clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2022-2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball: Top-60 teams preseason rankings, No. 31-60

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament - First Round - Buffalo - Previews Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

After being robbed of a chance for a national title in 2020, with the cancelation of the NCAA Tournament (that team finished at No. 7 in Kenpom’s final ratings — Tom Izzo’s 12th team to finish in the top-10 in Kenpom’s ratings, which now include Izzo’s entire tenure), and after a historically bad season in 2021 (finishing at No. 64 in Kenpom’s final ratings — the worst-performing team Izzo has ever had), last year’s Michigan State team showed tremendous progress (finishing at No. 42 in Kenpom’s final ratings).

As Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans resume their rebuilding project and quest for a national championship, this 2022-2023 season may appear to be a pause before the excitement of the 2023-2024 season (and its stellar freshman class), but, in fact, this season will likely determine the ceiling of that 2023-2024 team. It will be this season where that future team’s upperclassmen will really earn their spurs.

This year’s team will need to be heading into the NCAA Tournament ranked inside the top-25 of Kenpom’s ratings to have any sort of shot at reaching a Final Four; furthermore, finishing the season inside of the top-25 will set up the 2023-2024 team perfectly, as that team should return four players in the back-court (A.J. Hoggard, Jaden Akins, Pierre Brooks and Tre Holloman), and three contributors in the front-court (Jaxon Kohler, Mady Sissoko and Carson Cooper).

This exercise intends to place a marker down as to where I see the top-60 teams in men’s college basketball heading toward the 2022-2023 season. Despite the Heraclitan flux that defines college basketball, things are pretty clear at this point in the summer in terms of rosters, transfers, recruiting and coaching moves. Regardless, please consider this to be a still-somewhat-impressionist vision of a rankings that will come into clearer definition as the season approaches and as rosters become truly finalized.

Without further ado...

Here are the current depth charts and rankings of the top-60 NCAA men’s basketball teams for the 2022-2023 season:

(Disclaimer: I may have completely forgotten, omitted or mis-depth-charted various players. Please DO let me know about factual or obvious omissions and errors both with regard to individual players and teams.)

I view this as a fun collective exercise: please offer your thoughts and critiques and do not be surprised if I change my rankings and depth charts based on your excellent input!

We will start with the bottom half of the top-60 rankings, and tackle the top-30 teams in an upcoming separate post. Following each team, I provide my thoughts, questions and comments on that particular school.

Part One: No. 31-60

31. Michigan

1 - Jaelin Llewellyn, Dug McDaniel
2 - Kobe Bufkin, Isaiah Barnes, Adrien Nunez
3 - Jett Howard, Joey Baker, Greg Glen III, Jace Howard
4 - Terrance Williams, Youssef Khayat, Will Tschetter
5 - Hunter Dickinson, Tarris Reed

Michigan should have a very good team this season, but I do not see the Wolverines starting the year inside of the top-30 because they simply do not return a lot of minutes and production. Dickinson is obviously a huge human and a great player, and should be in consideration for Big Ten Player of the Year and All-American, but outside of his likely front-court starting-mate, Williams, and reserve (but talented) guard Bufkin, Michigan returns nothing else. While Llewellyn should be a solid grad-transfer point-guard, he has only had one good-shooting season from three-point range, and McDaniel, though tough and heady, is tiny.

The real questions, however, are on the wing: can Bufkin and Barnes provide some scoring punch? Will Howard be able to bear the burden of being a go-to perimeter scorer as a freshman? Will Baker’s body allow him to contribute? And will Khayat as a hybrid forward be able to play on the wing, or exclusively at power forward? The key to this team is Khayat and Howard. Both have NBA potential and have to play like it right away. If Khayat has a big season, and if Howard can take on a significant scoring and creating load, then Michigan could make a run for the Big Ten title, and a deep run into March.

