Gonzaga, UCLA 1-2 in Way-Too-Early Top 25 college basketball rankings for 2021-22


After a school basketball season not like any we have ever seen, we’re about to enter a school basketball offseason not like any we have ever seen. In addition to the standard NBA draft choices, the switch portal is filling up at an unprecedented fee, and each participant within the nation has been granted one other 12 months of eligibility, in the event that they so select. Throw in a possible one-time switch waiver and rosters right now will look drastically totally different three months from now.

But that is not sufficient to cease the Way-Too-Early Top 25!

Some floor guidelines earlier than transferring ahead. For probably the most half, we’re utilizing ESPN’s NBA draft rankings as a suggestion. If a participant is ranked inside the highest 60, we’re projecting him to go away. There are some exceptions. As for the additional 12 months of eligibility, we’re nonetheless projecting the overwhelming majority of seniors to go away; once more, with a few exceptions. These rankings will shift and alter all through the offseason, however here is our first guess on the 2021-22 panorama.

Hurry up and dive in — there are solely about 220 days till the 2021 Champions Classic.

Gonzaga fell simply quick in 2020-21, however it deserves the advantage of the doubt with regards to early rankings. Thirty-plus wins in 5 straight seasons and 6 straight second-weekend NCAA event appearances tends to do this. Mark Few’s workforce will lose a minimum of three starters in lottery picks Jalen Suggs and Corey Kispert in addition to probably draft choose Joel Ayayi, and Drew Timme and Andrew Nembhard may each check the waters. But if Timme and Nembhard come again, Few has the core of one more nationwide title contender, and Timme would be the overwhelming Wooden Award favourite. Anton Watson was a key a part of the rotation, and the workers is assured that the younger gamers — together with Julian Strawther and Dominick Harris — will take a step ahead. The Bulldogs additionally usher in five-star guard Hunter Sallis and are the heavy favorites to land No. 1 general prospect Chet Holmgren. The Zags are also prone to hit the switch market and are the perceived chief for North Carolina’s Walker Kessler. There might be loads of expertise in Spokane, Washington, as soon as once more.

Projected beginning lineup:

Andrew Nembhard (9.1 PPG)
Hunter Sallis (No. 13 in ESPN 100)
Dominick Harris (3.1 PPG)
Anton Watson (7.1 PPG)
Drew Timme (19.0 PPG)

A bang-bang cost name or 40-footer shy of probably enjoying for the nationwide championship, I’m banking on UCLA’s March momentum carrying over to subsequent season. That expectation hinges closely on what Johnny Juzang decides to do, nonetheless. March’s breakout star raised his inventory as a lot as any participant in school basketball over the previous three weeks and will head to the NBA. But if Juzang comes again, Mick Cronin ought to have again each notable participant from the Final Four workforce. Jaime Jaquez established himself as a go-to scorer and Tyger Campbell is the right level guard for Cronin. The Bruins must also get a lift from the potential wholesome return of Chris Smith and the addition of five-star wing Peyton Watson. The query might be whether or not UCLA is extra just like the workforce that gained 5 video games in 12 days to get to the Final Four or the workforce that misplaced 4 in a row to complete 17-9 earlier than Selection Sunday.

Projected beginning lineup:

Tyger Campbell (10.2 PPG)
Johnny Juzang (15.5 PPG)
Jaime Jaquez (12.1 PPG)
Chris Smith (12.6 PPG)
Cody Riley (9.8 PPG)

Matt Painter did a terrific job with the Boilermakers this season, ending 13-6 within the Big Ten earlier than falling in time beyond regulation in each the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments. But there are zero seniors on the roster, and solely a few backup frontcourt gamers have transferred out to this point. So all 5 starters in must be again for Purdue. It begins with Trevion Williams, a preseason All-America candidate who could be dominant down low. Painter has a deep and versatile perimeter group, with Jaden Ivey a chief breakout candidate as a sophomore. Ivey began the ultimate 12 video games of the season, scoring in double figures in all however two of these video games and scoring 26 factors within the NCAA event. Painter can go large with 7-foot-4 Zach Edey, he can have a extra conventional lineup with Mason Gillis on the ahead spot, or he may go small with 4 perimeter scorers.

