Saturday, May 25, 2024
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College basketball rankings: Houston, North Carolina lead way-too-early Top 25 And 1 for 2024-25 season

The Cougars are projected to be on top, while two-time reigning national champion UConn begins in the top 10

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CBS Sports Graphic

It’s never been more difficult to construct the CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 seven months before the start of the next season than it is these days. The transfer portal is full. Massive NIL deals are being offered from coast to coast. John Calipari is changing jobs. There’s a lot going on.

But the uncertainty won’t stop me!

So here is Version 1.0 of the 2024-25 CBS Sports preseason Top 25 And 1, where Houston will start at No. 1 based on the idea that Kelvin Sampson should return his top four scorers — and every rotation player besides Damian Dunn — from a team that won the Big 12 by multiple games and secured a No. 1 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Truth is, as great as Jamal Shead is at this level, he’s not guaranteed to be picked in the 2024 NBA Draft. So, with no great professional options available, the most financially sensible thing the All-American guard could likely do is return to Kelvin Sampson’s program with nice NIL packages.

If he doesn’t, I’ll adjust — just like always.

But, for now at least, Houston is No. 1 in the Top 25 And 1.

As you’ll see below, I’ve omitted both Kentucky and Arkansas — i.e., Calipari’s former school and current school — from Version 1.0 of the Top 25 And 1 because there’s just so much uncertainty in both places. Arkansas has a coach but no team. Kentucky has neither. So, while it’s possible, if not likely, that the Razorbacks and Wildcats will both eventually end up in the Top 25 And 1, right now there’s just nothing solid to base that on, which is why Kentucky and Arkansas are starting on the outside looking in.

What about UConn?

I’ve placed the Huskies at No. 6 in Version 1.0 even though they’re projected to lose four of their top five scorers — everybody except Alex Karaban. Simply put, that’s just me giving Dan Hurley’s program the benefit of the doubt that it’s earned over the past two seasons as back-to-back national champions. Once UConn starts adding pieces via the transfer portal, my assumption is that they’ll slowly move up the Top 25 And 1 throughout this offseason and find themselves in November positioned to possibly three-peat.

Top 25 And 1 rankings

Biggest Movers

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1

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Houston

This ranking is based on Kelvin Sampson’s Cougars returning every rotation piece besides Damian Dunn from a team that won the Big 12 by two games and earned a No. 1 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. A backcourt of Jamal Shead, LJ Cryer and Emanuel Sharp would give Houston a chance to make a second Final Four in a five-year span. 2 32-5
2

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N. Carolina

This ranking is based on Hubert Davis’ Tar Heels returning four of the top six scorers – specifically RJ Davis, Harrison Ingram, Elliot Cadeau and Seth Trimble – from a team that won the ACC and secured a No. 1 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. UNC is also adding a top-10 recruiting class highlighted by five-star prospects Ian Jackson and Drake Powell that should give the program a chance to make a 22nd appearance in the Final Four. 3 29-8
3

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Iowa St.

This ranking is based on TJ Otzelberger’s Cyclones returning the top four scorers from a team that won 29 games and earned a No. 2 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Both Tamin Lipsey and Keshon Gilbert could compete for Big 12 Player of the Year honors and position Iowa State to maybe make what would be the program’s first trip to the Final Four since 1944. 1 29-8
4

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Kansas

This ranking is based on Bill Self’s Jayhawks returning three of the top six scorers – specifically Hunter Dickinson, KJ Adams and Dajuan Harris – from a team that secured a No. 4 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Kansas has already added Riley Kugel (Florida) and Zeke Mayo (South Dakota State) from the transfer portal and should be back near the top of the Big 12 next season. 9 23-11
5

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Duke

This ranking is based on Jon Scheyer’s Blue Devils returning two of the top six scorers – specifically Jeremy Roach and Caleb Foster – from a team that secured a No. 4 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Duke also has the sport’s top-ranked recruiting class headlined by Cooper Flagg, the consensus No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2024 who could quickly develop into college basketball’s biggest attraction. 10 27-9
6

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UConn

This ranking is based on Dan Hurley’s Huskies returning five of the top nine scorers – namely Alex Karaban, Hassan Diarra, Samson Johnson, Solomon Ball and Jaylin Stewart – from a team that won the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Obviously, UConn has a lot to replace, but some programs deserve the benefit of the doubt, and Hurley’s program is definitely one of them. 5 37-3
7

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Gonzaga

This ranking is based on Mark Few’s Zags returning every rotation piece besides Anton Watson from a team that advanced to the Sweet 16 of the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga should be back in the NCAA Tournament for an incredible 26th straight time next March. 18 27-8
8

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Auburn

This ranking is based on Bruce Pearl’s Tigers returning three of the top five scorers – specifically Johni Broome, Chad Baker-Mazara and Denver Jones – from a team that secured a No. 4 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. The addition of five-star freshman Tahaad Pettiford will provide depth for an Auburn program that’s participated in five of the past six NCAA Tournaments. 3 27-8
9

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Purdue

This ranking is based on Matt Painter’s Boilermakers returning six of the top eight scorers – everybody besides Zach Edey and Lance Jones – from a team that advanced to the title game of the 2024 NCAA Tournament. The Boilermakers have finished in the top 25 at KenPom.com nine straight years, and there’s no reason to think that streak won’t continue next season even without the two-time National Player of the Year. 7 34-5
10

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Alabama

This ranking is based on Nate Oats’ Crimson Tide returning every rotation piece besides Mark Sears and Aaron Estrada from a team that advanced to the 2024 Final Four. Sears could reasonably return, which would push Alabama much higher, but for now he’s listed as gone here based on where most draft analysts have him projected to be picked if he enters the 2024 NBA Draft. 11 25-12
11