32. Dayton

1 - Malachi Smith
2 - Kobe Elvis, Kobe Brea
3 - RJ Blakney, Mike Sharavjamts, Kaleb Washington, Zimi Nwokeji
4 - Toumani Camara, Mustapha Amzil
5 - DaRon Holmes, Tyrone Baker, Richard Amaefule

This team returns its entire nine-man rotation. This strong fact, alone, should make you believe that I should rank Dayton higher, and I fully anticipate pushing them into the top-30 once some of those teams begin to falter. This group has excellent guard play in Smith, Brea and Elvis. It has a dominant star post-player in Holmes, who will get NBA looks next summer, and it has excellent glue-guys in Blakney, Camara, Amzil and Washington. Heck, the Flyers even bring in a top-90 recruit in Sharavjamts. This team is going to win at least one NCAA Tournament game, and should be a betting favorite to get to the Sweet 16. Atlantic 10 favorite; strong bet to rise.

33. UConn

1 - Hassan Diarra, Tristen Newton
2 - Nahiem Alleyne, Joey Calcaterra
3 - Jordan Hawkins, Alex Karaban
4 - Andre Jackson, Richard Springs
5 - Adama Sanogo, Samson Johnson, Donovan Clingan

Dan Hurley’s Connecticut squad is another team that could easily rise a few tiers if everything clicks. Sanogo, Jackson, Springs and Johnson (along with the newcomer behemoth freshman Clingan) should form one of the deeper and more physically imposing front-courts in the nation. But the back-court is a bit of a pastiche, relying on four transfers in Diarra, Alleyne, Newton and Calcaterra to do a ton of work, and relying on Hawkins to play like the explosive scoring guard he was supposed to be last season as a freshman. Alleyne is the key — he is the best shooter on the team, and will shoot a ton of three-pointers. If one or two of the other guards work out, then the Huskies should challenge Villanova and Creighton. Second-tier Big East team, for now.

34. Xavier

1 - Souley Boum, KyKy Tandy
2 - Adam Kunkel, Desmond Claude
3 - Colby Jones, Kam Craft, Elijah Tucker
4 - Zach Freemantle, Jerome Hunter
5 - Jack Nunge, Dieonte Miles, Cesare Edwards

Xavier won the NIT, and had a fairly strong season last go around (No. 53 in Kenpom’s final ratings), but the problem remains offensive efficiency outside of Nunge (who is finally healthy). Jones showed star-potential in the final third of the season last year, hitting double-figures in each of Xavier’s final 11 games, and I believe he will build off of that and become Xavier’s go-to player. But Boum and Craft are probably the keys to the season — their defense, creation and passing will prove essential for a team that lost its top-two set-up men from last season. Second-tier Big East team, for now.

35. Memphis

1 - Kendric Davis, Elijah McCadden
2 - Emmanuel Akot, Jayden Hardaway
3 - Johnathan Lawson, Keonte Kennedy
4 - DeAndre Williams, Chandler Lawson
5 - Malcolm Dandridge, Kaodirichi Akobundu-Ehiogu

Memphis should finish second in the American Athletic Conference. Gone are the headaches of the last two seasons. All that remains on Penny Hardaway’s team are team-first guys, and a couple of transfers (in Davis and Akot), who should solidify the offense. This team will not have the flash of the five-star players that Hardaway has courted the last few years, but it should build on the strong end to last season and actually gel and produce far better than it has overall in the past two seasons.

Davis is a high-usage, efficient star, and Akot is an efficient secondary scorer and creator, with an NBA frame and athleticism. Kennedy, McCadden and the Lawson brothers should provide a good dose of athleticism and length, while Dandridge and Williams play lock-down defense in the post. Williams and Davis will drive the bus, and the rest will follow. This team will be tough and fun. Second-favorite in the AAC, and a strong bet to move up the rankings.

36. Florida State

1 - Caleb Mills, Jalen Warley
2 - Matthew Cleveland, Darin Green, Chandler Jackson
3 - Cam’Ron Fletcher, Baba Miller, Jeremiah Bembry
4 - Malik Osborne, De’Ante Green, Cameron Corhen
5 - Naheem McLeod, Jaylan Gainey

Florida State is one of the toughest teams for me to gauge. FSU had everything needed on paper to be a top-25 team last season; but instead, the Seminoles collapsed finishing at No. 105 in Kenpom’s ratings, and .500 in a mediocre ACC. They return a lot of the same cast of characters, and will rely on Mills, Warley, Cleveland and Fletcher to considerably improve their efficiency on offense. Baba Miller — a fascinating (former FSU player) John Butler near-clone — should provide a ton of length and some wing shooting, and Gainey will be an intriguing addition as the senior transfer “adult-in-the-room” from Brown. Can McLeod stay healthy? Can Warley and Cleveland convince NBA scouts they are worth a pick? There is potential here, but to assume even as big a jump as I am is probably a fool’s errand.