Projected beginning lineup:

Eric Hunter (8.5 PPG)
Brandon Newman (8.0 PPG)
Jaden Ivey (11.1 PPG)
Sasha Stefanovic (9.3 PPG)
Trevion Williams (15.5 PPG, 9.1 RPG)

The Buckeyes had been ranked close to the highest 5 for a lot of the season, earlier than late-season inconsistency noticed them lose 4 in a row to finish the common season, then make a run to the Big Ten title recreation — after which lose within the first spherical of the NCAA event to 15-seed Oral Roberts. Three key gamers from that group are again: potential preseason All-American E.J. Liddell and starters Duane Washington Jr. and Justice Sueing. Chris Holtmann addressed his level guard scenario by going out and getting Penn State switch Jamari Wheeler, whereas Zed Key will see a rise in minutes down low with Kyle Young probably gone. Ohio State was among the best offensive groups within the nation this previous season, however its protection was missing. The Buckeyes had been tenth within the Big Ten in defensive effectivity and allowed eight of their last 10 opponents to attain a couple of level per possession. That wants to alter.

Projected beginning lineup:

Jamari Wheeler (6.8 PPG at Penn State)
Duane Washington Jr. (16.4 PPG)
Justice Sueing (10.7 PPG)
E.J. Liddell (16.2 PPG)
Zed Key (5.2 PPG)

One of the perfect groups within the nation over the ultimate month of the season, Kansas ought to have fun Bill Self’s lifetime contract with a way more constant group. The Jayhawks are prone to lose senior Marcus Garrett, however a lot of the rotation ought to return. Jalen Wilson and David McCormack each had lengthy stretches the place they seemed like stars, whereas Christian Braun and Ochai Agbaji are stalwart starters. The large query could possibly be at level guard with out Garrett. But DaJuan Harris confirmed flashes of his two-way capability this previous season, whereas former Louisville signee Bobby Pettiford was a top-100 prospect at the highschool stage. Self additionally has Bryce Thompson, who got here into faculty with the fame as a big-time scorer however struggled with accidents as a freshman. Kansas’ frontcourt must be loaded, although, with top-50 prospects Zach Clemence and Ok.J. Adams coming into the fold.

Projected beginning lineup:

DaJuan Harris Jr. (2.0 PPG)
Christian Braun (9.8 PPG)
Ochai Agbaji (14.2 PPG)
Jalen Wilson (12.1 PPG)
David McCormack (13.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG)

Mark Turgeon struck early on the switch market, touchdown Rhode Island guard Fatts Russell and Georgetown large man Qudus Wahab in a matter of hours. Russell and Wahab ought to reply two of the larger query marks I had concerning the Terps: level guard play and a constant inside presence. I’m assuming senior Darryl Morsell leaves, however Turgeon brings again three full-time starters in Eric Ayala, Aaron Wiggins and Donta Scott — plus Hakim Hart, who was a key participant down the stretch and began 10 of Maryland’s 11 video games. There’s loads of expertise on this roster, and Turgeon did a formidable job with the Terps this previous season, guiding them to the NCAA event regardless of restricted preseason expectations. If Russell can regain his 2019-20 kind and Wahab adapts rapidly to the Big Ten, Maryland has a possible Final Four contender.

Projected beginning lineup:

Fatts Russell (14.7 PPG at Rhode Island)
Eric Ayala (15.1 PPG)
Aaron Wiggins (14.5 PPG)
Donta Scott (11.0 PPG)
Qudus Wahab (12.7 PPG, 8.2 RPG at Georgetown)

This rating hinges closely on Collin Gillespie. The All-America-caliber level guard is a senior and will resolve his Villanova profession is over, however after tearing his MCL and lacking his last NCAA event, there’s a number of discuss that Gillespie may finally benefit from the additional 12 months and return to the Wildcats. The reality he will be rehabbing for the following few months and may not get to work out in any respect for NBA groups could possibly be an element, too. If Gillespie is again, it is a surefire top-10 workforce. If he is not and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl goes professional as anticipated, then Jay Wright may have some points. But Justin Moore is again, Caleb Daniels is again, and Brandon Slater and Bryan Antoine confirmed some promise down the stretch of the season. Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree must also add some physicality down low after lacking this previous season attributable to damage. Villanova additionally brings in a extremely touted recruiting class with three top-100 prospects.

