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Men’s college basketball preview | Ranking the teams 1-363 | Sports

The season tips off in a little more than a week. In Champaign, Brad Underwood’s Illini have high hopes once again before Eastern Illinois visits State Farm Center on Nov. 7 for the season opener. Before the ball goes in the air and fans start to file into arenas across the country, Illinois men’s basketball writer and AP Top 25 voter SCOTT RICHEY has the lowdown not only on his weekly Top 25 teams, but on all 363 D-I teams. More, D-3.

1. Houston

All Houston did last year was win 32 games and make the Elite Eight. Returning multiple key players from that team, getting Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark back healthy and adding five-star freshman Jarace Walker puts the Cougars in a spot to keep building on their success.

2. North Carolina

The Tar Heels didn’t exactly set the world on fire last season. At least until the NCAA tournament where they reached the title game as a No. 8 seed. Returning four of five starters from that team could mean even better things in year two under Hubert Davis.

3. Gonzaga

Gonzaga hasn’t won fewer than 23 games in the two-plus decades of the Mark Few era. Playing in the West Coast Conference obviously helps, but the Bulldogs have shown in the last decade or so they can compete with anyone in the country. Expect more of the same.

4. Baylor

What Scott Drew has done at Baylor is nothing short of miraculous considering where the program was when he took over in 2003. The Bears are only two years removed from a national title and have turned into a destination for five-star talent and future pros.

5. Kentucky

This might be the roster mix the Wildcats have been searching for with several veteran players, an intriguing transfer and, of course, the regular collection of five-star freshmen. But can Oscar Tshiebwe and Co. get Kentucky its first national title since 2012?


Last year’s follow up to a surprise Final Four run in the 2020-21 season wasn’t a failure by any means, but the Bruins didn’t quite meet expectations. Expectations that haven’t really changed with the combination of returning starters and five-star freshmen on this year’s roster.

7. Kansas

Are enough pieces back from last year’s team to turn the reigning NCAA champions into two-time winners? Will the first top-five recruiting class since 2018 be good enough to fill the void? All questions coach Bill Self will have to answer, but the Jayhawks remain a top-level team.

8. Creighton

It’s a changing off the guard at the top of the Big East. Providence won the league last year, and Creighton is the favorite this season. For good reason. The Bluejays have a a solid point guard in Ryan Nembhard, a top big in Ryan Kalkbrenner and plenty of wings to fill in the gaps.

9. Tennessee

Rick Barnes eventually wore out his welcome at Texas with a string of first- and second-round NCAA tournament exits. While he’s salvaged the Vols after the brief Donnie Tyndall disaster, they’ve mostly followed his postseason pattern with the Longhorns.

10. Duke

The Blue Devils have their first new coach in four decades, but things haven’t changed much. Jon Scheyer is recruiting at as a high a level as Mike Krzyzewski ever did (four five-stars this year), but how he fares as an on-court coach is still to be determined.

11. Arkansas

No coach embraced the transfer portal quite like Eric Musselman. He built his successful Nevada teams through the portal and hasn’t strayed far from that approach at Arkansas. It’s the five-star freshman he’s getting to Fayetteville, Ark., that are the difference.

12. TCU

What a year this could be for TCU. The Horned Frogs’ football team is ranked seventh nationally, and basketball coach Jamie Dixon has his top six players returning from a year ago. That includes point guard Mike Miles Jr., who’s a Big 12 Player of the Year candidate.

13. Texas

The Longhorns went all in on the transfer portal last season. It didn’t really work. Chris Beard didn’t shy away from the portal building his second roster, but it wasn’t his primary method either. A couple key returning players and a pair of five-star freshmen make for better balance.

14. San Diego State

San Diego State has regularly been one of the “not Gonzaga” best teams outside of the traditional power conferences. Matt Bradley and Nathan Mensah returning and Seattle transfer Darrion Trammell coming in to run the point makes that likely again this season.

15. Arizona

Will Arizona have to work to replace the production of a pair of guards that turned into first-round picks in the 2022 NBA draft? Absolutely. But another year for Kerr Kriisa, Azuolas Tubelis and Pelle Larsson in Tommy Lloyd’s system should help.

