The new college basketball season is going to tip off very soon, and that means it is time for the preseason AP Top 25 rankings. We now know where the defending champion UConn basketball program stands.
As always, there are some very interesting rankings in this year's preseason poll, which has the Kansas Jayhawks as the No. 1 team, with the Duke Blue Devils right behind them. It is not a surprise to see those teams ranked so high. However, there are a number of curious rankings, so let's dive into them.
4. San Diego State Aztecs
Coming off of a trip to the national championship game under coach Brian Dutcher, the San Diego State basketball program comes into this season ranked No. 17. Experience is huge in college basketball, and the San Diego State basketball program was proof of that last year. The Aztecs lost to a juggernaut UConn basketball team, but return a ton of experienced talent form last year's squad.
Matt Bradley, Keshad Johnson, Nathan Mensah, and Aguek Arop are significant losses for the San Diego basketball program. However, retaining players like Micah Parrish, Darrion Trammell, Jaedon LeDee and Lamont Butler is huge. Expect the Aztecs to be a factor once again in March this season.
3. Villanova Wildcats
Kyle Neptune has everything he could ask for from his Villanova basketball team's roster this year. Justin Moore should be able to play the whole season, Eric Dixon is an absolute force inside who is a proven talent in the Big East conference, and key transfers Hakim Hart, Lance Ware and TJ Bamba round out the roster really nicely.
The Villanova basketball program enters the season ranked No. 22. There are questions regarding Neptune's ability as a coach, but anything short of contending at the top of the Big East would be a disappointment with this roster.
If Neptune proves to be the right guy to replace Wright, this year's Villanova basketball team will quickly shoot up the rankings and be viewed as a contender to win the Big East, because there is no question that the talent is there.
2. UConn Huskies
The defending champion UConn basketball program comes in at No. 6, and while that is a very respectable ranking coming into the year, you can easily make the argument that they should be in the top-5, despite losing key contributors Adama Sanogo, Jordan Hawkins and Andre Jackson.
Donovan Clingan is a proven talent, and he will have to handle the increased minutes filling Sanogo's starting spot. Clingan has shown every indication that he can handle that. The Huskies have plenty of shooting as well, with Rutgers transfer Cam Spencer headlining the additions. Jackson, the do-it-all type of player and leader from last year, is the one that might be missed the most.
The UConn basketball program brings in the No. 4 recruiting class. Stephon Castle is a projected lottery pick and potential one-and-done as a guard, and Tristen Newton's return to help with ball-handling duties should not be underestimated. Castle is another that brings shooting from the outside. The other freshmen in Solomon Ball, Jaylin Stewart, Jayden Ross and Youssouf Singare all are projected to contribute off the bench. The same goes for junior Samson Johnson, who was out of the rotation due to an injury last season, but is very talented.
The Huskies are depending on youth, and that is why they are No. 6, but they are arguably more talented than last year. The experience of Clingan, Newton, Spencer and Alex Karaban combined with a ton of talented young players should have Hurley's team very competitive again this season.
1. Miami Hurricanes
It seems like some might have forgotten that Jim Larranaga's Miami basketball program finished tied atop the ACC with Virginia and made the Final Four with some impressive wins on the way. They come into the season ranked No. 13, but you could make the argument that they should be in the top-10.
While the departure of Isaiah Wong is big, the Miami basketball program is loaded with talent and should be viewed as easily the second best team in the ACC behind Duke.
This squad has legitimate national title upside. Key contributors Nijal Pack, Norchad Omier and Wooga Poplar are super talented, and when you add in Matthew Cleveland to partially fill the void of what was left by Wong, you have a team that can beat anyone. Do not sleep on the Miami basketball program this year, Larranaga will have this roster playing well once again.