Hope’s 25 in 25: College basketball Top 25 rankings

We are less than 48 hours away from the college basketball season, and it is time to discuss the final preseason rankings for the year. You know the deal, my Top 25 with 25 words exactly for each team in the rankings. No more. No less.

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25) UConn Huskies

There are around 35 teams with a legitimate argument for the Top 25, but only one team has James Bouknight. The UConn Huskies are back!

24) Michigan Wolverines

Missed opportunities on the recruiting trail will not sink Juwan Howard’s spot in the top half of the Big Ten, even without any big stars.

23) LSU Tigers

Say what you want about his recruiting practices, but the fact remains that Will Wade is a capable offensive coach with a promising, deep roster.

22) UCLA Bruins

Mick Cronin did an excellent job of coaching his roster up last season, and that should only continue in his second season with the program.

21) Florida State Seminoles

This isn’t the Seminoles’ most talented roster, but it has the program’s highest ranked recruit ever and, of course, coach Leonard Hamilton leading the way.

20) Arizona State Sun Devils

This will be the year when Bobby Hurley coaches a full season of elite basketball, aided by one of the country’s top five best backcourts.

19) Texas Tech Red Raiders

Chris Beard chose the right season to have a down year, but he should have his roster competing for a second weekend appearance once again.

18) North Carolina Tar Heels

Nobody, and I mean nobody, has the talent and depth that Roy Williams has in the frontcourt. The Heels are poised for a rebound season.

17) Oregon Ducks

If N’Faly Dante enters the season in basketball shape, watch out. The Ducks may not have Pritchard, but they should still be the Pac-12’s best.

16) Houston Cougars

No big men? No problem. Coach Kelvin Sampson has one of the most balanced rosters in the country, and Caleb Mills is an absolute star.

15) Iowa Hawkeyes

Luka Garza and the Iowa Hawkeyes have the second or third best offense in the entire country. Who needs defense at that point? Not Fran McCaffrey’s squad.

14) Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Geo Baker and Ron Harper anchor the most promising roster in Rutgers’ history. The program’s tournament drought should be over after a lengthy 29 years.

13) Wisconsin Badgers

With an experienced roster, the Badgers are poised to defend their conference championship. It will be tough, though, given the strength of the Big Ten.

12) Michigan State Spartans

One of the other conference co-champs is reloaded and ready for the upcoming season. This roster supplements their inferior experience by having more Tom Izzo.

11) Kentucky Wildcats

The Wildcats are an incredibly promising young team, but that promise is balanced with their limited time to build team chemistry before the season starts.

10) Creighton Bluejays

The Creighton Bluejays have an incredible roster this season, and it doesn’t hurt that they can rely on the 2020-21 National Player of the Year.

9) West Virginia Mountaineers

Miles McBride is not the Mountaineers’ most elite defensive guard ever, but he, Oscar Tshiebwe, and Derek Culver form a strong trio on both ends.

8) Duke Blue Devils

Of all the rosters headlined by elite freshmen, Duke is the team that should be trusted the most to perform at their ceiling. Send Tweet.

7) Illinois Fighting Illini

While the race for the Big Ten title is tight, Illinois has the strongest combination of returning talent and forecasted player improvement. Sorry, Iowa fans.

6) Tennessee Volunteers

The closer I look at Tennessee, the higher it moves in the rankings. Rick Barnes put together one of the nation’s deepest, most balanced teams.

5) Kansas Jayhawks

Nobody is more consistent in the regular season than Bill Self. That won’t change this season, with an elite defense battling for Big 12 supremacy.

4) Virginia Cavaliers

A Tony Bennett coached team with an offense that is exciting to watch? How can you not have this team in the top five nationally?

3) Baylor Bears

The nation’s best backcourt meets an almost nonexistent frontcourt? Mark Vital will shoulder a heavy load, but this year’s squad should get it done.

2) Villanova Wildcats

I hope nobody is surprised that Jay Wright has put together one of the most balanced rosters in college basketball. Because I am definitely not.

1) Gonzaga Bulldogs

Gonzaga is probably the only team in the country without any real question marks entering the season. Mark Few’s only issue should be managing minutes.

Connor Hope is a college basketball writer for HeatCheckCBB. He is also co-host of Hope & Rauf presented by HeatCheckCBB, a college basketball podcast. His content has been featured by Bleacher Report and FanSided, among other publications. Hope is a current Rockin’ 25 voter.



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