While the 2013-14 Div. I college basketball season just ended on Monday night, it’s never too early to start looking at what to expect for next season.
With that being said, here are my top-10 teams for the 2014-15 season:
No. 1 Arizona Wildcats
The only player that is expected to leave for the NBA on their roster is forward Aaron Gordon. All-American guard Nick Johnson should return for his final year because he’s an undersized two-guard and doesn’t have the skillset to play the point in the pros. Regardless, with guards Gabe York and T.J. McConnell, forward Brandon Ashley returning from injury and center Kaleb Tarczewski, to go along with incoming forward Stanley Johnson, the Wildcats should be the favorites heading into next year.
No. 2 Duke Blue Devils
I don’t think Jabari Parker will return, but if he does the Blue Devils will surpass the Wildcats for the No. 1 spot.
Even without Parker, Duke will be one of the best teams in the country because of the No. 1 recruiting class that they are bringing in, made up of center Jahil Okafor, point guard Tyus Jones, forward Justise Winslow and guard Grayson Allen. These players along with their returners will make the Blue Devils the class of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), if not the nation.
No. 3 Wisconsin Badgers
With only guard Ben Brust not returning, the Badgers will return the majority of their Final Four team from last season. Forward Frank Kaminsky showed everyone who didn’t already know that he’s a star. With Kaminsky and forward Sam Dekker’s return, the Badgers will have two NBA players who will lead them to an easy Big 10 title.
No. 4 Kansas Jayhawks
Losing guard Andrew Wiggins and center Joel Embiid will be big losses for the Jayhawks, but at this point it’s nearly impossible to doubt that Head Coach Bill Self won’t have a winning team. With guard Wayne Selden Jr. and forward Perry Ellis returning, to go with incoming forward Cliff Alexander, who will be an absolute beast, the Jayhawks should have an easy path to a Big 12 title.
No. 5 North Carolina Tar Heels
By only losing guard Leslie McDonald and forward James Michael McAdoo, the Tar Heels will be one of the top teams in the country. Point guard Marcus Paige will be even better in his third year in Chapel Hill. The three top-100 recruits coming in will give the Tar Heels the depth they need to make a deep run in March.
No. 6 Kentucky Wildcats
With most of their 2013-14 roster expected to turn pro, the Wildcats will still be in a position to succeed with forward Alex Polythress and centers Dakari Johnson and center Marcus Lee returning as well as the No. 2 ranked recruiting class coming in.
No. 7 Wichita State Shockers
After their battle with Kentucky, the Shockers showed they were legit and should never have been doubted all season. The loss of forward Cleanthony Early will hurt them next season, but with guards Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker returning they will win the Missouri Valley Conference with ease and be near the top of the rankings all season.
No. 8 Virginia Cavaliers
After winning the ACC regular season and tournament in 2013-14, the Cavaliers will look to continue their success in 2014-15. Losing the heart and soul of their team, guard Joe Harris will hurt, but they are so well-coached and disciplined that they will be able to have another great season.
No. 9 San Diego State Aztecs
Losing Mountain West Player of the Year Xavier Thames will hurt, but bringing in three top-100 recruits will help them stay in the top-10 all season.
No. 10 Villanova Wildcats
With all of their rotation players returning, except guard James Bell, and two top-100 recruits coming in, the Wildcats are poised to have a great 2014-15 campaign.