This past week, the Associated Press released the first top 25 of the college basketball season. With much excitement coming off one of the best March Madness tournaments in the history of the sport, this year’s regular season is much anticipated. Here is a look at the top five teams and some of the rest of the top 25.
One of the final four teams from last year looks to go into the season with revenge on the mind. Kansas had its usual strong recruiting class as they brought in the #8 and #24 recruits (ESPN rankings) coming out of high school in Quentin Grimes and Devin Dotson respectively. The Jayhawks also added point guard Charlie Moore, one of the top available transfers from Cal. Coach Bill Self once again has Kansas in a position to compete and they are a well-deserved number one ranked team.
Kentucky is coming off a season in which they underachieved in March, falling to 9th seeded Kansas State in the Sweet 16. Kentucky looks to rebound this year as the Wildcats boast one of the top recruiting classes. Keldon Johnson, EJ Montgomery, Ashton Hagans, and Immanuel Quickley are all 5-star recruits that will be suiting up in Kentucky blue this coming year. Senior transfer Reid Travis and top four-star recruit Tyler Herro both add to the depth this Kentucky team will have. Everyone knows coach John Calipari was not happy with the way last year’s tournament played out and the Wildcats will be back with a bang this year.
One of the bigger surprises of the top five, Gonzaga, has only one top recruit in four-star center Flip Petrusev. Gonzaga is a big team that could easily match-up with any height a team has to throw at them. The team has scoring options everywhere as they return most of the same team from last year led by Josh Perkins. After a disappointing March which saw the Bulldogs lose in the sweet 16 to 9th seeded Florida State. Mark Few has been through a lot as head coach of the Zags and hopes to bring them back to the title game that they were so close to winning a few years ago.
Some might think this is low for a Duke team that boasts one of the best recruiting classes of all time. RJ Barrett is the projected top pick in the NBA draft and would likely play a key role on an NBA team this season if he could. Zion Williamson was the highest flyer of the high school class as his highlight tapes look like they could be an NBA dunk contest recap. Cam Reddish has an assassin mentality and he could end up being the second pick in the draft if Barrett goes first. Five-star point guard Tre Jones adds a fourth 5-star recruit to an amazing Duke team. Coach Mike Krzyzewski will have this team playing like a top contender in March without a doubt.
Coming off arguably the worst exit of a March Madness tournament of all time, UVA looks to rebound with a season stronger than last years. As the overall one seed, the Cavaliers had a strong regular season that was seen go to waste when they lost to 16 seeded UMBC in the round of 64. With no top recruits, Virginia will rely on veterans of last year’s defensive-minded team. Coach Tony Bennett will undoubtedly have his team ready to go for the regular season, but they need to keep it together in March.
The rest of the top 25 includes some surprise rankings.
Checking in at number 7 is a Nevada team that made a statement last year by making it to the Sweet 16 before losing to Loyola Chicago. The Wolf Pack added four-star center Jordan Brown to an already strong team.
Defending champion Villanova comes in at number 9 in the poll. Nova added multiple four-star recruits as they look to win their third tournament in the last four years. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they lost Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, Omari Spellman and Mikal Bridges to the NBA draft.
At 14, Oregon becomes one of the most exciting teams of this season. Headlined by top five-star recruits Bol Bol and Louis King, the Ducks have a strong team going into a season where they look to do far better than a disappointing 2017-18 year.
It is gearing up to be an exciting 2018-19 season in college basketball. From now until the beginning of April, anything can happen.
Photo: Sports Illustrated