West Regional breakdown, team capsules

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Who wins, who’s overrated and what’s the best game? We have an answer for each region. I had freelance writer Ray Glier pinch hit for the East breakdown, but the capsules are all me. Enjoy

Underrated: Arizona
These guys have some brutal losses: by 22 to BYU in December, by 22 to UCLA in February. But just watch them for a stretch here and there and they can score (47 percent field goal percentage) and they have a terrific player in Derrick Williams. They lost by just eight at Kansas. They pass that eye test and give you a reason to pause and consider ‘What if…”.

Arizona won 14 games in the Pac-10, which isn’t a deep league, but 14 wins is 14 wins.

Can a No. 5 seed be underrated? Sure it can because everyone else is thinking UConn and Texas are better. Arizona can play with both of those teams in this tournament because the Cats score and score.

Overrated: UConn
They have the best player in the country, Kemba Walker, but the Huskies are going to get erased. Their legs have to be wobbly after five games in five days. Serves the Big East right for its money-grubbing, team-hoarding ways.

UConn could run up against Missouri in the second round and the Tigers furious defense is going to take care of what’s left of UConn’s legs.

Most likely first-round upset
It is not going to be Oakland over Texas. Don’t even think about it.

Missouri is an 11th seed and Cincinnati is a sixth seed. Pick that one. It is a question of style with Mizzou’s frantic pressure giving UC something different than what it sees in the Big East. The Tigers get 10 steals a game with their rushing around the floor.

The upset won’t happen if the Tigers do not score in transition. When they get into halfcourt and start firing up 3s they can look like a dreadful team. But this is where upsets happen, 11 vs. 6.

Best matchup: Texas vs. Duke
For most of the season, Texas was lauded as the heir apparent to Duke. The Longhorns were nasty on defense and beat people up by covering the floor with defenders. They were being tabbed in January as the team that would sweep into the Final Four in their home state and close down on Ohio State’s shooters.

The Longhorns were seeded fourth, which is low for this team. You could call them the most underrated team in the region, but everyone knows the committee just blew this one. UT will show itself as a national title contender with a win over Duke in Anaheim: a match of defense vs. offense.

Plenty of people are going to get anxious to see UConn vs. San Diego State, but Duke is the defending champion playing across the country and Texas has been talked up all season. That’s the game to see, especially if Duke’s Kyrie Irving makes his return.

Impact player
Well, you would have to say Kemba Walker of UConn or Nolan Smith of Duke, but that’s too easy. Jordan Hamilton is a good one to look at. He has taken almost 20 shots a game the last eight games for Texas. That’s a lot of impact for one team. When he shot poorly against Nebraska (3 of 16), the Horns were upset.

Now, if Kyrie Irving of Duke suddenly reappears, that’s a different story. Might he play? He told reporters Sunday in Greensboro he has a shot.

Champion: San Diego State
It is a veteran team that can score and has a coach who has been there, done that. UConn has to be wasted after its Big East gantlet, so it will not survive. Duke is going to beat Arizona in a sensational game, but Texas is going to rub out the Blue Devils.

That leaves Texas vs. SDSU in the title game of the toughest region.

TEAM CAPSULES

No. 1 Duke Blue Devils

Location: Durham, N.C.

Conference: Atlantic Coast

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

Pre-tournament record: 30-4, 13-3

Best wins: North Carolina, Temple, Marquette

Surprising loss: Florida State, Virginia Tech

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Nolan Smith, senior forward Kyle Singler, sophomore forward Mason Plumlee, sophomore guard Seth Curry .

Full team roster

Strengths: Shooting, ball-handling, challenging shots.

Weaknesses: Defensive rebounding, forcing turnovers.

Outlook: The defending NCAA champions don’t hit the glass as hard as last year and are slightly worse beyond the arc, but that’s about it. The Devils remain one of the favorites to win it all thanks to their shooting – 38 percent from deep and 52 percent inside the arc – and ability to take care of the ball. If you want to beat Duke, you have to earn it. That means keeping track of their shooters (Curry and sophomore Andre Dawkins), limiting Smith’s dribble penetration and not allowing Singler to get into an offensive rhythm. Of all the Devils’ offensive stars, Singler’s the key. Smith has been a consistent scorer, while Singler has struggled with his shot and been ineffective off the dribble. If he regains his form from last year, Duke has a potent 1-2 punch to pair with a deep bench filled with shooters. That’s a tough team to beat.

No. 2 San Diego State Aztecs

Location: San Diego

Conference: Mountain West

Coach: Steve Fisher

Pre-tournament record: 32-2, 14-2

Best wins: UNLV (twice), Gonzaga

Surprising losses: None

Team stats

Key players: Sophomore forward Kawhi Leonard, senior guard D.J. Gay, senior forward Malcolm Thomas, senior forward Billy Thomas.

Full team roster

Strengths: Offensive rebounding, ball-handling, their frontcourt.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, 3-point shooting.

Outlook: This is a senior-laden squad with an exceedingly efficient defense, a fantastic frontcourt and usually works for a high-percentage shot on offense. All three usually mean success in March. Throw in an NBA talent like Leonard – he can guard anyone and thrives in a half-court offense – and the Aztecs are a strong Final Four contender. Their biggest problem? Lack of a consistent outside shooter. Gay and sophomore Chase Tapley should be those guys, but have trouble creating their own shot. SDSU also doesn’t get many points at the free-throw line. They’re right at the D-I average for percentage (69.9), but rarely get to the line. That speaks to their lack of a go-to guy who can create his own shot or open things for others. (Leonard’s close, but isn’t ideal in that role.) It’s a really good team, but can be held back by its offense.

No. 3 Connecticut Huskies

Location: Storrs, Conn.

Conference: Big East

Coach: Jim Calhoun

Pre-tournament record: 26-9, 9-9

Best wins: Kentucky, Texas

Surprising losses:None

Team stats

Key players: Junior guard Kemba Walker, sophomore forward Alex Oriakhi, freshman guard Jeremy Lamb.

Full team roster

Strengths: Offensive rebounding, ball-handling, interior defense.

Weaknesses: Inconsistent shooting, forcing turnovers.

Outlook: Don’t let the 10 losses fool you. UConn’s as good as any team in the field. (Did you see the Big East tournament?) It’s just not as reliable as the likes of Pitt or Kansas because the Huskies are so dependent on how Walker plays. When the lightning quick guard is on, they’ll beat anyone. And have. But when his shot isn’t falling, UConn relies on guys like Lamb or freshman guard Shabazz Napier to carry the scoring load, which they’re not ready for yet. The wild card is Oriakhi. When he’s grabbing rebounds and getting putback scores, everything’s easier for Walker and the Huskies. UConn will be playing during the second weekend if Walker’s legs aren’t completely exhausted after five games in five days.

