If it seems like plenty of the identical names on the prime of the 2018-19 Sporting News preseason prime 25 rankings, it’s solely since you’re wanting on the entrance of the jersey.
The players in these uniforms are largely unfamiliar.
National title contender Kansas reached the Final Four final season, however among the key guys who will pursue a championship this year final performed at Memphis and California. Kentucky has its common complement of elite freshmen, plus a grad switch from Stanford. Duke is taking one other journey alongside the one-and-done path. Villanova lost the vast majority of its title-winning team to the NBA, regardless that there wasn’t a single senior within the rotation.
All of this portends an unpredictable season, and but right here we’re to strive again to foretell the way it all seems. With that stated, listed below are Sporting News’ up to date preseason rankings for the 2018-19 school basketball season.
College basketball rankings:
SN’s up to date preseason Top 25 for 2018-19
25. Arizona Wildcats
Why they’re right here: Most have punted this program towards the Pacific with the lack of Allonzo Trier, Rawle Alkins and All-American DeAndre Ayton to professional hoops, however too multiple are ignoring wings Brandon Randolph and Emmanuel Akot, who had been elite recruits. Big man Chase Jeter has been ready as a switch for an opportunity to be a significant contributor. Coach Sean Miller attracted grad transfers Ryan Luther (to deepen the frontcourt) and Justin Coleman (for backcourt depth). Most importantly, he landed level guard Brandon Williams. This will probably be a greater defensive team than final year’s — not a grand praise, admittedly — and can no less than be practical on offense.
24. West Virginia Mountaineers
Why they’re right here: For all that’s missing from the backcourt — and it’s an enormous, Jevon Carter-sized gap — the frontcourt again will probably be an impenetrable mountain that begins with heart Sagaba Konate. Coach Bob Huggins will want somebody to no less than operate at level guard, however this could be his greatest defensive frontcourt since he coached a man named Kenyon Martin again in Cincy.
23. Cincinnati Bearcats
Why they’re right here: The Bearcats lost a ton from a team that loved consecutive 30-win seasons in addition to the twin 2018 championships within the American: NBA first-round choose Jacob Evans and the league’s player of the year, Gary Clark. The Bearcats will wrestle to be as rugged on protection this year as they chase a ninth consecutive NCAA bid, however they could be extra dynamic. Junior wing Jarron Cumberland will probably be keen for the alternative to function No. 1 possibility. The absence of a player snug in that position was a problem recently.
22. Clemson Tigers
Why they’re right here: The Tigers are by no means going to be mistaken for a Vegas magic present, particularly not with versatile guard Gabe DeVoe completed after final year’s Sweet 16 run. But they’re large, well-coached and exhausting to play against for just about everybody they meet. They will miss DeVoe’s shooting, however an even bigger impediment than their middling 3-point assault is that their bigs haven’t completed successfully sufficient. Perhaps 7-Zero freshman Trey Jemison can help in that division.
21. Maryland Terrapins
Why they’re right here: Last year’s squad was lifted by the nice shock of freshman Bruno Fernando, solely to be ruined by accidents that began with the team’s most gifted player (Justin Jackson) and continued on to ravage any hope for squad depth. The Terps usually had been aggressive early in consequential games, solely to wilt later. They will miss star wing Kevin Huerter, however level guard Anthony Cowan is a power at each ends. And Fernando could be one of many Big Ten’s breakout stars.
20. LSU Tigers
Why they’re right here: Sophomore guard Tremont Waters is probably the most thrilling player that few school fans have seen, a state of affairs that developed as a result of final year’s Tigers had been an NIT team. Waters’ brilliance will probably be given a a lot better stage now that LSU has added a giant man, Naz Reid, to enrich his skills.
