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ESPN updates college basketball Top 25 ahead of 2024-25 season

Alex Weberby:Alex Weber07/02/24

The 2024 College Basketball season is well behind us now and the 2025 season is probably getting closer than we’d like to admit.

So, as college sports fans trudge through these bone-dry summer months, at least we have some preseason top-25 rankings to look at. Over at ESPN’s college hoops insider Jeff Borzello has updated his version of the way-too-early top-25 for 2025 as we start the month of July.

Below, you can view his entire rankings, and read up a bit on his top 10 selections.

1. Kansas
© Rob Gray | 2024

Kansas is certainly the popular No. 1 overall choice for many of the way-too-early experts, and frankly, it’s a bit of a gamble based on what we all saw last season. They did add proven wing scorers AJ Storr and Zeke Mayo while returning the Dajuan HarrisHunter DickinsonKJ Adams core, and you have to like that potential starting five. But did the Jayhawks solve last year’s issues?

KU was superb defensively and ought to be again, especially with Harris hawking point guards up top. However, they struggled in offense compared to other Bill Self teams and lost their best player on both ends of the floor in Kevin McCullar. Plus, you’re looking at a KU roster with zero 3-point shooters who made 40% or better last season — and that was the team’s No. 1 flaw last year as they ranked in the 300s nationally in made 3s.

2. Alabama
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Welp, it’s hard to find a better bet on a team to be great next season than Alabama. Nate Oats’ 2020s track record speaks for itself, crowned by a No. 1 overall seed and Final Four in back-to-back seasons. Now, they return the stars of the 2024 group to set up another potential No. 1 overall in 2025.

Mark Sears is no doubt one of the best players in the country heading into this coming season, and Grant Nelson is a very capable No. 2 option, especially with how he closed last year. Add in a few other key returners plus stud transfers Chris Youngblood and Cliff Omoruyi, and that’s perhaps the most loaded lineup in the country. In fact, it is, on paper.

3. UConn

(Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports)

There’s no sense in doubting Dan Hurley at this point. After losing his best three players off the 2023 title team, the remaining parts and some talented freshmen came together to create an even better title-winner — easily the most dominant team from start to finish since at least 2018 Villanova.

Now, a third title will be even tougher, since the Huskies lose much more this time around, including a pair of All-American caliber guards, a top-five pick on the wing, and a top-10 pick and dominant two-way force down low. Alex Karaban is a great cornerstone, but this group just doesn’t have the experience and NBA upside as its last two counterparts.

4. Houston

Houston HC Kelvin Sampson
Maria Lysaker | USA TODAY Sports

2024-25 might end up being Houston’s year. The Cougars do lose All-American point guard Jamal Shead but return fifth-year stars in J’Wan Roberts and LJ Cryer, as well as four of five starters in total and 80% of last year’s scoring production — remember, on a team that was a clear top-3 squad until injuries derailed them in the NCAA Tournament.

Kelvin Sampson is circling the mountaintop, having made FIVE straight Sweet 16s, including two Elite Eights and a Final Four. Plus, they earned a No. 1 seed in the last two NCAA Tournaments. It’s just a matter of time before UH is back in the Final Four, and with an extremely veteran squad in 2025, this is likely their best shot to win it all before Sampson calls it quits.

5. Gonzaga

(Gabriel Mayberry | USA Today Sports)

Here’s the other great coach who just hasn’t been able to win the big one yet, and Mark Few has been within one win on two separate occasions. Perhaps he could get back there this season bringing back most of last year’s solid roster while making some additions.

Nolan Hickman and Ryan Nembhard are a veteran dual-combo-guard backcourt, and the frontcourt was the strength of the team last year as the Zags dominated in the post and were terrific on the glass. Plus, they added that necessary extra spark in Khalif Battle, a proven shot-creator and shot-maker.

6. Baylor

Baylor fans are just relieved to have survived the Bluegrass coaching cycle where both Kentucky and Louisville heavily pursued him. Instead, he’s hanging in Waco and has another elite roster.

Jeremy Roach is definitely a Scott Drew sort of guard, and he’s surrounded by a complementary backcourt. Meanwhile, Norchad Omier is a hulk of an addition at center while VJ Edgecombe has all the makings of a future top-five NBA Draft pick.

7. Iowa State

Keshon Gilbert
© Nirmalendu Majumdar | Ames Tribune | USA TODAY NETWORK

TJ Otzelberger’s leading scorer in 2024 had averaged 11 points per game for UNLV the year prior. That’s really to say that while for many, points-per-game is a be-all end-all of what makes a good transfer, he’s finding success with his own guys.

That player, Keshon Gilbert, returns alongside Tamin Lipsey, Curtis Jones and freshman star Milan Momcilovic. The backcourt will be wicked defensively yet again and Momcilovic has a rare skill level for such a young forward. He could easily blossom into a star. The worry is that they lost their entire forward rotation aside from him, and that was a group that really set the tone in Ames.

8. Duke

Duke basketball coach Jon Scheyer
Duke basketball coach Jon Scheyer, via Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024-25 preseason is another in which Jon Scheyer gets the benefit of the doubt with a great roster. His teams rated No. 2 and No. 7 in the preseason in ’24 and ’23 while the Blue Devils were hardly a contender throughout either season but were still pretty good teams.

The Elite Eight run was a bit lucky thanks to upsets and Houston’s roster deterioration, but it showed that Scheyer can get this group to the cusp of a Final Four. However, expectations are to get there in 2025 with lauded No. 1 prospect Cooper Flagg, by far the No. 1 recruiting class (just like in ’22) and experience across the roster. The time is now for the new regime in Durham.

9. Arizona

Arizona G Caleb Love
(Yannick Peterhans | USA TODAY Sports)

Arizona is yet to finish with double-digit losses in three seasons under Tommy Lloyd and have been a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in each NCAA Tournament. But the results? An Elite Eight, a Sweet 16 and a first-round exit vs. No. 15 seed Princeton.

Upsets happen and the other finishes are fine, but if Arizona is once again a top team, perhaps the stars will finally align for them to break through to the Final Four. Belief is reasonable with All-American Caleb Love back in the fold, but so is some doubt with Arizona having to replace the other four starters as they return 0 starters on the roster aside from Love.

10. North Carolina

Notre Dame North Carolina RJ Davis
North Carolina guard RJ Davis. (Photo courtesy of North Carolina Athletics)

Caleb Love and RJ Davis have seemingly been around since the Obama administration, and while the former leads Arizona, the latter is back for another year in Carolina blue. UNC is again a major threat, if for no other reason than Davis, a 21-point-per game scorer who’s undergone linear improvement every single season in Chapel Hill.

Replacing Harrison Ingram, Cormac Ryan and Armando Bacot will be extremely challenging, especially since Ingram and Bacot were the backbone of a tremendous Tar Heel defense. But with youngster Elliot Cadeau a year older, North Carolina could pose the most dangerous backcourt in the country in 2025 featuring a Wooden Award candidate in Davis.

ESPN’s 11-25 Rankings

11. Auburn
12. Texas A&M
13. Tennessee
14. Arkansas
15. Creighton
16. Purdue
17. Marquette
18. Indiana
19. Cincinnati
20. Ole Miss
21. Florida
22. Texas
23. Kentucky
24. UCLA
25. Rutgers

Next In Line: Texas Tech, Xavier, Oregon, Kansas State, Maryland