Projected beginning lineup:

Collin Gillespie (14.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG)
Justin Moore (12.9 PPG)
Caleb Daniels (9.6 PPG)
Brandon Slater (3.8 PPG)
Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (1.5 PPG in 2019-20)

If I had advised you two years in the past that Alabama would lose three starters and one other key rotation participant and nonetheless be ranked within the preseason 10, you’d have thought I used to be insane. But that is the influence Nate Oats has had on this system in Tuscaloosa. Herb Jones, John Petty, Jordan Bruner and Alex Reese are all probably gone, however Jahvon Quinerly ought to slot into the beginning lineup and Jaden Shackelford and Joshua Primo ought to thrive with a number of extra pictures. The Crimson Tide additionally usher in five-star guard J.D. Davison, one of the crucial explosive gamers in highschool basketball the previous couple of years. Davison ought to instantly turn into a big-time scorer and playmaker. One potential weak point comes on the within, the place James Rojas and Juwan Gary must step ahead, together with junior school switch Langton Wilson.

Projected beginning lineup:

Jahvon Quinerly (12.9 PPG, 3.2 APG)
J.D. Davison (No. 11 in ESPN 100)
Jaden Shackelford (14.0 PPG)
Joshua Primo (8.1 PPG)
James Rojas (2.9 PPG, 2.6 RPG)

Are we nonetheless going to do that? You know, that factor the place we underestimate Leonard Hamilton and Florida State within the preseason after which they exit and win 25 video games and compete for an ACC title and win a number of video games in March? The Seminoles have gotten out of the primary weekend in three straight NCAA tournaments and sure would have made it 4 if the 2020 dance hadn’t been canceled. I’m anticipating them to lose M.J. Walker and Scottie Barnes, whereas Raiquan Gray can be testing the NBA draft waters. But Anthony Polite is again, Balsa Koprivica is again and Hamilton may also have his normal assortment of 7-footers to throw at groups. He additionally brings in a deep and proficient recruiting class, led by Houston switch Caleb Mills, the preseason AAC Player of the Year this previous season. Freshmen Matthew Cleveland and Jalen Warley ought to add critical scoring pop on the perimeter.

Projected beginning lineup:

Caleb Mills (9.8 PPG at Houston)
Jalen Warley (No. 46 in ESPN 100)
Matt Cleveland (No. 30 in ESPN 100)
Anthony Polite (10.1 PPG)
Balsa Koprivica (9.1 PPG, 5.6 RPG)

COVID-19 impacted the Hokies’ end to the season greater than most energy convention groups, as they missed 17 days in February, then performed two video games, then missed the remainder of the common season earlier than suiting up once more within the ACC and NCAA tournaments. Prior to the pauses, Mike Young’s workforce was 13-4 with wins over Virginia and Villanova. And a lot of the key gamers from that group must be again for an additional 12 months in Blacksburg. All-ACC large man Keve Aluma is the go-to-guy down low, and Young will as soon as once more encompass him with Tyrece Radford, Nahiem Alleyne, Hunter Cattoor and Justyn Mutts. At level guard, Wofford switch Storm Murphy will get the keys. Murphy performed for Young at Wofford and was a first-team All-SoCon choose this previous season earlier than deciding to reunite with Young at Tech. He’s a totally totally different participant than outgoing level guard Wabissa Bede, however he’ll add improved taking pictures. I’m excessive on this workforce.

Projected beginning lineup:

Storm Murphy (17.8 PPG, 4.3 APG)
Tyrece Radford (12.2 PPG)
Nahiem Alleyne (11.1 PPG)
Justyn Mutts (9.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG)
Keve Aluma (15.2 PPG, 7.9 RPG)

There’s a very good probability that Scott Drew loses 4 of 5 starters from the nationwide champs, however it’s arduous to set low expectations for a workforce that has gained 54 video games in two seasons. MaCio Teague and Mark Vital are seniors, whereas Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell are projected first-round picks within the NBA draft. That’s some critical expertise and expertise leaving Waco, Texas. But we have seen how impactful the Bears’ bench could possibly be this season, with Adam Flagler on the perimeter and Matthew Mayer and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua up entrance. Flo Thamba additionally ought to return because the lone starter. Drew at all times has reinforcements able to enter this system, and subsequent season isn’t any totally different. Kendall Brown and Langston Love are each five-star prospects, whereas the Bears are actively pursuing influence guards within the portal. I do not assume Baylor goes to be a top-five workforce all season lengthy prefer it’s been the previous two campaigns, however I’m additionally not anticipating an enormous drop-off from the champs.

