College basketball way-too-early Top 25 rankings for 2022-23

Eric Musselman, Arkansas

Arkansas and Houston lead the way with key returners and top recruits in our college basketball way-too-early Top 25 rankings for the 2022-23 season.

It’s never too early to start thinking about next season. Unless you’re a fan of Duke, North Carolina, Villanova or Kansas, the thought of next year’s roster has probably crossed your mind already.

While the transfer portal is running wild and boatloads of draft decisions are still to come, we’re kicking off the offseason with our college basketball way-too-early Top 25 rankings for 2022-23. As always, things will change often, and we will be making consistent updates to reflect recent developments.

Before we begin, a couple of notes: First, we are generally assuming that seniors are departing despite the extra year of eligibility, unless otherwise noted. Additionally, most players who are top-40 draft prospects are also removed. Any fringe circumstances are likely covered in our team blurbs. Our rankings were made by a consensus vote from the Heat Check CBB staff.

Just like the rosters, these rankings will change frequently, but it’s always an enjoyable exercise to take an early (or way-too-early) look at the upcoming season.

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Without further ado, our college basketball way-too-early Top 25 rankings for the 2022-23 are below.

Rankings last updated on March 29, 2022.

Received votes: Florida State, Colorado, Oregon, Texas Tech, Saint Louis, Xavier, VCU

25. San Diego State Aztecs

Projected 2022-23 lineup: Lamont Butler, Adam Seiko, Matt Bradley, Keshad Johnson, Jaedon Ledee

San Diego State may not be an offensive juggernaut, but the return of star guard Matt Bradley definitely gives them a boost on that side of the floor. TCU transfer Jaedon Ledee will likely be tasked with replacing Nathan Mensah, who could still return for another year, and Adam Seiko will be forced into the starting lineup as another returning senior. Although the team has a pair of returning seniors, its success will hinge on Lamont Butler’s ability to succeed as the primary point guard with the departure of Trey Pulliam.

24. Purdue Boilermakers

Projected 2022-23 lineup: Ethan Morton, Brandon Newman, Mason Gillis, Caleb Furst, Zach Edey

With Jaden Ivey off to the NBA, figuring out the point-guard position will be telling in how Purdue’s offseason unfolds. Either Matt Painter will feel confident enough to move 6-6 Ethan Morton over, assign duties to freshman Braden Smith, or find a better option in the transfer portal. Meanwhile, youngsters Brandon Newman, Mason Gillis and Caleb Furst will need to take the next step to ensure that the Boilermakers don’t miss a beat. Four-star forward Trey Kaufman-Renn should also contribute after a redshirt year.

23. Colorado State Rams

Projected 2022-23 lineup: Isaiah Stevens, Kendle Moore, John Tonje, David Roddy, James Moors

The biggest question facing Colorado State this spring is whether Heat Check CBB Third Team All-American forward David Roddy returns to campus. Assuming he does, the Rams have another team that should flirt with Top 25 publicity. Isaiah Stevens will be regarded as one of the best point guards in America next season and he has capable sidekicks in Kendle Moore and John Tonje. Some depth will be needed, but this is another mid-major power.

22. Tennessee Volunteers

Projected 2022-23 lineup: Zakai Zeigler, Santiago Vescovi, Justin Powell, Josiah-Jordan James, Olivier Nkamhoua

Kennedy Chandler is likely off to the pros while John Fulkerson has exhausted his eligibility. Otherwise, the Volunteers should largely remain together for another season. Zakai Zeigler will look to build off a productive Year 1 alongside Vols vet Santiago Vescovi. Don’t be surprised if Tennessee looks to shore up the frontcourt in the transfer portal.

21. Dayton Flyers

Projected 2022-23 lineup: Malachi Smith, Kobe Elvis, RJ Blakney, Toumani Camara, DaRon Holmes

Dayton was the very first team left out of the 2022 NCAA Tournament field. Given the Flyers had the youngest roster in college basketball this past season, Dayton fans can expect to read plenty of articles this summer about the team’s breakout potential. Anthony Grant’s team nearly pulled out an at-large bid despite a 1-3 start that included losses to UMass Lowell, Lipscomb and Austin Peay, finishing the year 23-8 and gaining over 80 spots in KenPom. The trio of lead distributor Malachi Smith, interior force DaRon Holmes and athletic forward Toumani Camara will be must-watch material.

