Believe it or not, college basketball is here, as are our college basketball rankings for the preseason top 25 teams.
It felt like just yesterday Kansas took down North Carolina in the championship game. Those two are just a couple of front-runners to win this year. The biggest story though coming into the season has to be Coach K and Jay Wright not coaching anymore. Do Duke and Villanova have enough to make up for those losses?
If you are new to ready college basketball articles here at FlurrySports, I will be posting top-25 college basketball rankings every week, with headlines and games to watch for the upcoming week. With that being said, let’s take a look at the Preseason College Basketball Top-25 Rankings.
Top 25 College Basketball Rankings
1. North Carolina (0-0, 0-0)
After losing in the championship game last year, North Carolina returns almost every important piece. That includes Hubert Davis, as he enters his second season as the head of the team. One notable omission from last year’s team is Brady Manek. The Tar Heels were able to fill the starting four spot, with transfer Pete Nance, who averaged just short of 15 points per game and a three-point percentage of 45% with Northwestern last year. Armando Bacot, Caleb Love and R.J. Davis are still three of the best players in the country, and the lack of bench last year has turned into D’Marco Dunn, Dontrez Stylez, Puff Johnson, Jalen Washington and Seth Trimble.
2. Gonzaga (0-0, 0-0)
The question remains — is this Gonzaga’s year? In the offseason, the Bulldogs lost two starters in the forms of Chet Holmgren and Andrew Nembhard. While they are losing these two, Gonzaga does bring back a National Player of the Year candidate with Drew Timme. Julian Strawther is also back after his breakout campaign season, averaging just short of 12 points per game. Point guard should not be that big of an issue either, as Mark Few has a decision between Nolan Hickman, who was a top-35 recruit two years ago, and Malachi Smith, who is the reigning Southern Conference Player of the Year. While Holmgren and Nembhard are gone, I think that Few has done as much as he can to reload for another championship run.
3. Kentucky (0-0, 0-0)
The SEC has produced many good point guards in recent memory, but none may be better recently than Sahvir Wheeler. Wheeler has led the SEC in assists each of the last two years. The two-time All-SEC Player should have Jacob Toppin, freshman Cason Wallace and freshman Chris Livingston. While Livingston and Wallace were two of the top recruits, no other player should have a bigger impact than Oscar Tshiebwe. Tshiebwe was obviously National Player of the Year last year and should once again be in the running this year. Tshiebwe alone should be enough to keep Kentucky as a top-25 team all year long.
4. Houston (0-0, 0-0)
Houston returns Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark and will once again dominate the AAC. Other than Sasser, Houston does not sport many household names, but they do sport a top-five coach in the game. We know that we are going to get elite defense and elite offensive rebounding from Kelvin Sampson. This year though, the Cougars have an influx of offensive talent. If Jamal Shead can get back to what he was at the end of the year last year, this could be the best Houston team that we have seen yet.
5. Kansas (0-0, 0-0)
Kansas is in a weird spot to rank. Obviously, they won the championship last year and, while they bring back Jalen Wilson and Dajuan Harris, guys like Remy Martin, Mitch Lightfoot, Ochai Ogbaji, David McCormack and Christian Braun are gone. Newcomers Grady Dick, Kevin McCullar, and M.J. Rice should provide a majority of what we saw from the team last year. Bill Self will need to be on his A-Game, which I think he will be, if Kansas wants to return to glory.
6. Baylor (0-0, 0-0)
Yep, Baylor is good again. While they lost Matthew Mayer to Illinois, the Bears return leading scorer Adam Flagler. Flo Thamba and L.J. Cryer are back, but there is a lot of interest in the newcomers; Jalen Bridges (West Virginia); Caleb Lohner (BYU) and Dantwan Grimes (JUCO). With James Akinjo, Kendall Brown and Jeremy Sochan moving on, Baylor should not see much of an impact, due to five-star freshman Keyonte George. George already has legit NBA talent and should be one of the better players for one of the more experienced teams in the country.
7. Creighton (0-0, 0-0)
The days of Doug McDermott winning National Player of the Year awards and rewriting record books are far in the rear window for Creighton. Back then, Creighton was always ranked so high due to one player. That is not the case this year. Top-to-bottom, Creighton competes with North Carolina for the best starting lineups in the country.
The Blue Jays return almost everyone from last year, but the big news in the offseason was the addition of Baylor Scheierman, who averaged just over 16 points at South Dakota State last year. Creighton also brings in Francisco Farabello from TCU. Creighton should win the Big East and appear in the second weekend of the tournament. Also, center Ryan Kalkbrenner is a stud.
8. UCLA (0-0, 0-0)
While Johnny Juzang is gone from Los Angeles, Mike Cronin returns Tyger Campbell and Pre-season All-American Jaime Jaquez. A lot of people forget that UCLA was up three with two minutes left in the Elite Eight against North Carolina, if UCLA wins that game, we could be talking about three straight Final Fours. The Bruins also return Jaylen Clark, but the most exciting part of this team outside of Jaquez may be top-20 recruits Amari Bailey and Adem Bona. They say that you need a strong point guard to win March Madness and Campbell is one of the best in the country. Also, Jaquez.
