2018-19 college basketball rankings: Way-too-early projection has Kansas and Duke at top

SAN ANTONIO -- Villanova won the national championship via a 79-62 victory over Michigan late Monday. I'm sure you've heard. So the 2017-18 college basketball season is over. Which means it's time to start looking ahead to the 2018-19 season — where I expect the Kansas Jayhawks to be the preseason favorite to win the national championship.

Put simply, KU should be loaded — even with Malik Newman and Lagerald Vick leaving early -- and that's because Dedric Lawson, K.J. Lawson and Charlie Moore are all eligible, because four of the top eight scorers are expected back, and because Bill Self is about to enroll a top-five recruiting class highlighted by five-star guard Quentin Grimes. That's the projection right now, at least, which is what this entire Ridiculously Early Preseason CBS Sports Top 25 (and one) represents.

It's a projection.

Obviously, some of the players I think are leaving school will remain in school. And some of the players I think are remaining in school will leave. And teams will add meaningful players over the next few months. As always, when news suggests these rankings need adjusting, I'll adjust.

But, for now, here is the Top 25 (and one).

1. Kansas

  • Coach: Bill Self
  • 2017-18 record: 33-7
  • Notable players definitely gone: Devonte' Graham, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Malik Newman, Lagerald Vick
  • Other expected departures: None
  • Notable players expected to return: Udoka Azubuike, Marcus Garrett, Mitch Lightfoot, Silvio De Sousa, Sam Cunliffe
  • Expected additions: Dedric Lawson, K.J. Lawson, Charlie Moore, Quentin Grimes, Devon Dotson, David McCormack, Ochai Agbaji
  • Why the Jayhawks are ranked here: Bill Self will once again have a roster loaded with talent and experience — the kind that makes the Jayhawks the clear favorite to win a 15th straight Big 12 title. Former Memphis star Dedric Lawson should be a double-double nightmare for opponents right from the jump. And the arrival of five-star guards Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson makes the losses of Malik Newman and Lagerald Vick less of a big deal.