Projected beginning lineup:

Adam Flagler (9.0 PPG)
Langston Love (No. 23 in ESPN 100)
Kendall Brown (No. 20 in ESPN 100)
Matthew Mayer (8.2 PPG)
Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua (6.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG)

I do not essentially count on this projected lineup to be the one the Razorbacks trot out on opening evening. Eric Musselman has labored the switch portal higher than arguably any coach in school basketball during the last a number of years, and Arkansas is as soon as once more very lively within the portal to this point. They’ve already landed Pittsburgh switch Au’diese Toney and are within the combine for an assortment of perimeter gamers. A degree guard is excessive on the record for the Razorbacks. If they land an influence participant to run the present, this rating may look low. Devo Davis had a partial breakout within the NCAA event, locking up on protection and hitting the profitable shot in opposition to Oral Roberts. J.D. Notae is right right away offense position off the bench, whereas Jaylin Williams seems to be to be a gem down low at each ends of the ground for the Razorbacks. I would not count on potential lottery choose Moses Moody or seniors Justin Smith and Jalen Tate to return, however I’m assured Arkansas will add reinforcements.

Projected beginning lineup:

KK Robinson (2.6 PPG)
Devo Davis (8.5 PPG)
JD Notae (12.8 PPG)
Au’diese Toney (14.4 PPG at Pittsburgh)
Jaylin Williams (3.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG)

Here’s certainly one of two groups I actually don’t know what to do with, and I’m positive you possibly can guess the opposite one, too. But Duke is coming off a 13-11 season and appears prone to lose its two finest gamers to the NBA in Matthew Hurt and DJ Steward. So, whereas I’m an enormous fan of top-five prospect Paolo Banchero and assume he is possibly probably the most college-ready prospect within the class, anticipating him to right away exchange Hurt’s 18 and 6 from day one is troublesome. The similar goes for five-star prospects Trevor Keels and A.J. Griffin changing Steward. On the constructive aspect, guys like Jeremy Roach and Mark Williams have a 12 months underneath their belts, and Wendell Moore brings some management. The Blue Devils are anticipated to pursue a few extra gamers, as effectively. Despite the commonly underwhelming marketing campaign, they did win six of their final 9 video games to supply some optimism coming into subsequent season.

Projected beginning lineup:

Jeremy Roach (8.7 PPG)
Wendell Moore (9.7 PPG)
A.J. Griffin (No. 14 in ESPN 100)
Paolo Banchero (No. 3 in ESPN 100)
Mark Williams (7.1 PPG, 4.5 RPG)

Another workforce I could be overrating based mostly on their March efficiency, however the Orange’s efficiency each March makes me really feel assured this may not look horrible a 12 months from now. Buddy Boeheim emerged as a authentic star, and Boeheim, Alan Griffin and Quincy Guerrier are one of many higher offensive trios you will discover within the ACC. The lack of Kadary Richmond to the switch portal stings, since he is a high-level playmaker and a possible NBA prospect. Jim Boeheim will roll with Joe Girard on the level guard spot, give him one other shot-maker. Villanova switch Cole Swider will carry taking pictures to the frontcourt and will allow Boeheim to go small with 5 scorers for stretches. But Boeheim typically prefers an even bigger physique in the midst of the zone, which looks as if a weak point proper now. Jesse Edwards and Frank Anselem may function in that position if Marek Dolezaj leaves and Syracuse would not hit the portal for an enormous.

