Will Kentucky and Duke be able to hold off new and old challengers?
Believe it or not, college basketball season is sneaking up on us.
Although the traditional Oct. 15 start date and Midnight Madness is becoming a thing of the past for some programs, the start of practice remains a landmark worthy of a party in Lexington or dressing up like Iron Man or Gene Simmons in East Lansing.
For us at Athlon Sports, the mid-October start of college basketball practice means the release of our preseason preview magazine, available on newsstands or online Sept. 8.
The 2015-16 season promises to be another wild one. Two teams from last year’s Final Four, Kentucky and Duke, promise to reload with another cast of talented freshmen. At the same time, programs like Maryland and Cal are poised for breakout seasons.
As a tease to get you ready for this upcoming season, here’s the Athlon Sports preseason top 25 at a glance.
Podcast: Who should be No. 1 in College Basketball in 2015-16?
Available Now: Athlon Sports' 2015-16 College Basketball Annual
|Athlon Sports 2015-16 College Basketball Preseason Top 25|
Kentucky: The Wildcats might not challenge 40–0 again, but Tyler Ulis, Skal Labissiere and Jamal Murray should contend for the Final Four.
Duke: Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones are gone, but landing Brandon Ingram and Derryck Thornton means Coach K can contend for a sixth national title.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels have a group of veterans that might be Roy Williams’ last great team for a while.
Maryland: Maryland added freshman Diamond Stone and transfer Robert Carter Jr. to its returning core for what will be the Terps' best squad since the 2002 championship.
Virginia: The Cavs’ early exits from the NCAA Tournament have dulled back-to-back 30-win seasons, but Virginia is built to contend again.
Kansas: The Jayhawks are gearing up for a 12th consecutive Big 12 title, but they’re still awaiting word on five-star freshman Cheick Diallo.
Iowa State: New coach Steve Prohm inherits a great situation with Georges Niang, Monte Morris and — you guessed it — some talented transfers.
Arizona: The Wildcats face questions after losing their top four scorers from last season. Sean Miller, though, has a plan.
Oklahoma: The backcourt duo of Buddy Hield and Jordan Woodard will be one of the best in the nation.
Villanova: The Wildcats have to avoid stalling in the NCAA Tournament, but adding freshman Jalen Brunson to the mix means Nova will be dangerous all year again.
Gonzaga: Kyle Wiltjer is a national player of the year candidate, but the Zags have a big hole at point guard without Kevin Pangos.
Michigan State: Last year’s Final Four was a tease. This team, with high-scoring West Virginia transfer Eron Harris, could be the Big Ten favorite.
Cal: Adding freshmen Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb to the existing group of veterans means Cuonzo Martin has a Pac-12 contender on his hands.
Wichita State: Gregg Marshall resisted the urge to go to Alabama in the offseason. He’ll have one last go-round with Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores made a push late last season. They return everyone of note from that team, including SEC Player of the Year contender Damian Jones.
Purdue: The front line of A.J. Hammons, freshman Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas will be imposing. Boilers will rely on a transfer from UT Arlington to play point.
Indiana: The Hoosiers’ lack of a big man hurt them last year. They went out and got a big man, freshman center Thomas Bryant.
UConn: The addition of Sterling Gibbs from Seton Hall among other newcomers should get the Huskies back into the NCAA Tournament.
Wisconsin: After back-to-back Final Fours, Wisconsin will take a dip. But this is a Bo Ryan team, so the dip won’t be very far.
Butler: The Bulldogs started last season with a handful of questions. Butler has its coach in place and a handful of veterans ready to contend for the Big East championship.
Oregon: The Ducks lose prolific scorer Joseph Young, but Dana Altman always finds a way.
Michigan: After last year’s debacle, Michigan ready for healthy seasons from Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton ... and a return to form.
Louisville: Landing transfers Trey Lewis (Cleveland State) and Damion Lee (Drexel) turn a rebuilding team into a contender.
SMU: The Mustangs still have a ton talent, provided they can avoid any NCAA entanglements. (Update: SMU did not avoid NCAA entanglements and will face a postseason ban in 2015–16.)
Texas A&M: The Aggies return Danuel House, Alex Caruso and Jalen Jones from last year’s bubble team. Billy Kennedy should have the depth to get back into the Tourney.
|Also considered: Baylor, Dayton, Florida State, LSU, Notre Dame, San Diego State, UCLA|