Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Villanova, Michigan and Kansas all made it to the Final Four of the 2018 men’s NCAA tournament, and our way-too-early rankings for the 2018-19 season suggest all three could make another deep run next year.
Making early April projections of college basketball rosters is a fool’s errand. As always, the next seven weeks will be flooded with news of draft declarations, transfers and late signings of incoming freshmen. And this year, we also have the potential further fallout from the FBI probe.
But the show must go on!
Based on a combination of what we know and reasonable assumptions of who will (and who will not) leave for the NBA, here is our way-too-early ranking of teams for the 2018-19 men’s college basketball season:
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
- Florida State
- Kansas State
- Penn State
- Michigan State
- North Carolina State
2019 Title Favorite: No. 1 Villanova Wildcats
David J. Phillip/Associated Press/Associated Press
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Villanova has finished in the top six of the AP Top 25 for five consecutive years, earning either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in each of those NCAA tournaments. We can spend a portion of this offseason arguing over whether these Wildcats have become a college basketball dynasty, but the fact of the matter is that no one has been better for the past half-decade.
And here’s the ridiculous part: There was not a single senior in this year’s primary nine-man rotation.
We’re assuming Mikal Bridges will leave for the NBA. There’s a good chance Jalen Brunson joins him on that one-year-early journey. But Villanova would still be in great shape, thanks in part to a recruiting class that features three of the top 50 prospects on 247Sports’ composite rankings—Jahvon Quinerly, Cole Swider and Brandon Slater.
Even without factoring in any of those incoming freshmen, Villanova would have a starting five of Collin Gillespie, Phil Booth, Donte DiVincenzo, Eric Paschall and Omari Spellman, with both Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree and Jermaine Samuels providing valuable minutes off the bench.
If Brunson decides to follow in the footsteps of Josh Hart and North Carolina’s Joel Berry II by coming back for one final season rather than maybe getting selected at the end of the first round of the draft, even better. He would be the runaway preseason favorite for the Wooden Award, and Villanova would be the near-unanimous preseason No. 1 team.
Dark-Horse Title Candidate: No. 10 Tennessee Volunteers
Crystal LoGiudice/Associated Press
Tennessee surprised everyon