Projected beginning lineup:

Joseph Girard III (9.8 PPG)
Buddy Boeheim (17.8 PPG)
Alan Griffin (13.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG)
Quincy Guerrier (13.7 PPG, 8.4 RPG)
Jesse Edwards (1.9 PPG, 2.6 RPG)

It’s not simple to gauge how good the Bonnies actually had been this previous season. They solely performed two nonconference video games, in opposition to Akron and Hofstra, after which had been hardly aggressive in opposition to LSU within the NCAA event. But they principally rolled by means of the Atlantic 10 with only some bumps within the highway and seemed dominant within the convention event. And Mark Schmidt has everybody again from that workforce. Kyle Lofton is a star within the backcourt, and all 5 starters — Lofton, Jaren Holmes, Dominick Welch, Jalen Adaway, Osun Osunniyi — averaged double figures. One of the problems Schmidt had was an absence of manufacturing exterior his beginning 5. The Bonnies have addressed that early within the switch market, including high-major transfers Quadry Adams (Wake Forest) and Karim Coulibaly (Pittsburgh). Neither is anticipated to be a big impact participant, but when they will present depth and flexibility, that is all Schmidt wants.

Projected beginning lineup:

Kyle Lofton (14.4 PPG, 5.5 APG)
Jaren Holmes (13.8 PPG)
Dominick Welch (11.4 PPG)
Jalen Adaway (12.2 PPG)
Osun Osunniyi (10.7 PPG, 9.4 RPG)

A principally forgotten workforce this previous season, Arizona was a possible NCAA event workforce for a lot of the marketing campaign regardless of having nothing to play for attributable to a self-imposed ban. It’s not clear the Wildcats will have the ability to play in subsequent season’s NCAA event both (or if Sean Miller will nonetheless be the coach), however till a punishment is handed down, I’m rolling with them as a possible second-weekend workforce. Miller’s groups prior to now have been identified for protection, however this model was terrific offensively. James Akinjo is a wonderful playmaker on the level of assault, and the Wildcats have an assortment of versatile frontcourt gamers to provide groups issues. Benedict Mathurin, Kerr Kriisa, Dalen Terry, Azuolas Tubelis and Jordan Brown all made impacts throughout their first 12 months in Tucson, and Miller additionally brings in a stable recruiting class led by top-100 prospect Shane Nowell. Expect Arizona to hit the portal, too.

Projected beginning lineup:

James Akinjo (15.6 PPG)
Dalen Terry (4.6 PPG)
Bennedict Mathurin (10.8 PPG)
Azuolas Tubelis (12.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG)
Jordan Brown (9.4 PPG)

This is one other powerful learn. The Wolverines had 5 seniors of their high seven, whereas Franz Wagner is a possible lottery choose and can be anticipated to go away. Could any of these seniors return to Ann Arbor for an additional 12 months? Isaiah Livers was injured towards the tip of the marketing campaign and missed the NCAA event, so he is in an identical place as Collin Gillespie — however Livers has increased NBA draft inventory and already examined the waters as soon as final season. Juwan Howard must construct round Hunter Dickinson subsequent season, which is not a foul place to begin, however there’s valuable little returning in addition to the massive man. Brandon Johns was nice within the NCAA event, whereas Terrance Williams and Zeb Jackson had been extremely touted recruits who performed sparingly this previous season. Michigan does carry within the nation’s No. 1-ranked recruiting class, led by top-10 prospects Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate, together with top-50 guards Frankie Collins and Kobe Bufkin. Collins could possibly be the important thing. There’s not a lot again on the perimeter.

Projected beginning lineup:

Frankie Collins (No. 40 in ESPN 100)
Zeb Jackson (1.0 PPG)
Caleb Houstan (No. 7 in ESPN 100)
Brandon Johns (4.9 PPG)
Hunter Dickinson (14.1 PPG, 7.4 RPG)

Ideally, there will not be a lot attrition from Chapel Hill within the aftermath of Hubert Davis’ elevation to the highest job at UNC. If that is the case, the Tar Heels must be high quality in 12 months one of many post-Roy Williams period. Caleb Love must turn into extra constant and fewer mistake-prone on the level guard spot, however R.J. Davis and Kerwin Walton offered good perimeter pop, and Leaky Black is a flexible participant. It’s unclear what the frontcourt will appear like after the NBA departure of Day’Ron Sharpe, the switch of Walker Kessler and the anticipated commencement of Garrison Brooks. But Davis additionally would possibly transfer away from the two-big lineups which have been staples underneath Williams. Armando Bacot remains to be set to return, for now, and he must be a adequate anchor within the put up.

