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College basketball rankings: Too early top-25 after NBA deadline

Here’s our latest look at the top teams in men’s college basketball next season after the NBA deadline passed.

North Carolina v Kansas Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

The deadline for men’s college basketball standouts to decide whether or not they’re going to stay in the 2023 NBA Draft has come and gone, which means we finally have a clear (or at least less hazy) look at how the rosters for the top teams in the sport are going to look for the 2023-24 season.

There are still plenty of major (and not so major) decisions looming from players still hanging out and clinking drinks in the transfer portal, but almost exactly four months from the start of the season, we have enough solid info at our disposal to take embark on a semi-educated attempt at ranking the 40 best teams in the sport.

Let’s get to it.

1. Kansas Jayhawks

2022-23 Record: 28-8

2022-23 Finish: Second Round

When it comes to now ultra-important combination of returning key contributors from last season and adding impactful players from the transfer portal, no team had a better offseason than Kansas.

The Jayhawks return the talented trio of Dajuan Harris Jr., Kevin McCullar and K.J. Adams Jr. from last season’s No. 1 seed, and also added arguably the best player from the transfer portal in Michigan big man Hunter Dickinson, as well as high-scoring Nick Timberlake from Towson. Former top-ranked point guard Arterio Morris (Texas) and 5-star freshman Elmarko Jackson should also help in KU’s pursuit of title No. 5.

2. Purdue Boilermakers

2022-23 Record: 29-6

2022-23 Finish: First Round

If history has taught us anything it’s that any time a No. 1 seed loses to a 16-seed in the first round of the NCAA tournament, that No. 1 seed comes back and wins the national championship a year later. Returning the national Player of the Year should help in that process of history repeating itself.

In all seriousness, we’re talking about a team that returns all five starters — including the best player in the sport — from a squad that won both the Big Ten regular season and conference tournament titles and earned a 1-seed in the NCAA tournament last year. If the Boilermakers had simply won two or three games in the Big Dance, it’s likely that they’d be everyone’s preseason No. 1 pick.

The guard issues that ultimately led to Purdue’s early exit are still there, which means it’s on Matt Painter to get guys like Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer to take their games to the next level in order for the Boilers to be legitimate national title threats.

3. Duke Blue Devils

2022-23 Record: 27-9

2022-23 Finish: Second Round

With Kyle Filipowski, Jeremy Roach, Tyrese Proctor and Mark Mitchell all electing to return to Durham, Duke brings back to the core of a team that hit its stride toward the end of last season, winning the ACC tournament impressively before earning a No. 4 seed in the Big Dance. The Blue Devils also have the distinction of being the only major conference program in college basketball to not lose a single player to the transfer portal this offseason.

Toss in the nation’s No. 2 recruiting class — one headlined by 5-star shooting guard Jared McCain — and Jon Scheyer should have all the pieces necessary to do some net cutting next spring.

4. Michigan State Spartans

2022-23 Record: 21-13

2022-23 Finish: Sweet 16

Tom Izzo brings back four of his top five contributors from a team that was a Markquis Nowell hero performance away from crashing the Elite Eight. In addition to bringing back Tyson Walker, A.J. Hoggard, Jaden Akins and Malik Hall, Izzo will sprinkle in a quartet of top 50 freshmen, led by 5-star big man Xavier Booker.

5. Connecticut Huskies

2021-22 Record: 31-8

2021-22 Finish: National Champions

Dan Hurley’s reigning national champs aren’t going anywhere.

Sure, Jordan Hawkins, Andre Jackson and Adama Sanogo all made unsurprising exits for the next level, but three of the top five scorers from the squad that made a historically dominant run to the national title are all returning to Storrs. Tristen Newton and Alex Karaban are both back at starters, while Donovan Clingan figures to step seamlessly into the star man in the middle role that Sanogo played last season.

Hurley landed Rutgers transfer Cam Spencer to help make up for the loss in outside shooting that Hawkins’ departure brings. He also should get a boost from a top 10 recruiting class that features 5-star point guard Stephon Castle.