No. 4 Texas Longhorns

Location: Austin, Texas.

Conference: Big 12

Coach: Rick Barnes

Pre-tournament record: 27-7, 13-3

Best wins: Kansas, North Carolina

Surprising losses: Nebraska, Colorado

Team stats

Key players: Sophomore wing Jordan Hamilton, freshman Tristan Thompson, freshman guard Cory Joseph, senior forward Gary Johnson.

Full team roster

Strengths: Challenging shots, offensive rebounding, ball-handling.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, 3-point shooting, free-throw shooting.

Outlook: Texas’ tumble at the end of the season – losers of three of the last five games – seemingly ended in the Big 12 tournament. The reason? Hamilton started hitting shots again. The 6-7 wing broke out of a prolonged shooting slump against Oklahoma, a promising sign for a team that desperately needs his scoring touch. Given that the Longhorns’ once ferocious defense turned meek at season’s end, Hamilton’s scoring is needed even more. Unlike last season, when Texas dealt with myriad injuries and chemistry issues, this year’s team is healthy and happy. If Hamilton’s on and Thompson, a gifted shot blocker and rebounder, stays out of foul trouble, this is a Final Four team. At worst, it’s bound for the Sweet 16.

No. 5 Arizona Wildcats

Location: Tucson, Ariz.

Conference: Pac-10

Coach: Sean Miller

Pre-tournament record: 27-7, 13-4

Best wins: Washington, UCLA

Surprising loss: Oregon State

Team stats

Key players: Sophomore forward Derrick Williams, sophomore guard Momo Jones, sophomore forward Solomon Hill .

Full team roster

Strengths: Shooting, 3-point defense, defensive rebounding.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, interior defense.

Outlook: It all starts with Williams, the Pac-10 player of the year. The 6-7 forward is a future NBA lottery pick for his offensive

efficiency, rebounding skills and underrated defense. He’s the type of player a team can ride to the Final Four – if it has enough players to play supporting roles. That’s the biggest question surrounding the Wildcats, who are back in the Big Dance after missing it last season for the first time in 25 years. Can guys like Hill, junior guard Kyle Fogg and sophomore wing Kevin Parrom hit enough outside shots to prevent teams from focusing on Williams? And is point guard Momo Jones steady enough to avoid last-minute mistakes? Then there’s the defense, which is average. Teams feast on Arizona’s post players because Williams is their biggest guy, but has to stay out of foul trouble. Who slows down opposing forwards?

No. 6 Cincinnati Bearcats

Location: Cincinnati

Conference: Big East

Coach: Mick Cronin

Pre-tournament record: 25-8, 11-7

Best wins: Louisville, Georgetown (twice)

Surprising losses: None

Team stats

Key players: Junior center Yancy Gates, sophomore guard Cashmere Wright, freshman guard Sean KIlpatrick.

Full team roster

Strengths: Offensive rebounding, forcing turnovers, perimeter defense.

Weaknesses: Shooting.

Outlook: The Bearcats ended a six-year tournament drought thanks to what they were known for in the ‘90s and early 2000s – defense. Led by the powerful Gates and solid guards, Cincinnati excels at forcing turnovers and making opponents work for tough shots. It also thrives at crashing the offensive glass and doesn’t turn the ball over. That’s a recipe for success, but doesn’t give the Bearcats much room for error against good teams, and especially ones that can hit 3s. That could be bad news against Missouri in the first round.

No. 7 Temple Owls

Location: Philadelphia

Conference: Atlantic 10

Coach: Fran Dunphy

Pre-tournament record: 25-7, 14-2

Best wins: Georgetown, Richmond, Maryland

Surprising losses: Cal, Duquesne

Team stats

Key players: Junior guard Ramone Moore, junior wing Scootie Randall, senior forward Lavoy Allen.

Full team roster

Strengths: Defensive rebounding, interior defense, ball-handling.

Weaknesses: Perimeter defense, forcing turnovers.

Outlook: The Owls sport a record almost as impressive as last season when they were a 5 seed. They’ve even won 13 of their last 15 games. But don’t be fooled. This team isn’t as good as last year – and that Temple squad was crushed in the first round by Cornell. Temple has similar issues as other slow-paced, possession-prizing teams – when the shots aren’t falling, things turn south. Temple tries using its outside shooters – Juan Fernandez, Moore and Randall – to take some of the pressure off Allen inside, but it doesn’t always work. Allen’s a force inside, especially on the glass and blocking shots. Yet he’s not an accomplished offensive player, occasionally leaving Temple as a one-dimensional offensive team. The defense isn’t good enough to make up for those deficiencies against an athletic team, either. A win against Penn State? Maybe. But against North Carolina? No way.

No. 8 Michigan Wolverines

Location: Ann Arbor, Mich.

Conference: Big Ten

Coach: John Beilein

Pre-tournament record: 20-13, 9-9

Best wins: Clemson, Illinois, Oakland

Surprising losses: UTEP, Northwestern

Team stats

Key players: Sophomore guard Darius Morris, freshman guard Tim Hardaway Jr., freshman center Jordan Morgan.

Full team roster

Strengths: Ball-handling, shooting.

Weaknesses: Offensive rebounding, forcing turnovers, interior defense.

Outlook: The Wolverines got hot at the right time, winning nine of their last 13 games. However, none were against elite teams as Michigan came up short against both Ohio State and Wisconsin late in the year. That’s this team’s M.O – they hang with most everyone, but can’t close out for wins. That’s partly because the Wolverines are young. Morris, Hardaway and Morgan spent the season adjusting to the rigors of Big Ten play and did well most of the time. Consider this team lucky to be in the NCAA tournament, and even luckier if they get a win. The future, however, looks very bright.

No. 9 Tennessee Volunteers

Location: Knoxville, Tenn.

Conference: Southeastern

Coach: Bruce Pearl

Pre-tournament record: 19-14, 8-8

Best wins: Pittsburgh, Villanova, Vanderbilt (twice), Belmont (twice)

Surprising losses: Charlotte, Arkansas, Miss State, Oakland

Team stats

Key players: Junior guard Scotty Hopson, freshman forward Tobias Harris, junior wing Cameron Tatum, senior center Brian Williams.

Full team roster

Strengths: Offensive rebounding, shot blocking.

Weaknesses: Shooting, ball-handling, fouls.

Outlook: The Vols are vying for the crown of team with the oddest season. And in a field like this, that’s saying something. Tennessee handed Pitt its first loss of the year, then turned around and lost to Charlotte and Oakland. It dealt with the eight-game suspension of Pearl, the maddeningly inconsistent play of Hopson and a defense that showed flashes of greatness. At times. Could Tennessee sneak under the radar and get to the Elite Eight again? No. Could they sneak into the Sweet 16? Well, that depends on the matchup. And Hopson. Don’t bank on either.