Projected beginning lineup:

Caleb Love (10.5 PPG, 3.6 APG)
R.J. Davis (8.4 PPG)
Kerwin Walton (8.2 PPG)
Leaky Black (5.6 PPG)
Armando Bacot (12.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG)

Here’s the second workforce I actually don’t know the place to rank; I simply assume John Calipari cannot have a second dreadful season in a row. But they went 9-16 this previous season and have already seen B.J. Boston, Isaiah Jackson and Terrence Clarke declare for the NBA draft (though Jackson made it clear he is leaving the door open for a return to Lexington), whereas freshmen Devin Askew and Cam’ron Fletcher entered the switch portal. It’s unclear what is going to occur with seniors Olivier Sarr and Davion Mintz, however Mintz has spoken about doubtlessly returning. For now, we’ll assume each go away. Calipari reloading within the spring is nothing new, and I do not assume Davidson switch Kellan Grady would be the last addition to the roster. Grady and Oscar Tshiebwe ought to add some taking pictures and toughness, respectively, subsequent season. Five-star Daimion Collins might be an influence participant down low. Two large keys might be improved level guard play — whether or not from incoming freshman Nolan Hickman or somebody from the portal — and extra constant exterior taking pictures; will Dontaie Allen see an even bigger position?

Projected beginning lineup:

Nolan Hickman (No. 28 in ESPN 100)
Kellan Grady (17.1 PPG at Davidson)
Dontaie Allen (5.4 PPG)
Keion Brooks (10.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG)
Oscar Tshiebwe (8.5 PPG, 7.8 RPG at West Virginia)

Like Arkansas and a few different packages, Oregon is one other scenario the place I simply assume it should discover gamers within the spring to fill out the roster. Dana Altman does it yearly, and he will get the workforce buzzing in the course of the second half of the season. And he’ll most likely do it once more in 2021-22. Eugene Omoruyi, Chris Duarte, L.J. Figueroa and Amauri Hardy are all seniors, whereas Chandler Lawson is transferring. But Will Richardson leads the returnees, which additionally contains double-figure scorer Eric Williams. N’Faly Dante solely performed six video games final season earlier than tearing an ACL, whereas Franck Kepnang had spectacular moments within the NCAA event. The Ducks additionally usher in top-10 prospect Nate Bittle, who will carry versatility to the frontcourt. Given all of the manufacturing doubtlessly leaving, Oregon may use an improve in its wing scoring. Whether that is through returnee Aaron Estrada or on the switch market, it must be precedence No. 1 in Eugene.

Projected beginning lineup:

Will Richardson (11.3 PPG)
Aaron Estrada (3.1 PPG)
Eric Williams (10.0 PPG)
Nate Bittle (No. 9 in ESPN 100)
N’Faly Dante (8.2 PPG)

The season did not finish in ideally suited style for Niko Medved’s membership, stumbling within the season finale in opposition to Nevada, getting bounced within the Mountain West semifinals by Utah State and being one of many final groups overlooked of the NCAA event. But the Rams had no seniors and will return each participant from this season’s group. Isaiah Stevens and David Roddy kind among the best inside-outside tandems within the Mountain West, whereas Kendle Moore and Adam Thistlewood are skilled choices returning to the beginning lineup. Colorado State had the league’s finest offense in convention play, however when the Rams struggled at that finish of the ground towards the tip of the season and within the NIT, the protection wasn’t adequate to will them to victory. They must be higher guarding contained in the arc and rebounding at that finish of the ground. But I feel Colorado State takes the following step into the NCAA event.