37. Notre Dame

1 - JJ Starling, Marcus Hammond
2 - Cormac Ryan, Robby Carmody
3 - Dane Goodwin, Trey Wertz
4 - Nate Laszewski, Tony Sanders Jr., Doug Konieczny
5 - Ven-Allen Lubin, Matt Zona, Dominick Campbell

Starling subs in as a somewhat carbon-copy of former Notre Dame player Blake Wesley; Ryan, Goodwin, Laszewski and Wertz all return and will need to vastly increase their usage. Hammond and the trio of centers will need to step up immediately in a big and physical ACC. This team, however, will go as far as Starling and Laszewski take it — both guys need to average around 18 points per game for this team to have a real shot at making it big. Second-tier ACC team.

38. Iowa

1 - Ahron Ulis, Dasonte Bowen
2 - Tony Perkins, Josh Dix
3 - Patrick McCaffery, Connor McCaffery
4 - Kris Murray, Payton Sandfort
5 - Filip Rebrača, Josh Ogundele, Riley Mulvey

Iowa has a lot of production to replace from last season, but with Kris Murray ready to step into the recently-vacated star-hybrid-forward role that his brother, Keegan, manned so effectively last season, the Hawkeyes should be OK. Murray, Sandfort, Perkins and the McCaffrey brothers should retain Iowa’s customary offensive efficiency, and despite the loss of Jordan Bohannon, and the not-insignificant drop-off to Ulis at point guard, Iowa’s passing ethos should mitigate the departures significantly.

If Perkins, Murray and Sandfort can step up another couple of levels in their ability to efficiently fill higher-volume offensive roles, then this team probably will deserve a bump in its ranking come mid-season. At this point, I do not think the top-end talent is quite good enough with this group, but solid-at-minimum should be the floor — another NCAA Tournament berth and a top-six finish in the conference should be the expectation. Second-tier Big Ten team.

39. Seton Hall

1 - Al-Amir Dawes, Jaquan Harris
2 - Jamir Harris, Dre Davis
3 - Kadary Richmond, Femi Odukale, Jaquan Sanders
4 - Tray Jackson, Tae Davis
5 - Tyrese Samuel, K.C. Ndefo, Abdou Ndiaye

Seton Hall was one of the worst passing teams in the nation last season, but the Pirates return some talent in Samuel, Jackson, Richmond and Jamir Harris — a solid core-four. Dawes, Odukale, Dre Davis, and Ndefo should should provide a great talent-infusion that may well boost Seton Hall to contention status in conference play. Dawes is more of a shooting-point guard than a distributor (but Richmond will often play as the de facto point-guard anyway), but his three-point acumen will really mesh nicely with Jamir Harris’ and Jackson’s shooting to form a balanced offensive starting group.

Ndefo (the Saint Peter’s undersized-forward transfer) should provide a huge boost to the Seton Hall defense as he makes a TON of plays on that end, and Odukale and Dre Davis should provide a solid duo of bigger, slashing guards off the bench to sustain bench units on offense. This team should be a top-30 defensive team, and if the offensive spacing-revolution really works, then Seton Hall could challenge the top of the Big East Conference.

40. Saint Louis

1 - Yuri Collins, Brandon Courtney
2 - Javon Pickett, Fred Thatch, Nick Parker
3 - Gibson Jimerson, Sincere Parker, Kellen Thames
4 - Javonte Perkins, Terrence Hargrove
5 - Francis Okoro, Jake Forrester, Mouhamadou Cissé

This is the last dance for this group at Saint Louis: Pickett (Missouri guard transfer), Perkins, Thatch, Okoro and Forrester (Temple transfer) are all seniors, with Perkins, in particular, hopefully getting his due (a healthy sixth year and a chance to display his full potential for professional scouts). Perkins’ injuries the last two seasons have robbed Saint Louis of its best player; if he can stay healthy, if Jimerson has taken another step forward athletically (and defensively) and if the Collins-Pickett-Thatch trio can really mesh in the back-court, then this team should challenge Dayton for the A-10, and could make a Sweet 16. Okoro, Forrester and Hargrove will be totally solid in the post, but it is Perkins — who was averaging 17 points per game with a 117 offensive-rating last season before his injury — who will determine this season. I am pulling for the Billikens.