No. 10 Penn State Nittany Lions

Location: College Station, Penn.

Conference: Big Ten

Coach: Ed DeChellis

Pre-tournament record: 19-14, 9-9

Best wins: Wisconsin (twice)

Surprising losses: Maine, Ole Miss

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Talor Battle, senior forward Jeff Brooks, senior forward David Jackson.

Full team roster

Strengths: Ball-handling, defensive rebounding.

Weaknesses: Everything else on defense.

Outlook: Penn State’s lucky to be here. Two wins against Wisconsin and a .500 Big Ten record was enough to overlook an otherwise unimpressive season. The Lions play slow, ugly and not very well on defense. (Their biggest defensive virtue? Keeping foes off the free-throw line.) Battle’s a guard who lives up to his name, fighting through bigger defenders for baskets, but he’s one of the few shining lights. Brooks is a nice player, but not much else. Penn State won’t be around long, no matter how much they ugly up a game.

No. 11 Missouri Tigers

Location: Columbia, Mo.

Conference: Big 12

Coach: Mike Anderson

Pre-tournament record: 23-10, 8-8

Best wins: Vanderbilt, Kansas State

Surprising losses: Oklahoma State, Colorado

Team stats

Key players: Junior guard Marcus Denmon, junior wing Kim English, sophomore guard Michael Dixon, junior forward Ricardo Ratliffe.

Full team roster

Strengths: Forcing turnovers, ball-handling, shooting.

Weaknesses: Rebounding, fouling.

Outlook: Missouri is fun to watch. Their pressure defense usually creates a fast-paced game full of turnovers, exciting sequences and high scores. But lately it has backfired. Teams with mobile big men feast on Missouri’s lackluster frontcourt, while capable guards can handle the press when needed. You’ll hear a lot about the Tigers’ road issues, and with good reason. They’ve won two games away from home since Dec. 22. Missouri can frustrate teams who aren’t prepared for the press or don’t pay enough attention to shooters like Denmon or Dixon. Anderson is 5-1 in first-round games, but think carefully when studying their matchup. Will Cincy’s Yancy Gates dominate the Tigers’ frontline? Can Mizzou force enough turnovers on the Bearcats’ guards?

No. 12 Memphis Tigers

Location: Memphis, Tenn.

Conference: Conference USA

Coach: Josh Pastner

Pre-tournament record: 25-9, 10-6

Best wins: Gonzaga, UAB (twice)

Surprising losses: SMU, East Carolina

Team stats

Key players: Freshman guard Will Barton, freshman guard Joe Jackson, freshman forward Tarik Black, freshman guard Antonio Barton.

Full team roster

Strengths: Offensive rebounding, raw talent.

Weaknesses: Ball-handling, 3-point shooting, defensive rebounding.

Outlook: The Tigers are lucky. They have the potential to be good, but it’s been a lot of luck. They’re 15-1 in games decided by five points or less. Maybe it’s because they’re relying on talented freshmen and don’t run much on offense, which usually creates close games that allows guys like Jackson and Will Barton to make winning plays late. It’s not a rip (well, it’s kind of a rip), just a statement about Memphis’ season. It oozes talent. But that talent lacks cohesiveness on the court. They could go one of two ways in the NCAA tournament – the talent rises to the top and Memphis makes the Sweet 16, or it flames out early because it can’t hit shots and has too many defensive lapses. Lean toward the latter.

No. 13 Oakland Golden Grizzlies

Location: Oakland, Mich.

Conference: Summit League

Coach: Greg Kampe

Pre-tournament record: 25-9, 17-1

Best win: Tennessee

Surprising loss: IUPUI

Team stats

Key players: Senior forward Keith Benson, junior guard Reggie Hamilton, senior forward Will Hudson.

Full team roster

Strengths: Shooting, offensive rebounding, shot-blocking.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, perimeter defense.

Outlook: Oakland played seemingly every major-conference team during its non-conference schedule, losing to the likes of Ohio State, Purdue, West Virginia, Michigan State and Illinois. By the time the Grizz beat the Vols, people had seen enough of them to know they could play. It was no surprise to see Kampe’s team roll through the Summit League. They were tested and have better players, starting with Benson, who’s bound for the NBA. He and Hamilton are the two playmakers on an offense that runs, shoots and scores as well as anyone around. That doesn’t leave much for defense, but that’s by design. Oakland’s topped 100 points six times this season. That might be enough for an NCAA tournament win, even against Texas’ stellar defense.

No. 14 Bucknell Bison

Location: Lewisburg, Pa.

Conference: Patriot League

Coach: Dave Paulson

Pre-tournament record: 25-8, 13-1

Best win: Richmond

Surprising losses: Wagner, Army

Team stats

Key players: Sophomore forward Mike Muscala, senior guard Darryl Shazier, sophomore guard Bryson Johnson.

Full team roster

Strengths: Ball-handling, 3-point shooting, defensive rebounding.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, offensive rebounding.

Outlook: The Bison have won of their past 20 games. The last time they were that hot was 2006 when they knocked off Arkansas in the NCAA tournament as 9 seed. This year’s squad might have some of that magic in ‘em. Bucknell lost by 11 at Marquette and by four at Boston College. Pulling off an NCAA tournament win will mean amplifying a couple of things at which they thrive: Shooting more 3-pointers and hitting the defensive glass. The Bison make 40 percent of their 3s (D-I average is 34.4), but those 3s only account for 29 percent of their total points. If they boost that to 40 percent of their points and limit UConn’s second-chance opportunities, they’ll have a shot.

No. 15 Northern Colorado Bears

Location: Greeley, Colo.

Conference: Big Sky

Coach: B.J. Hill

Pre-tournament record: 21-10, 14-3

Best wins: Montana (twice)

Surprising losses: Louisiana Monroe, Denver

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Drew Beitzel, senior forward Chris Kaba, senior forward Neal Kingman.

Full team roster

Strengths: 3-point shooting, rebounding.

Weaknesses: Turnovers, perimeter defense.

Outlook: The Bears are one of the tournament’s best stories. The school made the transition from Division II a few years ago and has only been eligible for postseason play since 2007. Now, a team with four seniors is off to its first NCAA tournament. Those seniors, led by Big Sky player of the year Devon Beitzel, can be fun to watch, too. Northern Colorado plays faster than most, doesn’t hesitate on 3-pointers and has pulled out its share of close games. That’s not promising for their tournament hopes, though. The berth is as good as it’ll get for the Bears.

No. 16 Hampton Pirates

Location: Hampton, Va.

Conference: Mid-Eastern Athletic

Coach: Edward Joyner, Jr.