19. Florida State Seminoles
Why they’re right here: Maybe it’s just a operate of getting a 7-Four heart, however final year’s Seminoles had been a bizarre team. We don’t say this to be imply. But a team that may get to the Elite Eight after shedding seven occasions to non-tournament groups — properly, what would you call that? They could be extremely dynamic or impossibly large, relying on how they wish to play it. Wing Terance Mann could be one of many ACC’s greatest players or the man who didn’t make a shot within the NCAA Tournament opener. If this team can discover a constant look, it may not problem for the league common season title — however could say lots about who does.
18. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Why they’re right here: Coach Ben Howland has taken some time to construct this team precisely as he wished. He’d clearly have most popular to get to this stage sooner, and for Malik Newman to stay round longer than a year, however the deadly Weatherspoons — Quinndary and Nick — and versatile large Aric Holman nearly bought the Bulldogs to the event final season. It’ll occur this year, though they’ll should navigate a loaded SEC to make it. They’ll additionally have to be simpler shooting the ball, which largely will probably be a matter of enhancing offensive execution.
17. Syracuse Orange
Why they’re right here: It in all probability can be good if the Orange weren’t projected right here strictly on the premise of them being matched against some flummoxed NCAA Tournament opponents who’ve by no means seen a zone fairly like Jim Boeheim’s. The Orange needs to be top-15 good, not just Sweet 16-good. They have averaged 14 regular-season losses over the previous 4 years, whereas profitable 77 p.c of their event games in that stretch. With Oshae Brissett and Tyus Battle each able to rating among the many ACC’s greatest players, this may be a season when Cuse must excel from starting to finish.
16. Virginia Tech Hokies
Why they’re right here: The man who persuaded Buzz Williams to go away Marquette for Blacksburg is Whit Babcock. Remember that identify, as a result of he might need pulled off one of the best rent in school basketball since Memphis made John Calipari a head coach again in 2000. Tech once appeared to have a restricted ceiling as an ACC member due to its soccer orientation and lesser amenities, however Williams has the Hokies positioned to get to a 3rd straight NCAA Tournament (which has by no means occurred) and for a run on the program’s deepest development since 1967. And bear in mind, Tech was coming off three consecutive shedding seasons when Williams took over in 2014. Last year ended with three straight losses, however with Justin Robinson, Kerry Blackshear and Nickeil Alexander-Walker nonetheless round, which may have been the beginning of higher days.
15. Oregon Ducks
Why they’re right here: For all he has achieved as a school coach — constructing Creighton into an influence, taking Oregon to the 2017 Final Four – Dana Altman hasn’t been within the place of making an attempt to win large with elite freshmen on the forefront of the squad. The Ducks nonetheless have star guard Payton Pritchard, and nobody is taking his place, however prime recruits Louis King and Bol Bol should excel or this in all probability can’t work. When groups appeal to one-and-done skills they usually don’t produce, it’s normally detrimental to everybody. This is to not say Altman received’t be nice with the 2 frosh, solely that multiple others who’ve tried to grasp this transition have struggled.
14. UCLA Bruins
Why they’re right here: It’s simple to overlook final year’s Bruins may not have been so disappointing had the journey to China not been such a disaster. They lost two key rotation players due to the shoplifting incident (and, no, neither was named Ball). UCLA wanted large guys Cody Riley and Jalen Hill to fortify a smallish team, and this year they’ll have them, together with recruit Shareef O’Neal. All-American level guard Aaron Holiday will probably be missed, however sophomore Jaylen Hands bought to play alongside him and needs to be able to fill the place. Wing Kris Wilkes has the expertise to be a star.
13. Kansas State Wildcats
Why they’re right here: If you thought K-State’s run to the 2018 Elite Eight was a fluky product of a busted bracket, right here come these Wildcats in an much more imposing package deal. They bought to the regional final final year with out a lot within the event from all-league heart Dean Wade, then injured. He selected to return for his senior season, as did shooting guard Barry Brown, which implies a mixed 32.1 factors per game remains within the assault. The Wildcats could be the best menace to the rival Jayhawks’ run of 14 consecutive Big 12 championships.