6. Tennessee Volunteers

2022-23 Record: 25-11

2022-23 Finish: Sweet 16

The Vols return the nucleus of a Sweet 16 team with Santiago Vescovi, Josiah-Jordan James and Zakai Zeigler — once he’s fully recovered from his ACL injury — all heading back to Knoxville. Rick Barnes also put together one of the best transfer portal hauls of the offseason by landing Chris Ledlum (Harvard), Jordan Gainey (USC Upstate) and Dalton Knecht (Northern Colorado), additions which should help improve some of the offensive deficiencies that at times plagued last year’s squad.

People are always going to judge Barnes and UT by what they do in March, but the Vols have all the pieces necessary to once again be a top 4-seed by the time the madness rolls around.

7. Marquette Golden Eagles

2022-23 Record: 29-7

2022-23 Finish: Second Round

UConn may have rolled to the national title last spring, but Marquette would like to remind you that the Huskies wore neither the Big East’s regular season or tournament crown. Both distinctions belonged to the Golden Eagles, who earned a 2-seed for the Big Dance before becoming the latest bullet point on the “Izzo in March” resume in round two.

Outside of Olivier Maxence-Prosper, who made a somewhat surprising bolt for the NBA, Shaka Smart returns every key contributor from that Big East championship squad. Included in that mix is floor general Tyler Kolek, the reigning Big East Player of the Year and a Second Team All-American.

Losing Prosper is a significant hit to the Golden Eagles on the defensive end, but this still figures to be Marquette’s best shot at a trip to the Final Four since Dwyane Wade and Tom Crean were running the show.

8. Houston Cougars

2022-23 Record: 33-4

2022-23 Finish: Sweet 16

Kelvin Sampson’s Cougars have gone an astounding 176-34 over the last six seasons. Now, they make the leap to a Big 12 conference that has been the sport’s most competitive from top to bottom over that same time frame.

Could Houston threaten perennial conference king Kansas in their first year? It’s certainly possible.

All-American Marcus Sasser is gone, as are likely lottery pick Jarace Walker and double figure scorer Tramon Mark, who transferred to Arkansas. Still, UH returns five of its top eight scorers from a No. 1 seed, and brings in two of the best available players from the transfer portal in LJ Cryer (Baylor) and Damian Dunn (Temple).

Houston isn’t going anywhere.

9. Florida Atlantic Owls

2022-23 Record: 35-4

2022-23 Finish: Final Four

After returning virtually every major contributor from a team that became just the third 9-seed ever to make the Final Four, expect to hear this Florida Atlantic team liberally compared to 2013-14 Wichita State all summer and into the fall.

That Shockers team, for those struggling to remember, crashed the Final Four the year before, nearly stunned No. 1 overall seed Louisville, and then entered the NCAA tournament undefeated a year later. I don’t know if there are two future NBA players on this FAU roster, but last March made it undoubtedly clear that the team’s gaudy 35-4 record was no fluke.

The challenge for Dusty May’s program will be an elevated non-conference schedule — the Owls are playing in three multi-team events in November/December — that comes with a newfound target on their back, as well as a jump from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference.

10. Miami Hurricanes

2022-23 Record: 29-8

2022-23 Finish: Final Four

The Hurricanes have made history in each of the last two seasons, advancing to a regional final for the first time in 2022, and then crashing the Final Four for the first time 12 months later.

Is Jim Larranaga ready to take the program even further? The pieces seem to be there.

Losing ACC Player of the Year Isaiah Wong is certainly a blow, but Nijel Pack should be able to step in and assume the ball dominant role that Wong played for the last three years. Do-everything forward Norchad Omier also returns, as does starting guard Wooga Poplar, who was terrific in the team’s Elite Eight upset of Texas. Florida State transfer Matthew Cleveland should plug in nicely at the combo forward spot left vacant by second-leading scorer Jordan Miller.