Pre-tournament record: 24-8, 11-5

Best wins: Colorado State, Boston

Surprising losses: Florida A&M (twice)

Team stats

Key players: Junior forward Darrion Pellum, junior guard Kwame Morgan, senior forward Charles Funches.

Full team roster

Strengths: Defensive pressure, ball-handling.

Weaknesses: Shooting, rebounding.

Outlook: Hampton pulled off one of the biggest first-round upsets ever in 2001 when it beat No. 2 seed Iowa State. The odds of that type of upset happening again? Mighty slim. The Pirates struggle to score. They’re among the nation’s worst shooting and rebounding teams. That’s not their focus – defense is – but those are severe obstacles. Unless they can harass Duke like they did during MEAC play, they’re going to lose. And lose big.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

John Petty Jr. returns to Alabama for senior season

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama guard John Petty Jr. is staying in school instead of entering the NBA draft.

The Crimson Tide junior announced his decision to return for his senior season Monday on Twitter, proclaiming: “I’m back.”

Petty, the Tide’s top 3-point shooter, averaged 14.5 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds rebounds last season. He was second on the team in assists.

Petty made 85 3-pointers in 29 games, shooting at a 44% clip.

Alabama coach Nate Oats called him “one of the best, if not the best, shooters in the country.”

“He’s made it clear that it’s his goal to become a first round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and we’re going to work with him to make sure he’s in the best position to reach that goal,” Oats said.

Fellow Tide guard Kira Lewis Jr. is regarded as a likely first-round draft pick.

McKinley Wright IV returns to Colorado

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McKinley Wright IV will be back for season No. 4 with the Colorado Buffaloes.

The point guard tested the NBA draft process before announcing a return for his senior year. It’s a big boost for a Buffaloes team that’s coming off a 21-11 mark in 2019-20 and was potentially looking at an NCAA Tournament bid before the season was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wright was an All-Pac-12 first team selection a season ago, along with an all-defensive team pick. He and athletic forward Tyler Bey declared for the draft in late March. Bey remains in the draft.

“We’ve got unfinished business,” said Wright, who averaged 14.4 points and 5.0 assists per game last season.

Midway through the season, the Buffaloes were looking like a lock for their first NCAA Tournament appearance since ’15-16. Then, the team hit a five-game skid, including a loss to Washington State in the Pac-12 tournament. Simply put, they hit a defensive rut they just couldn’t shake out of, Wright said. It drove him to work that much harder in the offseason.

“This is my last go-around and I’ve got big dreams,” the 6-footer from Minnesota said. “I want to take CU to a place they haven’t been in a while. We want to go back to the tournament and win high-level games.”

The feedback from NBA scouts was reaffirming for Wright. He said they appreciated his transition game, movement away from the ball and his defensive intangibles. They also gave Wright areas he needed to shore up such as assist-to-turnover ratio and shooting the 3-pointer with more consistency.

He took it to heart while training in Arizona during the pandemic. He recently returned to Boulder, Colorado, where he’s going through quarantine before joining his teammates for workouts.

“The work I put in and the time I spent in the gym compared to all my other offseasons, it’s a big gap,” Wright said. “Last offseason, I thought I worked hard. But it was nothing compared to the time and different type of mindset I put myself in this year.”

Another motivating factor for his return was this: a chance to be the first in his family to earn his college degree. He’s majoring in ethnic studies with a minor in communications.

“My grandparents are excited about that. My parents are excited about that,” Wright said. “I’m excited about that as well.”

Wright also has an opportunity to take over the top spot on the school’s all-time assists list. His 501 career assists trail only Jay Humphries, who had 562 from 1980-84. Wright also ranks 13th all-time with 1,370 career points.

NOTES: Colorado announced the death of 95-year-old fan Betty Hoover, who along with her twin sister, Peggy Coppom, became fixtures at Buffs sporting events and were season ticket holders since 1958. Wright used to run into them not only on the court, but at the local bank. “I’ve never met anyone as loving and supporting and caring as those two,” Wright said. “They hold a special place in my heart. It sucks that Betty won’t be at any games this year. Maybe we can do something, put her name on our jersey. They’re two of the biggest fans in CU history.”

Jared Butler returns to Baylor

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Baylor got some huge news on Monday as potential All-American Jared Butler announced that he will be returning to school for his junior season, joining MaCio Teague is pulling his name out of the 2020 NBA Draft to get the band back together.

Butler was Baylor’s leading scorer a season ago, averaging 16.0 points and 3.1 assists for a team that went 26-4, spent a portion of the season as the No. 1 team in the country and was in line to receive a 1-seed had the 2020 NCAA Tournament taken place.

With Butler and Teague coming back to school, the Bears will return four starters from last season’s squad. Starting center Freddie Gillespie is gone, as is backup guard Devonte Bandoo, but those are holes that can be filled. Tristan Clark, who was Baylor’s best player during the 2018-19 season before suffering a knee injury that lingered through last year, will be back, and there is more than enough talent in the program to replace the scoring pop of Bandoo. Matthew Mayer will be in line for more minutes, while transfer Adam Flagler will be eligible this season.

Baylor will enter this season as a consensus top three team in the country. They will receive plenty of votes as the No. 1 team in the sport, making them not only a very real contender for the Big 12 regular season crown but one of the favorites to win the national title.

Preseason Top 25 | Mock Draft 3.0 | Early Entry Tracker

As MaCio Teague returns, Baylor now awaits Jared Butler’s NBA draft decision

Butler is the key.

Baylor was one of college basketball’s best defensive teams last year. They finished fourth nationally in KenPom’s defensive efficiency metric, a ranking that dropped after they Bears lost two of their last three games to TCU and West Virginia. Where they struggled was on the offensive end of the floor. The Bears would go through droughts were points were at a premium and their best offense was a missed shot. Butler’s intrigue for NBA teams was his ability to shoot and to create space in isolation. He’s the one guy on the roster that can create something out of nothing for himself.

And now he is back to try and lead Baylor to a Final Four.

College Basketball Preseason Top 25

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Today, we are unveiling the NBC Sports college basketball preseason top 25.

As always, there are plenty of caveats here.

For starters, we are still in the process of figuring out who will and will not be returning to school and where the myriad transfers are going to end up this year.

Given the impact that the COVID-19 outbreak has had on the way recruiting and the predraft process will work, it is hard to know how and where these guys will end up, which is why every college basketball preseason top 25 published right now is going to have plenty of assumptions, projections and moving parts.

