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College basketball rankings: Despite key losses, Tennessee rises in Top 25 And 1 with transfer portal help

April has been a busy month for player movement around college basketball

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Keytron Jordan, CBS Sports

Transfer waivers for everybody, combined with the lure of name, image and likeness opportunities from coast to coast, have turned the first few weeks of this offseason into an unusually busy April with impactful players bouncing around nonstop.

It’s hard to keep up.

As evidence, consider that I was only compelled to update the CBS Sports preseason Top 25 And 1 college basketball rankings 21 times all of last offseason in a span of roughly seven months from April through November. Fast forward to this year, and we’re already up to Version 12.0 of the Top 25 And 1 only 17 days into the offseason, which should illustrate just how regularly nationally relevant programs are losing and adding important pieces these days.

It happened again Thursday.

That’s when Tennessee secured a commitment from Felix Okpara, a 6-foot-11 center who just started 34 games at Ohio State while averaging 6.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 23.6 minutes per contest. He should start in the middle next season for Rick Barnes’ Volunteers, who are up to No. 18 in the Top 25 And 1 despite losing three of the top five scorers from this season’s team — most notably Dalton Knecht, the reigning SEC Player of the Year who is also a projected lottery pick of the 2024 NBA Draft.

The only other development that impacted Version 12.0 of the Top 25 And 1 was Miami’s Wooga Poplar entering the transfer portal. As a result, the Hurricanes have been removed from these rankings and replaced by Xavier, which is the new No. 26 thanks largely to the expected return of Zach Freemantle and Jerome Hunter. Both Musketeers missed all of this season with injuries, but they were the second-leading scorer (Freemantle) and sixth-leading scorer (Hunter) at Xavier two seasons ago when the Big East program won 27 times while advancing to the Sweet 16 of the 2023 NCAA Tournament.

Top 25 And 1 rankings

Biggest Movers

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Teams

 

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1

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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. The additions of AJ Storr (Wisconsin), Riley Kugel (Florida) and Zeke Mayo (South Dakota State) from the transfer portal, plus two top-50 high school prospects, will give Kansas the type of depth it lacked during this past season that was derailed by Kevin McCullar’s lack of availability. 23-11
2

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Houston

This ranking is based on Kelvin Sampson’s Cougars returning eight of the top 10 scorers – everybody besides Jamal Shead and 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 LJ Cryer, Emanuel Sharp and Oklahoma transfer Milos Uzan should make the Cougars among the favorites in the Big 12. 32-5
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. 29-8
4

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N. Carolina

This ranking is based on Hubert Davis’ Tar Heels returning three of the top five scorers – specifically RJ Davis, 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. 29-8
5

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Duke

This ranking is based on Jon Scheyer’s Blue Devils returning two of the top six scorers — specifically Caleb Foster and Tyrese Proctor — 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 Syracuse transfer Maliq Brown, Purdue transfer Mason Gillis and five-star phenom Cooper Flagg, the last of whom is the consensus No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2024 and projected No. 1 pick of the 2025 NBA Draft. 27-9
6

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UConn

This ranking is based on Dan Hurley’s Huskies returning five of the top nine scorers – specifically Alex Karaban, Hassan Diarra, Samson Johnson, Solomon Ball and Jaylin Stewart – from a team that won the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Tarris Reed, a former top-50 recruit who averaged 9.0 points and 7.2 rebounds this season at Michigan, is among the newcomers expected to keep UConn in contention for a third straight national championship. 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. 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 and Furman transfer JP Pegues should have Auburn in contention to maybe make a second Final Four. 27-8
9

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Alabama

This ranking is based on Nate Oats’ Crimson Tide returning two of the top five scorers — specifically Grant Nelson and Latrell Wrightsell — from a team that advanced to the 2024 Final Four. The addition of five-star freshman Derrion Reed and transfers Houston Mallette (Pepperdine), Chris Youngblood (USF) and Aden Holloway (Auburn) should keep Alabama in the national conversation even if Mark Sears remains in the 2024 NBA Draft, which is the current projection here. 25-12
10

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Baylor

This ranking is based on Scott Drew’s Bears returning three of the top seven scorers – specifically Langston Love, Jayden Nunn and Josh Ojianwuna – from a team that secured a No. 3 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. The addition of a top-10 recruiting class headlined by Duke transfer Jeremy Roach and five-star wing VJ Edgecombe should help offset the departures and have Baylor in its sixth straight NCAA Tournament. 24-11
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 — and the addition of Arizona State transfer Jamiya Neal provides another experienced double-digit scorer. 25-10
12

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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. 34-5
13

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Clemson

This ranking is based on Brad Brownell’s Tigers returning four of the top six scorers – specifically PJ Hall, Chase Hunter, Ian Schieffelin and Chauncey Wiggins – from a team that secured a No. 6 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Clemson is also enrolling Boston College transfer Jaeden Zackery and Cincinnati transfer Viktor Lakhin to create a roster that should have the Tigers back in the NCAA Tournament. 24-12
14

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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. 21-15
15

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Arizona

This ranking is based on Tommy Lloyd’s Wildcats returning four of the top eight scorers — specifically Caleb Love, Jaden Bradley, KJ Lewis and Motiejus Krivas — 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 Oakland transfer Trey Townsend and top-40 high school prospects Joson Sanon, Carter Bryant and Jarari Phillips should help make the program’s transition to the Big 12 go relatively smoothly. 27-9
16

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Ohio St.