2. Duke

  • Coach: Mike Krzyzewski
  • 2017-18 record: 29-8
  • Notable players definitely gone: Marvin Bagley III, Grayson Allen, Trevon Duval, Gary Trent, Wendell Carter
  • Other expected departures: None
  • Notable players expected to return: Marques Bolden, Javin DeLaurier, Alex O'Connell, Justin Robinson, Antonio Vrankovic, Jordan Goldwire, Jack White
  • Expected additions: R.J. Barrett, Cameron Reddish, Zion Williamson, Tre Jones
  • Why the Blue Devils are ranked here: Duke is losing its entire starting lineup. But the recruiting class is again loaded thanks to commitments from the No. 1 (R.J. Barrett), No. 2 (Cameron Reddish) and No. 3 (Zion Williamson) prospects in the Class of 2018. So the Blue Devils should be factors on the national stage again -- especially if they enroll an impactful graduate transfer this offseason.
  • Coach: Jay Wright
  • 2017-18 record: 36-4
  • Notable players definitely gone: Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges
  • Other expected departures: Omari Spellman
  • Notable players expected to return: Donte DiVincenzo, Eric Paschall, Phil Booth, Collin Gillespie, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, Jermaine Samuels, Tim Delaney, Dylan Painter
  • Expected additions: Jahvon Quinerly, Cole Swider, Brandon Slater
  • Why the Wildcats are ranked here: Even if Villanova loses Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges and Omari Spellman — all of which seems likely — they're still going to be a threat to make a third Final Four in a four-year span because Donte DiVincenzo, Eric Paschall and Phil Booth are ready for stardom. Beyond that, Jay Wright has a top-15 recruiting class highlighted by Jahvon Quinerly set to enroll. So the Wildcats aren't going anywhere.
  • Coach: Rick Barnes
  • 2017-18 record: 26-9
  • Notable players definitely gone: James Daniel
  • Other expected departures: None
  • Notable players expected to return: Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield, Lamonte Turner, Jordan Bowden, Jordan Bone, Kyle Alexander, Chris Darrington, John Fulkerson, Derrick Walker, Zach Kent, Jalen Johnson, Yves Pons
  • Expected additions: None
  • Why the Vols are ranked here: Tennessee, like Auburn, should return most of the important pieces from a team that shared the SEC regular-season title. More specifically, the top six scorers are back — among them SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams. So it'll come as no surprise when the Vols finish at, or near, the top of the league again.
  • Coach: John Calipari
  • 2017-18 record: 26-11
  • Notable players definitely gone: Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, Sacha Killeya-Jones, Tai Wynyard
  • Other expected departures: None
  • Notable players expected to return: PJ Washington, Quade Green, Wenyan Gabriel, Jarred Vanderbilt, Nick Richards, Brad Calipari, Jemarl Baker
  • Expected additions: Keldon Johnson, Immanuel Quickly, Tyler Herro, E.J. Montgomery
  • Why the Wildcats are ranked here: It's obviously unclear what Kentucky's roster will look like come November -- especially considering they could add pieces. But it does seem like UK will retain more five-star freshmen than usual. And the recruiting class is strong again. So John Calipari should have a team good enough to make the Final Four for the fifth time in 10 years.
  • Notable players definitely gone: Johnathan Williams III, Silas Melson
  • Others expected to leave: None
  • Notable players expected to return: Killian Tillie, Zach Norvell, Josh Perkins, Rui Hachimura, Corey Kispert, Jacob Larsen, Jeremy Jones, Jesse Wade
  • Expected additions: Joel Ayayi, Brandon Clark, Filip Petrusev, Greg Foster
  • Why the Bulldogs are ranked here: Gonzaga has finished in the top 25 at KenPom each of the past seven years — and in the top 10 in three of the past four. So the Zags are an undeniable benefit-of-the-doubt team. Sure, they lost their leading scorer in Johnathan Williams III. But they'll still be a top-10 team and WCC power as long as Killian Tillie remains in school.
  • Coach: Tony Bennett
  • 2017-18 record: 31-3
  • Notable players definitely gone: Devon Hall, Isaiah Wilkins, Nigel Johnson
  • Other expected departures: None
  • Notable players expected to return: Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, De'Andre Hunter, Mamadi Diakite, Jack Salt, Jay Huff, Marco Anthony
  • Expected additions: Kody Stattmann, Kihei Clark
  • Why the Cavaliers are ranked here: Virginia's historic loss to UMBC in the NCAA Tournament was a less-than-ideal way to end the season. But it shouldn't make anybody forget that Tony Bennett's team put together the nation's best resume in advance of Selection Sunday. They were terrific most of the season. And seven of the top 10 players from that team should be back to help Virginia compete for another ACC title.
  • Coach: Roy Williams
  • 2017-18 record: 26-11
  • Notable players definitely gone: Joel Berry, Theo Pinson
  • Other expected departures: None
  • Notable players expected to return: Luke Maye, Cameron Johnson, Kenny Williams, Sterling Manley, Garrison Brooks, Andrew Platek, Brandon Robinson, Brandon Huffman, Seventh Woods, Shea Rush
  • Expected additions: Nassir Little, Coby White, Rechon Black
  • Why the Tar Heels are ranked here: With the NCAA cloud no longer hovering, UNC is back to recruiting like UNC — evidence being that the Tar Heels got commitments from five-star prospects Nassir Little and Coby White. Those two will pair with veterans like Luke Maye, Cameron Johnson and Kenny Williams to put Roy Williams in a position to maybe win a fourth national title. And Maye could be a First-Team All-American if he averages 16.9 points and 10.1 rebounds again.

