College basketball rankings: Gonzaga, UCLA lead way-too-early top 25 for 2021-22 season

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College basketball rankings: Gonzaga, UCLA lead way-too-early top 25 for 2021-22 season

Trying to pick a preseason top 25 near the end of college basketball season always seemed as challenging as flying a jet plane blindfolded. You have the autopilot to help you, but it would still be nice to have an idea of ​​where you are going, you know?

Four of the top 30 candidates in the 2021 recruiting class have not yet decided whether they will play in college. Some of the volunteers will likely have to decide whether to accept lucrative offers to join the G League Ignite program. Older players must decide whether to take advantage of the additional year of eligibility offered by the NCAA. Many of those currently on the college roster will be included in the draft, and some will remain even if they are unlikely to be selected. And now the avalanche of skilled players on the transfer portal will decide where to play, and many who choose new colleges will likely be eligible to compete next fall.

MORE: Baylor reminds Gonzaga how hard it is to win everything

All of these are unknowns. There are more variables this season than any other season where we forecast the top teams of the following year on the Final Four weekend.

So understand: this is our best projection right now, but not our last.

Way too early in the top 25 college basketball rankings

1. Gonzaga

End of 2020-21: 31-1, NCAA runner-up

Overview: Ha, you thought they were going away! Well some of the Zags will, but they will likely still include promising striker Anton Watson and young tall man Oumar Ballo, as well as security guard Dominick Harris. Hunter Sallis, a top 10 security guard, signed up last month, and Chet Holmgren, the # 1 lookout in the 2021 recruiting class, is expected to add his name to the list soon. Also, what a boost it would be if veteran Andrew Nembhard chose to stay here and act as primary point guard.

2. UCLA

End of 2020-21: 22-10, Final Four

Overview: Coach Mick Cronin pointed out several times during the tournament that the Bruins were advancing without a senior on their roster. Does that mean everyone, or almost everyone, will return to get a shot of greater glory in 2022? Even if this is the case, the depth and circumference of the forecourt still needs to be improved. You had to think this would be an even more compelling destination after viewers saw the Bruins compete in the 2021 NCAA tournament – and how they reacted to their elimination.

3. Purdue

End of 2020-21: 18-10, NCAA first round

Overview: If Trevion Williams opts for another college season it will be a strong national championship contender. A little more shooting wouldn’t hurt; That was what kept Boilers from advancing in the 2021 NCAA tournament. But Jaden Ivey is going to be a star, and there is an enormous core of young RPG players.

4. West Virginia

End of 2020-21: 19-10, NCAA second round

Overview: This has the chance of being one of the most capable teams to return for Huggins in a decade or two (2009-10) (1999-2000). The main players are All-Big 12 striker Derek Culver and scoring star Miles McBride. When she and her teammates get back, Morgantown could be hopping again next winter. If they expand the roster too, it will likely be done through the better side of the transfer portal.

5. Maryland

End of 2020-21: 17-14, NCAA second round

Overview: Perhaps the only programs that had better months than the Terps were the teams that made it to the Final Four. Maryland received pledges from two ready-made starters, Rhode Island security guard Fatts Russell and the Qudus Wahab center of Georgetown. If the Terps keep the rest of their group intact, they could be a legitimate title contender.

6. Texas

End of 2020-21: 19-8, NCAA first round

Overview: Welcome to Texas, Chris Beard. The big expectations start immediately, depending on how much of the roster you can keep. There are veterans in the back and front seats who could push the Longhorns into the elite of college basketball where the performance of an NCAA tournament would be likely.

7. Villanova

End of 2020-21: 18-7, Sweet 16

Overview: The continued dominance of the wildcats in the Great East is unlikely to end anytime soon. They have won or shared seven of the eight regular season titles since the league was redesigned ahead of the 2013-14 season. Guard Justin Moore is the next star of the program. Their forecourt will need work, with Jeremiah Robinson-Earl moving to the NBA and Cole Swider moving. Jay Wright wants to find a way.

8. Kansas

End of 2020-21: 21-9, NCAA second round

Overview: It’s going to be an interesting mix of old and new on the Jayhawks roster. Her only transfer to date is a former Division II star, Cam Martin of Missouri Southern. They have signed two four-star strikers and one four-star point guard which means the depth will likely be strong. But they will need most of the 2021 starters to voluntarily return to hold that position.

9. Michigan State

End of 2020-21: 15-13, NCAA First Four

Overview: The Spartans ‘ability to become a fluid, functioning unit has been marred by Rocket Watts’ struggle to take on the role of point guard and thrive. They still had a lot of talent and that made the season frustrating for everyone involved. Northeastern transfer Tyson Walker could solve that problem the way Mike Smith tackled the Michigan point.

10th Duke

End of 2020-21: 13-11, not an NCAA tournament

Overview: The most pleasant development of the Blue Devils season was the game of newcomer Mark Williams. Now the Devils have five-star newcomer Paolo Banchero joining the insider game. There may be more to come. There’s a five-star prospect at AJ Griffin. Even with the loss of DJ Steward, the freshman, there are skilled young players on the fringes. Mike Krzyzewski will show that 2021 was a deviation.

BENDER: Baylor’s championship is a Texas-sized storybook finish

11. Michigan

End of 2020-21: 23-5, Elite Eight

12. Baylor

End of 2020-21: 28-2, NCAA champion

13. Florida State

End of 2020-21: 18-7, Sweet 16

14. Virginia Tech

End of 2020-21: 15-7, NCAA first round

15. Ohio State

End of 2020-21: 21-10, NCAA first round

16. Tennessee

End of 2020-21: 18-9, NCAA first round

17. Kentucky

End of 2020-21: 9-16, not an NCAA tournament

18. Houston

End of 2020-21: 28-4, final four

19. LSU

End of 2020-21: 19-10, NCAA second round

20. St. Bonaventure

End of 2020-21: 16-5, NCAA first round

21. Oregon

End of 2020-21: 21-7, Sweet 16

22. Connecticut

End of 2020-21: 15-8, NCAA first round

23. Syracuse

End of 2020-21: 18-10, Sweet 16

24. Arkansas

End of 2020-21: 25-7, elite eight

25. Drake

End of 2020-21: 26-5, NCAA first round