Now that the college basketball season has finished, many media outlets are publishing their early top 25 rankings, which is more for fun than anything else due to the uncertainty for the nation’s top teams.
Players are only beginning to declare for the draft while many players—who will be key figures on their respective teams—have yet to make decisions on their futures.
1. Kentucky Wildcats
You know the drill here: Coach John Calipari is presumably sending a bunch of talented dudes to the NBA (De'Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Bam Adebayo) and replacing them with another bunch of talented dudes (five ESPN 100 prospects in ESPN's No. 1-ranked 2017 recruiting class, plus redshirt freshman Hamidou Diallo) hoping to join their pro-bound predecessors forthwith. Whether those newcomers have the same star power as the players they're replacing is up for debate, but if guard Isaiah Briscoe returns for another season and Wenyen Gabriel and Isaac Humphries ably take on bigger roles in the frontcourt, there's no reason Calipari can't mold up another national-title contender in the next 10 or so months. Broadly speaking, almost every top team will have a ton of turnover in 2017-18; why not settle on the one that thrives on turnover every spring?
Kentucky’s success next year will be very dependent on returning players. While the potential additions of Mohamed Bamba and/or Kevin Knox will be crucial for Kentucky, development from guys like Wenyen Gabriel, Isaac Humphries, and Sacha Killeya-Jones will be vital as well.
After Kentucky, defending champion North Carolina comes in at second despite losing several key players as well. Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, and Nate Britt are seniors and Justin Jackson will likely forego his senior year to enter the NBA Draft. Freshman Tony Bradley will also test the NBA Draft waters.
The Tar Heels will have a lot to replace, but will also likely bring back Joel Berry and are also in the running for Kevin Knox.
The rest of the top 10 shakes out like this:
6. Wichita St.
8. West Virginia