11. Creighton Bluejays

2022-23 Record: 24-13

2022-23 Finish: Elite Eight

Everyone outside of Ryan Nembhard and Arthur Kaluma returns from a team that was oh-so-close to scoring the first Final Four appearance in program history. Utah State transfer Steven Ashworth might be the best shooter in the country, and should fit perfectly into the system Greg McDermott has set up in Omaha.

12. Arkansas Razorbacks

2022-23 Record: 22-14

2022-23 Finish: Sweet 16

There might not be a more intriguing roster in the country than the one Eric Musselman has put together.

He returns four key contributors — Trevon Brazile, Davonte Davis, Makhi Mitchell and Jalen Graham — from a team that once again made a Sweet 16 appearance. He’s bringing in a pair of five-star freshmen in Baye Fall and Layden Blocker. And then he’s assembled arguably the best (and certainly the deepest) transfer portal class in the country, one which features five different guards who were top three scorers for notable programs a season ago.

I have now idea how playing time is going to be divvied out, but I’m fascinated to watch.

13. San Diego State Aztecs

2022-23 Record: 32-7

2022-23 Finish: National Runner-Up

The Aztecs — not UCLA or Arizona or Gonzaga — nearly became the first West Coast team since 1997 to win the national title before running into the buzzsaw that was UConn on the first Monday in April. Four of the top six scorers return from that team, including South Region MVP Darrion Trammell and Final Four hero Lamont Butler. USC transfer Reese Dixon-Waters should bolster what was already a solid starting five.

14. Gonzaga Bulldogs

2022-23 Record: 31-6

2022-23 Finish: Elite Eight

It’s a changing of the guard in Spokane, with Drew Timme, Julian Strawther, Rasir Bolton and Malachi Smith all gone. Mark Few will look to replace the quartet with a highly-touted transfer class led by former Creighton point guard Ryan Nembhard and Wyoming star Ryan Ike.

It’s been nine years since the last time the Zags failed to make the NCAA tournament’s second weekend. While they might not be a top tier national title contender this season, Few’s squad is still a safe bet to be Sweet 16 good.

15. Texas A&M Aggies

2022-23 Record: 25-10

2022-23 Finish: First Round

The Aggies return four of their five starters from last season, including a pair of all-conference performers in Wade Taylor IV and Tyrece Radford. Year five is typically when Buzz Williams really gets things going for a program. He led Marquette to the Elite Eight in 2014, and then five years later his Virginia Tech team came a missed layup at the buzzer away from stunning Zion Williamson and Duke in the Sweet 16. Another second week trip in a fifth season seems very possible.

16. North Carolina Tar Heels

2022-23 Record: 20-13

2022-23 Finish: No Postseason

In Hubert Davis’ first year, his UNC squad underachieved dramatically before a dazzling NCAA tournament run that took them all the way to the national championship game. In year two, his Tar Heels became the first AP preseason No. 1 in history to miss the NCAA tournament.

Who knows what the hell to expect in year three, but Davis’ roster communicates that there’s no excuse for another March miss.

Two-time All-American Armando Bacot is utilizing his extra COVID year to return and smash both school and conference records. Second-leading scorer and leading assist man R.J. Davis also returns. Transfer portal additions Harrison Ingram and Cormac Ryan as well as the addition of five-star freshman guard Elliot Cadeau give Davis no excuse not to field an ACC contender.

17. Saint Mary’s Gaels

2022-23 Record: 27-8

2022-23 Finish: Second Round

Four of the five top scorers are back from a Saint Mary’s team that spent virtually all of last season ranked in the nation’s top 20 and shared the West Coast Conference regular season title with Gonzaga. They could have easily been a Sweet 16 team had the 4-seed in their region been anyone other than the eventual national champions.

18. Arizona Wildcats

2022-23 Record: 28-7

2022-23 Finish: First Round

The biggest pieces from last year’s Pac-12 championship squad are gone, but Tommy Lloyd still has a highly intriguing roster. He returns starters Pelle Larsson and Kylan Boswell on the perimeter, and still has Oumar Ballo inside. Lloyd has now also added feast-or-famine North Carolina transfer guard Caleb Love, as well as Jaden Bradley from Alabama and Keshad Johnson from San Diego State. There’s no reason for the Wildcats not to be right back in the hunt for another conference title and another top 4 NCAA tournament seed.

