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2024-25 men’s college basketball way-too-early Top 25: Duke, Purdue and UConn start out in front

2024-25 men's college basketball way-too-early Top 25: Duke, Purdue and UConn start out in front

The college basketball season is now behind us, which means it’s already time to look ahead to next fall.

UConn picked up its sixth national championship and became the first school to go back-to-back since 2007 with its win over Purdue in the national title game on Monday night. The Huskies cruised to a dominant 75-60 win over the Boilermakers, which extended the Big Ten’s title drought even further.

Despite the coaching carousel still very much active, top players still entering the portal and the NBA Draft still ahead of us, let’s take a look at next season’s way-too-early top 25.

Remember, it's only April.

Head coach Jon Scheyer’s next group at Duke will likely be the team to beat next season. (Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2024-25

1. Duke

Jon Scheyer has more than held his own in his few years at the helm, and he’s bringing in both Gatorade Player of the Year Cooper Flagg and 7-foot-2 center Khaman Maluach from Senegal next fall. Duke will be the team to beat.

2. Purdue

Zach Edey is off to the NBA, but head coach Matt Painter won’t have to adjust much with freshman Will Berg, his 7-foot-2 Swedish center. Fletcher Loyer and Braden Smith will be back, too, so Purdue should return atop the expanded Big Ten next season. It might finally be time for the conference drought to end.

3. Iowa State

Head coach T.J. Otzelberger nearly led the Cyclones to the Elite Eight for the first time in more than two decades this spring after a dominant run in the Big 12. With Tamin Lipsey and Keshon Gilbert back, and Otz bringing in a few transfers, the Cyclones will be right there again. If things go right, Iowa State is on track for its best season in a very long time.

4. Baylor

As long as Scott Drew doesn’t bolt for Kentucky, the Bears have the best shot to keep up with Iowa State in the new Big 12 next season. With three five-star recruits coming in, and both Langston Love and (possibly) Jalen Bridges coming back, Baylor should be more than capable of making a Final Four run.

5. UConn

Yes, UConn is losing a big chunk of its roster again this year with Donovan Clingan, Tristen Newton and Stephon Castle leaving for the NBA. But Dan Hurley faced this problem last offseason, and he managed to win a second consecutive title. Why would we count him out now?

6. Gonzaga

After briefly looking like it would miss the tournament altogether, Gonzaga rallied and made another Sweet 16 appearance this spring. After landing Michael Ajayi in the portal and with Graham Ike and Ryan Nembhard able to come back, the Bulldogs should pick up right where they left off this fall.

7. Marquette

Sure, Tyler Kolek and Oso Ighodaro are almost certainly done. But head coach Shaka Smart is coming off two great seasons with the Golden Eagles — and he has several key players like Kam Jones and David Joplin coming back. Marquette should be able to hang with UConn in the Big East again.

8. Kansas

This is largely contingent on Hunter Dickinson returning for one last season, but Bill Self is more than capable of holding his own in the Big 12. With Dajuan Harris and K.J. Adams back, and both Riley Kugel and Zeke Mayo coming in, the Jayhawks won’t be too far behind in the Big 12 race.

9. Alabama

Nate Oats is on a roll in Tuscaloosa. If he can get any of Mark Sears, Grant Nelson or Nick Pringle back — those three all have one year of eligibility left if they want it — and land a solid transfer player or two to join a pair of five-star recruits, the Crimson Tide could be dangerous again next season.

10. North Carolina

This could change quickly too, especially if RJ Davis and Harrison Ingram both leave. But the Tar Heels have Elliot Cadeau and Seth Trimble coming back. Each should make big jumps, and a pair of five-star guards are coming in.

11. Arizona

Sure, Tommy Lloyd is losing a big chunk of his roster this summer. The Big 12 is so much better than the Pac-12 was last season, too. But Lloyd should be able to bring enough back, and add enough replacements.

12. Florida

Even though they were knocked out in the first round of the tournament, the Gators made it to the SEC championship game last season. Star Walter Clayton has declared for the NBA Draft, but said that he would return to Florida if it doesn’t work out. If that’s the case, he could easily lead the conference in scoring. This upcoming Gators group, especially if he’s back, should be very solid.

13. Houston

The Big 12 has gotten only harder, and Jamal Shead is gone, but don’t doubt head coach Kelvin Sampson. The Cougars will still be a force in the country’s best basketball conference next season. And J’Wan Roberts announced Monday that he’s returning, which is another huge get for Sampson.

Who knows where Kentucky goes from here with John Calipari out the door. (Silas Walker/Lexington Herald-Leader/Tribune News Service/Getty Images)

14. Kentucky

If John Calipari wasn't leaving for the Arkansas job, Kentucky would’ve been ranked much higher — possibly even within the top 10. Without a replacement and so many questions surrounding the program, this is as high as we can go right now.

15. Seton Hall

After barely missing the tournament, head coach Shaheen Holloway led the Pirates to an NIT title this spring. They should be ranked for the first time in two years next season.

16. Rutgers

I know, it’s Rutgers. It went 15-17 last fall and has been to two NCAA tournaments in the past three decades. But with five-star recruits Dylan Harper and Airious Bailey coming in, the Scarlet Knights may finally have what it takes to make a run in the Big Ten.

17. St. John’s

Rick Pitino nearly made the NCAA tournament last season, and he was bashing his players near the end. No reason to think he can’t be in the mix with an offseason of recruiting and work under his belt.

18. Tennessee

Dalton Knecht is gone, which hurts Tennessee a lot. But Zakai Zeigler is coming off a tremendous season, and several other players could step up to try and fill the gap that Knecht is leaving.

19. Maryland

The Terps are bringing in two huge transfers in Ja’Kobi Gillespie and Rodney Rice, and they've got a huge five-star center in Derik Queen coming in, too. Kevin Willard’s group could make real noise in the Big Ten next season.

20. BYU

The Cougars had a great start in their first season in the Big 12. Head coach Mark Pope will bring back several starters, and they could be even better if either Jaxson Robinson or Spencer Johnson come back for another season.

21. Saint Mary’s

The Gaels have won back-to-back WCC regular-season titles, and Augustas Marciulionis and Aidan Mahaney are back for another season. If Gonzaga slips, the Gaels will be right there ready to take the conference for a third consecutive time.

22. Miami

The Hurricanes were, well, not great last season. Jim Larrañaga, however, has already landed Lynn Kidd from Virginia Tech and has Jalil Bethea — a five-star recruit who is Miami’s best in decades — coming in. Assuming Nijel Pack and Matthew Cleveland return, among others, Miami could bounce back.

Jim Larrañaga and the Hurricanes finished 15-16 last season, which put them second-to-last in the ACC. (Samuel Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

23. UCLA

The Bruins have landed two great portal players in Skyy Clark and Kobe Johnson, and they have three starters coming back. Depending on what Adem Bona decides, the Bruins should be fine in their first Big Ten experience.

24. Creighton

The Bluejays might deserve to be higher than this if Ryan Kalkbrenner, Trey Alexander and Steven Ashworth all return. For now, this feels like a good starting point for them in the rankings.

25. Dayton

The Flyers have been solid for years now in the A-10. They’ll bring back three starters from last season, and potentially a fourth if DaRon Holmes returns. Plus they still have Koby Brea available. It could take a portal player or two, but the Flyers should be capable of making a second straight NCAA tournament next spring.

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