41. Rutgers

1 - Paul Mulcahy, Derek Simpson, Aiden Terry
2 - Aundre Hyatt, Jalen Miller
3 - Cam Spencer, Oksar Palquist
4 - Caleb McConnell, Mawot Mag
5 - Cliff Omoruyi, Dean Reiber, Antwone Woolfolk, Luke Nathan

While Rutgers will start the season on the outside-looking-in of the NCAA Tournament bubble, do not be surprised to see the Scarlet Knights finish in the top-six of the Big Ten Conference and bullying their way into the tournament field in the conference tournament. Point guard and depth are the questions, as only Hyatt, Mulcahy, McConnell, Omoruyi and Reiber appear to be the only really playable returners.

The trick is that head coach Steve Pikiell found an underrated gunner in Cam Spencer who torched the nets for Loyola (Maryland) in the Patriot League for the past three years (earning all-league honors last season) — he will remind people of “Billy Hoyle” from “White Men Can’t Jump.” Mulcahy, Spencer and Hyatt will initiate the offense by committee, and that starting-five-plus-Reiber will play almost every minute. This team will be tough as nails, competitive as heck and will have enough scoring to haunt teams all season.

42. Florida

1 - Kyle Lofton, Trey Bonham, Denzel Aberdeen
2 - Myreon Jones, Niels Lane
3 - Kowacie Reeves, Riley Kugel, Will Richard
4 - CJ Felder, Alex Fudge
5 - Colin Castleton, Jason Jitoboh, Alexsander Syzmczyk

The Gators return Jones, Felder, Castleton, Jitoboh and Lane. That solid group is well situated for Lofton (the St. Bonaventure grad transfer) to catalyze this collection of players into a team. Reeves, Jones, Lane and Kugel will need to shoot better from long-range than the Florida back-court did last season, and, again, Lofton’s shooting and creation will be the key. Florida will be fighting for an NCAA Tournament berth all conference-season long, but I would be surprised if they do not sneak in as the SEC’s seventh team.

43. Oklahoma State

1 - Avery Anderson, John-Michael Wright
2 - Rondel Walker, Chris Harris, Caleb Asberry
3 - Bryce Thompson, Russell Harrison, Quion Williams
4 - Tyreek Smith, Woody Newton
5 - Moussa Cissé, Kalib Boone, Bernard Kouma

A year after getting a four-seed in the NCAA Tournament (before losing in the second round in 2021), Oklahoma State was abysmal last season. Finishing 15-15, the Cowboys lost seven of those games either in overtime or by two possessions or fewer. In other words, if this team had a closer or a way to get easier buckets in crunch time, then it might have finished inside the top-25.

Anderson, Walker, Thompson, Cissé, Smith, Boone and Newton all return to the same roles they had last season, and Oklahoma State adds in a potentially significant scoring punch in the form of Wright, who served as High Point’s gunner for the last few seasons — I expect his efficiency to improve with more attention on others, and that blending of scoring ability with the Cowboys’ returners should combine to benefit all parties. If Anderson, Walker and Thompson can get north of 35 percent from three-point range, then this team will be cooking with grease.

44. UAB

1 - Jordan Walker, Tony Toney
2 - Eric Gaines, Tyler Bertram
3 - Ledarrius Brewer, Tavin Lovan, Efrem Johnson
4 - KJ Buffen, Ty Brewer
5 - Trey Jemison, Rongie Gordon, Javian Davis-Fleming

Walker, Buffen, Jemison, Gordon, Lovan and Bertram all return from an NCAA Tournament team, and the Blazers add Gaines (LSU), Bertram (Binghamton) and the Brewer brothers (East Tennessee State). All of the transfers can score, shoot and play. This team is loaded with veterans, has depth at every position, and appears primed to win Conference USA. C-USA favorite.