12. Michigan State Spartans
Why they’re right here: The Spartans have plenty of good players, however when is the final time they didn’t have a star? From Draymond Green to Gary Harris to Denzel Valentine to Miles Bridges, all through this decade there was no less than one player on the squad who could carry the team in difficult occasions. On this squad, there could also be candidates for the job – shooting guard Josh Langford, level guard Cassius Winston, heart Nick Ward — however no obvious solutions. Michigan State wants somebody to step ahead from the group.
11. Auburn Tigers
Why they’re right here: Although the team lost main scorer Mustapha Heron to switch, there is likely to be causes to not really feel terribly about that. Heron wasn’t at all times an element within the largest games (9 of 25 from discipline in NCAA Tournament, 1 of 9 within the SEC regular-season clincher). Plus they get again large males Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy after every sat out final season on NCAA suspension. Last year’s Tigers had been restricted as a result of they had been nearly at all times smaller than the opposition, however this time they’ll arise for themselves under the boards.
10. Michigan Wolverines
Key returnees: PF Isaiah Livers, SF Jordan Poole, SG Charles Matthews, PG Zavier Simpson, C Jon Teske.
Key additions: PF Brandon Johns, SF Ignas Brazdeikis, PG David DeJulius, C Colin Castleton
2018 end: 33-8, NCAA runner-up
Why they’re right here: The Wolverines aren’t getting plenty of love from different preseason rankings. Certainly they’ll have to seek out some scoring depth with Moe Wagner now not round to hold the offense by way of robust stretches. But not plenty of groups are as succesful from positions 1-Four as UM. Simpson turned probably the greatest level guard defenders after taking over the team final season. Poole and Livers each have star high quality; Matthews already has proved he’s a high-teens scorer. The one starting-lineup concern is how you can match Teske with a team in any other case based mostly on quickness and motion, however is there somebody you’d need on that job aside from John Beilein.
Strengths: On-ball protection, offensive versatility.
Weaknesses: Reliance on newcomers to offer depth.
9. Nevada Wolf Pack
Key returnees: SF Caleb Martin, SF Cody Martin, PF Jordan Caroline, PG Lindsey Drew.
Key additions: PF Jordan Brown
2018 end: 29-8, NCAA Sweet 16
Why they’re right here: Convincing this Nevada team it’s crushed is likely to be the hardest of all duties this season. The Pack had been down 30 at halftime of their Mountain West semifinal defeat and didn’t stop, which must have been a touch to Texas (which lost a 14-point second-half lead) and Cincinnati (whose lead stood at 22 factors before Nevada rallied). Most of the players who made all that occur are again, with extra measurement within the frontcourt within the form of 6-10 freshman Brown and grad switch Trey Porter from Old Dominion. The Pack have 4 transfers who sat out final year and averaged double-figure scoring at their earlier stops.
Strengths: Dynamic offense, depth, positional flexibility, comeback spirit.
Weaknesses: Interior protection, though that could be solved if the brand new bigs contribute.
8. Villanova Wildcats
Key returnees: PF Eric Paschall, SG Phil Booth, SF Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, PG/SG Collin Gillespie
Key additions: PG Jahvon Quinerly, PF Cole Swider
2018 end: 36-4, NCAA champions
Why they’re right here: Had Donte DiVincenzo and Omari Spellman not performed so splendidly within the 2018 NCAA Tournament, Villanova in all probability would have been No. 1 on this checklist. If they hadn’t performed so properly, although, there’s an opportunity Villanova wouldn’t have received the 2018 championship, so it seems like a good commerce. This team nonetheless has two core players from final year’s championship, however it is going to be the most recent Villanova has fielded since Ryan Arcidiacono arrived in 2012 and helped flip a 13-19 team into one which has reached six consecutive NCAAs and received two of them. Although Paschall and Booth will excel, and Cosby-Roundtree has an opportunity to be Jay Wright’s subsequent shock star, the Wildcats will probably be extra depending on a freshman — level guard Jahvon Quinerly — than at any time since Arch’s first year.