9. Duke (0-0, 0-0)
In their first year without Coach K, the Duke Blue Devils should be led by the nation’s top recruiting class. With 11 new players in the system, Jon Scheyer may start slow. Don’t let that fool you though, as freshman Dariq Whithead has legitimate NBA talent and Jeremy Roach returns to help ease Scheyer in that transition. At points this year, the Blue Devils are going to look bad. Other times, the Blue Devils are going to look good. Freshmen Dereck Liveley and Kyle Filipowski should provide a big presence on the inside. Overall, whether Coach K still has influence, or not (he does), Duke is still Duke and should be competing for a National Title this year.
10. TCU (0-0, 0-0)
Last year, TCU won 21 games and a tournament game. In fact, it was the first tournament game that they have won in the tournament in 35 years. And guess what? The Horned Frogs return almost their entire team, with only Francisco Farabello and Maxwell Evans leaving. Leading scorer Mike Miles figures to be the leader of this team. His three-point shooting was just 29.5% in 2021, down from 36% his freshman year. With familiar players around him in 2022, I fully expect those numbers to jump up. Chuck O’Bannon Jr. should figure to take a little bit more of a scoring role this year and breakout candidate Eddie Lampkin Jr. should be a major force inside.
TCU’s projected starting lineup consists of three seniors and two juniors to form one of the oldest starting lineups in the country. They could spend a lot of time in the top 10 of our college basketball rankings this year.
11. Tennessee (0-0, 0-0)
Though Kennedy Chandler is gone, Rick Barnes’ squad should be in contention for the top of the SEC all year long. To make up for that, Barnes is projected to start Josiah-Jordan James and Santiago Vescovi in the backcourt this year. Those two will soon be household names, as Tennessee is going to go as far as the guards take them. James is the leader of the team though, scoring just over 10 points a game and six rebounds per game last year. He also is one of the better defenders in the country. Vescovi, on the other hand, is a sniper. He joined Chris Lofton as the only two players to hit 100 threes or more in a season. Five-star freshman Julian Phillips is another intriguing option on this team, to help James and Vescovi score.
Tennessee has an influx of guards. This is something that we know Barnes is going to experiment with and attempt to ride to a Final Four.
12. Indiana (0-0, 0-0)
Indiana is an exciting team this year and, for what it is worth, my Big Ten winner prediction. In classic Big Ten fashion, the bigs on Indiana will lead the team. Trayce Jackson-Davis, who is an NBA prospect, and Race Thompson are two of the better “big” guys in the country, giving Mike Woodson an opportunity to play from outside-in.
13. Texas (0-0, 0-0)
I am sorry football fans, but Texas is a basketball school now. Chris Beard is probably a top-five coach in the sport and, with a year at Texas under his belt, I expect him to reclaim that stellar defense that he employs. Marcus Carr, who averaged just over 11 points, and Timmy Allen, who averaged just over 12 points, are back. Fifth-ranked recruit Dillon Mitchell and 17th-ranked recruit Arterio Morris should figure to provide a lot of help. Oh yeah, and they bring in Iowa State transfer Tyrese Hunter, who was the freshman of the year in the Big 12 last year.
14. Villanova (0-0, 0-0)
Similar to Duke, Villanova is uncharted territory, as Jay Wright will not be on the sideline this year. Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels are major losses, but the Wildcats will try to make up for that with 6-7 freshman Cam Whitmore and 55th-ranked recruit Mark Armstrong. Nova will be in a transition period and may not look like the Villanova that we know, but Caleb Daniels, Eric Dixon and an injured Justin Moore should settle in new coach Kyle Neptune.
15. Arkansas (0-0, 0-0)
To be fair, I might have Arkansas a couple of spots too low here. The Razorbacks brought in three (!) five-star recruits in Jordan Walsh, Anthony Black and freshman of the year candidate Nick Smith (number three overall). Smith should be the best player on this team. The 6-4 shooting guard has proved that he can score, pass and defend at a high level and should be a top pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.
16. Arizona (0-0, 0-0)
With Ben Mathurin, Christian Koloko and Dalen Terry gone, it seems like this Arizona team shouldn’t be this high in the top-25 college basketball rankings. Pelle Larson and Azuolas Tubelis should be the driving force of this team. Tommy Lloyd is a good coach and I think that not having the three aforementioned players will force Arizona to slow the game down and run offensive sets, something that should work in the Pac-12 this year. Arizona may also be one of the biggest teams in the country, with their guards both standing 6-3, forwards at 6-5 and 6-11, and center at 7-0.