45. Arizona State

1 - Frankie Collins, Austin Nunez
2 - DJ Horne, Luther Muhammad
3 - Devan Cambridge, Desmond Cambridge
4 - Marcus Bagley, Jamiya Neal, Malcolm Flaggs
5 - Alonzo Gaffney, Enoch Boakye, Warren Washington, Duke Brennan

Why believe in the Sun Devils? I do not have a good answer to that question other than “intriguing talent.” The coaching is lacking, the defense will be optional and the need for a lot of talented dudes (including a number of key transfers, guys coming back from injury and dudes trying to prove to NBA scouts that they are worth a roster spot) to come together to sacrifice for the betterment of the team seems like a tall order. Still...the talent is there. The Cambridge brothers are NBA-level athletes, Bagley and Gaffney are second-round NBA hopefuls, Boakye is talented, albeit inefficient, and Horne, Muhammad and Collins all have produced or shown flashes at the high major level in the past. If Bobby Hurley can produce the best coaching performance of his career, then he may save his job and get this team to the NCAA Tournament.

46. Ohio State

1 - Isaac Likekele, Tanner Holden, Bruce Thornton Jr.
2 - Sean McNeil, Roddy Gayle, Bowen Hardman
3 - Gene Brown, Justice Sueing, Brice Sensabaugh
4 - Seth Towns, Kalen Etzler
5 - Zed Key, Felix Okpara

I just don’t see this experiment working out, but maybe it will! Chris Holtmann brought in three transfers in Likekele, McNeil and Holden to shepherd the back-court of the future (Thornton and Gayle), while he relies on veterans Brown, Sueing and Towns to shepherd the forwards of the future (Sensabaugh and Etzler). There are just a lot of bodies that will, like last season, inconveniently disrupt the development of the younger players who are the future of the program. In essence, this season is ensuring that the 2023-2024 season has very little hope for conference contention. Those parts will all probably fit together well enough to get Ohio State into the NCAA Tournament, but at what cost?

47. Syracuse

1 - Joe Girard, Symir Torrence
2 - Judah Mintz, Qadir Copeland
3 - Chris Bunch, Justin Taylor
4 - Benny Williams, Mounir Hima, Maliq Brown
5 - Jesse Edwards, John Bol Ajak, Peter Carey

Jim Boeheim brings back Girard, Torrence, Williams Edwards and Ajak, and adds in a huge crop of freshmen, with all four of his prospective rotation players at the wing and guard spots being first-year collegians. Will this work out? Probably not. Will Syracuse wind up on the bubble? Probably. But the top-end talent just is not there on either end outside of Girard and Mintz on offense, and Edwards on defense. Three high-end one-way players simply is not enough. I expect a fade here for a team, coach and program that appears to have run the course of its current iteration, and faded like a meteor last season.

48. Cincinnati

1 - Rob Phinisee, Mika Adams-Woods
2 - David DeJulius, John Newman
3 - Landers Nolley, Jeremiah Davenport, Daniel Skillings
4 - Jarrett Hensley, Josh Reed
5 - Kalu Ezikpe, Viktor Lakhin, Ody Oguama, Sage Tolentino

In the chase-group in the American Athethic Conference, Cincinnati and Memphis are the clear second-tier teams behind Houston. Cincinnati is behind Memphis because despite the talent-ceiling being high on offense (with the addition of Nolley), the defenses cannot compare. Nolley, DeJulius, Phinisee, Adams-Woods and Newman should form a solid scoring group, but the front-court looks like a major area of concern.

49. Stanford

1 - Michael O’Connell, Issa Silva
2 - Spencer Jones, Michael Jones, Jarvis Moss
3 - Brandon Angel, Jaylen Thompson, Ryan Agarwal
4 - Harrison Ingram, Max Murrell
5 - James Keefe, Maxime Raynaud

The best part about Stanford’s 2021-2022 season was that it ended. Ingram was never quite physically ready to impose his will on teams, which is why he returned for a second season, and O’Connell and Silva never showed their abilities with any consistency — Davidson transfer Michael Jones will be relied on to take and make a ton of three-point shots. The bet here is on continuity: almost all of these guys return to the same spots, in the same roles; assuming they got better, this team should take a significant leap toward relevance in the Pac-12.

