2023 March Madness is officially in the books. After weeks of madness, the UConn Huskies defeated the San Diego Aztecs 76-59 on Monday. With this result, the Huskies took home their fifth national title, the first since 2014.
In the process, UConn won games against Iona, No. 19 Saint Mary's, Arkansas, No. 9 Gonzaga, and No. 16 Miami (FL) before facing the Aztecs. Notably, the team beat all of its opponents by double digits, including a 28-point victory against the heavy-favorite Bulldogs in the Elite 8.
While the 2023 championship game is still very fresh in fans' minds, it is never too early to think about the next March Madness. With so many changes happening, from recruiting to departures, many programs can emerge as favorites throughout the upcoming season.
With that being said, here are some contenders for the 2024 men's national championship, ranked.
4. Kansas Jayhawks
One team that many predicted to win it all in 2023 was the reigning champion Kansas Jayhawks. Unfortunately for them, things were far from perfect.
The team failed to win the Big 12 Tournament and fell to Arkansas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament despite being a No. 1 seed.
As for 2023-24, the Jayhawks will lose two key players. Gradey Dick and Jalen Wilson have declared for the 2023 NBA Draft and should hear their names called in the event. Even with their departures, Kansas has a good chance of going back to the top in 2024.
The Jayhawks are bringing McDonald's All-American Elmarko Jackson, a top-20 player in this recruiting class. They also signed Chris Johnson, who is the No. 24 player in the class of 2023 by ESPN.
Most importantly, Kansas will still have head coach Bill Self on the sidelines. He will be in his 21st season with the program and has led the Jayhawks to four Final Fours and two national titles. With him, Kansas remains a team to keep an eye on.
3. UConn Huskies
While the Huskies still have plenty of time to celebrate, they should also be thinking about winning the trophy again in 2024. They will try to be the first team to win back-to-back titles since the Florida Gators did so in 2006 and 2007.
The problem is that UConn will be without Jordan Hawkins, who averaged 16.2 points per game this season. The guard is projected to go in the first round of this year's draft, which should hurt the Huskies moving forward.
Perhaps the biggest question mark is the situation surrounding Adama Sanogo. The NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player still has some years of eligibility left and has yet to officially announce his plans. After putting up 17.2 points and 7.7 rebounds and leading the team to the championship, Sanogo could end up going pro.
As of now, he is still part of the program. Because of that, the Huskies remain a March Madness contender in the 2023-24 season.
2. Kentucky Wildcats
In the past three March Madness editions combined, the Kentucky Wildcats have won just one game. For the 2023-24 season, they will be suffering major changes.
Cason Wallace, Jacob Toppin and Sahvir Wheeler are officially leaving. Oscar Tshiebwe could also be declaring for the draft soon while many other players could follow him.
Despite their departures, Kentucky has a great chance of being a real contender in 2024. Most notably, the team had the No. 1 recruiting class for the upcoming season. The Wildcats landed McDonald’s All-American freshmen Aaron Bradshaw, Justin Edwards, Reed Sheppard and DJ Wagner. They also added top-10 prospect Rob Dillingham.
With such a talented recruiting class, Kentucky could be at the top of the rankings even with the lack of collegiate experience. Also, with John Calipari returning for his 15th season with the program, the Wildcats should be one of the most intriguing teams in 2023-24.
1. Duke Blue Devils
Finally, another powerhouse that could be contending for a title in 2024 is Duke. After falling to No. 20 Tennessee in the second round of the tournament, the Blue Devils have many reasons to think bigger this upcoming season.
Standout freshmen Tyrese Proctor and Mark Mitchell announced that they will return for their sophomore seasons. Now with more experience, both could be leaders on the team and mentor the new recruits.
As for newcomers, the Blue Devils added a handful of five-star players. Mackenzie Mgbako, Sean Stewart, Jared McCain, Caleb Foster and TJ Power are all top-20 players and could be impactful right away for Duke.
Regarding the coaching staff, 2023-24 will be Duke's second season under Jon Scheyer following four decades with Mike Krzyzewski. Now, Scheyer should be more comfortable with the role, which should be beneficial for all parties.
All things considered, the Duke Blue Devils emerge as the early top contenders for the 2024 title. With a combination of returnees, a talented recruiting class and Scheyer's second year as a head coach, Duke could be a threat in the NCAA in the 2023-24 season.