There are a few teams this year who are ranked higher than they have in a while. And for most of them there is a lot of hype around the recruits they brought in.
Here is my 5 teams this season with the most to lose this year in college basketball.
- Utah State
In many preseason rankings, Utah State is listed in the top 25. Other than Sam Merrill, they are a very young team.They also have Neemias Queta, who is a very good rim protector. This season they have a very tough schedule, they play both LSU and Florida in tournaments before conference play starts. They have not been ranked this high in preseason polls in awhile. Many people see them getting into the NCAA Tournament again after last year. At the end of last year, they were ranked in the top 25 and were an 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Now they are the early favorites to win their conference. If they don’t end up making the tournament, it would shock many people.
With Tre Jones returning this year, many people are expecting Duke to make it very far. With the leadership Tre Jones has, he should be able to lead these freshmen to at least an Elite 8. Matthew Hurt, Vernon Carey, Wendell Moore, and Cassius Stanley are the players that lead Duke’s recruiting class. As they showed last year, they will not be afraid to run with a very young lineup. Many people who cover college basketball have predicted that Duke will be in the Final 4, but they are very young and last year that did not work.
Heading into this season, Memphis is expected to be better than they have been in a while. They had the number 1 recruiting class in the country. James Wiseman, Boogie Ellis, Precious Achiuwa, D.J. Jeffries, and Malcolm Dandridge are the Tigers’ incoming freshman. Other than that, Tyler Harris and Alex Lomax are returning but that’s about it. For head coach Penny Hardaway, he will have a great group of guys to coach. But you don’t know what to expect from a team who missed out on the NCAA tournament last year. I think they will be great, but last year Duke proved you cannot rely on freshman.
This season Kentucky is very deep. They have quite a few important returning players. Nick Richards, Immanuel Quickley, EJ Montgomery, and Ashton Hagans will al be returning to Lexington this year. Johnny Juzang, Keion Brooks Jr., Khalil Whitney, Nate Sestina, and Dontaie Allen are all the newcomers for the Wildcats. Kentucky is ranked 2nd in majority of preseason polls and have a good shot at making a run in the NCAA Tournament. But will the veterans be able to help lead the freshman?
This year with all of the returners and incoming recruits and transfers Louisville is projected to have a shot at a National Championship. Jordan Nwora, who could be the Naismith Player of the Year, is expected to be the leader of this team. The only player they are losing is Khwan Fore who was a grad transfer. They also have Samuell Williams, Aidan Igiehon, David Johnson, Josh Nickelberry, Jaylen Withers, and Quinn Slazinski. They also have transfer Lamarr Kimble, who will play a huge part for the Cardinals this year. Louisville has both the skill and leadership to win a National Championship. They just need to produce when November comes.