9. Auburn

  • Coach: Bruce Pearl
  • 2017-18 record: 26-8
  • Notable players definitely gone: Mustapha Heron, Davion Mitchell, Desean Murray
  • Other expected departures: None
  • Notable players expected to return: Bryce Brown, Austin Wiley, Danjel Purifoy, Jared Harper, Chuma Okeke, Anfernee McLemore, Horace Spencer, Malik Dunbar
  • Expected additions: Samir Doughty
  • Why the Tigers are ranked here: The Tigers were set to return the top eight scorers from a team that shared the SEC regular-season title — until Mustapha Heron announced he's hiring an agent and entering the NBA Draft. So that's a blow. Because he was Bruce Pearl's leading scorer. But Auburn is still expected to get Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy back from suspensions. So the Tigers should still have a chance to win consecutive SEC titles.

10. Nevada

  • Coach: Eric Musselman
  • 2017-18 record: 29-8
  • Notable players definitely gone: Kendall Stephens, Elijah Foster, Hallice Cooke, Darien Williams
  • Other expected departures: None
  • Notable players expected to return: Caleb Martin, Jordan Caroline, Cody Martin, Lindsey Drew, Josh Hall, Charlie Tooley
  • Expected additions: K.J. Hymes, Vincent Lee, Nisre' Zouzoua, Jazz Johnson, Tre'Shawn Thurman, Corey Henson
  • Why the Wolf Pack are ranked here: This ranking is based on Caleb and Cody Martin returning. If they don't, Nevada won't be in the top 10. But with the twins — who combined to average 32.9 points and 11.7 rebounds this season — on the roster this is a team built to run through the Mountain West Conference again and advance to a second straight Sweet 16.
  • Coach: Tom Izzo
  • 2017-18 record: 30-5
  • Notable players definitely gone: Miles Bridges, Jaren Jackson, Gavin Schilling, Tum Tum Nairn, Ben Carter
  • Other expected departures: None
  • Notable players expected to return: Cassius Winston, Nick Ward, Joshua Langford, Matt McQuaid, Xavier Tillman, Kenny Goins, Kyle Ahrens
  • Expected additions: Marcus Bingham, Foster Loyer, Gabe Brown, Aaron Henry, Thomas Kithier
  • Why the Spartans are ranked here: The losses of Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson to the NBA Draft will hurt. But it's not like Tom Izzo didn't have time to prepare for that development. And there are still enough nice pieces in East Lansing — plus a top-15 recruiting class on the way — to make the Spartans the favorite to win back-to-back Big Ten regular-season titles. Cassius Winston will be the leading returning scorer. He averaged 12.6 points in 28.1 minutes per game this season.
  • Coach: Bruce Weber
  • 2017-18 record: 25-12
  • Notable players definitely gone: Brian Patrick
  • Other expected departures: None
  • Notable players expected to return: Dean Wade, Barry Brown, Xavier Sneed, Kamau Stokes, Cartier Diarra, Makol Mawien, Mawdo Sallah, Mike McGuirl, Amaad Wainwright, Levi Stockard III
  • Expected additions: Shaun Williams, Austin Trice
  • Why the Wildcats are ranked here: Every player from KSU's 25-win team that advanced to the Elite Eight of the 2018 NCAA Tournament is expected back. So it's hard not to have Bruce Weber's team somewhere in the top 15. Remember, they could've made the Final Four if Dean Wade was never injured. So don't be surprised if Kansas State is the biggest threat to Kansas' string of Big 12 titles.
  • Coach: Buzz Williams
  • 2017-18 record: 21-12
  • Notable players definitely gone: Justin Bibbs, Devin Wilson
  • Other expected departures: None
  • Notable players expected to return: Justin Robinson, Kerry Blackshear Jr., Nickel Alexander-Walker, Ahmed Hill, Chris Clarke, P.J. Horne, Kyrie Jackson, Wabissa Beade, Ty Outlaw
  • Expected additions: Landers Nolley, Jarren McAllister, Jon Kabongo, Khadim Sy