This ranking is based on Jake Diebler’s Buckeyes returning two of the top seven scorers – specifically Bruce Thornton 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 additions of South Carolina transfer Meechie Johnson, Kentucky transfer Aaron Bradshaw and San Diego State transfer Micah Parrish should help Ohio State be relevant again in Diebler’s first full season. 22-14
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’ announcement that he’ll return means Marquette will have a fourth-year guard who just averaged 17.2 points per game to build around. 27-10
18

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Tennessee

This ranking is based on Rick Barnes’ Volunteers returning two of the top five scorers — specifically Zakai Zeigler and Jordan Gainey — from a team that won the SEC and secured a No. 2 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. The departures of Dalton Knecht, Jonas Aidoo and Josiah-Jordan James are huge, but Tennessee should still easily make the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight year thanks in part to the additions of Hofstra transfer Darlinstone Dubar and Ohio State transfer Felix Okpara. 1 27-9
19

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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 transfer-portal additions of Alijah Martin (FAU) and Sam Alexis (Chattanooga) give Florida a pair of productive mid-major pieces, the former of whom helped Florida Atlantic make the 2023 Final Four. 1 24-12
20

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Indiana

This ranking is based on Mike Woodson’s Hoosiers returning three of the top four scorers — specifically Malik Reneau, Mackenzie Mgbako and Trey Galloway — from a team that finished tied for sixth in the Big Ten. The additions of Myles Rice (Washington State), Oumar Ballo (Arizona) and Kanaan Carlyle (Stanford) from the transfer portal means Indiana is adding three experienced starters from the Pac-12. 19-14
21

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Texas

This ranking is based on Rodney Terry’s Longhorns returning two of the top six scorers – specifically Kadin Shedrick and Chendall Weaver – from a team that secured a No. 7 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. A top-25 recruiting class headlined by five-star guard Tre Johnson, Arkansas transfer Tramon Mark and Oregon State transfer Jordan Pope should be enough to get Texas to what would be a fifth straight NCAA Tournament. 21-13
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 — plus NEC Player of the Year Jordan Derkack and Eastern Michigan transfer Tyson Acuff — will give Rutgers enough talent to start the season with a number beside its name. 15-17
23

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UCLA

This ranking is based on Mick Cronin’s Bruins returning four of the top five scorers – everybody except Adem Bona – from a team that finished fifth in the Pac-12. The additions of Skyy Clark (Louisville), Kobe Johnson (USC), Eric Dailey Jr. (Oklahoma State) and Tyler Bilodeau (Oregon State) and William Kyle III (South Dakota State) from the transfer portal suggests the Bruins will have a nice bounceback season. 1 16-17
24

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Providence

This ranking is based on Kim English’s Friars four of the top seven scorers — specifically Bryce Hopkins, Jaden Pierre, Corey Floyd and Rich Barron — from a team that finished tied for sixth in the Big East. Bensley Joseph (Miami), Jabri Abdur-Rahim (Georgia), Christ Essandoko (Saint Joseph’s) and Wesley Cardet Jr. (Chicago State) are three incoming transfers who project as likely starters at Providence. 1 21-14
25

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Michigan St.

This ranking is based on Tom Izzo’s Spartans returning five of the top eight scorers – specifically Jaden Akins, Tre Holloman, Xavier Booker, Jeremy Fears and Carson Cooper – from a team that secured a No. 9 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Combine that with a recruiting class headlined by top-50 freshmen Jase Richardson and Kur Teng, plus Omaha transfer Frankie Fidler, and Izzo should extend his streak of NCAA Tournament appearances to 27. 1 20-15
26

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Xavier

This ranking is based on Sean Miller’s Musketeers returning three of the top seven scorers – specifically Dayvion McKnight, Trey Green and Dailyn Swain – from a team that finished tied for eighth in the Big East. The return of Zach Freemantle and Jerome Hunter from injuries, plus the enrollment of transfers Dante Maddox (Toledo), Ryan Conwell (Indiana State), John Hugley (Oklahoma) and Marcus Foster (Furman), should have Xavier in contention to improve as much as anybody from one season to the next. NR 16-18

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