College basketball is back.
There will be tons of upsets throughout the 2023-24 college basketball season, of course, but we’re betting the last teams standing next April will be some familiar names. Don’t @ us.
Here’s our official 2023-24 Men’s College Basketball season preview.
1. Duke: The returns of Kyle Filipowski, Jeremy Roach, Tyrese Proctor, and Mark Mitchell, along with another crop of four and five-star standouts, will make Jon Scheyer look like a pretty darn good coach this year.
2. Kansas: The Jayhawks are deep, versatile, and nasty on defense. Adding Michigan center Hunter Dickinson makes them lethal in the pick-and-roll. If KU can stroke it from the outside, it will be national title time.
3. Michigan State: Tom Izzo says a Big Ten team has to win it all to prove the conference is elite. Here’s a squad that can do it. The Spartans will grind like no other team, have plenty of experience and boast a first-rate backcourt.
4. Marquette: The Golden Eagles aren’t that big, and they don’t bang the boards like Visigoths, but oh, that backcourt. Tyler Kolek, Stevie Mitchell, and Kam Jones can pile it on, and there should be enough inside for a shot at the Final Four.
5. Tennessee: Behold the college basketball equivalent of oral surgery. The Vols play like someone wants to steal their rent money. The guards are rugged, and if Zakai Zeigler’s knee is healthy, big things—and sore opponents—lie ahead.
6. Purdue: He’s back! The Big Maple, unguardable 7-4 center Zach Edey, returns to own the paint. The question is whether Fletcher Loyer and the perimeter team can hit shots. If they can, the Boilermakers will thrive.
7. Houston: Kelvin Sampson has done a masterful job creating a sustainable powerhouse with defense and tough love. The Cougars aren’t pretty and certainly aren’t fun to play, but they have won big—and will continue to do so.
8. Creighton: The Bluejays lost some talent to the portal but then added experienced contributors the same way. Call it a wash. Ryan Kalkbrenner is a two-way force inside, and he’s surrounded by strong perimeter scorers.
9. Baylor: There are a bunch of new Bears, but they are good. Really good. Look out for freshmen guards Ja’Kobe Walter and Miro Little. Transfer RayJ Dennis can fill it up, and holdover Jalen Bridges is a steady frontcourt piece.
10. Florida Atlantic: Last year was a magical one-off, right? Right? Nope, all but one of the key Owls are back and ready for more. FAU is loaded with talented, experienced guards and has good depth. This encore should be fun.
11. Arizona: The Wildcats were big and slow last year. They’re a lot quicker this time. Transfers Caleb Love and Keshad Johnson will be immediate standouts, and big man Oumar Ballo will cause all sorts of problems inside.
12. Villanova: It’s time for Nova to head back to where it belongs. Last year was an anomaly. Guard Justin Moore and big man Eric Dixon are major producers, and four transfers will add depth and versatility.
13. Connecticut: The defending champs lost some real stalwarts, but big man Donovan Clingan is a budding star, Tristen Newton and Alex Karaban have plenty of experience, and Rutgers transfer Cam Spencer and a loaded crop of freshmen have arrived.
14. North Carolina: Armando Bacot and RJ Davis are back for their ninth seasons in Chapel Hill. At least it feels that way. Freshman point man Elliot Cadeau is the human assist and transfers Harrison Ingram and Cormac Ryan are welcome additions.
15. Gonzaga: You want points? The Zags score plenty of them. Drew Timme’s gone, but Mark Few found a bunch of high-octane newcomers to join returning starters Nolan Hickman and Anton Watson. Time to spin the scoreboards again.
16. Kentucky: It’s been a while since John Calipari’s bunch has made a national splash. It could happen this year. The freshman class is ridiculous. There are actual seniors (Antonio Reeves and Tre Mitchell) on the roster. UK is back.
17. Illinois: The Illini were supposed to be tough last year, but they sagged. Terrence Shannon Jr is back to make ’23-24 different. He’s joined by the usual strong cast of transfers. If Illinois can shoot it, plenty of wins will follow.
18. Miami: Wonder why Jim Larrañaga keeps hanging around Coral Gables? It’s teams like this. Nijel Pack is a top-shelf guard, Norchad Omier can cause big problems inside, and wing Wooga Poplar is ready for big things.
19. Texas A&M: The Aggies waited until after the calendar turned to 2023 last season to play their best ball. There should be no delay this season, thanks to point man Wade Taylor IV and three other returning starters.
20. Arkansas: Mr. Transfer is at it once again in Fayetteville. Eric Musselman imported seven players from other schools, with Tramon Mark and Khalif Battle expected to team with returnee Davonte Davis in a potent backcourt.
21. San Diego State: The Aztecs lost a lot, but they will still grind and defend and fight. That’s worth a lot. Lamont Butler leads four key holdovers, and USC transfer Reese Dixon has plenty of talent.
22. Texas: High-scoring Oral Roberts transfer Max Abmas brings serious juice to the Longhorns’ attack. Rodney Terry is now the full-time boss, and he has guard Tyrese Hunter and forward Dylan Disu as featured performers.
23. UCLA: Presenting the most interesting roster in college hoops. The Bruins are filled with international players, could start two centers, and could look like a Euro professional team, style-wise. They might even try to play with one of those orange-and-white FIBA basketballs.
24. Virginia: The Cavs lost in the first round again last year. When that happened in 2018, they won it all the following season. It will be about defense again at UVA, with Reece Beekman up top and a bunch of stingy friends around him.
25. St. John’s: Fast-talking Rick Pitino spent the offseason convincing a pile of high-scoring transfers to join potent pivot Joel Soriano in Queens. Jordan Dingle and Chris Ledlum were Ivy League killers, and Daniss Jenkins was a big producer at Iona.
Duke fans, this one’s for you. Get your copy of SLAM 247 copy and cover tees.
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