Nov. 4—The 2023-24 men's college basketball season begins Monday — the start of a five-month stretch with games
nearly every day. What more could you want? AP Top 25 voter and Illinois beat writer Scott Richey puts the spotlight on his projected Top 100 teams, with assists from 15 fellow beat writers across the country (More D-3-4):
The Blue Devils boast a veteran point guard, three former five-star recruits that came back as sophomores — including preseason All-American Kyle Filipowski — and the usual assortment of new five-star freshmen to round out the rotation. Duke is still Duke in a post-Coach K world.
"The Golden Eagles aren't underdogs anymore after being picked to finish ninth in the Big East the last two seasons and exceeding those expectations each time. They will be a preseason top 10 team with the Final Four potential, so it will be interesting to see how MU adjusts to that shift. But Shaka Smart has bet on development over the transfer portal, and it has paid off. They lost Olivier-Maxence Prosper to the NBA, but there are returning players ready to fill in with Big East Sixth man of the Year David Joplin and Chase Ross, who flashed his talent as a freshman with lockdown defense and incredible leaping ability. Ross seems like a breakout candidate this season with a bigger role. MU will miss O-Max's defensive versatility, but with a deep roster there are reasons why this is one of the most anticipated seasons in recent memory."
Ben Steele, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The Boilermakers are essentially running it back after winning 29 games and a pair of Big Ten titles last season. Having the reigning national player of the year — a dominant 7-foot-4 center no less — in Zach Edey will go a long way in repeating that kind of success.
Bill Self has plenty of talent on this year's Kansas team. An All-American in Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson. Two of the best perimeter defenders in the country in Dajuan Harris Jr. and Kevin McCullar Jr. What the Jayhawks don't have, though, is depth of any kind.
Last year's national champions have some key players to replace, including NCAA tournament Most Outstanding Player Adama Sanogo. But the Huskies will remain stout up front with Donovan Clingan poised for a breakout season, added a veteran guard in Rutgers transfer Cam Spencer and loaded up on talented freshmen.
Tennessee ended the 2022-23 season with the stingiest defense in all of D-I basketball. Nothing has changed in that regard for the Vols, with four of Rick Barnes' Tennessee teams have ranked in the top six nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency. This should be the fifth.
Losing a pair of starters to the transfer portal in Ryan Nembhard (Gonzaga) and Arthur Kaluma (Kansas State) didn't help Creighton's depth issues. But the Bluejays are still strong with Ryan Kalkbrenner and dynamic guard Trey Alexander back.
A breakout freshman season from five-star Xavier Booker could change everything for Michigan State. Until it happens (if it does), the Spartans will rely on their stable of guards. The trio of Tyson Walker, AJ Hoggard and Jaden Akins is unmatched in the Big Ten.
No team navigated the offseason as adroitly as FAU. Mid-major teams that make a run to the Final Four are ripe for the picking in the portal. The Owls brought everybody back and have a legitimate case for doing it all over again this season.
10. Texas A&M
Is Buzz Williams one of the most underrated coaches in the country? After turning Virginia Tech around, he's doing the same at Texas A&M. The Aggies were 24-34 in his first two seasons before going a combined 52-23 in his last two.
The players might change for the Cougars, but the style won't under Kelvin Sampson. Houston's guard-centric approach has led to three 30-win seasons in the last five. The return of Jamal Shead with transfers LJ Cryer (Baylor) and Damian Dunn (Temple) should keep it going.
Tommy Lloyd had options to move on and run his own program during his two decades as a Gonzaga assistant. But he waited for a job like Arizona and is 61-11 in two seasons with the Wildcats.
"There's no simple answer when it comes to replacing someone who probably left Gonzaga as the most accomplished player in program history. Drew Timme broke the school scoring record, finished his career with a 121-13 record and would've been a No. 1 seed at the NCAA Tournament three times if not for the COVID-19 pandemic. Nobody expects Graham Ike to replicate Timme's numbers, but there's hope the Wyoming transfer who missed all of last season with a foot injury can give the Bulldogs another all-conference caliber player in the low post. Replacing Timme's leadership is another story, however, and Mark Few's said it will take a collective effort from the team's veteran players to fill the void the three-time All-American left."
