Never 2 Early Top 10
Alright, I'll just be flat out honest with this one. It's been infuriating. I've redone it maybe 3 times and that's just the top 10. It's ever evolving and I expect this to look a lot different come November. Once things get closer to the start of the season I'll expand this to 25 teams.
1. Baylor – This is largely based on if MaCio Teague returns back to school after testing the draft waters, currently none of the mock drafts him being drafted in the first round. They’re returning most of their core sans Freddie Gillespie on a team that finished 26-4 overall and was in position for a #1 seed. They also bring in a top 15 recruiting class to supplement what was lost. They should be the odds-on favorite to cut the nets down in 2021.
2. Gonzaga – Losing Killian Tillie is a killer and that can’t be overstated but the Zags have a top 10 recruiting class coming in highlighted by 5-star guard Jalen Suggs and return 3 of their top 5 scorers on a team that finished 2nd in kenpom. If Filip Petrusev returns, they will almost certainly have the talent to win it all.
3. Villanova – The only reason why Villanova isn’t higher is because I expect Saddiq Bey to stay in the draft, he’s mocked as a late lottery pick in the 10 to 18ish range. Still, they have an incredibly intriguing core with Collin Gillespie, Justin Moore, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Jermaine Samuels that stacks up with just about any top 4 in the country.
4. Duke – While Duke is going to lose Tre Jones, Vernon Carey, Jack White, Alex O’Connell and potentially Cassius Stanley they are returning 2 former 5-star Matthew Hurt and Wendell Moore while also adding the 2nd overall recruiting class. They’re probably the favorite to win the ACC next year (What a shocker).
5. Iowa – Expecting to return their entire starting 5 (including my 2020 National Player of the Year) on a team that finished 20-11 and 23rd in kenpom this past year in arguably the nations toughest conference. They also return standout point guard Jordan Bohannon who missed the season with hip surgery. He’s the wildcard, if he can return back to his former self this team is going to be tough to beat.
6. Virginia – I’m a tad bit skeptical of where I put Virginia because they are losing Braxton Key and Mamadi Diakite – two key pieces on a national championship team but I’m 100% a believer in Tony Bennett, they’re also adding Sam Hauser along with a top 15 recruiting class which includes top 50 recruit Jabri Abdur-Rahim.
7. Houston – This really is as simple as Houston is expected to return their entire core on a team that finished 14th in kenpom and won a share of the AAC. I would expect them to be the favorite to win the conference again with the caveat that everyone that is expected to return, will. A big IF in college basketball. DeJon Jarreau joined Nate Hinton in declaring for the draft but he remained his college eligibility.
8. Wisconsin – The Badgers are only losing one player on a team that shared for the Big10 title, were top 25 in kenpom and won 9 of their final 10 games. They were a completely different team once Micah Potter became eligible in late December going 16-5 during that stretch who's apparently the second coming.
9. West Virginia – While West Virginia did struggle to close the season they’re returning potentially the best frontcourt in the nation in the Big O (Oscar Tshiebwe) and Derek Culver while also adding 4-star power forward Isaiah Cottrell. They don’t run Press Virginia anymore but nobody wants to go into Morgantown. They could potentially contend for a Big12 title depending on sound guard play.
10. Kansas – I’ll be flat out honest. I don’t like this roster. Like at all. I’m putting Kansas this high solely on the merits of Bill Self as a coach because he’s earned it. Losing All Americans Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike, Self is going to struggle to find reliable production. But they are returning the Big12 defensive player of the year in Marcus Garrett and adding Bryce Thompson into the fold whom I love.