50. Saint Mary’s

1 - Augustus Marčiulionas, Aidan Mahaney
2 - Logan Johnson, Chris Howell, Quinn Clinton
3 - Alex Ducas, Leemet Böckler, Joshua Jefferson
4 - Kyle Bowen, Mason Forbes
5 - Mitchell Saxen, Matthew van Komen, Harry Wessels

The starting five players are either returning starters or former key reserves, so continuity will remain high for the Gaels. This team has shooting, experience and size. Should compete nicely in the West Coast Conference, and if the team’s non-conference schedule goes well, should be in line for an at-large bid.

51. Tulane

1 - Jalen Cook
2 - DeVon Baker, Sion James, Tre Williams
3 - Jaylen Forbes, Jadan Coleman, Collin Holloway
4 - Tylan Pope, RJ McGee, Oton Jankovic
5 - Kevin Cross, Nobal Days, Percy Daniels

Tulane returns its entire nine-man rotation from a team that finished in the top-100 of Kenpom’s ratings. Ron Hunter’s Green Wave lost 15 games, but nine of those were by two possessions or fewer. Almost every guy on the team can shoot or score on offense, but the lack of size (only two guys at 6-foot-8 or 6-foot-9 returning) has to be solved on defense. The answer is an even-higher-pressure/more-steals defense, and a lot of really fun-to-watch basketball. This team is a safe bet to exceed expectations in the American Athletic Conference and trend toward the NCAA Tournament bubble. This is a group that will deserve an at-large bid over an eighth-place Power Five conference finisher. I am pulling for this team. Top-four AAC team.

52. Oklahoma

1 - Grant Sherfield, Bijan Cortes, Milos Uzan
2 - Joseph Bamisile, CJ Noland, Otega Oweh
3 - Jalen Hill, Benjamin Schroder
4 - Yaya Keita, Jacob Groves
5 - Tanner Groves, Luke Northweather

Oklahoma will need transfers or freshmen to carry a lot of weight. The Groves brothers and Hill should form a nice core group along with Sherfield and Bamisile, but the lack of athleticism and talent likely relegates this team to a season-long grind.

53. Middle Tennessee

1 - Camryn Weston, Jalen Jordan, Jestin Porter
2 - Eli Lawrence, TreVon Smith
3 - Justin Bufford, Teafale Lenard
4 - Tyler Millin, Elias King
5 - Jared Coleman-Jones, Christian Fussell

Middle Tennessee, like Tulane, returns a lot, including one of my NBA Draft-sleepers in Teafale Lenard — a long, explosive athlete with incredible dunk, block and steal numbers for a freshman wing last season. The Blue Raiders will rely on their athletic, high-intensity brand of basketball to carry their lack of offensive polish. The trick will be the glass and interior defense: Middle Tennessee was awful at both last season. The bigs (and Lenard) will have to really compete and execute better on the glass for this team to follow-through on its promise. Second-favorite in Conference USA.

54. Iowa State

1 - Jeremiah Williams, Eli King, Tamin Lipsey
2 - Caleb Grill, Jaren Holmes
3 - Gabe Kalscheur, Demarion Watson
4 - Aljaz Kunc, Hason Ward, Tre King
5 - Osun Osunniyi, Robert Jones

At this point in the rankings, I am looking for teams on the bubble (at best), or favorites from smaller conferences, who have the chance to win games either through a combination of individual talents, or a nice meshing of scheme and veterans. Iowa State only brings back Kalscheur, Grill, Kunc and Watson, but transfers Osunniyi (St. Bonaventure), Ward (VCU), Williams (Temple) and Tre King (Eastern Kentucky) should absolutely solidify the Cyclones’ post-defense, and King, Watson, Holmes and Lipsey should provide enough scoring and bench production to keep games alive. Williams, the point guard, will need to come in right away and produce. Second-tier Big 12 team.

55. New Mexico

1 - Jaelen House, Donovan Dent
2 - Jamal Mashburn, Quinton Webb
3 - KJ Jenkins, Taryn Todd, Emmanuel Kuac, Braden Appelhans
4 - Javonte Johnson, Jay Allen-Tovar, Josiah Allick
5 - Morris Udeze, Sebastian Forsling, Birima Seck

Richard Pitino can still put rosters together, but his ability to elevate them remains in doubt. Last season, New Mexico fell apart at the first sign of trouble (still a vast improvement over the previous season). This season, with largely the same cast of characters, the hope will be that the defense magically improves. Udeze, a Wichita State transfer, will not bring action plays on the defensive end, but he is good positionally, and is a vocal leader. If Udeze and Forsling take most of the minutes at center, then Johnson and Allen-Tovar can tag-team the stretch-four position, which should give House, Mashburn and Jenkins even more space to operate.

