Now that college basketball rosters have been (almost) finalized at the NBA Draft entry deadline, everyone is logging their “way too early” preseason rankings for the 2019-2020 season.
As both Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery have both decided to return to the University of Kentucky, the Wildcats find themselves near the top of every list.
With the Michigan State Spartans coming in at No. 1 across the board, Kentucky is competing for second place in most preseason polls. Both NBC Sports and Yahoo give John Calipari and company the nod over Duke for the No. 2 spot.
Gary Parrish of CBS Sports and SB Nation, however, have placed the Duke Blue Devils in second place behind the Wildcats. However, it sounds like all media outlets agree that Kentucky is in the top tier of teams that have a legitimate chance to cut down the nets next April.
Per usual, Kentucky is dealing with a decent amount of attrition from last year’s squad, which includes the loss of the team’s top four scorers from 2018-19. Even so, starting point guard Ashton Hagans is back, as is the frontcourt duo of EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards. With the annual top five recruiting class headed to Lexington, the Cats figure to once again be right in the thick of the national title hunt. - SB Nation
Gary Parrish’s colleague at CBS, Jon Rothstein, has resumed his normal contrarian role in his preseason predictions. While he agrees that Michigan State deserves the top spot, he has moved the Louisville Cardinals into the No. 2 position. The Cardinals’ highest ranking otherwise is No. 4, which is where they land in multiple polls.
In terms of the favorites to win it all next season, Bovada has Michigan State leading the way, followed by Kentucky and Duke in a tie for the second-best odds:
- Michigan State Spartans +600
- Kentucky Wildcats +750
- Duke Blue Devils +750
- Virginia Cavaliers +800
- North Carolina Tar Heels +1200
- Memphis Tigers +1400
- Kansas Jayhawks +1600
- Villanova Wildcats+1600
- Gonzaga Bulldogs+1700
- Michigan Wolverines +1800
- Louisville Cardinals +1800
- Oregon Ducks +2500
- Auburn Tigers +3000
- Texas Tech Red Raiders +3000
- Arizona Wildcats +3300
- Maryland Terrapins +3500
- Tennessee Volunteers +3500
- Mississippi State Bulldogs +4000
- Florida State Seminoles +4500
- Texas Longhorns +4500
Given the events of draft deadline day on Wednesday, it seems that college basketball may be a little stronger, and more competitive, than it has in recent years. Many top talents chose to return to school to improve their draft stock, a la PJ Washington.
There are even a few players out there (cough, Kerry Blackshear) that are going to change the trajectory of a program very soon once they choose their transfer destinations.
Is it October yet?