The deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the NBA Draft came and went late Wednesday, and now we have a pretty good idea of exactly how most schools' rosters will look next college basketball season.
Duke's roster looks best.
Even with the loss of Brandon Ingram, the Blue Devils are returning lots of relevant players from a 25-win team -- most notably Grayson Allen. They're upgrading at point guard thanks to the enrollment of Frank Jackson. They're adding three projected top-10 picks in the 2017 NBA Draft thanks to the signings of Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden. And Amile Jefferson is back and healthy, too.
Sportsbook.ag has made Duke a significant favorite to win the 2017 NCAA Tournament, and that makes sense to me. So the Blue Devils are ranked No. 1 in the CBS Sports Preseason Top 25 (and one). They're followed by Kentucky.
The complete CBS Sports Top 25 (and one) is below:
Duke, as mentioned, is returning an All-American (Grayson Allen) and adding the nation's top-ranked recruiting class. So the Blue Devils really could start a future first-round pick at every position on a team that'll be guided by college basketball's winningest coach (Mike Krzyzewski). Needless to say, that's a great combination -- and the reason the Blue Devils are the favorites to win the national title.
Yes, Kentucky lost three underclassmen to the NBA Draft, Alex Poythress to graduation, and Marcus Lee and Charles Matthews via transfer. But the recruiting class is so strong that it's hard to justify having anybody but Duke ranked ahead of the Wildcats. They could, like the Blue Devils, start a future NBA player at every position. The backcourt of De'Aaron Fox and Malik Monk should be awesome.
Villanova is losing two important pieces -- specifically Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu. That could be challenging. But the Wildcats are still the first national champions to return their top two scorers (Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins) and a total of three starters (Hart, Jenkins and Jalen Brunson) since 2006 Florida. And 2006 Florida repeated in 2007. So Jay Wright going back-to-back isn't out of the question.
The addition of five-star wing Josh Jackson gives Kansas yet another one-and-done prospect. Combine him with that better-than-most-think backcourt of Frank Mason and Devonte' Graham, and other veterans like Landen Lucas, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Carlton Bragg, and Bill Self will likely win a 13th straight Big 12 title.
Chris Mack's Musketeers are returning the most important pieces from a 28-win team that finished only behind Villanova in the Big East. And watch out for RaShid Gaston. He's a 6-9 forward who averaged 15.5 points and 9.6 rebounds two seasons ago at Norfolk State. He's now eligible to play for Xavier. And it's really not crazy to think this season's Musketeers will be better than last season's Musketeers.
Dana Altman has built Oregon into a consistent winner, and that won't change this season thanks to Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey withdrawing from the NBA Draft. The Ducks are the Pac-12 favorites, clearly. That means they should at least finish in the top three of the league for what would be the sixth consecutive season.
7. NORTH CAROLINA
The Tar Heels didn't lose any underclassmen to the NBA Draft, which means six of UNC's top eight scorers are back. So it won't be a surprise if Roy Williams advances to his ninth Final Four next season and again makes a run at becoming only the sixth coach in history to win at least three national titles.
8. MICHIGAN STATE
The Spartans are losing their best player (Denzel Valentine) and shooter (Bryn Forbes). But they'll still have Tom Izzo, a top-four recruiting class, and enough quality pieces to make a run at the Big Ten regular-season championship -- not to mention the eighth Final Four of their Hall of Fame coach's career.
Virginia has finished in the top 10 at KenPom each of the past three seasons, and this season, on paper, should make four straight. The additions of Memphis transfer Austin Nichols and redshirt freshman Mamadi Diakite will help ease the loss of Anthony Gill and Mike Tobey. And Tony Bennett also has a top-10 recruiting class set to enroll. So the Cavaliers will be talented and strong again.
It's always difficult to project how a team will respond to losing a top-shelf point guard like Yogi Ferrell. But there are enough good pieces returning at Indiana -- Thomas Bryant, OG Anunoby, James Blackman, etc., -- to make it reasonable to expect the Hoosiers to not slip much, if at all, especially if Pitt transfer Josh Newkirk is as solid as Tom Crean's staff believes.
UCLA fans flying banners behind planes encouraging the school to fire Steve Alford must not realize he'll have a team next season capable of winning the Pac-12 and advancing to the Final Four. And wait till you see Lonzo Ball. He's a special talent that should make everybody in Westwood better.