So with that in mind, here is the current iteration of NBC Sports college basketball preseason top 25:

college basketball preseason top 25
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COLLEGE BASKETBALL PRESEASON TOP 25

1. VILLANOVA

  • GONE: Saddiq Bey
  • COMING BACK: Collin Gillespie, Justin Moore, Jermaine Samuels, Bryan Antoine, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Cole Swider, Brandon Slater, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Caleb Daniels, Eric Dixon
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Collin Gillespie, Justin Moore, Bryan Antoine, Jermaine Samuels, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl

With the exception of Saddiq Bey, Villanova returns everyone from a team that won a share of the Big East regular season title last season while adding Tulane transfer Caleb Daniels (16.9 ppg) and a healthy Bryan Antoine. There is enough talent on this roster that I think they are the clear No. 1 team in the country right now. And while Bey was their best player, I don’t think that they will have much trouble replacing him. Villanova has a roster full of talented wings and perimeter weapons. Bey was the best of the bunch, but Antoine’s healthy, Daniels is really good and the likes of Justin Moore, Jermaine Samuels and Cole Swider return as well. Throw in Jeremiah Robinsin-Earl and this roster is loaded.

RELATED: College basketball preseason top 25 (link)

2. BAYLOR

  • GONE: Freddie Gillespie, Devonte Bandoo
  • COMING BACK: Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, Davion Mitchell, Mark Vital, Tristan Clark, Matthew Mayer, Jordan Turner, Flo Thamba
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Adam Flagler, L.J. Cryer, Dain Dainja, Zach Loveday, Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, Davion Mitchell, Mark Vital, Tristan Clark

The Bears get all three of their guards back now that Jared Butler has opted to return to school, and with Mark Vital returning, they’ll once again have two of the best defenders in college basketball on the roster (Davion Mitchell). They’re coming off of a 26-4 season, and there are plenty of bench options at Scott Drew’s disposal — Matthew Mayer, Jordan Turner, Adam Flagler — but the big question is going to be at the five. Which Tristan Clark are we going to get next season?

3. GONZAGA

  • GONE: Filip Petrusev, Admon Gilder, Ryan Wooldridge, Killian Tillie
  • COMING BACK: Joel Ayayi, Drew Timme, Anton Watson, Martynas Arlauskas, Pavel Zakharov
  • WAIT AND SEE: Jalen Suggs, Corey Kispert
  • NEW FACES: Oumar Ballo, Aaron Cook, Julian Strawther, Dominick Harris
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Jalen Suggs, Joel Ayayi, Corey Kispert, Drew Timme, Oumar Ballo

The Zags should once again be a powerhouse next season, but they are still waiting on a couple of draft decisions. Their star freshman guard is Jalen Suggs, who would be a perfect fit next to Joel Ayayi and Corey Kispert on Gonzaga’s perimeter if both return to school. As much as I like Ayayi as a player, I’m not sure he’s going to be drafted this year. Kispert doesn’t have much else that he can prove at the college level and has a real chance to be a early-to-mid second round pick. Gonzaga’s frontcourt is going to be absolutely loaded even without Filip Petrusev because Drew Timme and Oumar Ballo both have WCC Player of the Year upside. Throw in a healthy Anton Watson, and the Zags should be loaded again.

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4. VIRGINIA

  • GONE: Mamadi Diakite, Braxton Key
  • COMING BACK: Kihei Clark, Jay Huff, Casey Morsell, Tomas Woldetensae, Kody Stattman, Justin McCoy
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Sam Hauser, Jabri Abdur-Rahim, Carson McCorkle, Reece Beekman
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Kihei Clark, Casey Morsell, Tomas Woldetensae, Sam Hauser, Jay Huff

The Cavaliers should be much better offensively with Sam Hauser replacing Mamadi Diakite in the starting lineup, and while Diakite is a significantly better defender than Hauser, it’s hard to imagine Virginia ever being a bad defensive team, especially when Hauser has had a year to learn the system. Kihei Clark and Jay Huff are both back, and I would expect Casey Morsell to take a step forward this season. Throw in a strong freshman class, and UVA should be competing for an ACC title once again.

RELATED: 2020 NBA Mock Draft

5. KANSAS

  • GONE: Udoka Azubuike, Devon Dotson, Isaiah Moss
  • COMING BACK: Marcus Garrett, Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack, Christian Braun, Tristan Enaruna, Jalen Wilson, Mitch Lightfoot, DaJuan Harris, Silvio De Sousa
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Bryce Thompson, Tyon Grant-Foster, Gethro Muscadin, Latrell Jossell
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Marcus Garrett, Bryce Thompson, Ochai Agbaji, Tristan Enaruna, David McCormack

When it comes to the amount of talent on the Kansas roster, there are certainly enough weapons here. They are incredibly loaded on the wing — Marcus Garrett, Bryce Thompson, Ochai Agbaji, Christian Braun, Tyon Grant-Foster, Tristan Enaruna, Jalen Wilson, sheesh — and David McCormack showed enough flashes last season that I expect him to be able to do an adequate job replacing Udoka Azubuike. Assuming Self (correctly) plays small-ball again, they should be really, really good. The problem? Other than Garrett, there is not a point guard on the roster that has played a second of college basketball. The best Jayhawk teams have had a killer at that position, and I’m not sure Garrett qualifies as such.

NBA DRAFT PROSPECT PROFILES

RELATED: College basketball preseason top 25

6. DUKE

  • GONE: Tre Jones, Vernon Carey Jr., Cassius Stanley, Jack White, Alex O’Connell, Javin DeLaurier
  • COMING BACK: Wendell Moore, Matthew Hurt, Jordan Goldwire, Joey Baker
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Jalen Johnson, Jeremy Roach, D.J. Steward, Mark Williams, Jaemyn Brakefield, Henry Coleman, Patrick Tape
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Jeremy Roach, D.J. Steward, Wendell Moore, Jalen Johnson, Mark Williams

The Blue Devils lose quite a bit of talent off of last season’s roster if as Tre Jones, Vernon Carey and Cassius Stanley all headed to the pros. But with six top 50 prospects coming into the program — headlined by a potential lottery pick in Jalen Johnson as well as point guard Jeremy Roach and scoring guard D.J. Steward — there will be quite a bit of talent on display. A starting lineup that includes those three freshmen and Wendell Moore will be fun. Duke is going to be very young, however, and a frontline that includes a bunch of freshmen and a grad transfer from Columbia is less than ideal.

7. IOWA

  • GONE: Bakari Evelyn, Ryan Kreiner, Cordell Pemsl
  • COMING BACK: Luka Garza, C.J. Frederick, Joe Weiskamp, Joe Toussaint, Jordan Bohannon, Connor McCaffery, Jack Nunge
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Tony Perkins, Ahron Ulis, Patrick McCaffery
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Joe Toussaint, C.J. Frederick, Joe Weiskamp, Jack Nunge, Luka Garza

Luka Garza will be back for his senior season, which is a helluva way for Fran McCaffery to anchor a roster that looks as good as anyone in the Big Ten. I think Joe Toussaint has a chance to be one of the breakout stars in college basketball next year, which is a pretty good sign for a team that also returns the preseason Player of the Year — yes, I’m taking the liberty of locking Luka into that award — along with talents like Joe Weiskamp and C.J. Frederick.