20. Virginia Cavaliers

Projected 2022-23 lineup: Reece Beekman, Armaan Franklin, Isaac McNeely, Isaac Traudt, Kadin Shedrick

After what was an uncharacteristically trying season for the Cavaliers, Tony Bennett will once again hit the reset button. Assuming Kihei Clark and Jayden Gardner don’t return, Bennett will need new players to step up and lead the team. Reece Beekman has shown he is more than capable of being the floor general while Armaan Franklin is a willing shooter who has shown glimpses of efficiency. A top-10 recruiting class will surround the returning core with plenty of wings to, hopefully, fix the scoring woes of this past season’s team.

19. Texas Longhorns

Projected 2022-23 lineup: Arterio Morris, Devin Askew, Dillon Mitchell, Brock Cunningham, Dylan Disu

Texas will have a massive roster overhaul this offseason with the core of this past year’s roster being seniors, though some of whom still have a season of eligibility remaining. Chris Beard is one of the most active coaches on the transfer market, but he already has a head start on the ‘22-23 roster in a pair of five-stars in point guard Arterio Morris and wing Dillon Mitchell. There’s a long way to go before finalizing Texas’ rotation for next season.

18. Ohio State Buckeyes

Projected 2022-23 lineup: Bruce Thornton, Meechie Johnson, Justice Sueing, Seth Towns, Zed Key

If it weren’t for Malaki Branham rapidly developing into a possible top-20 draft pick and likely leaving school, the Buckeyes would probably enter next season as the Big Ten favorites. Fortunately for Chris Holtmann, the No. 5 recruiting class is on the way and features Bruce Thornton, who will potentially start at point guard as a high four-star recruit. Returners Meechie Johnson and Zed Key figure to have substantial roles. Two big names to watch: Justice Sueing and Seth Towns. Both players have a year of eligibility remaining and could again be double-figure scorers and key leaders, if healthy. There is a long way to go in figuring out this roster, but it could wind up being a strong one.

17. TCU Horned Frogs

Projected 2022-23 lineup: Mike Miles, Damion Baugh, Micah Peavy, Emanuel Miller, Eddie Lampkin

Jamie Dixon continues to bring his alma mater to new heights. TCU is fresh off its first NCAA Tournament victory since 1987 and could return five of its top six players if Mike Miles doesn’t turn pro. While the Horned Frogs could desperately use some perimeter help (330th in 3-point shooting percentage), the overwhelming physicality (1st in offensive rebounding rate) of the roster isn’t going anywhere.

16. Auburn Tigers

Projected 2022-23 lineup: Wendell Green, KD Johnson, Allen Flanigan, Jaylin Williams, Dylan Cardwell

Auburn was at one point the No. 1 team in the country this past season before a March flameout, finishing the year just 6-5 after a 22-1 start. Bruce Pearl and the Tigers turn the page with hopes of defending their SEC title, and most of the team’s contributors besides Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler are expected to return. Coming off the bench this past year, Auburn should be just fine in the frontcourt with potential breakout guys in Jaylin Williams and Dylan Cardwell. As always, don’t be surprised if Pearl’s staff works some portal magic.

15. Villanova Wildcats

Projected 2022-23 lineup: Chris Arcidiacono, Justin Moore, Cam Whitmore, Brandon Slater, Eric Dixon

There are several question marks within the Villanova roster heading into the offseason. First and foremost, the health of Justin Moore (torn Achilles) and Jordan Longino (torn meniscus) will go a long way in the team’s ‘22-23 outlook. Villanova also has two potential opt-in players in Caleb Daniels and Brandon Slater. Finally, who starts at point guard? Collin Gillespie is gone, and he could be succeeded by redshirt freshman Angelo Brizzi or Chris Arcidiacono. No matter what, Villanova is a safe bet to be a preseason top-15 squad for the ninth consecutive year.

