It seems like an eternity ago that the college basketball season was ended prematurely and the entire NCAA tournament was cancelled. With that, it’s easy to forget that the national championship was supposed to take place this past Monday. Traditionally, sports sites will drop their projected rankings for the following year a day or two after that game. Without it being played, those rankings are about all we can cling to during these eery sports-less times. Well, Gary Parrish recently dropped his Top 25 And 1 for CBS Sports.
The top five, in order, is Gonzaga, Kentucky, Creighton, Baylor, and Villanova. The Zags are a team that many thought would’ve been in the Final Four had it been played, but they should have enough pieces to contend next year regardless of pending NBA decisions. Baylor was another team in that conversation as they were having arguably the best season in program history before everything was shut down. Fortunately for the Bears, barring unexpected departures, they will return the majority of their production.
The Tar Heels clock in at #15 in the rankings. Though that may seem low to some, it makes sense coming off of Roy Williams’ first ever losing season, one that most fans will try and erase from the memory bank. Still, there’s plenty to be optimistic about moving forward.
We’re still awaiting a decision from Cole Anthony about his future but the safe assumption is that he’s headed to the NBA. Garrison Brooks has already announced he’s returning for his senior year, though, which sets the Tar Heels up to have potentially the best frontcourt in the nation. Armando Bacot will also be back and a couple five-star centers, Day’Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler, are slated to arrive on campus.
Moreover, the additions of five-star Caleb Love and four-stars R.J. Davis and Puff Johnson will provide some much-needed depth on the wing. With the expectation that Anthony is leaving, Love will likely receive the keys to the offense. His ability to score at every level should be very valuable for a Carolina team that really struggled to shoot the ball this past season.
The only other ACC teams in the rankings are Virginia (#6), Duke (#10), and Florida State (#25). Virginia will lose Mamadi Diakite and Braxton Key to graduation but should return everyone else on the roster. In addition, Marquette transfer Sam Hauser will be available after sitting out this season. Duke’s Tre Jones and Cassius Stanley have already declared for the draft (Vernon Carey is expected to as well) but they’ll reload with another top-2 recruiting class. The Seminoles, coming off of their first ACC title since 1989, will lose the bulk of their production but have a five-star of their own in Scottie Barnes to help soften the blow.