8. TENNESSEE

  • GONE: Lamonte Turner, Jordan Bowden
  • COMING BACK: John Fulkerson, Santiago Vescovi, Josiah Jordan-James, Olivier Nkamhoua, Drew Pemper
  • WAIT AND SEE: Yves Pons
  • NEW FACES: Keon Johnson, Jaden Springer, Corey Walker, Victor Bailey, E.J. Anosike, Malachi Wideman
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Santiago Vescovi, Josiah Jordan-James, Keon Johnson, Yves Pons, John Fulkerson

Last season, one of the biggest issues with Tennessee was a lack of firepower on their perimeter. This year, they will be adding five-star guards Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer to Josiah Jordan-James and Santiago Vescovi. They’ll have weapons, and that’s before you add in John Fulkerson, who was one of the best bigs in the SEC down the stretch of the season. Yves Pons will be the best defender in college basketball if he pulls out of the draft. If Vescovi can handle full-time point guard duties better with an offseason under his belt, the Vols are going to be the favorite to win the SEC.

9. ILLINOIS

  • GONE: Andres Feliz, Kipper Nichols, Alan Griffin
  • COMING BACK: Ayo Dosunmu, Kofi Cockburn, Giorgi Bezhanishvili, Da’Monte Williams, Trent Frazier
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Andre Curbelo, Adam Miller, Coleman Hawkins, Brandon Lieb
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Trent Frazier, Ayo Dosunmu, Da’Monte Williams, Giorgi Bezhanishvili, Kofi Cockburn

Illinois has a chance to be very, very good this coming season. The big news came with just days left before the deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the draft, when Ayo Dosunmu announced that he would be returning to school for his junior season. Dosunmu is one of the best big-shot makers in the sport and will likely see his name on a preseason All-American team. With Trent Frazier and Giorgi Bezhanishvili coming back and a couple of talented freshmen guards — Andrew Curbelo, Adam Miller — enrolling, Brad Underwood has a terrific core. With Kofi Cockburn also deciding to return, the Illini will have a real shot at winning the Big Ten title and getting to a Final Four.

10. TEXAS TECH

  • GONE: Jahmi’us Ramsey, Chris Clarke, Davide Moretti, T.J. Holyfield, Russel Tchewa
  • COMING BACK: Kyler Edwards, Terrance Shannon Jr., Kevin McCullar, Avery Benson
  • WAIT AND SEE: Mac McClung, Jamarius Burton
  • NEW FACES: Nimari Burnett, Micah Peavy, Marcus Santos-Silva, Joel Ntambwe, Chibuzo Agbo, Esahia Nzyiwe
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Kyler Edwards, Nimari Burnett, Terrance Shannon, Joel Ntambwe, Marcus Santos-Silva

The Red Raiders should have a roster that is a much better fit for the way that Chris Beard wants to play. Kyler Edwards and Nimari Burnett are both built in the mold of a classic Texas Tech lead guard, while Terrance Shannon will be on quite a few of the breakout sophomore lists you’ll find. The two major questions with this group is whether or not Edwards can takeover full-time point guard duties, and if VCU transfer Marcus Santos-Silva or Joel Ntambwe can handle the five spot better than T.J. Holyfield did this past season. There are enough talented perimeter weapons for me to buy-in, but without an anchor at the five a la Tariq Owens, their ceiling is somewhat limited.

11. HOUSTON

  • GONE: Nate Hinton, Chris Harris
  • COMING BACK: Quentin Grimes, Caleb Mills, Marcus Sasser, DeJon Jarreau, Fabian White, Justin Forham, Brison Gresham, Cedrick Alley
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Tramon Mark, Jamal Shead, Kiyron Powell
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Marcus Sasser, Caleb Mills, DeJon Jarreau, Quentin Grimes, Brison Gresham

We all know that Kelvin Sampson can coach, and he will be bringing back a roster where his top six scorers were all underclassmen from a team that finished top 15 on KenPom. They are going to be loaded in the backcourt — Kansas transfer Quentin Grimes might end up being their third or fourth best guard — and there will be some veterans in their frontcourt. The Cougars look to be the favorite in the American despite the fact that Nate Hinton left school a year earlier than expected.

12. WISCONSIN

  • GONE: Brevin Pritzl
  • COMING BACK: D’Mitrik Trice, Brad Davison, Nate Reuvers, Micah Potter, Aleem Ford, Tyler Wahl, Trevor Anderson
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Ben Carlson, Lorne Bowman, Johnny Davis, Jordan Davis, Steve Crowl
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: D’Mitrik Trice, Brad Davison, Aleem Ford, Nate Reuvers, Micah Potter

After winning a share of last year’s Big Ten regular season title, the Badgers are on track to essentially return everyone of note. Their frontline of Aleem Ford, Nate Reuvers and Micah Potter will be as good as anyone in the Big Ten, D’Mitrik Trice has developed into a solid shot-maker and Tyler Wahl is waiting in the wings as a super-sub. Throw in Brad Davison, and the Badgers will compete for the league title once again.

13. NORTH CAROLINA

  • GONE: Cole Anthony, Brandon Robinson, Jeremiah Francis
  • COMING BACK: Garrison Brooks, Armando Bacot, Leaky Black, Andrew Platek, Anthony Harris
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Caleb Love, Walker Kessler, R.J. Davis, Day’Ron Sharpe, Puff Johnson
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Caleb Love, Anthony Harris, Leaky Black, Armando Bacot, Garrison Brooks

The Tar Heels lost Cole Anthony, but with Caleb Love entering the program, they will once again be led by a five-star lead guard perfectly suited to running Roy Williams’ system. The Tar Heels will also have arguably the best frontline in college basketball, as Garrison Brooks and Armando Bacot will be joined by five-stars Day’Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler. The key to this team is going to be on the wings, where Leaky Black, Anthony Harris, Puff Johnson, R.J. Davis and Andrew Platek will be asked to carry the load. If I had more confidence in that group the Tar Heels would be ranked much higher.