19. Baylor Bears

2022-23 Record: 23-11

2022-23 Finish: Second Round

There are some enormous pieces to replace — namely, Adam Flagler, LJ Cryer and Keyonte George — but Scott Drew has earned the benefit of the doubt at this point. The addition of MAC Player of the Year RayJ Dennis (Toledo) and a top 10 recruiting class should help the Bears remain in the top half of the loaded Big 12.

20. USC Trojans

2022-23 Record: 22-11

2022-23 Finish: First Round

The Trojans figure to put out a product that will be worth staying up late for this winter. Potential preseason Pac-12 Player of the Year Boogie Ellis will be joined by Isaiah Collier, the No. 1 player in the class of 2023, and — have you guys seen this? have you heard about this? — Bronny James. If that weren’t enough, Washington State transfer DJ Rodman — yes, Dennis’ son — is also joining the fold.

21. Texas Longhorns

2022-23 Record: 29-9

2022-23 Finish: Elite Eight

Rodney Terry’s first full season as Texas’ head coach should see him fielding a contender thanks to the return of Tyrese Hunter and Dylan Disu, as well as the additions of the high-scoring Max Abmas (Oral Roberts) and elite rim protector Kadin Shedrick (Virginia).

22. Alabama Crimson Tide

2022-23 Record: 31-6

2022-23 Finish: Sweet 16

Four of the top seven scorers from last season’s No. 1 overall seed are gone, but Nate Oats still has returning starters Jahvon Quinerly and Mark Sears. Adding high-scoring transfer Aaron Estrada — 20.2 ppg at Hofstra last season — was huge, but the Crimson Tide are thin inside, even with the recent addition of versatile North Dakota State forward Grant Nelson.

23. Villanova Wildcats

2022-23 Record: 17-17

2022-23 Finish: NIT First Round

Kyle Neptune’s first season on the job was far from ideal by Villanova standards, but the Wildcats did improve dramatically as the season went along, and there are plenty of reasons to believe things will be markedly better in year two. Eric Dixon and Justin Moore return, and Neptune brings in a deep and talented transfer class headlined by Tyler Burton (Richmond), Hakim Hart (Maryland) and TJ Bamba (Washington State).

24. Colorado Buffaloes

2022-23 Record: 18-17

2022-23 Finish: NIT Second Round

Tad Boyle returns his top five scorers from last season, but this ranking is more about who he brings in. TCU transfer Eddie Lampkin should be one of the best big men in the Pac-12, and five-star freshman Cody Williams is a consensus top 10 player in the 2023 class and the highest-ranked recruit in the history of Colorado hoops.

25. Kentucky Wildcats

2022-23 Record: 22-12

2022-23 Finish: Second Round

There’s still time for John Calipari to add a handful of players, but the 2023-24 Kentucky Wildcats are shaping up to be a fascinating case study on the current state of college basketball.

On one hand, this is a vintage Calipari recruiting class. The type that allowed him to take the Wildcats to four Final Fours in his first six seasons in Lexington. Three of the top six freshmen in the country and four of the top 20 will all be suiting up for the Wildcats this year.

On the other hand, elite freshmen aren’t producing in college basketball the way they were 10 years ago. Toss in the fact that the only thing Kentucky has on its roster right now outside of its freshmen class is two sophomores who combined to average 4.4 ppg last season, and it’s understandable why Big Blue Nation is in a bit of a panic.

The Next 15:

26. UCLA

27. West Virginia

28. TCU

29. St. John’s

30. Wisconsin

31. Indiana

32. Clemson

33. Auburn

34. Oregon

35. Maryland

36. Mississippi State

37. Kansas State

38. Xavier

39. Florida

40. Memphis