Posted: 4/4/2012 4:23:36 AM
this is espn top 25 for next year as of day after national title 2012 game
Surprised? Putting Indiana No. 1 isn't a reach, and it speaks volumes about how far Tom Crean has brought the Hoosiers. There was legitimate grumbling in the Hoosier Nation a year ago, wondering whether the rebuilding was taking too long. Well, IU had two of the more significant wins of the 2011-12 regular season and then reached the Sweet 16, where it pushed Kentucky as well as any team. Cody Zeller has to stay put for Indiana to remain No. 1 of course. But if Zeller is back, the Hoosiers -- with nearly everyone returning and joined by another elite recruiting class -- will be right there in the running for a national title.
The Cardinals reached the Final Four despite a number of injuries and eligibility issues. They showed tremendous resolve and were a terrific team at home. Rick Pitino couldn't be too upset over the loss to Kentucky because he knows this team can be right back here next season. Can you imagine if Indiana and Louisville, near neighbors, are 1 and 2? Could happen. Peyton Siva should be Big East preseason player of the year and UL is only losing Kyle Kuric and Chris Smith. Plus, Wayne Blackshaer will be around for a whole season.
The Jayhawks are projected to lose Thomas Robinson, and they will lose Tyshawn Taylor. But have we learned our lesson not to dismiss anything Bill Self does with this program? Kansas might lose Jeff Withey, but don't be surprised if he stays with more touches coming his way. Newcomers Perry Ellis and Ben McLemore will be instant studs. Kansas isn't going anywhere.
The Wildcats likely will lose Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and maybe Doron Lamb and Marquis Teague. One or two might stay. Darius Miller also is gone, and he was one of the best glue guys in the country. But don't think for a second that the Wildcats will dip much at all. The additions of Ryan Harrow, Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley will keep Kentucky near the top again. And just think if Kentucky were to land Nerlens Noel and/or Shabazz Muhammad? If that occurs, don't be surprised to see Kentucky open up at No. 1 in the fall.
5. Ohio State
The Buckeyes have never disappointed under Thad Matta. This team is a consistent winner that is always near or at the top of the Big Ten and in title contention. Next season won't be any different. Jared Sullinger promised Matta two seasons so he could easily depart for the NBA. But should he after the national semifinal? Maybe not. The Buckeyes still have Aaron Craft, and Lenzelle Smith Jr. and LaQuinton Ross are going to be studs. Deshaun Thomas should be back, too. If he does return, this team will be in the thick of the title race.
6. NC State
How did this happen so fast? Is North Carolina State really the ACC favorite? Why not. North Carolina and Duke are taking on serious losses, and the Wolfpack overachieved under Mark Gottfried (and top assistant Bobby Lutz) to get to the Sweet 16. If the Wolfpack don't get too giddy about leaving (will C.J. Leslie remain?), they should be the favorite in the conference. Gottfried has one of the top recruiting classes in the country with Rodney Purvis, T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis. So get ready, Raleigh. You might just have the ACC favorite.
7. Michigan State
The Spartans lose Big Ten player of the year Draymond Green, Brandon Wood and Austin Thornton. But don't ever dismiss a Tom Izzo-coached team. Branden Dawson will be back, and so will Travis Trice. The Spartans don't ever lack for talent and a top-10 freshmen class is on the way. And if you think Michigan State is going to slide under Izzo, you haven't been following the program.