16. Indiana

What the Hoosiers have going for them is continuity in a world of roster upheaval. That’s a boon for second-year coach Mike Woodson as long as there’s the expected improvement. Because this same Indiana team finished below .500 in the Big Ten last season.

17. Auburn

Auburn coach Bruce Pearl addressed his frontcourt needs via the transfer portal and the recruiting trail and brought back his top guards. That includes a full healthy season for Allen Flanigan, who wasn’t quite the same in his first year back off an Achilles injury.

18. Virginia

Last season was one of Tony Bennett’s worst at Virginia outside of his first two (a season-opening loss to Navy really set the tone), but the Cavaliers still won 21 games. What was a new-look team last year returns mostly intact. Expect a return to ACC title contention.

19. Illinois

The Illini are in a similar spot as plenty of teams this season — loaded up with individual talent but still trying to figure out how it all fits together in a wholly new offensive system. A system, though, that’s tailored to Brad Underwood’s collection of versatile, position-less players.

20. Villanova

Jay Wright’s retirement came as a real surprise, but new coach Kyle Neptune was on Wright’s staff before leaving for Fordham. Hence, Villanova will remain Villanova. A preseason injury to five-star freshman Cam Whitmore doesn’t help, though.

21. Xavier

Weird finish to last season for the Musketeers. Travis Steele was fired after their first round NIT win, and then they went on to win the whole thing. Most of that team is back, and new/old coach Sean Miller is obviously familiar with what it takes to win in the Queen City.

22. Texas A&M

Count Texas A&M as “Exhibit A” in SEC commissioner Greg Sankey’s case to try and expand the NCAA tournament after the Aggies were left out last season. This year’s team, which returns Tyrece Radford and Henry Coleman III at the top, should leave no doubt.

23. Alabama

The one item Alabama coach Nate Oats certainly won’t be wanting for is guards. The Tide’s backcourt it loaded — returning players, key transfers and high-level freshmen. A similar roster makeup only garnered 19 wins last season, though, as a reminder.

24. Texas Tech

It’s mostly a new team for the Red Raiders this season. Kevin Obanor is the primary returning piece, but Tech added around him via the transfer portal and with a few intriguing freshmen. Again, the talent is there, but how coach Mark Adams pieces it together will be key.

25. Dayton

The Flyers had a single upperclassmen in their rotation last season. Then zero when Eljiah Weaver went down in February with a wrist injury. Winning 24 games with mostly freshmen, who are now key sophomores, was a real accomplishment.

26. Michigan

27. Wyoming

28. Saint Louis

29. Michigan State

30. Connecticut

31. Oregon

32. Southern California

33. Ohio State

34. Miami

35. Florida State

36. Purdue

37. Florida

38. Providence

39. Notre Dame

40. Iowa

41. Memphis

➜ All that came of the NCAA’s investigation into Memphis? Three years of probation, a $5,000 fine and two vacated wins. Plus a six-year, $16.5 million extension for coach Penny Hardaway. Now all that’s left is hitting a level of success that will match the regular preseason hype.

42. Oklahoma State

43. Virginia Tech

44. Rutgers

45. Wisconsin

46. Tulane

47. Saint Mary’s

48. West Virginia

49. UAB

50. Oklahoma

51. St. John’s

52. Iowa State

53. Stanford

54. Kansas State

55. Western Kentucky

56. Arizona State

57. LSU

58. Maryland

59. Seton Hall

60. Washington State

61. Marquette

62. Syracuse

64. Mississippi

64. Missouri

65. Cincinnati

66. Utah State

67. New Mexico

68. Loyola Chicago

69. Drake

70. North Texas

71. Davidson

➜ First-year coach Matt McKillop has the unenviable task of following his dad, Bob, who retired this offseason after 33 seasons and 634 wins in Davidson, N.C. Easing that burden is the return of Foster Loyer. The former Michigan State guard found a better home in the A-10.