17. Auburn (0-0, 0-0)
Replacing Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler will be tough for Bruce Pearl – but one thing that we do know from Pearl is that there will be stellar defense. This year, the Tigers should start Wendell Green (6th man last year), K.D. Johnson, Allen Flanigan, Johni Broom and Yohan Traore. The frontcourt should once again be the driving force of the Tigers and the sneaky depth should provide Auburn with a top-four performance in the SEC.
18. San Diego State (0-0, 0-0)
Matt Bradley should be the driving force behind another good San Diego State team. We know that Brian Dutcher is going to employ a physical offense with strong, in-your-face defense, something that has made San Diego State stand out in the Mountain West, even as far back as when Kawhi Leonard was playing there. Nathan Mensah is one of the best shot blockers in the country and will win SDSU games because of that. The Aztecs have second-weekend upside and, with the inclusion of Darrion Trammell and Jaedon Lee, a Final Four run is not out of the question.
19. Purdue (0-0, 0-0)
Purdue lost a good amount of production from last year’s team, but one major piece that returns is 7-4 center Zach Edey. Having one of the tallest players in the world on your team is a recipe for success, especially in the physical Big Ten. Outside of Edey, forward Mason Gillis shot the three at 41 percent last year, which should figure to complement Edey well. With these two in the frontcourt, Purdue can probably compete with almost any country in the nation. The guards are going to be somewhat of a tricky thing for Matt Painter, but if that does get figured out, watch out for the Boilermakers.
20. Oregon (0-0, 0-0)
The Oregon Ducks bring back last year’s leading scorer in senior Will Richardson. He averaged just over 14 points last year and shot the ball at 39% from the three-point line. Freshman Kel’el Ware was brought in, in the offseason to help get Oregon back to the tournament. Ware is a five-star forward, with a seven-foot wingspan. That wingspan should not only help him get to the rim and finish shots, but also it should help to be a stalwart on defense. In N’Faly Dante can stay healthy at the center position, there is no reason why the Ducks can’t be alive during the second weekend.
21. Virginia (0-0, 0-0)
There is no nice way to say this, but last year was a failure for Tony Bennett. Sure, a lot of pieces were missing from previous teams, but it just didn’t look like Virginia basketball. This year though, Bennett returns almost everyone from last year’s team. In fact, the only key departure for the Cavaliers was Igor Milicic.
The leader of this team once again will be Kihei Clark, who was a National Champion during his freshman year. He is a perfect guard in Bennett’s system, as he doesn’t turn the ball over and plays incredible defense. Reece Beekman is also back, who was an All-ACC defensive team member last year. Jayden Gardner should be Virginia’s go-to scorer, as he averaged 15.3 points per game last year. Overall, while there might not be a ton of household names outside of Clark, Bennett has a projected starting lineup of three juniors and two seniors. That experience alone gives prudence to why Virginia will be battling for the ACC again this year.
22. Xavier (0-0, 0-0)
The NIT Champions of last year return three of their top four scorers and four of their top six overall. Jack Nunge and Colby Jones should be the Muskateers go-to players this year, as the seven-foot Nunge hit 37% of his threes last year. Xavier also brings in Souley Boum, who averaged 16.9 points per game at UTEP last year. Xavier is probably not going to win the Big East this year, but I think that they can dispel returning to the NIT, as this is a tournament team. Look for Xavier to sit around this 22 mark all year and get into the tournament with a 6 seed.
23. USC (0-0, 0-0)
Drew Peterson and Boogie Ellis should be the leaders of a USC team that is looking to avenge their loss to Miami in the round of 64 last year. Newcomers Vince Iwuchukwu and Tre White should be able to take some of the load off of those two. The only problem is that we are not sure when Iwuchukwu will play, due to heart problems in the offseason. Reese Dixon-Waters is another intriguing player, who is bound to provide sparks all year long for Andy Enfield’s squad.
24. Michigan (0-0, 0-0)
Hunter Dickenson is back in Ann Arbor for the Wolverines. With Kofi Cockburn and Micah Potter out of the Big Ten, Dickenson should be back to dominating the paint. Terrance Williams should provide a nice compliment in the front court to Dickenson, as he hit 38.5 percent of his threes last year. Juwan Howard’s son Jett is a freshman who should start at the wing. Howard is a strong scorer who can make up for a poor Dickenson game. The backcourt is a little bit of a question mark, as depth could be a concern. Either way, this team will go as far as Dickenson will take them and that could be anywhere from first in the Big Ten to seventh.
25. Alabama (0-0, 0-0)
Unfortunately, Nate Oates has to start the season with star guard Jahvon Quinerly, who should be out until December. To take his place is First Team All-MAC transfer Mark Sears, who made a name for himself at Ohio last year. The wings should be the strength of this team though, with Dominick Welch and Brandon Miller. Miller is an NBA player and is projected to be taken within the top 10 in the upcoming draft. While the bigs are probably the weakness of this team, using Charles Bediako early should pay off dividends for the Crimson Tide in March.
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