Predicting the rosters, let alone the order of rankings in April for the 2023-24 season is nearly impossible with unknown impact of the transfer portal, the NBA Draft early-entry process and more determining where players land.
This much we do know: The Big East is going to be loaded and primed for a monster season in some form or fashion. Expect UConn, Marquette and Creighton to compete for the league and national title. Xavier and Providence, which will be led by new coach Kim English, should be pushing to make the field as well. And don’t sleep on St. John’s and Rick Pitino. Pitino always finds a way to be relevant and while the roster is still being formed the expectation is that he will be in the mix for a bid in year one.
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The Big Ten, SEC, Big 12 and ACC should get their fair share of bids again.
And while Purdue could have the majority of its team back, including consensus player of the year Zach Edey (still TBD), Michigan State is more primed to be the Big Ten favorite with the way they played in the tournament. The Spartans will continue to be quicker and have more offensive options. Ohio State, Maryland and Northwestern are all expected to return enough to stay in the chase for a bid and a top-five finish in the Big Ten.
Kentucky has the recruits and is expected to be active in the transfer portal. The league will once again have teams competing near the top with Texas A&M, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas and Auburn probably near the top. But Missouri and Vanderbilt won’t be far behind. Jerry Stackhouse has proven to be a winner as a coach as well and will get the Commodores close or in the field.
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The Big 12 is going through a talent overhaul but come on there is no way Kansas, Baylor, Texas (one more season), TCU, Kansas State and now new member Houston will be rotating through various spots in the top 25.
The ACC should be led by new favorite Miami, with the incoming recruits at Duke and the returnees at North Carolina, ensuring those three are at the top. Virginia can never be counted out and there is bound to be another that makes a push for the title like Pittsburgh did this past season.
The Pac-12 will be led by the traditional powers UCLA and Arizona with Southern California and Oregon possessing enough talent to warrant ranking consideration. UCLA and USC have one more season in the Pac-12 before leaving for the Big Ten.
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Florida Atlantic isn’t going anywhere — except to a new conference from Conference USA to the American. The Owls return the majority of a team that made the Final Four. Head coach Dusty May is back and is primed to make another deep run. The top competition will be Penny Hardaway’s Memphis Tigers, which should also be ranked team at times next season.
The Mountain West, which produced its first Final Four team in San Diego State, will be back again with the Aztecs, New Mexico and Boise State as the likely top three contenders.
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The WCC will once again be determined by Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s, but based on who is returning the Gaels get the early nod as the favorite.
So, this is our first Power 36 of the 2023-24 season. The roster shakeups that will occur in May with the portal and the NBA early-entry deadline will help shape new rankings.
Power 36 rankings
- Michigan State
- Florida Atlantic
- Texas A&M
- Saint Mary’s
- Ohio State
- Southern California
- San Diego State
- North Carolina
- New Mexico
- Kansas State
- Boise State