It’s never too early to start looking ahead to next season, right?
Congrats UConn, you won the 2023 national championship. But who will take home the trophy in 2024? I have no clue, but as of now, these are the 25 best teams heading into next season. It’s important to keep in mind over 1000 players remain in the transfer portal. NBA Draft decisions are also looming. With that being said, it’s always fun to look at where teams are currently positioned. A few rules for the Hoop Scoop Media Top 25:
-Players projected in the first round of the NBA Draft are considered gone
-Seniors returning for a 5th year of eligibility will not be factored into this until they say they’re coming back
Without further ado, let’s get into the top 25!
Marquette and Shaka Smart burst onto the scene this year, coming from 9th in the preseason Big East poll to winning the conference regular season and tournament. Theyare projected to run it back, with every notable piece returning. Tyler Kolek had a breakthrough year two with the Golden Eagles, and will look to build on that in year three.
The big question here is whether Zach Edey comes back. As you could guess, these rankings project a return to West Lafayette for the national player of the year. If he’s back, the Boilermakers should be in line to get another one seed. Despite the early exit, Purdue had a very impressive season overall and looks to return everyone with the exception of bench shooter David Jenkins.
UConn is fresh off a national championship, and could return most of their pieces next year. Jordan Hawkins is projected to depart for the NBA, but it’s likely star big Adama Sanogo returns to college. The Huskies also have one of the best incoming classes, highlighted by Stephon Castle.
Creighton has a few players facing tough draft decisions, but none are projected first rounders. If they come back, especially star center Ryan Kalkbrenner, the Bluejays could be a contender once again. They also had a good early transfer pickup, as Virginia redshirt freshman Isaac Traudt is returning to his home state.
It took Jon Scheyer and company a little while to get rolling in Durham, but Duke was one of the best teams in the country to close the season. Freshmen Tyrese Proctor and Mark Mitchell have already announced they’re returning for a second year, and both players should see significant jumps. The Blue Devils also have a stacked incoming class on the way, per usual.
6. Florida Atlantic
The Owls were a top 20 team this year, and should return everyone notable with the exception of graduating guard Michael Forrest. Although this team was a 9 seed that made the final four, it was no fluke. Stars Johnell Davis, Alijah Martin and Vlad Goldin will be on a mission to get the most wins in the country for a second straight year.
Arizona had one of the most dominant frontcourts in the country in Azuolas Tubelis and Oumar Ballo, and both players should be back in Tuscon. Tommy Lloyd has had a fantastic two years leading the Wildcats, and will look to keep that rolling in year three.
Brandon Miller won’t be back in Tuscaloosa, but point guard Mark Sears will. Combine that with some young talent, and Wichita State transfer Jaykwon Walton, and the Crimson Tide won’t be going anywhere. Nate Oats has done an impressive job roster building so far at Alabama, and that should continue.
9. Texas A&M
The Aggies were one of the better teams in the country later in the season, and their only notable loss is Dexter Dennis. Wade Taylor IV was big in year two in the program, and Texas A&M already has a solid squad built around him.
Houston will be upgrading to the Big 12 this offseason, and will face a much tougher schedule. The Cougars probably won’t have as strong of a roster as this year, but Jamal Shead combined with some up and coming guards looks promising to contend in conference.
Jordan Miller and Isaiah Wong are gone, but the other three starters from Miami’s final four run will be back. Nijel Pack should be able to assert himself more on offense, and big man Norchad Omier was impressive moving up a level last offseason. The Hurricanes also have plenty of young pieces that might be ready to step into a bigger role.
12. Michigan State
Tom Izzo has some pieces coming back from a Sweet 16 team, most notably point guard A.J. Hoggard. The Spartans also have a highly regarded incoming class, headlined by Xavier Booker. If Tyson Walker comes back, the Spartans could be even higher than this in the rankings.
It was an up and down year for the Razorbacks as they dealt with some injuries. One of those injured players, Trevon Brazile, will be returning to Fayetteville and should be in line for a big season. Arkansas also has a few 5-stars coming in. Sophomore Jordan Walsh could be in for a big leap as well.
Texas has a lot to replace this offseason, losing most of their rotational players to graduation. However, the Longhorns still have a fair amount of talent on the roster, such as Tyrese Hunter. Arterio Morris is a breakout player to watch, and Rodney Terry is also bringing in a few top 20 freshmen.
15. Saint Mary’s
The Gaels had an impressive year, and star freshman Aidan Mahaney will be back in Moraga for year two. Big man Mitchell Saxen also returns, and Randy Bennett is one of the best developers in the country, so don’t be surprised to see some reserves from last year step into big roles.
UCLA likely loses a lot this offseason, but they are projected to bring back promising freshmen Amari Bailey and Adem Bona. Combined with some other key reserves and young pieces, Mick Cronin should shape this into another competitive Pac 12 squad.
Baylor has some guards to replace, and luckily for them two top-30 freshmen are on the way. Jalen Bridges should have a big year, taking on an expanded role. An emerging sophomore to keep an eye on is big man Josh Ojianwuna.
The Jayhawks will likely move up these rankings over the offseason, but right now their lineup has lots of holes. However, they have two major pieces already filled in, pure point guard DaJuan Harris, and athletic forward K.J. Adams. Kansas also has some young freshman and reserves that will be taking on big roles.
The Buffaloes already got TCU big man Eddie Lampkin out of the portal. They also have two All-Pac 12 players returning in Tristan Da Silva and K.J. Simpson. Add in top 10 freshman Cody Williams to the mix, and Colorado is building a solid 2023-24 squad.
Kentucky will be higher in these rankings if Antonio Reeves decides to come back, but right now this roster is looking very young. It’s stacked with talent, having four of the top 10 players in the 2023 class, headlined by D.J. Wagner. This team will go as far as the freshmen take them, which could be a good or bad thing.
USC loses Boogie Ellis and Drew Peterson, but star freshman Isaiah Collier, the #1 incoming recruit in the country, will be huge. The Trojans have some sophomore breakout candidates, such as Tre White, Vince Iwuchukwu and Kijani Wright. Andy Enfield and USC should once again be towards the top of the Pac 12.
22. San Diego State
The Aztecs made it all the way to the championship, and although they lose some big names they also retain some key players. Darrion Trammell is back for San Diego State, and Jaedon LeDee should be an all-conference player with a much bigger role.
23. North Carolina
North Carolina had an extremely disappointing season, missing out on March Madness after being ranked 1st preseason. On the bright side, Armando Bacot and R.J. Davis are back, who weren’t the reasons why the Tar Heels disappointed. This will be a huge year for Hubert Davis to prove he can be a good coach.
Tennessee loses a lot, but they bring back point guard Zakai Zeigler, along with some promising young talent. Jahmai Mashack was big down the stretch, and should be ready for a bigger role. Forward Tobe Awaka is another breakout candidate to keep an eye on.
Xavier loses many of their top contributors, but also brings back a fair amount. Zach Freemantle should be healthy, and forward Jerome Hunter was huge this past season as he changed his role. In the backcourt, the Musketeers have some young and upcoming pieces, headlined by Desmond Claude and incoming freshman Trey Green.