There may be three months until college basketball is back, but that isn't stopping ESPN from taking a stab at what the Top 25 would look like.
Their No-Longer-Way-Too-Early Top 25 for the 2015-16 hoops season has a familiar group of blue bloods near the top, but an unfamiliar name holding the No. 1 spot. The Maryland Terrapins came in at the top spot, just ahead of the North Carolina Tar Heels (2) and Kentucky Wildcats (3).
Also making the top 10 were Kansas (5) and Duke (6), both of whom the Cats will play this upcoming season. Vanderbilt (18), LSU (22) and Texas A&M (25) also made the Top 25 to ensure the SEC is well represented, something that hasn't been the case in recent years.
Here's their excerpt for UK's No. 3 ranking:
UK already had the No. 1 center (Skal Labissiere) and No. 1 point guard (Isaiah Briscoe) in the 2015 class when five-star shooting guard Jamal Murray reclassified from 2016 to start his career at UK early. Murray played extremely well at the Nike Hoops Summit and for Team Canada in the Pan Am Games; he appears to be a star, and one few saw coming months ago.
Kentucky won't have a laughably balanced Monstars roster in 2015-16; fans might want to hold off on the latest edition of their 40-0 tattoos. This team will have more mundane occupations, such as moving senior forward Alex Poythress back to the four to give the Wildcats another body alongside Labissiere and Marcus Lee in a frontcourt that suddenly needs bodies. But what UK does have -- in Lee, Poythress, a very good recruiting class and point guard Tyler Ulis playing real starter's minutes -- is going to be awfully good. Mortal, sure. But good.
OK, that's all well and good, but I like this team at #1 much better than the one back in March. Jamal Murray is an X-factor that changes everything for Kentucky and Mychal Mulder adds outside shooting firepower. I will take the Wildcats over the Terrapins and the Heels every day of the week and twice on Sunday, especially if John Calipari adds big man Isaac Humphries.
Also, the Terps haven't even made it past the first weekend since winning it all in 2002. Over that same span, the Tar Heels and Wildcats have combined for three national titles, seven Final Fours, and 14 trips to at least the second weekend.
What does the top 25 look like? Glad you asked:
1. Maryland Terrapins
2. North Carolina Tarheels
3. Kentucky Wildcats
11. Gonzaga Bulldogs
13. Utah Utes
14. Indiana Hoosiers
15. Arizona Wildcats
17. Baylor Bears
21. SMU Mustangs
22. LSU Tigers
23. Butler Bulldogs
25. Texas A&M Aggies
That's a very interesting list and there are some teams on there that haven't been there in a while. Four SEC teams makes me feel much better for the conference as a whole and I think it's on the way up.
It should be an interesting year in college basketball. There aren't many teams with the mixture of returning talent and young talent quite like Kentucky.
And not pictured: Louisville Cardinals. I guess Brennan isn't sold on the best players from Cleveland State and Drexel being the variables to send them over the top.