14. Illinois Fighting Illini

Projected 2022-23 lineup: Jayden Epps, Ty Rodgers, RJ Melendez, Coleman Hawkins, Kofi Cockburn

Illinois is almost certain to add another starter or two from the transfer market, but even the current roster is intriguing. Assuming Kofi Cockburn returns, the Illini have likely the best big man in America to go with two talented up-and-comers in RJ Melendez and Coleman Hawkins at the forward positions. Top-75 recruits Ty Rodgers and Jayden Epps should provide an offensive spark, and their roles are likely dependent on what Illinois finds this offseason.

13. Michigan Wolverines

Projected 2022-23 lineup: Frankie Collins, Caleb Houstan, Terrance Williams, Moussa Diabate, Hunter Dickinson

The Wolverines bounced back from an up-and-down regular season by reaching the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Now, as Michigan turns to the offseason, a handful of key draft decisions will dictate the roster construction. Hunter Dickinson is the most notable one, given the All-Big Ten 2nd Team honoree has been dominant for two years now but still doesn’t carry much draft stock. Elsewhere, five-stars Caleb Houston and Moussa Diabate probably have some work to do before taking the leap. This roster is likely to be anchored by a couple of transfer additions.

12. Gonzaga Bulldogs

Projected 2022-23 lineup: Nolan Hickman, Hunter Sallis, Dominick Harris, Julian Strawther, Drew Timme

It was a disappointing end to the season for the Bulldogs, especially with their current National Championship contention window closing momentarily. While Julian Strawther and Drew Timme still have important decisions to make regarding their future in Spokane, their return would allow the Zags to run a small lineup reminiscent of the team that lost to Baylor in the 2021 title game. Few can swap Hunter Sallis and Anton Watson between big and small lineups, and the staff will likely be looking to add both a big and iso scoring threat from the transfer portal.

11. Baylor Bears

Projected 2022-23 lineup: L.J. Cryer, Keyonte George, Adam Flagler, Joshua Ojianwuna, Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua

Assuming James Akinjo isn’t back in Waco, L.J. Cryer will likely hold down lead-guard duties for the ‘22-23 Bears. Baylor also adds five-star combo guard Keyonte George and figures to return sharpshooter Adam Flagler. Jeremy Sochan is a likely lottery pick while Kendall Brown is hovering right around a mid-first/early-second-round projection. If Brown leaves, Baylor will likely need to find a power forward in the transfer market. The Bears have a loaded backcourt but tons of frontcourt questions.

10. North Carolina Tar Heels

Projected 2022-23 lineup: RJ Davis, Caleb Love, Leaky Black, Puff Johnson, Armando Bacot

NBA Draft boards still aren’t particularly high on RJ Davis, Caleb Love or Armando Bacot. While it seems rather unlikely all three will be back after a Final Four run, the Tar Heels can probably expect at least one of them to return for another season. Three top-80 recruits are on the way, highlighted by guard Seth Trimble, who could be the future of the UNC backcourt.

9. Arizona Wildcats

Projected 2022-23 lineup: Kerr Kriisa, Pelle Larsson, Dalen Terry, Azuolas Tubelis, Oumar Ballo

Arizona had a breakout season under first-year head coach Tommy Lloyd and now looks to keep the momentum going in Year 2. Bennedict Mathurin and Christian Koloko are projected first-round draft choices and Justin Kier is out of eligibility, but the rest of the group could be back. Arizona figures to be active in the portal, especially if Dalen Terry turns pro.

8. Alabama Crimson Tide

Projected 2022-23 lineup: Jaden Bradley, Nimari Burnett, Brandon Miller, Noah Gurley, Charles Bediako

The 2021-22 campaign didn’t go the way Nate Oats had hoped, but the talent level in Tuscaloosa is still palpable. The nation’s No. 3 class enters, highlighted by a pair of five-stars in small forward Brandon Miller and point guard Jaden Bradley. The returning frontcourt duo of Noah Gurley and Charles Bediako will also be aided by top-60 recruit Noah Clowney and JUCO transfer Nick Pringle. Keep an eye on former Texas Tech guard Nimari Burnett, a top-30 2020 product who struggled with the Red Raiders but could shine once he fully recovers from a torn ACL. The Tide has Final Four potential if everything clicks.

