woods and Tony Bradley will need to take major steps to keep the Tar Heels at the top of the ACC.
8. Michigan State
Tom Izzo struggled with injuries and inexperience this season but it will pay off next year if Miles Bridges returns. Cassius Winston and Nick Ward showed flashes of brilliance in their first campaign and could be dominant with Bridge’s return for one more season. Jaren Jackson will come in as a five star forward that can compliment Nick Ward in the front court. This team will be a Top 10 team with Bridges but a Top 25 team without him.
Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins have graduated. Assuming Jalen Brunson returns this will be a very talented Wildcat team. Last year, the Wildcats got killed down low (i.e. Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes) but after spending a year working on his academics, 5-star Omari Spellman will provide an anchor down low.
This ranking will pivot on Zach Collins. If the freshman big man departs for the NBA, this team will have a much lower ceiling. Nigel Williams-Goss and Josh Perkins should be back to lead the Gonzaga revenge tour. Killian Tillie should be a name to watch for the Zags as his role will expand next season.
KenPom loves the Gators and Mike White has done a great job in his 2+ seasons. The Gators would love if KeVaughn Allen and Devin Robinson return next season.
Lonzo Ball is going to be in the NBA next year. But UCLA has a great recruiting class coming in. Kris Wilkes and Jaylen Hands are both elite prospects and will likely only be at UCLA for one year. Combine those two prospects with Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh and that is a tough team to beat.
13. West Virginia
Tarik Phillip and Nathan Adrian have graduated but Bob Huggins just plugs and plays with that great defense and fast pace play. Esa Ahmad will be the name to watch for the Mountaineers next season.
Richard Pitino broke through last season with a strong campaign and a NCAA Tournament berth. Akeem Spring is the only rotational player graduating. The Gophers could lose Amir Coffey to the NBA but I would gamble that Coffey and big man Reggie Lynch return to school. If Pitino can continue to develop this core they will be a sneaky good team next year.
Chris Holtmann did a great job coaching the Bulldogs this year. The Bulldogs will lose most of their main players to graduation but Kelan Martin and Kamar Baldwin will be back. Look for redshirt freshman Joey Brunk to have a big impact after dealing with some personal issues this season.
Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey could be back to team up with Payton Pritchard and Jordan Bell. If Brooks and Dorsey leave for the NBA, Oregon will not be in the Top 25. The world got a taste of Oregon basketball in their incredible tournament run to the Final Four so the lights will be brighter next season as they look to return to the Final Four.
Troy Caupain and Kevin Johnson have graduated but the rest of the team is back for Mick Cronin. The Bearcats had one of the top defensive units this season and that will not change next year.
Avery Johnson is killing it on the recruiting trail with John Petty and Collin Sexton coming in to make the Crimson Tide relevant. This Alabama team will grow through growing pains but the backcourt will be one of the top in the conference.
USC can score…alot. Next season will not be any different for Andy Enfield. If no one leaves or transfers the Trojans will be an underrated team in the PAC-12.
With Ed Sumner hiring an agent, this ranking is based on Trevon Bluiett’s decision on whether to go to the NBA or come back Xavier. Xavier already has their replacement for Sumner with guard Paul Scruggs coming as a highly touted recruit.
Bruce Brown had a great freshman season and he is returning for the Hurricanes. Add 5-star Lonnie Walker to the fold and Jim Larranaga will once again have the most underrated team in the ACC.
If you read the CPP twitter account, you know I am a big Oklahoma fan for next year. Trae Young is legit and Christian James has earned the nickname “Little Buddy” (referring to Buddy Hield). OU will return most of their core from this season and the addition of Young will tie it all together.
23. Notre Dame
Matt Farrell and Bonzie Colson should both be back to lead the Irish attack. Mike Brey will need to surround them with role players but with those two cornerstones fans should expect big things from the Irish in 2017-2018.
SMU did great things for being limited for scholarships. This ranking is assuming Semi Ojeleye returns for his senior season. With the AAC adding Wichita State the conference will only be stronger and SMU will continue to improve.
25. St. Mary’s
The Gaels will lose two rotation players but will return big man Jock Landale. The rest of the supporting cast will be back as the “Fighting Australians” look for revenge over Gonzaga.
Others Receiving Votes
- Rhode Island
- Virginia Tech
- Seton Hall
- Georgia Tech