1. Duke- This is the best recruiting classes in school history, led by projected lottery picks Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden. Grayson Allen is the odds-on leader for national player of the year. Veterans Amile Jefferson and Matt Jones will prove vital. Luke Kennard is set to have a breakout sophomore. The big difference this year will be Duke’s ability to crash the boards and rebound.
2. Villanova– This team could repeat and win it all again. The only pieces lost are Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu. Everybody else returns and that makes this team very dangerous once again.
3. Kentucky- Once again the Cats have a big time recruiting class, with 5 freshmen that will be big time players right away. I think this group will come together much quicker than last year’s group.
4. Xavier- A two seed that got upset early in last year’s tournament by Wisconsin. Coach Chris Mack has a deep powerful team that could win a National championship. Led by Edmond Sumner, Trevon Bluiett, J.P. Macura (breakout player special), Myles Davis and transfer Rashid Gaston the Muskies have multiple guys that on any given night can put the team on their back.
5. Kansas- As always the Jayhawks have a deeply talented roster. This team will be strong in the backcourt and the frontcourt and will cause teams match-up problems all year.
6. Oregon- Dillon Brooks is the team’s MOP, but there’s so much more. Chris Boucher, Tyler Dorsey, Jordan Bell, Dylan Ennis with a sixth year of eligibility. The Ducks have to be considered the favorites in the Pac-12.
7. Virginia- London Perrantes is UVA’s leader this season. It’s not often you see a frosh class with a lot of publicity at Virginia, but Kyle Guy leads the way for a group of newbies who will see plenty of time on the floor.
8. North Carolina- Kennedy Meeks, Joel Berry, Theo Pinson, Justin Jackson and Isaiah Hicks make up a terrific starting five. The Tar Heels have a shot to get back to the final four yet again.
9. UCLA- The most talented roster in L.A. since the Bruins last final four teams.
10. Indiana- This will be a fun high powered offensive team to watch. To be a contender they will have to step it up on the defensive side of the ball. They are capable of going farther than they did last year.
11. Arizona- Great talent here, and what makes it so great is a great mix of veteran and young players.
12. Gonzaga- Maybe one of Coach Mark Few’s most talented teams.
13. Saint Mary’s- Bring back all starters from a team that won 29 games last year. Common sense will tell you they should be better than last year.
14. Wisconsin- Most everybody returns from a Badgers team that won 22 games last year.
15. Louisville- The school is still under investigation by the NCAA, but chances are last year’s self-imposed postseason ban will suffice, meaning this is a tourney team come March. Very raw, but extremely talented roster, this will be a fun team to watch.
16. Texas- Just wait until you see Jarrett Allen play!
17. Michigan State- The highest-rated freshman class Tom Izzo’s ever had: Miles Bridges, Josh Langford, Cassius Winston, Nick Ward. If those four play up to their talent this season, then look out.
18. UConn- This is a deeply talented roster that should easily win their conference.
19. Syracuse- Cuse will have an elite sophomore and likely 2017 NBA pick in Tyler Lydon, a good senior PF in Tyler Roberson, a Providence transfer addition in Paschal Chukwu. Freshmen Matthew Moyer, Tyus Battle and Taurean Thompson align a bright future for SU.
20. Purdue- Improved guard play should make this Boilermakers team better than last years.
21. Rhode Island- The roster is athletic, strong, fast, has shooters, shot-blockers, depth. It’s all there. This looks like the best team in the A-10.
22. Iowa State- Monte Morris will be the best player in the Big 12.
23. Wichita State- While VanVleet is a Shockers legend, there are things Shamet can do athletically that VanVleet could not.
24. West Virginia- Won’t be as good on the boards as they have been in years past, but still a good team.
25. Creighton- Two studs in Mo Watson, Jr. and Marcus Foster, guys who will compete with each other to be First Team All-Big East.