Strengths: Winning tradition, perimeter shooting.
Weaknesses: Is there sufficient of an inside presence?
7. Tennessee Volunteers
Key returnees: SF Grant Williams, PF Admiral Schofield, SG Lamonte Turner, SG Jordan Bowden, PG Jordan Bone, C Kyle Alexander
2018 end: 26-9, NCAA second round
Why they’re right here: The Volunteers return practically their total rotation. The greatest solution to do the accounting is to say they’ve bought 90 p.c of their scoring again, however that’s not probably the most correct. Because what they largely have again is 90 p.c of the fellows who smothered opponents and made their expertise depressing. Tennessee had the No. 6 protection in Division I. The Vols could beat you by turning you over or by dragging you right into a rock fight. Only once within the final 9 games did the opposition prime 66 factors. The final 4 had been all NCAA Tournament entrants, they usually averaged 63.
Strengths: Defense. And extra protection.
Weaknesses: Scoring is at all times a challenge, and it’s exhausting to win the most important games like that.
6. North Carolina Tar Heels
Key returnees: PF Luke Maye, SF Cameron Johnson, SG Kenny Williams, C Sterling Manley, PF Garrison Brooks, PG Seventh Woods
Key additions: SF Nassir Little, SG Rechon Black, PG Coby White
2018 end: 26-11, NCAA second round
Why they’re right here: The addition of Little marks a return for North Carolina to recruiting among the many heavyweights, after the NCAA investigation of the college’s tutorial points made it a problem for the Tar Heels to land top-10ish prospects. They did just high-quality within the interim, driving Joel Berry’s good profession to consecutive Final Fours, a nationwide title and a 14-Three NCAA Tournament file. Replacing him will probably be a mountainous process, and the earlier the job finds its solution to White’s palms, the higher for the Heels. Here’s the trustworthy reality about this roster: If the purpose guard state of affairs will get sorted out, and if Manley or Brooks can grow to be a legit large man alongside Maye, this team has a greater shot at profitable all of it than 4 of 5 of the groups ranked forward.
Strengths: Wide number of scoring choices, perimeter shooting
Weaknesses: No confirmed reply within the center
5. Virginia Cavaliers
Key returnees: SG Ty Jerome, PG Kyle Guy, SF De’Andre Hunter, C Jack Salt, PF Mamadi Diakite
Key addition: C Francisco Caffaro
2018 end: 31-3, NCAA first round
Why they’re right here: There are multiple who contend UVA’s loss within the first round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament — as if we have to remind you, the Cavs turned the first No. 1 seed ever to lose to a No. 16 — was the final proof that it’s unimaginable to make a Final Four run in case you transfer at UVA’s tempo. This was mainly the slowest team in school basketball final season. But the Cavaliers had been three spots from the underside in 2016, after they held a 15-point deficit over Syracuse and succumbed to the Orange’s frantic press. That wasn’t a problem of favor or pace. In the case of final year’s loss, it was largely about believing an excessive amount of in a system that wasn’t engaged on that night time. That’s a lesson that UVA can study from that catastrophe, as a result of this can be a beginning 5 that’s ok to win a nationwide title.
Strengths: Defense, perimeter shooting
Weaknesses: Depth, schematic flexibility
4. Duke Blue Devils
Key returnees: PF Javin DeLaurier, C Marques Bolden, SG Alex O’Connell
Key additions: SF R.J. Barrett, PF Zion Williamson, SG Cam Reddish, PG Tre Jones
2018 end: 29-8, Elite Eight
Why they’re right here: It’s not out of the query that each Barrett and Williamson could be first-team All-Americans. They’re that gifted, and the remainder of the sector is that not. Barrett confirmed his capability to take command of an necessary game when he smacked the United States U-19 nationwide team with 38 points in a semifinal victory for his Canada squad. Williamson is a power of nature, one of the crucial dynamic large males the game has seen. A man his measurement merely shouldn’t be capable to transfer like he does. The query is how he will probably be deployed — as an influence ahead or undersized heart? — and with whom he’ll match. The Blue Devils will want all 4 of their freshmen to be nice, given the departure of players who scored 86 p.c of final season’s factors.