Nigel Hayes returning to school means Wisconsin will return every piece that matters from a team that closed strong and advanced to the Sweet 16. So Greg Gard is set up to make a second NCAA Tournament even before he's coached two full seasons at Wisconsin, and who in the world saw that coming?
Allonzo Trier's decision to return for his sophomore season ensures the Wildcats will be a factor on the national level again. If Oregon or UCLA doesn't win the Pac-12, Arizona likely will -- thanks to a solid core of returnees and recruiting class that features three five-star prospects. But the late loss of Terrance Ferguson to an overseas contract undeniably hurts.
14. SAINT MARY'S
Randy Bennett will have everybody back from a team that won 29 games last season and finished tied with Gonzaga atop the West Coast Conference standings. So, for once, it's not crazy to pick somebody other than Mark Few's Zags to win the WCC. Those late-night games should be fun.
The early loss of Domantas Sabonis was expected. But it still hurts and removes a star from the equation. Regardless, transfers Jordan Mathews, Nigel Williams-Goss and Jonathan Williams -- and the return of Przemek Karnowski, who was injured last season -- should ensure the Zags win 25-plus games for the 10th straight year.
16. RHODE ISLAND
Why did Dan Hurley pass on Rutgers? Lots of reasons, really. But one of them -- and perhaps the main one -- is because he has a team at URI that's good enough to win the A-10 and advance in the NCAA Tournament. Simply put, he didn't want to walk away from this roster highlighted by E.C. Matthews and Hassan Martin.
The loss of Daniel Hamilton hurts because it represents the loss of a high-level college player who doesn't project as a first-round pick. Put another way, he didn't have to go. But he's gone. And that's a blow. But UConn still has a solid core of veterans in Rodney Purvis and Amida Brimah, an impactful transfer in Terry Larrier, and a top-10 recruiting class. So Kevin Ollie has a roster he can work with.
Caleb Swanigan's late decision to return to Purdue allows Matt Painter to enter the season with three of his top four scorers from a team that won 26 games. The frontcourt of Swanigan and Isaac Haas should develop into one of the nation's best.
19. WEST VIRGINIA
We left West Virginia unranked last preseason -- and Bob Huggins made that look foolish. Consider this proof we learned our lesson. Because it's wise to expect WVU to be good again despite the losses of Jaysean Paige and Devin Williams.
Chinanu Onuaku's decision to enter the NBA Draft wasn't ideal for Louisville. But Rick Pitino's Cardinals still have enough in place to remain nationally relevant and compete for a spot in the 2017 NCAA Tournament -- provided, of course, they aren't banned from the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
The best pro prospect who didn't enter the NBA Draft is Ivan Rabb. That's a great development for Cuonzo Martin, who returns three of his top five scorers from a team that won 23 games. The late addition of four-star point guard Charlie Moore, a former Memphis signee, was also a positive offseason development.
Remember Marcus Foster? He averaged double-digits at Kansas State for two seasons before transferring to Creighton. He'll team with Maurice Watson and help Creighton compete for a top-three spot in the Big East while taking advantage of Seton Hall losing Isaiah Whitehead and Providence losing Ben Bentil.
Miami is losing a lot -- most notably Angel Rodriguez, Sheldon McClellan and Tonye Jekiri. But Jim Larranaga has enough quality veterans to be good again, and the top-15 recruiting class set to enroll will provide a nice influx of talent.
Butler is a harder job in the Big East than it was in the Horizon. But Chris Holtmann has stabilized things inside Hinkle Fieldhouse. And he should have the Bulldogs in the NCAA Tournament again next season considering four of the top six scorers from a team that won a game in last season's NCAA Tournament are back -- among them double-digit scorers Kelan Martin and Andrew Chrabascz.
25. WICHITA STATE
This is basically an #InGreggMarshallWeTrust ranking. In other words, we're just assuming Wichita State will be good again -- even without Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker -- because, you know, Wichita State will probably be good again simply because Marshall is still coaching the Missouri Valley Conference power.
26. NORTH CAROLINA STATE
Mark Gottfried is adding two five-star prospects (Dennis Smith and Omer Yurtseven) to a roster that returns two of its top three scorers (Abdul-Malik Abu and Maverick Rowan). There are some questions about whether Yurtseven will be cleared to compete as a freshman. And if he isn't, that changes things. But with him the Wolfpack should be talented enough to compete in the top half of the ACC.