72. Liberty

73. VCU

74. Mississippi State

75. Clemson

76. Boise State

77. Wake Forest

78. North Carolina State

79. San Francisco

80. Temple

81. Fresno State

82. Louisville

83. Vanderbilt

84. Boston College

85. Penn State

86. Colorado

87. Washington

88. South Carolina

89. BYU

90. Colorado State

91. UCF

92. Richmond

93. Furman

94. Oral Roberts

95. UNLV

96. UC Santa Barbara

97. DePaul

98. George Mason

99. Toledo

100. Northwestern

101. Nebraska

102. Florida Atlantic

103. Georgia Tech

104. Vermont

➜ Someone has to give John Becker a shot, right? Vermont has won seven America East titles in the last 11 seasons and made four NCAA tournaments. That a mid-major program or lower level power conference team hasn’t come calling is coaching search malpractice.

105. New Mexico State

106. Butler

107. Rhode Island

108. Georgia

109. Minnesota

110. Iona

111. Chattanooga

112. Colgate

113. Portland

114. Akron

115. Louisiana Tech

116. Southern Illinois

117. Santa Clara

118. Grand Canyon

119. Massachusetts

120. Georgetown

121. Wichita State

122. South Dakota State

123. Middle Tennessee

124. Stephen F. Austin

125. SMU

126. Towson

127. Utah

128. UNC Greensboro

129. Pittsburgh

➜ How much longer will Pittsburgh stick with Jeff Capel? Last season was actually the Panthers’ best ACC finish in his tenure — a tie for 11th — but the team still went 11-21. Off-the-court issues keep piling up, too, with multiple players arrested.

130. Bradley

131. Utah Valley

132. Abilene Christian

133. Kent State

134. Louisiana

135. Sam Houston State

136. Longwood

137. Samford

138. Indiana State

139. James Madison

140. UC Irvine

141. California

142. South Florida

143. Jacksonville

144. San Diego

145. Loyola Marymount

146. Northern Kentucky

147. Nevada

148. Pennsylvania

149. Fort Wayne

150. Seattle

151. St. Bonaventure

152. UTEP

153. Montana State

154. Hawaii

155. Norfolk State

156. Marshall

157. Cal Baptist

158. South Dakota

159. Tulsa

160. Texas State

161. Duquesne

162. Long Beach State

163. Hofstra

164. Belmont

165. Old Dominion

166. Saint Joseph’s

167. Murray State

➜ Steve Prohm is back for a second stint leading the Racers as they move to the Missouri Valley Conference. Ignore his disastrous final two years at Iowa State. Murray State went 104-29 in his first run as coach.

168. Missouri State

169. Charleston

170. Fairfield

171. La Salle

172. Southern Utah

173. Northern Iowa

174. Princeton

175. Yale

176. Ohio

177. Montana

178. Rider

179. Charlotte

180. Harvard

181. Wofford

182. UC Riverside

183. UNC Asheville

184. Lipscomb

185. Delaware

186. Mercer

187. South Alabama

188. Bryant

➜ College basketball fans fell in love with Saint Peter’s Doug Edert during the Peacocks’ upset run through last year’s NCAA tournament. Now, the mustachio’d shooter will try and do his best Peter Kiss impression at Bryant. Shots are available with the Bulldogs.

189. Eastern Washington

190. Fordham

191. George Washington

192. Pepperdine

193. Valparaiso

194. Nicholls State

195. Appalachian State

196. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

197. Quinnipiac

198. Tarleton State

199. Georgia Southern

200. Illinois State

201. Youngstown State

202. UMass Lowell

203. Northeastern

204. UC Davis

205. Navy

206. Rice

207. Coastal Carolina

208. Ball State

209. Jacksonville State

210. UNC Wilmington

211. Troy

212. Georgia State

213. Winthrop

214. Gardner-Webb

215. North Florida

216. Saint Peter’s

217. Buffalo

218. Wright State

219. Northern Colorado

220. Cornell

221. Air Force

222. Austin Peay

223. Kennesaw State

224. Oakland

225. Florida International

226. Cal State Fullerton

227. Morehead State

228. High Point

229. Campbell

230. North Dakota State

231. Southern

232. East Carolina

233. Florida Gulf Coast

234. San Jose State

235. Queens

➜ The Royals qualified for the NCAA D-II tournament in each of the last seven seasons and reached the Sweet 16 last season, the Elite Eight in 2019 and the Final Four in 2018. They must replace their top two scorers in year one as a D-I program but return the bulk of their rotation.