Strengths: Playmaking capability, positional measurement.
Weaknesses: Perimeter shooting, probably protection.
3. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Key returnees: SG Zach Norvell, SF Rui Hachimura, C Killian Tillie, PG Josh Perkins, SG Corey Kispert
Key additions: PG Geno Crandall (tentative), PF Brandon Clarke, SF Jeremy Jones, PF Filip Petrusev
2018 end: 32-5, Sweet 16
Why they’re right here: Had the Bulldogs received the recruiting battle for level guard Brandon Williams, who as an alternative selected Arizona, there’s a good likelihood SN would have chosen the Zags as our No. 1 team. That’s no slight on Perkins, who has been an excellent school player — he’s bought 1,154 factors on his solution to probably 1,500 for his profession — and began on wonderful groups at each backcourt spots. It’s just the Zags could use somebody extra dynamic on the place. Crandall ostensibly could give them at least another option there, however he nonetheless is working to graduate from North Dakota with the intention to switch and be a part of the team partway by way of preseason follow. No team has a extra promising set of wings than Gonzaga does, with Norvell and Hachimura, every of whom functioned as an NCAA Tournament hero final March.
Strengths: Scoring capability, perimeter depth, expertise.
Weaknesses: Backcourt quickness, which could be exploited by dynamic opponents.
2. Kansas Jayhawks
Key returnees: SG Lagerald Vick, C Udoka Azubuike, SF Marcus Garrett, PF Mitch Lightfoot, PF Silvio De Sousa
Key additions: PF Dedric Lawson, PG Charlie Moore, SF K.J. Lawson, PG/SG Quentin Grimes, PG/SG Devon Dotson, PF David McCormack
2018 end: 31-8, Final Four
Why they’re right here: Kansas has a extra achieved group of school players than anybody — however plenty of what has been achieved occurred elsewhere. Dedric Lawson, now expected to be KU’s main possibility, was a terrific player on middling groups at Memphis. Moore, who seemingly will get the first crack at level guard, was superb as a freshman on an NIT team at California. They’ve had a year to grasp what coach Bill Self desires from them — to study his schemes — so their transition to performing as Jayhawks is not going to be as drastic as, say, Travis’ at Kentucky. What’s separating KU from the highest spot is a priority that Moore may not be geared up to offer what the Jayhawks are accustomed to receiving from their playmakers. They employed Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham on the place over the previous 4 years; each had been first-team All-Americans.
Strengths: Physical energy, frontcourt depth, a number of scoring choices.
Weaknesses: Will the protection maintain up on the level of assault?
1. Kentucky Wildcats
Key returnees: PF PJ Washington, C Nick Richards, PG Quade Green.
Key additions: PF Reid Travis, SG Tyler Herro, PG Immanuel Quickley, SF Keldon Johnson, PF EJ Montgomery, PG Ashton Hagans
2018 end: 26-11, Sweet 16
Why they’re right here: In a season that won’t rank among the many most talent-rich in trendy school basketball historical past, UK definitely qualifies as loaded. The choice of former Pac-10 star Travis to affix the Wildcats as a graduate switch has given the team 9 starting-quality players, which is able to trigger some challenges for coach John Calipari in terms of constructing a mode and rotation that works to maximise their talents. One factor that was noticeable within the team’s taking part in journey to the Bahamas was how efficient each Washington and Travis performed within the excessive publish. As the 5 gifted freshmen develop, there’s a likelihood for UK to be oppressive on protection.
Strengths: Depth, measurement, a number of ball-handlers.
Weaknesses: Shooting, expertise.