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Andy Katz, Correspondent | April 23, 2019

Early college basketball rankings: Michigan State leads Andy Katz's Power 36 for 2019-2020

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Here at we never stop, regardless of the time of the year. So, one season is over, and we’re onto the next. And that means it’s time for our first Power 36 for the 2019-20 season. Of course, this will change countless times between now and the tip-off of the season in November.

The NBA draft decisions will be critical to where most of these teams land next season.

The dates to remember are these: April 21 is the deadline to declare, May 29 the deadline to withdraw before the draft on June 20. The NBA draft combine is May 14-19 and if an underclassman isn’t invited to the combine in Chicago, then it should be a sign that they need to come back to school if the intent was on being a first-round or high second-round pick.

Let's get to it.

1. Michigan State: The majority of the Final Four team is due back including the Big Ten Player of the Year, Cassius Winston.

2. Kentucky: There’s a good chance the Wildcats bring back a significant portion of their team, plus a highly-touted recruiting class yet again.

3. Oregon: The Ducks were one of the hottest teams to end the season and Kenny Wooten could end up as a top defensive player of the year next season.

4. Auburn: The Tigers were no fluke with a Final Four run, and point guard Jared Harper could be in contention for SEC Player of the Year.

5.Marquette: Markus Howard isn’t going anywhere and that means the Golden Eagles are a Big East favorite.

6. Virginia: The likely departure of De’Andre Hunter and Ty Jerome pushes the defending champions down a few spots. But if the rest of the roster remains intact, the Cavs are the team to beat in the ACC.

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7. Michigan: If the Wolverines can figure out offensive consistency (and they should under John Beilein) then they will be back in the race for the Big Ten title.

8. Duke: The Blue Devils got great news Monday that Tre Jones decided to return to anchor another stellar freshmen class.

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9. Louisville: The Cardinals will stay in the top 10 if Jordan Nwora decides to return to school for a run at a top four finish in the ACC.

10. Texas Tech: There was no way I wasn’t going to rank the Red Raiders in the top 10 after getting burned by not considering them for the Power 36 in last season’s preseason. Chris Beard is type of coach you have to trust even if he loses a lot.

11. Ohio State: Kaleb Wesson and a highly-touted incoming class means the Buckeyes won’t have to sweat Selection Sunday, but rather add to a loaded top of the Big Ten.

12. Kansas: The backcourt returns, even if Dedric Lawson is gone. And remember this is Kansas, which never falls off too far.

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13. Florida State: The length and athleticism isn’t going anywhere and Leonard Hamilton continues to be ageless. This Seminole team will remain true to its identity and be a pest all season long.

14. Florida: The Gators are trending in the right direction and Andrew Nembhard is a big-shot maker that can help them compete for a top four spot in the SEC.

15. Tennessee: The Vols will move up if Grant Williams returns but there are still some holes to fill in a few key spots.

16. VCU: The Rams were the dominant team in the A-10 but injuries held them back from a breakthrough in the NCAA tournament.

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17. Cincinnati: The Bearcats bring back Jarron Cumberland, making them the favorite in the AAC and a team that will continue to be a tough out.

18. Gonzaga: There are still a lot of decisions to make but the assumption is Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke leave. If Zach Norvell and Killian Tillie come back then the Zags should be a quality team yet again.

19. Iowa: The Hawkeyes could challenge for a Big Ten championship if the core of this team returns intact. The defense continued to improve and the shooting isn’t going south anytime soon.

20. Seton Hall: The Pirates could end up yet again being in a tussle with Marquette and Nova for the Big East title if Myles Powell is back. The Powell-Markus Howard matchup will be one of the best in the conference/country.

21. Memphis: Penny Hardaway should have his Tigers pushing Cincinnati for the American title with a stellar recruiting class led by James Wiseman.

22. Maryland: The Terps are getting Jalen Smith back inside and already have Anthony Cowan back. A decision awaits for Bruno Fernando. If he’s back then the Terps could be a pushing for the league title.

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23. Oklahoma: The Sooners felt like they were on the verge of being an upper tier Big 12 team but then faded late. They returned to win a game in the NCAA tournament. They should be in a similar position next season.

24. North Carolina: There’s no way we can have a poll without the Tar Heels, who are losing a ton through seniors departing and the draft. But there are still young bigs returning and the prospect that the recruiting class will still be stellar.

25. Utah State: The Aggies are now the team to beat in the Mountain West after beating out Nevada and watching the Wolf Pack go through a major restructuring this month. Sam Merrill is the preseason MWC Player of the Year and a possible all-American.

26. Arizona: The Wildcats faded in the back half of the Pac-12 but Sean Miller has signed a top recruiting class led by Nico Mannon and Josh Green that could immediately leap the Wildcats into the top two in the conference.

27. Villanova: The next Nova star could end up being Saddiq Bey. Villanova, much like North Carolina, is losing multiple major contributors but it would be foolish to dismiss the Wildcats, especially with another high-level recruiting class.

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28. Georgetown: The Hoyas have one of the more underrated backcourts in James Akinjo and Mac McClung. If at least two bigs come through then the Hoyas can get Patrick Ewing back to the NCAA tournament.

29. Baylor: The Bears continue to surprise nearly every season. If Tristan Clark is back healthy then it won’t be a shock when the Bears are pushing the top tier in the Big 12.

30. Houston: The Cougars aren’t going anywhere. Defense can survive departures and the return of Dejon Jarreau will be a major plus.

31. Arizona State: The Sun Devils could be much higher if Luguentz Dort is definitely back. Dort, Remy Martin and Romeo White provide a core group to get the Sun Devils back in the NCAA tournament.

32. Washington: The Huskies are losing two of their best players in Matisse Thybulle and Noah Dickerson but Mike Hopkins’ style/zone is getting better with age. Jamel Bey and Nahziah Carter will anchor it and Kentucky transfer Quade Green will add plenty when he’s eligible.

33. Xavier: The Musketeers were one of the hottest teams in the Big East late in the season. And if Naji Marshall continues trending upwards then the Musketeers will be back where they belong in the league.

34. Purdue: The Boilermakers would be in the top 10 had Carsen Edwards returned, but he’s gone. If a point guard can replace him well enough, the talent is in place with Trevion Williams, Nojel Eastern and Aaron Wheeler ready to soar.

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35. Colorado: Patience will pay off for the Buffaloes. This should be the season for the breakthrough to the NCAA tournament. McKinley Wright IV is the one to lead the the Buffs back.

36. Illinois: Ayo Dosunmu still has to make a decision but if he’s back to go with Giorgi Bezhanishvili, Trent Frazier and Andres Feliz, the Illini should be back in the NCAA tournament.

Under consideration: Wisconsin, Penn State, Georgia, Creighton, Syracuse, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Florida.

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