College basketball rankings: Kentucky moves up to No. 6 in the Top 25 (and one)

Significant changes can happen at any point in the season -- Ohio State's firing of Thad Matta and hiring of Chris Holtmann in June being one obvious example. So it's possible the CBS Sports Top 25 (and one) will change again before November arrives. But for now Arizona, Kansas, Michigan State, Wichita State and Louisville represent the top five.

And then Kentucky is at No. 6.

Why UK at No. 6 despite the loss of its top seven scorers?

Talent!

Yes, the Wildcats will be young and inexperienced, which isn't ideal. But they will also have more talent than anybody -- proof being that there are eight top-25 national recruits from the Classes of 2016 and 2017 on the roster. Simply put, nobody can match that. So while it's possible John Calipari will start five first-year players who might struggle (relatively speaking) early, history shows they'll likely be Final Four contenders by March once again.

The complete Top 25 (and one) is below.

Biggest Movers
Rk
Teams
 
Chg
Rcrd
1 Arizona The return of Allonzo Trier, Rawle Alkins and Dusan Ristic means Arizona has three double-digit scorers back to pair with a heralded recruiting class headlined by DeAndre Ayton and Emmanuel Akot. That means the Wildcats are both experienced and talented. And that's usually the combination that produces lots of wins and even championships. -- 32-5
2 Kansas KU is losing Frank Mason and Josh Jackson. But four of the top eight scorers should be back - and the Jayhawks will also add five-star transfer Malik Newman and five-star freshman Billy Preston. So Bill Self will likely win a 14th straight Big 12 title -- and then some. -- 31-5
3 Michigan State The most surprising -- and significant -- NBA Draft development is Miles Bridges' decision to return to Michigan State. It means four of the Spartans' top five scorers will be back. And Bridges could now become the favorite for National Player of the Year. -- 20-15
4 Wichita State Almost every relevant player from a Wichita State team that won 31 games and finished eighth at KenPom should be back -- most notably Markis McDuffie and Landry Shamet. So Wichita State will be the favorite in the American Athletic Conference in its first year in the American Athletic Conference. -- 31-5
5 Louisville If Donovan Mitchell had returned, Louisville could've been the preseason No. 1. But he isn't. So Louisville won't. But the Cardinals should still be good enough to make a Final Four -- especially with the late addition of five-star forward Brian Bowen. It would be the eighth Final Four of Rick Pitino's career. -- 25-9
6 Kentucky The late addition of Kevin Knox bolstered an already top-ranked recruiting class that should have Kentucky competing near the top of the sport again. The Wildcats will have eight five-star recruits on their roster -- most notably Hamidou Diallo, who withdrew from the NBA Draft at the deadline. So UK will be inexperienced, sure. But John Calipari will once again have more talent than anybody -- 32-6
7 Duke Grayson Allen's return gives the Blue Devils a high-level veteran to guide a top-two recruiting class featuring three five-star prospects -- namely Trevon Duvall, Gary Trent Jr. and Wendell Carter. Duval's mid-May commitment was especially important because it means the Blue Devils will have an elite natural point guard for the first time since Tyus Jones left campus in 2015. With Duval on board, Duke should be able to compete for the sixth national title of Mike Krzyzewski's career. -- 28-9
8 Villanova Don't forget that Villanova didn't have a key returning player (Phil Booth) or its best recruit (Omari Spellman) this season. But the Wildcats should have both next season. So a fifth consecutive Big East title seems likely for Jay Wright's program that has become a fixture in the national rankings. -- 32-4
9 Southern California USC has lost players early because of questionable NBA Draft decisions before. But not this year. Every relevant piece from a team that won a school-record 26 games last season is back -- most notably Bennie Boatright and Chimezie Metu. So the Trojans should be in the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year under Andy Enfield. And, if things break right, they just might have a shot at winning their first Pac-12 regular-season title since 1985. -- 26-10
10 Florida Michael White has rebuilt Florida into a real challenger to Kentucky in the SEC. Obviously, the loss of Devin Robinson early to the NBA Draft hurts. But the Gators should be at or near the top of the league standings again. -- 27-9