7. Kentucky Wildcats

Projected 2022-23 lineup: Sahvir Wheeler, Cason Wallace, Chris Livingston, Keion Brooks, Oscar Tshiebwe

Kentucky’s starting lineup may look nothing like the one listed above once November rolls around. Superstar big man Oscar Tshiebwe is in the 30-45 range in most big boards while Keion Brooks has some rumblings. The two five-star recruits Cason Wallace and Chris Livingston should be automatic starters while lead guard Sahvir Wheeler is expected to return. John Calipari has already been active in the transfer portal as well. It should be yet another top-10 roster at the very least by the time the preseason AP ballot arrives.

6. Creighton Bluejays

Projected 2022-23 lineup: Ryan Nembhard, Shereef Mitchell, Trey Alexander, Arthur Kaluma, Ryan Kalkbrenner

Creighton was one of the pleasant surprises of the ‘21-22 season, finishing fourth in the Big East and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament behind a new, inexperienced and hobbled roster. Newly extended head coach Greg McDermott has an awesome core back in Omaha in guards Ryan Nembhard and Trey Alexander and frontcourt starters Arthur Kaluma and Ryan Kalkbrenner. If the Bluejays can find a knockdown perimeter shooter in the portal, they could start next fall as Big East favorites.

5. Kansas Jayhawks

Projected 2022-23 lineup: Dajuan Harris, Gradey Dick, MJ Rice, Jalen Wilson, Ernest Udeh

Swingman Christian Braun is currently viewed as an early second-round selection who could be one of the nation’s top players if he returns for a senior season. If not, Kansas has a trio of five-star recruits on the way in wings Gradey Dick, MJ Rice and big man Ernest Udeh to fill the scoring void. Jalen Wilson is another name to watch as a possible draft prospect.

4. Duke Blue Devils

Projected 2022-23 lineup: Jeremy Roach, Dariq Whitehead, Mark Mitchell, Kyle Filipowski, Dereck Lively

It’s a new era in Durham. Jon Scheyer officially succeeds Mike Krzyzewski as the Duke men’s basketball head coach. The Blue Devils have plenty of talent to work with in Year 1 of the Scheyer regime, headlined by the nation’s top recruiting class that has a quartet of five-stars in big men Dereck Lively and Kyle Filipowski and swingmen Dariq Whitehead and Mark Mitchell. Assuming the team’s top five scorers are off to the pros, point guard Jeremy Roach could be the most important player in America next season.

3. UCLA Bruins

Projected 2022-23 lineup: Tyger Campbell, Amari Bailey, Johnny Juzang, Jaime Jaquez, Adem Bona

UCLA has a trio of draft prospects in Johnny Juzang, Jaime Jaquez and Peyton Watson. Much like last offseason, the draft deadline will make or break the Bruins’ outlook. Assuming all three return — none are consensus top-40 prospects — Mick Cronin will have an embarrassment of riches. He has two budding stars in Jaylen Clark and Watson, and a top-10 recruiting class that includes five-stars Amari Bailey in the backcourt and Adem Bona down low.

2. Houston Cougars

Projected 2022-23 lineup: Jamal Shead, Marcus Sasser, Tramon Mark, Jarace Walker, J’Wan Roberts

The 2021-22 season should serve as a reminder that we should never doubt Kelvin Sampson. The Cougars returned just 23 percent of their minutes from the 2021 Final Four team, then lost stars Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark to season-ending injuries, and proceeded to have one of the program’s best seasons since the Hakeem Olajuwon days. This time around, Houston should return just about everyone while adding top-10 recruit Jarace Walker, the highest-rated in UH history. The Cougars belong on the shortlist of 2023 national title contenders.

1. Arkansas Razorbacks

Projected 2022-23 lineup: Anthony Black, Nick Smith, Davonte Davis, Jordan Walsh, Jaylin Williams

It took no time for Eric Musselman to leave his impact in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks reached the Elite Eight for the second year in a row, the first time the program had accomplished the feat since 1994-95. The 2022-23 season could be even better. Musselman welcomes the No. 2 recruiting class in the country, including three of the seven highest-rated commits in program history in Nick Smith, Jordan Walsh and Anthony Black. If fringe draft prospect Jaylin Williams returns for Year 3 to anchor the defense, Arkansas could compete for the national championship.