  • Why the Hokies are ranked here: Justin Bibbs was a double-digit scorer. So losing him matters. But just about every other meaningful piece from a team that earned a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament should be back — including Justin Robinson, who averaged 14.0 points in 30.9 minutes per game this season. Bottom line, this is expected to be Buzz Williams' best team in five years at Virginia Tech. A top-four finish in the ACC is very possible.
  • Coach: Leonard Hamilton
  • 2017-18 record: 23-12
  • Notable players definitely gone: Braian Angola, Brandon Allen, CJ Walker
  • Other expected departures: None
  • Notable players expected to return: Phil Cofer, Terance Mann, Trent Forrest, Mfiondu Kabengele, M.J. Walker, PJ Savoy, Christ Koumadje, Ike Obiagu, Wyatt Wilkes, Anthony Polite
  • Expected additions: Devin Vassell, RaiQuan Gray,
  • Why the Seminoles are ranked here: Leonard Hamilton had FSU one win away from the Final Four, and now his top two players from that team are expected back. Yes, I know Phil Cofer was technically a senior this season. But Florida State has submitted a waiver request for a fifth year considering Cofer only played 123 minutes in the 2015-16 season. If it's granted, and most believe it will be, then Florida State should be in the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive year.
  • Coach: Ben Howland
  • 2017-18 record: 25-12
  • Notable players definitely gone: Xavian Stapleton, Eli Wright
  • Other expected departures: None
  • Notable players expected to return: Quinndary Weatherspoon, Aric Holman, Nick Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters, Tyson Carter, Abdul Ado, Nick Singleton, E.J. Datcher, KeyShawn Feazell
  • Expected additions: Reggie Perry, Robert Woodard, DJ Stewart, Jethro Tshisumpa
  • Why the Bulldogs are ranked here: Everybody from a 25-win team that advanced to the semifinals of the NIT should be back, which makes Mississippi State a factor in the SEC and likely NCAA Tournament team for the first time under Ben Howland. Among the returning players is Quinndary Weatherspoon, who averaged a team-high 14.4 points and 6.0 rebounds this season. His brother, Nick, averaged 10.8 points while shooting 47.9 percent from the field.
  • Coach: Mark Turgeon
  • 2017-18 record: 19-13
  • Notable players definitely gone: Justin Jackson, Jared Nickens, Michal Cekovsky, Sean Obi, Dion Wiley
  • Other expected departures: None
  • Notable players expected to return: Anthony Cowan, Kevin Huerter, Bruno Fernando, Darryl Morsell, Ivan Bender, Joshua Tomaic
  • Expected additions: Jalen Smith, Aaron Wiggins, Eric Ayala, Schnider Herard, Serrell Smith
  • Why the Terrapins are ranked here: The Terrapins belong in the Top 25 (and one) because they're expected to return the top three scorers from a top-40 KenPom team — most notably Anthony Cowan, who averaged a team-high 15.8 points and 5.1 assists this season. Bruno Fernando has NBA potential. So a breakout season from him won't be shocking. And the prediction here is that Maryland competes at the top of the Big Ten and maybe even wins it.
  • Coach: Bob Huggins
  • 2017-18 record: 26-11
  • Notable players definitely gone: Jevon Carter, Daxter Miles, D'Angelo Hunter
  • Other expected departures: None
  • Notable players expected to return: Sagaba Konate, Esa Ahmad, Lamont West, James Bolden, Teddy Allen, Wesley Harris, Chase Harler, Maciej Bender, Logan Routt
  • Expected additions: Jordan McCabe, Derek Culver, Trey Doomes, Andrew Gordon, Brandon Knapper
  • Why the Mountaineers are ranked here: The Mountaineers lose a lot from that 26-win team — most notably Jevon Carter. But West Virginia has never finished outside of the top 25 since Bob Huggins committed to "Press Virginia" before the 2014-15 season. So there's no reason to think they'll slip too much even with key players gone.

