The college basketball season just ended but here’s a way-too-early look at next year’s NCAA basketball rankings.
March Madness was a lot of fun but no one can deny that this college basketball season was far from normal. The landscape of the country should improve dramatically by the time that college basketball returns in November as increasing access to the coronavirus vaccine should help the country get back to more normality by the fall, which should be a big win for the sport.
Projecting an early top 10 for next season is an extremely difficult task in a normal year but the task is even more difficult when you factor in the NBA Draft, the extra year of eligibility for all players which could allow seniors to return to school and a jam-packed transfer portal that could get even more action if the NCAA passes a long-rumored rule allowing a one-time transfer without penalty for any athlete.
Sorting through all the noise to try and figure out what will happen is a challenge, but here’s an educated guess on next year’s way-too-early Top 10.
10. NCAA Basketball Rankings: Duke Blue Devils
2020 was a flop for the Blue Devils, who missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1995. A positive COVID test ended Duke’s season in the middle of the ACC Tournament and there were off-court issues as the Jalen Johnson situation served as a major distraction to the program.
Johnson is off to the NBA and Jordan Goldwire is using his extra year of eligibility to transfer but there shouldn’t be too many more defections for Duke, which could use some much-needed continuity in its starting lineup. The most likely pro defection is forward Matthew Hurt, who should go pro after a breakout sophomore year, but Mike Krzyzewski has already recruited a fine replacement in Paolo Banchero, the No. 3 player in the ESPN 100 rankings.
A normal offseason should also help Krzyzewski mold his team into a more complete unit, something that was starting to happen as the Blue Devils played much better basketball down the stretch. A strong recruiting class could get even stronger if Patrick Baldwin and Trevor Keels choose Duke, meaning this ranking could be a floor for the program next season.