Way-Too-Early College Basketball Top 25 Rankings for 2022

college basketball

College basketball is five months away from returning, and this time it will be back with more storylines than ever. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski will be on a retirement-based farewell tour; a record number of players in the transfer portal will change the fortunes of different teams across the country, and fans will pack out stadiums for the first time since 2020.

While acquisitions in the transfer portal will continue to be made and storylines will shift as the offseason progresses, this is the official top 25 rankings as of Friday, June 11.

#1 Gonzaga

The Zags were runners-up in the 2021 national championship and have added #1 recruit Chet Holmgren, a 7-foot center with ball-handling skills and a pure stroke that likens him to a much less refined version of Kevin Durant. Head Coach Mark Few is an elite coach in the NCAA and will return leading sorcerer Drew Timme, giving him the weaponry to capture his first national championship.

#2 Duke

The Blue Devils will be adding the best recruiting class in the nation, headlined by Paolo Banchero and A.J. Griffin. Center Mark Williams also showed flashes of brilliance when given the minutes down the stretch, and coach K will aim to end his historic career on top.

#3 Ohio State

The Buckeyes were one of the nation’s toughest competitors last season despite playing a relatively small rotation and are expected to return four starters next season. This ranking is contingent upon E.J. Lidell and Duane Washington Jr. running it back in red and white, but if they do, watch out: no team competed on both ends of the court quite as Ohio State did.

#4 Villanova

The Wildcats made the Sweet 16 without their star point guard Collin Gillespie, who will be back and injury-free next season. Last year’s leading scorer and rebounder Jeremiah Robinson-Earl declared for the NBA draft, but the Wildcats’ depth at wing and the excellent coaching of Jay Wright should make them one of the most consistent teams in America.

#5 UCLA

Prisoner of the moment, perhaps, but UCLA played sensationally well in last year’s NCAA Tournament. Top-10 recruit Peyton Watson will join the Bruins’ starting lineup next season and could join breakout star of the tournament Johnny Juzang if he returns to UCLA for an extra season. Tyger Campbell is a steady point guard that can function in pressurized situations and is capable of leading UCLA back to the greatness it built a reputation on.

#6 Alabama

Bama will be losing SEC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Herbert Jones along with starters John Petty and Jordan Bruner, although there is no need to fear Crimson Tide fans. Alabama secured 15.4-point performer and Furman transfer Noah Gurley as well as two five-star high school commits. Jahvon Quinnerly featured off the bench last season but was one of coach Nate Oats’ most valuable commodities and will easily slide into the starting five next season.

#7 Arkansas

The Razorbacks rebuffed their backcourt with transfer Chris Lykes, Stanley Umude, and Au’diese Toney, providing an instant 51.4 points based on their averages in their most recent healthy season. Arkansas will also return sixth man JD Notae, giving familiarity to the second unit that will spell a talented starting five. This team is built around pushing the ball up the court, and they will run the scoreboard up next season.

#8 Maryland

The Terps strengthened their squad with transfers Fatts Russell and Qudus Wahab, both of whom will start next season. Wings Aaron Wiggins and Eric Ayala proved that they could score in
bunches last season, and while this team may not be a lockdown defensive unit, Wahab’s presence inside will give them protection around the cup.

#9 Purdue

Assuming that Trevion Williams is coming back for another season, Purdue will be set up to return all of its key playmakers on top of adding two top-100 recruits to its roster. The Boilermakers finished last season burning hot just to lose to #13 North Texas in the opening weekend of March Madness but will be back with a vengeance this time around. They can shoot, rebound, defend, and do not have consistently exploitable weaknesses in their play.

#10 Texas

This team will look different than any other team in this list compared to last season: the Longhorns could lose nine players from last year’s rotation but have picked up transfer commitments from Utah’s Timmy Allen, Vanderbilt’s Dylan Disu, Creighton’s Christian Bishop, and Kentucky’s Devin Askew. Head Coach Chris Beard shocked Texas A&M fans when he departed for nearby Texas this summer and has already retooled his roster to match his ambitions. Beard is one of the most intelligent coaches in America and will lead the Longhorns in the climb to the top of the college basketball ladder.

#11 Baylor

The Bears were set for a drop-off from last year’s title-winning squad but still would have consistently been inside the top-25, but are once again a serious top-10 threat now that they have added Arizona transfer James Akinjo, who averaged 15.6 points, 5.4 assists, and 40.8% on three-point shots last campaign. Adam Flagler will be the second option on offense, and the Bears will hang around the top of the rankings all season.

#12 Michigan

The Wolverines were one of college basketball’s three best teams for all of last year and are set to make a similar run now that Eli Brooks has announced his return to the university. Michigan also added playmaking point guard De’Vante Jones, who averaged 19.3 points and 7.2 rebounds for Coastal Carolina last season. I am not sure how Jones will perform in a much more competitive conference, but it is hard to deny the Wolverines from having serious top-five potential.