Projected beginning lineup:

Kendle Moore (10.5 PPG)
Isaiah Stevens (15.3 PPG, 5.4 APG)
Adam Thistlewood (9.1 PPG)
David Roddy (15.9 PPG, 9.4 RPG)
James Moors (5.9 PPG)

Despite beating Illinois, Ohio State and Michigan within the last two weeks of the season to sneak into the NCAA event, it was a comparatively disappointing season in East Lansing after the early-season expectations. Tom Izzo may have some roster attrition, too. Rocket Watts has already transferred, whereas Josh Langford has used up his eligibility and Aaron Henry is a projected NBA draft choose. But the Spartans went out and landed Northeastern switch Tyson Walker to run the present, and Walker ought to mix with five-star prospect Max Christie to supply a much-needed backcourt infusion. One large key’s the standing of Emoni Bates. A generational expertise, Bates has lengthy been thought-about a candidate to reclassify into the 2021 class. He may nonetheless resolve to do this and enroll in school within the fall — though the excitement round him has at all times been that he is additionally contemplating skipping school altogether. If Bates does wind up in East Lansing subsequent fall, he’ll take this workforce to a different stage.

Projected beginning lineup:

Tyson Walker (18.8 PPG at Northeastern)
Max Christie (No. 15 in ESPN 100)
Gabe Brown (7.2 PPG)
Malik Hall (5.0 PPG)
Joey Hauser (9.7 PPG)

A 21-game profitable streak from December to February was all for naught, because the Bruins misplaced the ultimate two video games of the common season and had been then blown out within the Ohio Valley Conference event title recreation by Morehead State. But Casey Alexander has just about everybody again from this workforce, together with all 5 starters and his high seven scorers. Nick Muszynski, who missed the final couple video games of the season with an damage, leads the way in which down low, whereas Luke Smith is a terrific exterior shooter and Grayson Murphy units the desk from the purpose guard spot. Belmont had one of the crucial environment friendly offenses within the nation this previous season, rating third nationally in 2-point share and making greater than 35% of its 3-pointers in league play. But they’ll must make a splash in nonconference play or they are going to be strolling an identical tightrope to this season in league play — the place one or two losses would require them to win the automated bid.

Projected beginning lineup:

Grayson Murphy (10.9 PPG)
Luke Smith (12.7 PPG)
Ben Sheppard (10.5 PPG)
Caleb Hollander (9.3 PPG)
Nick Muszynski (15.0 PPG)

Another one alongside the identical strains as West Virginia and Baylor and a few others, it is a rating with full religion in Kelvin Sampson figuring issues out. Houston had 4 seniors in its rotation this season, together with DeJon Jarreau, and Quentin Grimes may resolve to make use of his late-season momentum and enter the NBA draft. Marcus Sasser does return, however he is the one starter. Tramon Mark was a constant contributor off the bench and Reggie Chaney was certainly one of 4 large males within the rotation, and each of them might be anticipated to see elevated minutes. But Houston has gained a minimum of one recreation in every of the previous three NCAA tournaments and has gained a minimum of 21 video games in every of the final six seasons, and I discover it arduous to imagine a Sampson-coached workforce will not be the American Athletic Conference favourite. Grimes or Fabian White returning for an additional season could be an enormous increase.

Projected beginning lineup:

Marcus Sasser (13.5 PPG)
Tramon Mark (8.0 PPG)
Cameron Tyson (6.5 PPG)
Jamal Shead (3.3 PPG)
Reggie Chaney (4.6 PPG)

I’m not one to doubt Bob Huggins, given his constant success no matter expertise, however with Miles McBride coming into his identify into the NBA draft, Taz Sherman being a senior and Emmitt Matthews and Jordan McCabe transferring, there’s not a number of confirmed offensive manufacturing in Morgantown proper now. Sean McNeil is a lights-out shooter and Derek Culver is likely one of the finest large males in school basketball, and that is about it offensively. I’d venture Jalen Bridges to take a step ahead and turn into a extra constant scoring choice, however the Mountaineers’ fourth-best returning scorer is Gabe Osabuohien at 1.7 factors per recreation. So Huggins might want to discover some weapons — and a brand new level guard if McBride decides to maintain his identify within the draft. Kedrian Johnson is again, they usually’re bringing in four-star recruit Seth Wilson as an alternative choice. There are some questions in Morgantown.

Projected beginning lineup:

Kedrian Johnson (1.3 PPG)
Sean McNeil (12.2 PPG)
Jalen Bridges (5.9 PPG)
Gabe Osabuohien (1.7 PPG)
Derek Culver (14.3 PPG, 9.4 RPG)

Next in line:

Tennessee Volunteers
Wichita State Shockers
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Virginia Cavaliers
UConn Huskies



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