236. Cal Poly

237. Utah Tech

➜ No, this isn’t one of the five new D-I teams this season. It’s simply a rebranding effort for a team that used to be known as Dixie State (which made a ton of sense for a school located in St. George, Utah. Note the sarcasm). Axing the Rebels nickname in favor of Trailblazers happened in 2010.

238. Boston

239. Cleveland State

240. Western Michigan

241. North Carolina A&T

242. Loyola (Md.)

243. Weber State

244. Brown

245. Bellarmine

246. Mount St. Mary’s

247. Niagara

248. Drexel

249. Eastern Kentucky

250. UC San Diego

251. East Tennessee State

252. Oregon State

253. Southern Indiana

254. Denver

255. Siena

256. Pacific

257. Dartmouth

258. Tennessee State

259. Louisiana Monroe

260. Merrimack

261. SIU Edwardsville

262. Northern Arizona

263. Army

264. Sacramento State

265. Howard

266. UT Arlington

267. Presbyterian

268. UMBC

269. Arkansas State

270. Robert Morris

271. Wagner

272. Detroit Mercy

273. UTSA

274. Binghamton

275. Texas Southern

276. St. Thomas

277. Bucknell

278. UIC

279. North Carolina Central

280. Western Carolina

281. Northern Illinois

282. Manhattan

➜ What is happening in the Bronx? The Jaspers didn’t exactly thrive under Steve Masiello the last several years, but firing him two weeks before the season starts is wild. Especially because it cost them their best player, too, with Jose Perez hitting the transfer portal. Who else joins him?

283. Stony Brook

284. St. Francis (Pa.)

285. Tennessee Martin

286. Sacred Heart

287. Lehigh

288. Cal State Bakersfield

289. Bowling Green

290. Little Rock

291. Monmouth

292. Stetson

293. USC Upstate

294. Canisius

295. Morgan State

296. Radford

297. Eastern Michigan

298. Miami (Ohio)

299. Maryland Eastern Shore

300. Albany

301. American

302. The Citadel

303. Portland State

304. Coppin State

➜ The Eagles played 12 of their first 14 games on the road last season and went 1-13. It’s the same deal this year with 13 of the first 16 games away from home and trips to Georgetown, Maryland and Rutgers on the docket.

305. William & Mary

306. Columbia

307. Southern Miss

308. Milwaukee

309. Jackson State

310. Hampton

311. Prairie View A&M

312. Texas A&M-Commerce

313. Elon

314. Marist

315. Kansas City

316. North Alabama

317. Grambling State

318. Bethune Cookman

319. Western Illinois

320. Central Michigan

321. Central Arkansas

322. Cal State Northridge

323. Southeast Missouri State

324. VMI

325. Idaho State

326. New Orleans

327. Charleston Southern

328. Alabama A&M

329. NJIT

330. Lafayette

331. Houston Christian

332. McNeese State

333. Tennessee Tech

334. Evansville

335. Alcorn State

336. Holy Cross

337. North Dakota

338. Central Connecticut State

339. Omaha

340. Maine

341. Northwestern State

342. Chicago State

➜ The Cougars have some intriguing talent on their roster this season in Dayton/USC transfer Elijah Weaver and Samford transfer Wesley Cardet Jr., who followed first-year coach Gerald Gillian to Chicago. Fun fact: Illinois actually recruited both Weaver and Cardet.

343. Alabama State

344. New Hampshire

345. South Carolina State

346. Long Island

347. UT Rio Grande Valley

348. St. Francis (N.Y.)

349. Southeastern Louisiana

350. Incarnate Word

351. Eastern Illinois

352. Hartford

353. Green Bay

354. Idaho

355. Arkansas-Pine Bluff

356. Lindenwood

357. Fairleigh Dickinson

358. Mississippi Valley State

359. Stonehill

360. Lamar

361. Florida A&M

362. IUPUI

363. Delaware State


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