18. Oregon

  • Coach: Dana Altman
  • 2017-18 record: 23-13
  • Notable players definitely gone: Elijah Brown, MiKyle McIntosh, Roman Sorkin
  • Other expected departures: Troy Brown
  • Notable players expected to return: Payton Pritchard, Paul White, Victor Bailey, Kenny Wooten, Keith Smith, M.J. Cage, Abu Kigab
  • Expected additions: Bol Bol, Louis King, Will Richardson, Miles Norris
  • Why the Ducks are ranked here: Oregon is set to enroll the nation's No. 2 recruiting class that's highlighted by possible one-and-done prospects Bol Bol and Louis King. Combine that with the return of leading scorer Payton Pritchard, and Dana Altman's Ducks should be the favorite to win the Pac-12 while Arizona goes through a total rebuild.

19. UCLA

  • Coach: Steve Alford
  • 2017-18 record: 21-12
  • Notable players definitely gone: Aaron Holiday, Thomas Welsh, Gyorgy Goloman
  • Other expected departures: None
  • Notable players expected to return: Kris Wilkes, Jaylen Hands, Prince Ali, Alex Olesinski, Chris Smith, Cody Riley, Jalen Hill
  • Expected additions: Shareef O'Neal, Jules Bernard, David Singleton, Kenneth Nwuba, Moses Brown, Tiger Campbell
  • Why the Bruins are ranked here: Steve Alford has secured consecutive top-five recruiting classes, which gives him the talent necessary to make the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in six years at UCLA. The star of this class is Moses Brown, a 7-foot center from New York. He's one of five top-75 prospects enrolling at UCLA, where Kris Wilkes is expected to be the Bruins' leading returning scorer. He averaged 13.7 points and 4.9 rebounds this season.

20. LSU

  • Coach: Will Wade
  • 2017-18 record: 18-15
  • Notable players definitely gone: Duop Reath, Aaron Epps, Randy Onwuasor, Jeremy Combs, Mayan Kiir, Galen Alexander
  • Others expected to leave: None
  • Notable players expected to return: Tremont Waters, Skylar Mays, Brandon Sampson, Daryl Edwards, Wayde Sims, Brandon Rachal,
  • Expected additions: Naz Reid, Ja'Vonte Smart, Darius Days, Emmitt Williams, Kavell Bigby-Williams
  • Why the Tigers are ranked here: Will Wade's effective recruiting has totally rebuilt LSU's roster and made it one of the SEC's most talented. Tremont Waters is terrific and should be an SEC Player of the Year candidate. And the arrival of a top-five class highlighted by Naz Reid and Emmitt Williams gives the Tigers a real chance to go from the bottom half of the SEC to somewhere near the top in a span of just one year.

21. TCU

  • Coach: Jamie Dixon
  • 2017-18 record: 21-12
  • Notable players definitely gone: Vladimir Brodziansky, Kenrich Williams, Ahmed Hamdy
  • Other expected departures: None
  • Notable players expected to return: Desmond Bane, Jaylen Fisher, Kouat Noi, Alex Robinson, JD Miller, Shawn Olden, RJ Nembhard
  • Expected additions: Kevin Samuel, Kaden Archie, Kendric Davis, Russell Barlow, Yuat Alok, Angus McWilliam, Lat Mayen
  • Why the Horned Frogs are ranked here: Jamie Dixon guided TCU to the NCAA Tournament in just his second season, and he should do it again in this third even though he's losing his top two scorers. Either Desmond Bayne or Jaylen Fisher will emerge as TCU's new leading scorer. Both averaged more than 12 points this season as sophomores.
  • Coach: John Beilein
  • 2017-18 record: 33-8
  • Notable players definitely gone: Moritz Wagner, Muhammad-Ali Abdur Rahkman, Duncan Robinson, Jaaron Simmons, Ibi Watson
  • Other expected departures: None
  • Notable players expected to return: Charles Matthews, Zavier Simpson, Jordan Poole, Isaiah Livers, Jon Teske, Eli Brooks, Austin Davis
  • Expected additions: Brandon Johns, Ignas Brazdeikis, David DeJulius, Colin Castleton, Adrien Nunez
  • Why the Wolverines are ranked here: Michigan, even with the unsurprising loss of Mo Wagner, still belongs in the Top 25 (and one) -- as long as Charles Matthews doesn't also jump early to the NBA Draft. The Kentucky transfer averaged 13.1 points and 5.6 rebounds this season. His development under John Beilein, like most players' development under the top-shelf coach, has been noticeable.

