The main thing you need to know about the first CBS Sports Preseason Top 25 And 1 for the 2022-23 season is that it's literally never been more difficult to project rosters than it is right now considering A) everybody except the so-called super seniors still has a year of eligibility remaining, B) the one-time transfer waiver has created interesting options for nearly anybody interested in exploring them, C) name, image and likeness rights are serving as a recruiting tool to keep NBA prospects in school, and D) there's a land war happening in Europe.
All of those things combine to create confusion.
Role players at big schools are looking for more significant roles at smaller schools. Star players at small schools are looking for larger stages on which to perform. Prospects who would've definitely left school five years ago are now considering NLI deals that could be more lucrative than pro contracts. And players who might otherwise be willing to leave school for overseas opportunities might now be hesitant to do so because of the war in Ukraine.
There's A LOT going on.
So please take this for what it is — which is merely an educated guess, based on conversations with countless people throughout the sport, on how things could look heading into next season. Needless to say, some of the players I'm currently projecting to return will actually leave, and some of the players I'm currently projecting to leave will actually return. And some schools that aren't ranked in Version 1.0 of the Top 25 And 1 will eventually be ranked because of players added via the transfer portal in the coming weeks and months. As I do every offseason, I'll update these rankings whenever developments require it. But, for now, UCLA will start at No 1 in the Top 25 And 1 based on the idea that the Bruins should return three starters from a Sweet 16 team and add a top-10 recruiting class highlighted by 5-star prospects Amari Bailey and Adem Bona. This will obviously require Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez to pass on entering the 2022 NBA Draft, which isn't guaranteed. But if they do, there's a good chance UCLA will begin next season ranked No. 1 thanks to a great blend of proven college players and legitimate NBA talent.
Never-too-early 2022-23 Top 25 And 1 rankings
|The Bruins' ranking is based on multiyear starters Johnny Juzang, Jamie Jaquez and Tyger Campbell returning to school and being joined by a top-10 recruiting class highlighted by 5-star prospects Amari Bailey and Adem Bona. If things break that way, UCLA should have a real chance to win what would be the school's 12th national title.||9||31-6|
|The Tar Heels' ranking is based on North Carolina returning every rotation player except for Brady Manek - among them All-American Armando Bacot and NCAA Tournament star Caleb Love, neither of whom is a projected first-round pick. As long as things go that way, Hubert Davis will have a roster good enough to make back-to-back Final Fours.||NR||20-13|
|The Wildcats' ranking is based on CBS Sports National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe returning to school alongside fellow starters Sahvir Wheeler and Keion Brooks, the latter of whom has declared for the NBA Draft but is maintaining his college eligibility. For now, I'm projecting 5-star guard Shaedon Sharpe to enter and remain in the NBA Draft considering he's a projected top-10 pick - but, let the record show, John Calipari's Wildcats could move to No. 1 if Sharpe ultimately decides to play next season at UK.||5||22-12|
|The Bears' ranking is based on LJ Cryer, Adam Flagler and Matthew Mayer returning to school while Kendall Brown and Jeremy Sohan enter the NBA Draft. The addition of 5-star guard Keyonte George should give Baylor one of the sport's best backcourts and a chance to win a third straight Big 12 title.||--||23-11|
|The Cougars' ranking is based on Houston returning a core featuring both players it lost to injury in December (Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark) plus Jamal Shead. That's three double-digit scorers Kelvin Sampson should have to pair with Jarace Walker, a 5-star freshman who is among the reasons Houston will once again be the favorite in the AAC.||14||33-4|
|The Razorbacks' ranking is based on Arkansas returning three of the top five scorers from a team that advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year - among them Jaylin Williams and Davonte Davis. Eric Musselman will add three 5-star prospects to that core and have a group good enough to get Arkansas back to the Final Four for the first time since 1995.||10||22-14|
|The Bulldogs' ranking is based on Gonzaga returning five of the top eight scorers from a team that finished first at KenPom - among them All-American Drew Timme. That would provide Mark Few with a strong veteran core that will surely be supported, as always, by additions from the transfer portal.||6||31-6|
|The Jayhawks' ranking is based on Kansas losing Ochai Agbaji, Christian Braun and David McCormack even though each has eligibility remaining, which seems to be what most are expecting. But Bill Self should still have a core of Jalen Wilson, Dajuan Harris and Joseph Yusefu to combine with a top-five recruiting class highlighted by 5-star prospects Gradey Dick, MJ Rice and Ernest Udeh.||5||28-8|
|The Blue Devils' ranking is based on Duke losing five players early to the NBA Draft - namely Paolo Banchero, AJ Griffin, Mark Williams, Wendell Moore and Trevor Keels. But first-year coach Jon Scheyer has set himself up for success by securing the nation's top-ranked recruiting class, one that includes 5-star prospects Dereck Lively, Kyle Filiiipowski, Dariq Whitehead and Mark Mitchell.||--||27-9|
