Led by their 6'11" All-American center—Cody Zeller—Tom Crean's Indiana Hoosiers open up on top of our 2012-13 preseason college basketball power rankings.
The Hoosiers will return all five starters back from this year's Sweet 16 team while welcoming in the second ranked recruiting class in America, according to Rivals.com.
Even with 6'9" junior forward Christian Watford rumored to be on the fence in terms of declaring for the 2012 NBA Draft, the Hoosiers will have more than enough talented players capable of replacing his 12 points and six rebounds per game.
Currently projected as a late second round pick at best, it appears unlikely that Watford would choose to test the NBA waters without any kind of financial guarantees in place.
Now let's take a way-too-early look at the projected top 10 teams in college basketball next season.
The loss of the underachieving Jordan Taylor and his 40 percent field goal percentage will be greatly exaggerated by most analysts between now and November.
The bottom line is that the Badgers return five of their top six players from last year's Sweet 16 team while welcoming in a rare five-star recruit in Sam Dekker.
Dekker (6'8", 215 lbs) is the fifth ranked small forward and 18th ranked player overall, according to Rivals.com.
The San Diego St. Aztecs will return their top four scorers from last year's 26-8 team—including the dynamic backcourt duo of Jamaal Franklin (17.4 points per game) and Chase Tapley (15.8 points per game).
The Aztecs will also welcome the arrival of Winston Shepard (6'8", 206 lbs)—the 10th ranked small forward and 40th ranked player overall, according to Rivals.com.
Yes, the Michigan State Spartans will miss their All-American forward Draymond Green, but head coach Tom Izzo will also welcome a top-12 recruiting class into the mix next season in East Lansing.
One player that will see immediate playing time is Gary Harris (6'4", 208 lbs)—the third ranked shooting guard and 25th ranked player overall, according to Rivals.com.
The Spartans will once again contend for a Final Four as they bring back a group that includes Keith Appling, Branden Dawson, Derrick Nix, Adreian Payne and Travis Trice.
Austin Rivers may be headed to the NBA, but the Duke Blue Devils will re-load with Rasheed Sulaimon (6'4", 180 lbs)—the fifth ranked shooting guard and 32nd ranked player overall, according to Rivals.com.
He'll join a core group that includes Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, Andre Dawkins, Tyler Thornton and potentially Mason Plumlee (still considering early entry into the 2012 NBA Draft).
The Baylor Bears will welcome the nation's sixth ranked recruiting class next season, according to Rivals.com.
The class is led by Isiah Austin (7'0", 215 lbs), a versatile power forward ranked as the fifth overall player in America.
Perry Jones is headed to the NBA, and Quincy Miller may very well join him, but the Bears will return their leading scorer in Pierre Jackson and shooting guard Brady Heslip.
This lofty ranking for the Ohio State Buckeyes is based entirely on the assumption that Deshaun Thomas will return for his junior season in Columbus.
Assuming Jared Sullinger goes pro, the Buckeyes would build around a core group that consists of Thomas, point guard Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith, Jr., Evan Ravenel, Jordan Sibert, Sam Thompson, Shannon Scott and a huge potential sleeper in LaQuinton Ross.
Mark Gottfried and the N.C. State Wolfpack will welcome the nation's fourth ranked recruiting class to Raleigh next season.
The group includes three McDonald's All-Americans in point guard Rodney Purvis, small forward T.J. Warren and point guard Tyler Lewis.
Assuming C.J. Leslie does not turn pro early, the Wolfpack will bring back their top four scorers from last season's Sweet 16 team, including Lorenzo Brown, Scott Wood, and Richard Howell.
Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinals will return eight of their top 10 scorers from the 2012 Final Four team.
The Cardinals will rely heavily on Russ Smith, Peyton Siva, Chane Behanan, Gorgui Dieng, Mike Marra, Rakeem Buckles, and Wayne Blackshear to help get them back to the Final Four in Atlanta next season.
You know it's a completely different landscape in the world of college basketball when a team can lose their top six players to the NBA Draft and still land the number two ranking on our list.
Assuming the Kentucky Wildcats lose their starting five (comprised of three freshmen and two sophomores) to the NBA, they will still welcome in the third ranked recruiting class in America according to Rivals.com.
However, that third ranked recruiting class can turn into the number one ranked recruiting class (for the fourth year in a row) very quickly with the addition of the top two players in the nation—Shabazz Muhammad and Nerlens Noel.
If both players do decide to come on board, they will join fellow freshmen Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress to help form a core group capable of repeating as National Champions under head coach John Calipari.
Assuming Christian Watford sticks around for his senior season, Tom Crean's Indiana Hoosiers will be the deepest and most talented team in the nation next year.
All five starters will return, including Cody Zeller—the projected first pick of the 2013 NBA Draft, according to nbadraft.net.
Victor Oladipo, Will Sheehey, Jordan Hulls and even Maurice Creek (2011-12 medical redshirt) will be back on board to join forces with the nation's second ranked recruiting class according to Rivals.com.
Point guard Yogi Ferrell, small forward Jeremy Hollowell, and power forward Hanner Perea will all see major minutes next season; making the Hoosiers our early favorites to cut down the nets in Atlanta.