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Creighton

This ranking is based on Greg McDermott’s Bluejays returning every rotation player besides Baylor Scheierman and Francisco Farabello from a team that advanced to the Sweet 16 of the 2024 NCAA Tournament. A trio of Trey Alexander, Ryan Kalkbrenner and Steven Ashworth would make Creighton among the Big East favorites. 1 25-10
12

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Arizona

This ranking is based on Tommy Lloyd’s Wildcats returning five of the top eight scorers – everybody besides Oumar Ballo, Keshad Johnson and Kylan Boswell – from a team that won the Pac-12 and secured a No. 2 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Arizona’s top-five recruiting class headlined by Carter Bryant and Joson Sanon should help make the program’s transition to the Big 12 relatively smooth. 4 27-9
13

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BYU

This ranking is based on Mark Pope’s Cougars returning every relevant player – most notably Jaxson Robinson and Fousseyni Traore – from a team that secured a No. 6 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. The only obvious thing that could push BYU out of the preseason Top 25 And 1 is if the Kentucky job were to fall to Pope, who is a UK graduate and member of the 1996 national championship team that was coached by Rick Pitino. 4 23-11
14

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Saint Mary’s

This ranking is based on Randy Bennett’s Gaels returning every rotation piece besides Alex Ducas from a team that won the West Coast Conference and secured a No. 5 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. The Aidan Mahaney/Augustas Marciulionis backcourt should be one of the best out west. 10 26-8
15

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Texas A&M

This ranking is based on Buzz Williams’ Aggies returning four of the top five scorers – everybody except Tyrece Radford – from a team that advanced to the second round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Wade Taylor could enter the season as the favorite to win SEC Player of the Year for the second straight season. NR 21-15
16

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Tennessee

This ranking is based on Rick Barnes’ Volunteers returning five of the top eight scorers from a team that secured a No. 2 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. The loss of Dalton Knecht is huge, but Tennessee should still easily make the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight year. 10 27-9
17

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Marquette

This ranking is based on Shaka Smart’s Golden Eagles returning every rotation player – besides Tyler Kolek and Oso Ighodaro – from a team that secured a No. 2 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Kam Jones, the Golden Eagles’ leading scorer, could reasonably also enter the NBA Draft, but he’ll be projected back here until he indicates otherwise. 10 27-10
18

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Clemson

This ranking is based on Brad Brownell’s Tigers returning five of the top six scorers – everybody besides Joe Girard – from a team that secured a No. 6 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. As long as PJ Hall and Chase Hunter both use their extra years of eligibility to return to Clemson, the Tigers should be a factor in the ACC again. NR 24-12
19

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Baylor

This ranking is based on Scott Drew’s Bears returning four of the top seven scorers – everybody except Ja’Kobe Walter, RayJ Dennis and Yves Missi – from a team that secured a No. 3 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. The addition of a top-10 recruiting class headlined by five-star wing VJ Edgecombe should help offset the departures and have Baylor in its sixth straight NCAA Tournament. 10 24-11
20

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Miami

This ranking is based on Jim Larranaga’s Hurricanes returning three of the top four scorers – everybody except Norchad Omier – from a team that struggled last season and missed the NCAA Tournament but is expected to bounce back strong. Miami’s top-10 recruiting class headlined by five-star guard Jalil Bethea is among the reasons another rough year is not expected. NR 15-17
21

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Wisconsin

This ranking is based on Greg Gard’s Badgers returning four of the top six scorers – everybody except AJ Storr and Tyler Wahl – from a team that secured a No. 5 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Year 10 for Gard should result in a seventh NCAA Tournament appearance, which highlights how he’s successfully followed Naismith Memorial Hall of Famer Bo Ryan at Wisconsin. 3 22-14
22

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Rutgers

This ranking is based on Steve Pikiell’s Scarlet Knights only returning one double-digit scorer (Jeremiah Williams) from a team that finished below .500. But the enrollment of five-star prospects Ace Bailey and Dylan Harper will give Rutgers two likely top-10 picks in the 2025 NBA Draft and enough talent to start the season with a number beside its name. NR 15-17
23

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Texas

This ranking is based on Rodney Terry’s Longhorns returning four of the top six scorers – everybody except Max Abmas and Dyland Disu – from a team that secured a No. 7 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Texas is also enrolling a top-15 recruiting class headlined by five-star guard Tre Johnson, who should start in the backcourt alongside Tyrese Hunter. NR 21-13
24

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Florida

This ranking is based on Todd Golden’s Gators returning six of the top nine scorers – everybody besides Zyon Pullin, Tyrese Samuel and Riley Kugel – from a team that secured a No. 7 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. The star should once again be Walter Clayton, who averaged 17.6 points in his first season in the SEC. NR 24-12
25

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Seton Hall

This ranking is based on Shaheen Holloway’s Pirates returning five of the top eight scorers – everybody except Al-Amir Dawes, Dre Davis and Jaden Bediako – from a team that won the 2024 NIT. Kadary Richmond should return for a fifth season and emerge as a possible option for Big East Player of the Year. NR 25-12
26

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Ohio St.

This ranking is based on Jake Diebler’s Buckeyes returning four of the top seven scorers – namely Bruce Thornton, Felix Okpara, Dale Bonner and Devin Royal – from a team that missed the NCAA Tournament but closed with an 8-3 record after Diebler replaced Chris Holtmann in February. The addition of Meechie Johnson (South Carolina) via the transfer portal was a nice early get for an Ohio State program that should be relevant again in Diebler’s first full season. NR 22-14

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