#13 Florida State

The Seminoles are losing a good chunk of their scoring to NBA futures but will be adding five-star wing Matthew Cleveland and top-40 guard Jalen Warley. Leonard Hamilton will need to acquire more talent in the transfer portal to truly fulfill this nomination, but I believe he will and see the ‘Noles as an elite club yet again.

#14 Kansas

I am not as high on Kansas as others. Five key players will be departing, and prospects Ochai Agbaji and Jalen Wilson could be selected in the upcoming NBA draft, leaving Kansas with three returning starters and a depleted bench. The Jayhawks did finish the season by winning nine of their last 10 games but were demolished by USC in the tournament and have a reputation for inconsistency in important games.

#15 Virginia Tech

The Hokies were 15-4 and 4-0 against the top-25 last season before bouts with COVID and infrequent practice, and game schedules derailed their tournament ambitions. Keve Aluma is likely to return and will be a preseason candidate for ACC Player of the Year, and his new running mate, Storm Murphy (17.8 PPG, 40% 3PT at Wofford last season), will give VT high-level playmaking and scoring at the guard position. Four of five starters will return, and Clemson transfer Lynn Kidd will feature as the big man off the bench.

#16 Syracuse

Losing Quincy Guerrier to Oregon hurts, but the Orange will be adding top-30 recruit Benny Williams and transfers Cole Swider and Symir Torrence. Buddy Boeheim took a leap towards superstardom in the NCAA Tournament and will lead a team that will be tough to beat with a patented zone defense.

#17 St. Bonaventure

Laugh all you want at the Bonnies and the A-10, but they are an elite side. All five starters will return to a team that easily won the conference last season, and although a majority of their production comes from the starters, they have proven that they have the durability to play extended stretches of high minutes. The Bonnies share the ball and play tough defense and are one of the mid-majors best.

#18 Houston

Houston is thought of as being a regular-season team, and while this may have been proven true post-Phi Slama Jama, they will have talent next season thanks to the transfer portal. The Cougars always defend well, though they are losing their leader on that end in DeJon Jarreau. Quentin Grimes is likely to be drafted, and so the Cougars will trend more towards the top-20 than the top-10.

#19 Auburn

There is not a frontcourt in America more talented than Auburn’s for next season: the nation’s fourth-ranked prospect, Jabari Smith, will be joined by former five-star recruit and North Carolina transfer Walker Kessler, giving the Tigers a couple of beasts in the painted area. The pair of big men will join double-digit scorers Allen Flannigan and Jaylen Williams to form a post-centric roster that will control the glass and win with physicality.

#20 Kentucky

John Calipari suffered the worst season of his Kentucky tenure in 2020-21, and although he has added transfers Kellan Grady and Oscar Tshiebwe, it is hard to pick Kentucky to make serious noise among the elite. They do not have the overwhelming talent that they did during their runs to the national championship and are simply good but not great.

#21 Tennessee

The Vols did not look like they were going to be anything special in the fall until they added transfer Justin Powell and top-40 recruits Jonas Aidoo and Brandon Huntley-Hadfield. The SEC is now a frighteningly strong conference, and Tennessee will have to play a load of tough ball games against some of its closest rivals, which will cause them to slide towards the latter half of the rankings.

#22 Oregon

Oregon is another team facing the challenge of rebuilding and rebranding themselves following an exodus of players, but they have landed a couple of nice pieces in Quincy Guerrier from Syracuse and De’Vion Harmon from Oklahoma. Both men are talented and athletic and give the Ducks some edge moving towards the basket, and although the roster is not fully filled, expect Dana Altman to have his side ready to compete for a top-two spot in the PAC-12.

#23 Virginia

The Cavaliers lost their present in Sam Hauser and Jay Huff and their future in Trey Murphy and Jabri Abdur-Rahim and seemed destined for a historic fall from greatness. However, Tony Bennett responded by bringing in Jayden Gardner and Armaan Franklin, giving Virginia a partnership that fits Bennett’s system and can play through contact. Franklin was also a 42.4% three-point shooter, meaning that UVA will have the added threat of their primary ball-handler pulling up from deep, a quality that was lacking during Kihei Clark’s reign.

#24 Connecticut

The Huskies lost James Bouknight to the NBA draft but are adding three high four-star prospects to a group that finished third in the Big East last season. UConn did not shoot threes well and was not the best on the boards, but their new crop of freshmen will make an immediate impact and transform the Huskies into a consistently tough team.

#25 Michigan State

The Spartans are right on the border of falling out but get the benefit of the doubt. Three of MSU’s top scorers last season—Aaron Henry, Rocket Watts, and Joshua Langford— all made way this offseason, but the arrival of top-20 prospect Max Christie will give coach Tom Izzo a dynamic scorer at the guard position. The Spartans’ main issue next season could be finding a reliable leader on the court, but if they do, MSU could easily head towards the top-15 spots.

Grant Mitchell is a sportswriter and multimedia contributor for the Sports 2.0 Network dealing with basketball, football, soccer, and other major sports: you can connect with him on Twitter @milemitchell to stay up to date with the latest sports news and to engage personally with him.

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