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ESPN ranks UK No. 2 in way-too-early Top 25

It’ll be a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2 to begin the 2019-2020 college basketball season.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Midwest Regional Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Way-Too-Early Top-25 basketball rankings aren’t that early anymore. While it’s only June, most schools’ rosters are set for next season, barring a few transfers and reclassifications.

As such, ESPN’s Jeff Borzello released his preseason top 25 for next season. The Kentucky Wildcats came in at No. 2.

Kentucky is bidding farewell to four starters, with PJ Washington, Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro all leaving early for the NBA and Reid Travis graduating -- but the Wildcats received huge news near the NBA draft deadline, when EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards decided to return to Lexington. With those two providing depth up front, John Calipari has plenty of depth and options throughout his roster. Ashton Hagans is an elite defensive guard; five-stars Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney will push for starting jobs; and Bucknell graduate transfer Nate Sestina and late signee Johnny Juzang bring shooting.

In his previous rankings a little over a month ago, the Cats were No. 3. But the returns of Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery, as well as the addition of Johnny Juzang, moved UK up to the No. 2 spot.

As for who’s No. 1, that would be Kentucky’s opponent in the first game of the season: the Michigan State Spartans. And they should be. That roster is absolutely loaded with talent, and is returning a potential Player of the Year candidate in Cassius Winston.

Once again, all eyes will be on the Cats to open up the 2019-2020 college basketball season.

Kentucky will play the Louisville Cardinals (No. 5), Ohio State Buckeyes (No. 11), Florida Gators twice (No. 18), and LSU Tigers (No. 24).

I also believe their Big 12 matchup this season will be the Texas Tech Red Raiders, who come in at No. 10, rather than the usual Kansas Jayhawks (No. 3). That’s pure speculation, but I could definitely see the conferences switching it up this year after Chris Beard’s squad made an incredible run to the national championship game in April.

Other notable teams include the Duke Blue Devils (No. 4), North Carolina Tar Heels (No. 6), Memphis Tigers (No. 12), and Washington Huskies (No. 21).

No. 2 seems to be the consensus for the Cats right now, but Kerry Blackshear’s decision will have a huge impact on these rankings. Kentucky would likely move up to No. 1, while Florida would likely jump into the top 10.

You can see the rest of the rankings here.