RELATED: Coaching Carousel
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14. FLORIDA STATE

  • GONE: Trent Forrest, Devin Vassell, Patrick Williams, Dominik Olejniczak
  • COMING BACK: M.J. Walker, Balsa Koprivica, Anthony Polite, Malik Osborne, Raiquan Gray, Wyatt Wilkes, Nathanael Jack
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Scottie Barnes, Sardaar Calhoun
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Anthony Polite, M.J. Walker, Scottie Barnes, Raiquan Gray, Balsa Koprivica

Florida State is a tough one to project because it’s hard to know exactly what is going to happen with Patrick Williams and Devin Vassell gone to the draft. Both are projected to go somewhere in the first round. With Scottie Barnes coming in and M.J. Walker returning, Florida State still has some dangerous weapons. The Seminoles are a machine at this point, and I’m betting thatwsc the system will continue to work. And even if both Vassell and Williams had decided to come back, it doesn’t answer the most pressing question of Leonard Hamilton’s team: How do they replace Trent Forrest at the point?

15. MICHIGAN STATE

  • GONE: Cassius Winston
  • COMING BACK: Rocket Watts, Aaren Henry, Gabe Brown, Malik Hall, Marcus Bingham, Julius Marble, Thomas Kithier, Foster Loyer
  • WAIT AND SEE: Josh Langford
  • NEW FACES: Joey Hauser, Mady Sissoko, A.J. Hoggard
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Rocket Watts, Josh Langford, Aaron Henry, Joey Hauser, Marcus Bingham

Rocket Watts showed down the stretch of last season that he was ready to take over the reins offensively, and with Joey Hauser getting eligible, he should have a second scoring threat on the floor with him. That will allow Aaron Henry to play his jack-of-all-trades role, and with Gabe Brown, Malik Hall and Marcus Bingham all, in theory, taking a step forward, there’s plenty of weaponry, even if a number of those pieces are young and unproven. Losing Xavier Tillman, an anchor and a leader, is a massive blow.

16. KENTUCKY

  • GONE: Immanuel Quickley, Nate Sestina, Tyrese Maxey, Nick Richards, Ashton Hagans, Johnny Juzang, E.J. Montgomery
  • COMING BACK: Keion Brooks, Dontaie Allen
  • WAIT AND SEE: Olivier Sarr
  • NEW FACES: B.J. Boston, Terrence Clarke, Devin Askew, Isaiah Jackson, Lance Ware, Cam’Ron Fletcher, Davion Mintz
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Devin Askew, Terrence Clarke, B.J. Boston, Keion Brooks, Isaiah Jackson

Tyrese Maxey, Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley and Nick Richards are all heading to the NBA. E.J. Montgomery declared as well. Nate Sestina graduated. Johnny Juzang transferredwest. What that leaves is another loaded recruiting class and Keion Brooks. I love the combination of Terrence Clarke and Brandon Boston on the wings, and Devin Askew should be able to step in and handle point guard duties along with Davion Mintz. This will be another season for the Wildcats where they have talent but not necessarily a great fit on their roster. The key to their season is going to be whether or not they can get Olivier Sarr a waiver to be eligible immediately.

17. WEST VIRGINIA

  • GONE: Jermaine Haley, Chase Harler
  • COMING BACK: Oscar Tshiebwe, Derek Culver, Miles McBride, Emmitt Matthews, Gabe Osabuohien, Jalen Bridges, Sean McNeil
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Isaiah Cottrell, Taj Thweatt, Kedrian Johnson , Jalen Bridges
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Miles McBride, Kedrian Johnson, Emmitt Matthews, Derek Culver, Oscar Tshiebwe

The Mountaineers are going to be exactly what they were last season: Big, physical, overpowering defensively and on the glass and able to win games when Miles McBride and Emmitt Matthews are able to made enough shots to keep defenses from collapsing.

18. CREIGHTON

  • GONE:  Ty-Shon Alexander, Kelvin Jones, Davion Mintz
  • COMING BACK: Mitchell Ballock, Damien Jefferson, Christian Bishop, Denzel Mahoney, Jacob Epperson, Shereef Mitchell
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Antwaan Jones, Ryan Kalkbrenner
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Marcus Zegarowski, Mitchell Ballock, Damien Jefferson, Denzel Mahoney, Christian Bishop

Creighton’s ranking depended on what their talented backcourt of Ty-Shon Alexander and Marcus Zegarowski decided to do. With both of them back, I had the Bluejays as a top four team. Without Alexander, they’re more of a back-end top 25 team. The other question is going to be what happens at the five spot. Christian Bishop was adequate in his minutes last season, and with four-star recruit Ryan Kalkbrenner and a (hopefully) healthy Jacob Epperson in the mix, there will be options to answer that question.

19. RUTGERS

  • GONE: Akwasi Yeboah, Shaq Carter
  • COMING BACK: Geo Baker, Ron Harper, Myles Johnson, Montez Mathis, Caleb McConnell, Jacob Young, Mamadou Doucoure, Paul Mulcahy
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Cliff Omoruyi, Dean Reiber, Oskar Palmquist, Mawot Mag
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Geo Baker, Montez Mathis, Caleb McConnell, Ron Harper Jr., Myles Johnson

The Scarlet Knights return basically everyone from a team that would have made the program’s first NCAA tournament since 1991. In total, eight of their top nine players are returning, and only Akwasi Yeboah (9.8 ppg) is gone.

20. MICHIGAN

  • GONE: Zavier Simpson, Jon Teske
  • COMING BACK: Isaiah Livers, Eli Brooks, Brandon Johns, Adrian Nunez
  • WAIT AND SEE: Chaundee Brown
  • NEW FACES: Hunter Dickinson, Mike Smith Terrance Williams, Zeb Jackson, Jace Howard
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Mike Smith, Eli Brooks, Isaiah Livers, Franz Wagner, Hunter Dickinson

The Wolverines are going to have one of the better frontlines in college basketball in 2020-21, as they seem likely to return Isaiah Livers in addition to Franz Wagner. Throw in a recruiting class that includes Hunter Dickinson, and the Wolverines will be loaded. Their guards are old, but there are some questions about the upside of Columbia grad transfer Mike Smith and Eli Brooks. Can Wake Forest transfer Chaundee Brown get eligible?

21. TEXAS

  • GONE: None
  • COMING BACK: Matt Coleman, Courtney Ramey, Andrew Jones, Kai Jones, Jericho Sims, Jase Febres, Kamaka Hepa, Royce Hamm, Donovan Williams, Gerald Lidell, Will Baker
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Greg Brown
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Matt Coleman, Courtney Ramey, Andrew Jones, Greg Brown, Jericho Sims

The Longhorns bring back all 12 players from last year’s team, including 11 of whom started at least one game last season. Plus, they add top ten recruit Greg Brown to a team that won five of their last six regular season games. That’s a good thing! Keeping everyone happy on a roster this deep when there are 13 guys available for just five spots on the floor and 200 combined minutes a night? That’s not going to be easy to deal with.