23. Clemson

  • Coach: Brad Brownell
  • 2017-18 record: 25-10
  • Notable players definitely gone: Gabe DeVoe, Donte Grantham, Mark Donnal
  • Other expected departures: None
  • Notable players expected to return: Marcquise Reed, Shelton Mitchell, Elijah Thomas, Aamir Simms, David Skara, Anthony Oliver II, Clyde Trapp, Malik William, Scott Spencer
  • Expected additions: John Newman, Trey Jamison, Hunter Tyson
  • Why the Tigers are ranked here: Clemson is losing two of the top three scorers from a 25-win team that finished in the top 15 at KenPom. But the Tigers played down the stretch without Donte Grantham — meaning they proved to be good even without him. And with four of the top six scorers back — among them Marcquise Reed, who averaged 15.8 points in 34.9 minutes per game this season —the expectation is for Clemson to be good again.
  • Coach: Mick Cronin
  • 2017-18 record: 31-5
  • Notable players definitely gone: Gary Clark, Kyle Washington
  • Other expected departures: Jacob Evans
  • Notable players expected to return: Jarron Cumberland, Cane Broome, Justin Jenifer, Trevor Moore, Keith Williams, Tre Scott, Nysier Brooks, Eliel Nsoseme, Mamoudou Diarra
  • Expected additions: Logan Johnson, LaQuill Hardnett
  • Why the Bearcats are ranked here: The loss of Jacob Evans early to the NBA Draft isn't necessarily a killer. But it hurts. And I realize Cincinnati's roster might not scream Top 25 (and one). But Mick Cronin has led the Bearcats to eight straight NCAA Tournaments largely with unheralded prospects. So I'm simply trusting him to do it again.

25. Purdue

  • Coach: Matt Painter
  • 2017-18 record: 30-7
  • Notable players definitely gone: Vince Edwards, Isaac Haas, Dakota Mathias, P.J. Thompson
  • Other expected departures: None
  • Notable players expected to return: Carsen Edwards, Matt Haarms, Nojel Eastern, Ryan Cline, Sasha Stefanovic, Aaron Wheeler, Grady Eifert, Jacquil Taylor
  • Expected additions: Evan Boudreaux, Trevion Williams, Eric Hunter, Emmanuel Dowuona
  • Why the Boilermakers are ranked here: My first version of the Top 25 (and one) had Purdue out and Penn State in the teens. But Tony Carr's announcement that he's entering the NBA Draft pushed me to remove the Nittany Lions — and Purdue took the open spot. The Boilermakers lost a lot, sure. But they still have Carsen Edwards and some other interesting pieces. In time, we'll see if it's enough.
  • Coach: Jim Boeheim
  • 2017-18 record: 23-14
  • Notable players definitely gone: Matthew Moyer
  • Other expected departures: None
  • Notable players expected to return: Tyus Battle, Oshae Brissett, Frank Howard, Marek Dolezaj, Paschal Chukwu, Bourama Sidibe
  • Expected additions: Jalen Carey, Buddy Boeheim, Elijah Hughes
  • Why the Orange are ranked here: The top six scorers from a team that finished 41st at KenPom and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament will be back -- as long as Tyus Battle doesn't leave Syracuse early. That's still on the table, I'm told. But, for now, the expectation is that Battle returns to give Jim Boeheim a team good enough to compete for another Sweet 16.
CBS Sports Insider

Gary Parrish is an award-winning college basketball columnist and television analyst for CBS Sports who also hosts the highest-rated afternoon drive radio show in Memphis, where he lives with his wife... Full Bio

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