June 16 was the last day for collegiate basketball players to make a decision on whether to stay in school or stay in the pool of names for this year's NBA draft.
Since that date has come and gone, as well as the signing periods for incoming freshmen (most of whom are taking summer classes as we speak), it's an obvious time to take a very early look at which college basketball squads we'll be talking about next season.
1. North Carolina: Most early predictions are educated guesses, but this one is a certainty. The top six scorers are back for the Heels, and they have to be the heavy favorite for the national title.
2. Connecticut: Hasheem Thabeet turning down NBA money for one more season for UConn. He, along with experienced teammates and highly-ranked incoming freshmen, should push UConn to the top tier of college basketball for the entire season.
3. UCLA: Ben Howland lost three starters to the NBA draft, but adding the No. 1 recruiting class will make up for that. Combine that with an experienced backcourt in Darren Collison and Josh Shipp, and the Bruins could be bringing home another Pac-Ten title.
4. Notre Dame: Luke Harangody and Kyle McAlarney should be one of the top scoring duos in the nation. They'll make the Irish an instant contender.
5. Louisville: Samardo Samuels should step in immediately to fill the void in the paint for Rick Pitino. Expect at least an Elite Eight for Louisville.
6. Duke: Duke will yet again have to make its three-pointers consistently, as inside help will be at a minimum. There's still too much talent there not to have them in the top ten, though.
7. Purdue: The top three scorers return for Purdue, a team that surprised many last season. They won't be sneaking up on anyone this season.
8. Tennessee: McDonald's High School All-American Scotty Hopson will step in right away for the collegiate All-American Chris Lofton. The Vols should be the favorites to take the SEC again.
9. Pittsburgh: Mike Cook has yet to find out whether he'll have another year of eligibility (ACL tear last season), but Pitt is a top 10 team even if he isn't granted that eligibility.
10. Michigan State: Raymar Morgan should contend for Big Ten Player of the Year this season. Incoming freshman Delvon Roe should contend for Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Also, never bet against Tom Izzo.
17. Southern California
20. Arizona State
21. Wake Forest
25. Ohio State
Another edition will be posted closer to the season's start.
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