22. LOUISVILLE

  • GONE: Jordan Nwora, Dwayne Sutton, Steve Enoch, Fresh Kimble, Ryan McMahon, Darius Perry
  • COMING BACK: David Johnson, Samuell Williamson, Malik Williams, Josh Nickelberry, Aidan Ighiehon, Jaelyn Withers
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Carlik Jones, Charles Minlend, D’Andre Davis, J.J. Traynor
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Carlik Jones, David Johnson, Charles Minlend, Samuell Williamson, Malik Williams

The Cardinals are going to build around sophomores David Johnson and Samuell Williamson as well as senior Malik Williams this season. The addition of Radford grad transfer Carlik Jones should help out quite a bit as well. Johnson and Williamson have both shown flashes of having star potential. The addition of San Francisco grad transfer Charles Minlend should help add some depth on the perimeter.

23. ARIZONA STATE

  • GONE: Rob Edwards, Romello White, Mickey Mitchell
  • COMING BACK: Remy Martin, Alonzo Verge, Kimani Lawrence, Taeshon Cherry, Jaelen House, Khalid Thomas, Jalen Graham
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES:  Josh Christopher, Marcus Bagley, Holland Woods
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Remy Martin, Alonzo Verge, Josh Christopher, Taeshon Cherry, Jalen Graham

This ranking is dependent on Remy Martin making the decision to return to school for the 2020-21 season, but if they do, the Sun Devils have a chance to be really, really good. Losing Romello White is going to hurt, but Alonzo Verge had a breakout season, and they added Josh Christopher, a five-star prospect from California.

24. RICHMOND

  • GONE: None
  • COMING BACK: Jacob Gilyard, Grant Golden, Blake Francis, Nick Sherod, Nathan Cayo, Andre Gustavson, Jake Wojcik, Tyler Burton
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Isaiah Wilson
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Jacob Gilyard, Blake Francis, Nick Sherod, Nathan Cayo, Grant Golden

Chris Mooney did not have a senior on the roster of a team that finished 24-7 overall and 14-4 in the Atlantic 10. With Obi Toppin gone, the Spiders will likely be the class of the conference heading into next season. Jacob Gilyard has a chance to be Atlantic 10 Player of the Year.

25. MEMPHIS

  • GONE: James Wiseman, Precious Achiuwa, Tyler Harris
  • COMING BACK: D.J. Jeffries, Lester Quinones, Boogie Ellis, Damian Baugh, Alex Lomax, Isaiah Maurice
  • WAIT AND SEE: Landers Nolley II, DeAndre Williams
  • NEW FACES: Moussa Cisse, Isaiah Stokes
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Alex Lomax, Boogie Ellis, Lester Quinones, D.J. Jeffries, Moussa Cisse

Moussa Cisse is the piece that Memphis had been missing. I explain why here.

SIX THAT JUST MISSED THE COLLEGE BASKETBALL PRESEASON TOP 25

UCLA

  • GONE: Daishen Nix, Prince Ali, Alex Olesinski
  • COMING BACK: Chris Smith, Jalen Hill, Cody Riley, Jaime Jaquez, Tyger Campbell, Jake Kyman, Jules Bernard, David Singleton
  • WAIT AND SEE: Chris Smith
  • NEW FACES: Daishen Nix, Jaylen Clark
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Tyger Campbell, Johnny Juzang, Chris Smith, Jaime Jaquez, Jalen Hill

OREGON

  • GONE: Payton Pritchard, Anthony Mathis, Shakur Juiston, C.J. Walker
  • COMING BACK: Will Richardson, Chris Duarte, C.J. Walker, Francis Okoro, Chandler Lawson, Addison Patterson, N’Faly Dante
  • WAIT AND SEE: L.J. Figueroa
  • NEW FACES: Amauri Hardy, Jalen Terry, Eric Williams, Eugene Omoruyi
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Will Richardson, Chris Duarte, Amauri Hardy, Eric Williams, Eugene Omoruyi

OHIO STATE

  • GONE: Kaleb Wesson, Luther Muhammad, Andrew Wesson, D.J. Carton, Alonzo Gaffney
  • COMING BACK: Duane Washington, Luther Muhammad, C.J. Walker, Kyle Young, E.J. Liddell, Justin Ahrens, Alonzo Gaffney, Ibrahima Diallo
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Seth Towns, Eugene Brown, Zed Kay, Justice Suenig, Abel Porter
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: C.J. Walker, Duane Washington, Seth Towns, E.J. Liddell, Kyle Young

INDIANA

  • GONE: De’Ron Davis, Devonte Green, Justin Smith
  • COMING BACK: Trayce Jackson-Davis, Joey Brunk, Al Durham, Rob Phinisee, Jerome Hunter, Race Thompson
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Khristian Lander, Trey Galloway, Jordan Geronimo, Anthony Leal
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Khristian Lander, Rob Phinisee, Al Durham, Trayce Jackson-Davis, Joey Brunk

UCONN

  • GONE: Christian Vital, Alterique Gilbert, Sid Wilson
  • COMING BACK: James Bouknight, Josh Carlton, Akok Akok, Jalen Gaffney, Tyler Polley, Brendan Adams, Isaiah Whaley
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: R.J. Cole, Andre Jackson, Javonte Brown-Ferguson, Richie Springs, Adama Sanogo
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: R.J. Cole, James Bouknight, Andre Jackson, Akok Akok, Josh Carlton

LSU

  • GONE: Emmitt Williams, Skylar Mays, Marlon Taylor
  • COMING BACK: Charles Manning Jr., James Bishop
  • WAIT AND SEE: Trendon Watford, Darius Days, Javonte Smart
  • NEW FACES: Cam Thomas, Josh Leblanc, Jalen Cook, Shareef O’Neal, Mwani Wilkinson, Bradley Ezewiro
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Javonte Smart, Cam Thomas, Charles Manning, Josh LeBlanc, Darius Days

Arizona State’s Martin to return for senior season

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TEMPE, Ariz. (–Arizona State guard Remy Martin is withdrawing from the NBA draft and will return for his senior season in the desert.

“I’m blessed to have the opportunity to coach Remy Martin for one more season,” Sun Devils coach Bobby Hurley said in a statement Sunday. “Remy will be one of the best players in college basketball this year and will be on a mission to lead Arizona State basketball in its pursuit of championships.”

A 6-foot guard, Martin is the Pac-12’s leading returning scorer after averaging 19.1 points in 2019-20. He also averaged 4.1 assists per game and helped put the Sun Devils in position to reach the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year before the season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Martin’s return should put Arizona State among the favorites to win the Pac-12 next season.

Martin joins fellow guard Alonzo Verge Jr. in returning to the Sun Devils after testing the NBA waters. Big man Romello White declared for the draft and later entered the transfer portal.

Hurley has signed one of the program’s best recruiting classes for next season, headed by five-star guard Josh Christopher.