11 Miami (Fla.) Six of the top eight scorers are returning -- and they'll be joined by a top-10 recruiting class highlighted by five-star prospect Lonnie Walker. Consequently, the Hurricanes should be even better next season than they were this season. -- 21-12
12 North Carolina Everybody always assumed Justin Jackson was headed to the NBA, which he is. But the somewhat surprising loss of Tony Bradley after just one season is a big blow to the Tar Heels' back-to-back hopes. Bradley projected as a breakout star and possible double-double guy. His departure means the reigning national champions will be replacing four of their top five scorers. -- 33-7
13 Notre Dame Mike Brey has built Notre Dame into a consistent winner. So the losses of V.J. Beachem and Steve Vasturia will hurt. But Matt Farrell and Bonzie Colson should comprise one of the top returning inside-outside duos in the country -- 26-10
14 Minnesota Minnesota's fourth-place finish in the Big Ten was one of college basketball's biggest surprises, and most of the key players from that team are back. So Richard Pitino should be back in the NCAA Tournament in 2018. -- 24-10
15 Northwestern Northwestern making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history was among the coolest stories on Selection Sunday. Now the Wildcats are headed toward back-to-back Big Dance appearances thanks to the fact that their top five scorers are set to return. -- 24-12
16 Cincinnati Mick Cronin has guided the Bearcats to seven consecutive NCAA Tournaments. An eighth is on tap considering Jacob Evans, Kyle Washington, Gary Clark and Jarron Cumberland are back and capable of competing at or near the top of the AAC standings again. -- 30-6
17 Gonzaga Gonzaga remains involved with some graduate transfers. So the Zags' roster is far from set. But the early losses of Nigel Williams-Goss and Zach Collins to the NBA Draft will make it difficult to compete for a third 35-win season in a four-year span. Regardless, Mark Few should again have a top-25 team. Just like usual. -- 37-2
18 Baylor The loss of Johnathan Motley is huge and will prevent Baylor from having a preseason All-American. But Scott Drew will still return three of his top five scorers from a 27-win team that made the Sweet 16 and was ranked in the top 10 for much of this season. So the Bears should be in the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight season. -- 27-8
19 Alabama Nobody knew for sure how Avery Johnson would ever get things going at Alabama. And he still has to do it on the court. But recruiting is going well. And Alabama will have one of the SEC's most talented rosters thanks to a top-five recruiting class headlined by point guard Collin Sexton. -- 19-15
20 UCLA UCLA is losing four starters -- among them Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf. But Steve Alford is enrolling three top-40 national recruits. So the Bruins should be talented again. Just a matter of meshing the veterans with the newcomer -- 31-5
21 West Virginia Bob Huggins has had a top-25 team every year since he committed to a pressing style of defense in advance of the 2014-15 season. So there's no real reason to think he won't have one again. -- 28-9
22 St. Mary's Saint Mary's proved, in its NCAA Tournament loss to Arizona, that it was a legitimate top-25 team that just didn't match up well with Gonzaga. Most of the rotation from that team should return. So Saint Mary's should be back in the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in 11 years. -- 29-5
23 Xavier Trevon Bluiett's return means Xavier's roster is headlined by an All-American candidate who averaged 18.5 points last season. Combine that with a top-15 recruiting class, and the Musketeers should compete near the top of the Big East again. -- 24-14
24 Purdue The loss of Caleb Swanigan will be massive in multiple ways. But there are too many good and experienced winners on Purdue's roster to expect Matt Painter's team to slip too much, if at all. -- 27-8
25 Rhode Island Eight of the Rams' top 10 scorers are back from a team that nearly upset Oregon in the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament. So there's good reason to think the Rams will win the Atlantic 10 and return to the NCAA Tournament. -- 25-10
26 Providence Providence returns the top seven scorers from a team that made the NCAA Tournament -- among them four double-digit scorers. So Ed Cooley should be in the Field of 68 for the fifth consecutive season. -- 20-13
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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