Johnny Mambrino, Editor

  1. UCLA – The Bruins magical Final 4 run as an 11 seed was cut short to an overtime buzzer-beater against Gonzaga, a team that UCLA basically outplayed the entire game and as opposed to Gonzaga, UCLA isn’t losing 3 of their 5 best players to the NBA Draft. Mick Cronin is bringing in 3 top 100 players, with one of them being 5-star Peyton Watson, who if Johnny Juzang leaves for the draft, will be able to fill his role along with the other returning veteran players like Tyger Campbell, Jules Bernard, and Cody Riley. UCLA is easily the front runner to win the PAC-12 championship and will look to make another deep run next March.
  2. Gonzaga – The Bulldogs’ undefeated dreams were crushed by the blazing Baylor Bears, but Gonzaga will still have a very talented team next year. The great Point Guard Jalen Suggs, Corey Kispert, and Joel Ayayi, all declared for the draft, but the leading scorer for the Bulldogs Drew Timme, and the other great Bulldogs point guard Andrew Nembhard will lead this team mightily. Notable role players, Anton Watson and Aaron Cook are coming back seeking another chance at a championship and Mark Few has already brought in 3 top 100 players, most notably being 5-star point guard Hunter Sallis. With a legitimate rotation being pieced together Gonzaga still has the best chance of getting the number one player in the country, Chet Holmgren. If Holmgren and Timme are holding down the point for Gonzaga all year, I don’t know if anyone is stopping them. But with the uncertainty at this current moment, UCLA will retain the number 1 spot.
  3. Villanova – The Wildcats are going to extremely benefit from the NCAA’s 5th-year rule because seniors Collin Gillespie and Jermaine are both coming back to Philly. Gillespie led the team in scoring in the regular season and won the Big East co-player of the year award along with teammate Jeremiah Earl who is leaving for the NBA Draft, but even without Earl, Villanova will be back at full strength. With Gillespie out for the tournament, a lot of other guys had to step up, like returning guards Justin Moore, Caleb Daniels, Brandon Slater, and former 5-star recruit Bryan Antoine. Big man Eric Dixon also returns and Jay Wright brought in 4 four-star recruits. There is too much talent not to succeed this year, and with that being said the Wildcats are easily favored to win the Big East yet again.
  4. Ohio State – Although the Buckeyes season ended with a loss to 15 seeded Oral Roberts in the first round, they still had a great season in the toughest conference in college basketball this season. They’re supposed to return most of their rotational guys including the star-studded combo of Duane Washington and E.J Lidell. The only legitimate difference-maker they’re losing as of now is C.J Walker. With all of the assumed returners, coach Holtmann has brought in 2 four-star recruits, with one of them being the 27th ranked recruit in the country, Malaki Branham. The future is looking bright in Colombus.
  5. Michigan – The Wolverines made the elite eight but came up short to the red-hot UCLA Bruins. Even without Isiah Livers, they were still able to make it that far and the only thing stopping them from going to the elite eight again next year is how many players are leaving. 4 of their top 6 scorers are all seniors and Franz Wagner is projected to be a first-round pick right now. But even with those guys leaving, they have one of the best big men in college basketball, Hunter Dickinson, one of the most underrated players in the country in my opinion in Brandon Johns Jr., and the number 1 recruiting class in the country. Juwan Howard is bringing in 2 top 50 guards in Frankie Collins and Kobe Bufkin to control the backcourt, and two top ten players in the country, Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabete to help control the frontcourt with Dickinson snd Johns. This team will only get better as the year goes on and although it’s a very young team, Juwan Howard has the ability and all the talent to make another deep run into March and potentially win the Big Ten.