The offense should be in the top-60 or so, but the defense has to dramatically improve on the No. 243 efficiency rating the Lobos finished with (top-100 as a reasonable goal) in order to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014. “Best of the rest” in the Mountain West Conference behind the favorites in San Diego State and Wyoming.

56. Providence

1 - Jared Bynum, Jayden Pierre
2 - Noah Locke, Alyn Breed, Devin Carter
3 - Quante Berry, Corey Floyd
4 - Bryce Hopkins
5 - Clifton Moore, Ed Croswell, Rafael Castro

I am not positive this Providence roster has enough to actually get into the NCAA Tournament after last year’s exciting Sweet 16 run (and near upset of Kansas). Bynum and Breed return, as does super-senior Croswell, but none of the other seniors from that squad are back. Instead, transfers Hopkins, Moore and Locke will be tasked with replicating the production of the departed veterans. Can Berry or one of the other young wings come in as a freshman and hold down that wing spot? Doubtful, but there is still a chance for this group to squeak into the tournament.

57. North Carolina State

1 - Terquavion Smith, Jarkel Joiner
2 - Breon Pass, Jack Clark, Liron Thomas
3 - Casey Morsell
4 - Greg Gantt, Ernest Ross, Dusan Mahorcic
5 - DJ Burns, Ebenezer Dowuona

This is purely a bet on talent: Smith, Casey Morsell and Burns are a good trio of players (with Smith potentially a late first-round pick in next summer’s NBA Draft). But this team was bad last year with more veterans on it, and plays in a tough conference. Smith will have to play at an All-American level to get this team to the Dance.

58. VCU

1 - Ace Baldwin, Jarren McAllister
2 - Zeb Jackson, Josh Banks
3 - Jayden Nunn, Alphonzo Billups, David Shriver
4 - Brandon Johns, Nick Kern, Jamir Watkins
5 - Jalen DeLoach, Christian Fermin, Toibu Lawal

I am really interested to see this team. VCU returns a solid contingent from its NIT squad last season: Baldwin, Nunn, DeLoach and Kern, but will need that group to dramatically improve their individual offensive ratings, and to see Michigan transfers Jackson and Johns reach levels they never did in the Big Ten. Second-tier A-10 team.

59. Furman

1 - Mike Bothwell, JP Pegues, Carter Whitt
2 - Joe Anderson, Alex Williams
3 - Marcus Foster, Tyrese Hughey, Davis Molnar
4 - Jalen Slawson, Garrett Hien, Ben VanderWal
5 - Jonny Lawrence, James Repass

The Southern Conference got gutted by transfers this summer, and Furman (a top-75 Kenpom team that lost in overtime by one point to Chattanooga for the auto-bid) should win the conference simply because it returns basically its entire team. Bothwell is a stud, and adding in Lawrence and Repass will hopefully give the Paladins enough size to secure the conference tournament and their shooting (the returners — Bothwell, Anderson, Foster, Slawson and Hien — can all hit three-pointers at a high clip) should be able to scare, if not upset, a team or two in the tournament.

60. Loyola Chicago

1 - Braden Norris, Jayden Dawons, Jalen Quinn
2 - Marquise Kennedy, Ben Schwieger
3 - Jeameril Wilson, Sheldon Edwards, Treyvon Lewis
4 - Tom Welch, Philip Alston
5 - Bryce Golden, Jacob Hutson

Drew Valentine can clearly coach, and bringing back Norris, Kennedy, Welch and Hutson is a great place to start building a team. Golden, Wilson and Edwards should provide yet another significant dose of veteran leadership and scoring. If Sheldon Edwards and Trey Lewis can provide some scoring punch, then the Ramblers’ first season in the A-10 may prove to be a fruitful one. Second-tier A-10 team, for now.

Stay tuned for the upcoming Part Two (No. 1-30) soon.