|The Volunteers' ranking is based on Tennessee returning four of its top five scorers - among them Santiago Vescovi and Josiah-Jordan James. Tennessee will miss presumed one-and-done point guard Kennedy Chandler but should still be a factor near the top of the SEC.||5||25-11|
|The Wildcats' ranking is based on Arizona returning every relevant player from its Pac-12 championship team except for Bennedict Mathurin, Christian Koloko and Justin Kier. A core of Azuolas Tubelis, Kerr Kriisa and Dalen Terry should keep the Wildcats a part of the national conversation.||9||28-7|
|The Wolverines' ranking is based on a returning core of Hunter Dickinson, Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate, each of whom is a nice college player but nothing resembling a sure-fire first-round pick. For that reason, I'll assume for now that they're all back at Michigan, which could then be the favorite in the Big Ten.||NR||18-16|
|The Tigers' ranking is based on Auburn losing Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler to the NBA Draft but otherwise returning the top scorers from a team that earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. That core could be joined by a top-15 recruiting class highlighted by Yohan Traore, a 5-star center who should help offset the loss of Kessler.||7||21-13|
|The Bluejays' ranking is based on Creighton returning five of the top seven scorers from a team that advanced to the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament. Assuming that happens, Greg McDermott will have a roster good enough to win the Big East for the second time in school history.||NR||24-13|
|The Wildcats' ranking is based on Villanova returning six of the top nine scorers from its Final Four team - among them Brandon Slater and Caleb Daniels, both of whom have an extra year of eligibility remaining and could be persuaded to return in part because of an Achilles injury that will likely sideline Justin Moore for the season. To his core, Jay Wright will add a top-15 recruiting class highlighted by 5-star prospect Cam Whitmore, who should help the Wildcats make the NCAA Tournament for the 10th straight time.||8||17-17|
|The Horned Frogs' ranking is based on TCU returning four of the top six scorers from a team that played in the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament - among them double-digit scorers Damian Baugh and Emmanuel Miller. That experienced core could allow the Horned Frogs to finish in the top three of the Big 12 standings for the first time in history.||NR||22-13|
|The Aggies' ranking is based on Texas A&M returning every relevant player -- besides Quenton Jackson -- who helped the Aggies make the championship game of the NIT. Buzz Williams made the NCAA Tournament in Year 4 at both Marquette and Virginia Tech and should do the same at Texas A&M.||NR||25-10|
|The Spartans' ranking is based on Michigan State returning seven of the top nine scorers from a team that advanced to the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament - among them Max Christie, who has declared for the NBA Draft but could return to school considering he's not a projected first-round pick. If Christie is back, the hope would be that he takes a sophomore-year leap similar to the one Purdue's Jaden Ivey and Wisconsin's Johnny Davis made this season.||6||21-13|
|The Hoosiers' ranking is based on Indiana returning the top three scorers from a team that made the NCAA Tournament - among them Trayce Jackson-Davis, who could be a candidate for Big Ten Player of the Year. Indiana's recruiting class is ranked in the top 20 and highlighted by 5-star guard Jalen Hood-Schifino.||NR||23-12|
|The Rams' ranking is based on Colorado State's top four scorers returning - among them Mountain West Conference Play of the Year David Roddy, who has declared for the NBA Draft but could return to school considering there's no guarantee he'd be selected. With Roddy back, the Rams would be considered the preseason favorite in the MWC.||3||15-18|
|The Trojans' ranking is based on USC returning the top three scorers from a team that earned a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament - namely Isaiah Mobley, Boogie Ellis and Drew Peterson, each of whom averaged at least 12.4 points per game. They'll be joined by a top-10 recruiting class highlighted by 5-star prospect Vince Iwuchukwu.||4||22-11|
|The Crimson Tide's ranking is based on Alabama returning four of its top eight scorers from an NCAA Tournament team - among them Noah Gurley and Charles Bediako. Nate Oats should combine that core with a top-five recruiting class featuring two 5-star prospects.||NR||31-6|
|The Flyers' ranking is based on Dayton returning the top eight scorers from a team that just missed the NCAA Tournament - among them double-digit scorers Daron Holmes and Toumani Camara. If Anthony Grant can keep his talented freshmen out of the transfer portal, the Flyers' future is bright in the Atlantic 10.||NR||22-12|
|The Boilermakers' ranking is based on Purdue returning three of the top seven scorers from a team that made the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament - among them All-American candidate Zach Edey. Admittedly, that's not a lot -- but Matt Painter deserves the benefit of the doubt based on the consistency with which he runs his program.||13||29-6|
|The Cowboys' ranking is based on Oklahoma State returning three of the top four scorers from a team that finished 34th at KenPom despite having its postseason hopes ripped away in the preseason. If Isaac Likekele decides to use his extra year of eligibility, OSU could start the season even higher.||NR||20-16|
|The Billikens' ranking is based on Saint Louis returning all five starters - among them backcourt mates Yuri Collins and Gibson Jimerson. Travis Ford should have SLU in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in a four-tournament span.||NR||21-12|