Theo Lawson, Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman-Review
14. North Carolina
"All-America big man Armando Bacot and veteran guard RJ Davis are back, but UNC's roster is completely different. The Tar Heels lost nine players, including seven to the transfer portal, from the 2022-23 team and added seven newcomers. Notre Dame's Cormac Ryan and Stanford's Harrison Ingram figure to be the most impactful among the five transfers. Third-year coach Hubert Davis wants this group to play faster, share the ball better and become more consistent at knocking down jumpers."
Rodd Baxley, Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer
Three returning starters in Norchad Omier, Nijel Pack and Woogla Poplar should go a long way in Miami trying to repeat last year's Final Four success. Taking a flyer on a former five-star (Florida State's Matthew Cleveland) could also attenuate the loss of tourney star Jordan Miller.
Rodney Terry went 22-8 and led Texas to the Elite Eight after stepping in as interim coach when Chris Beard was fired. It's why he was able to shed the interim tag, and he's built the roster, adding Max Abmas to Tyrese Hunter and Dillon Mitchell, to prove he was the right choice.
It was a typical offseason in Fayetteville, Ark., in the Eric Musselman era. The Razorbacks were tied to basically every top transfer in the portal and wound up with seven newcomers. Mostly in a rebuilt backcourt with Tramon Mark (Houston), Khalif Battle (Temple) and El Ellis (Louisville).
Will Terrence Shannon Jr. have to play like an All-American and Coleman Hawkins tap all the way into his versatile potential for Illinois to have the kind of success its chasing? You bet. But the Illini have what every team wants — an old, experienced roster that shouldn't waver.
19. Southern California
Few teams can boast a backcourt pairing quite as potent as Boogie Ellis and Isaiah Collier. Those two will make the Trojans a Pac-12 contender — a place coach Andy Enfield has kept them for the better part of a decade.
"Staying adequately healthy should be enough for Villanova to bounce back and be an NCAA team this season. The Wildcats may not have a future NBA lottery pick this season, but this group essentially has nine or 10 players capable of starting right now for Power 5 teams. Depth and maturity look to be the hallmarks of this group."
Mike Jensen, Philadelphia Inquirer
"It'll be a different cast of characters, to say the least. Gone are Keyonte George (a talented one-and-done guy who was drafted by the Utah Jazz), Adam Flagler and LJ Cryer. But Scott Drew hit the transfer portal hard and is counting on an instant impact from Jayden Nunn of VCU and RayJ Dennis from Toledo. Dennis is the reigning MAC Player of the Year and has earned praise from Drew for his leadership. Add to that mix freshmen Miro Little, who as a teenager is already a veteran of the Finnish National Team, and Ja'Kobe Walter, a five-star recruit who by all accounts was the MVP of Baylor's foreign trip to France. Baylor's backcourt shouldn't be short on talent, only short on actual games played in Waco to this point."
Brice Cherry, Waco (Texas) Tribune-Herald
Just how hot is John Calipari's seat in Kentucky? The Wildcats haven't won the SEC since the 2019-20 season and aren't far removed from their 9-16 disaster a year later. Calipari is returning to his preferred method — a roster chock full of high-profile freshmen — to try and right the ship.
23. Saint Mary's
"The easy, obvious answer for Randy Bennett's sustained success is the recruiting pipeline from Australia that he has built, with the most notable players being guards Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova and center Jock Landale. And though the Aussie connection clearly has benefited the Gaels, Bennett's program has thrived for many other reasons, including player development, unselfishness and a commitment to defense. This season's team has four Australians, including swingman Alex Ducas, who decided to return for a fifth season, which was a big boost for the Gaels. A perfect example of the player-development portion of the program is senior center Mitchell Saxen, who played sparingly — and not particularly well — in his first two seasons, but blossomed into an All-West Coast Conference selection as a junior."
Steve Kroner, San Francisco Chronicle
Year one at Florida wasn't exactly a success for Todd Golden. The Gators went 16-17, finished eighth in the SEC and lost in the first round of the NIT. Pairing a slew of intriguing transfers with returning guards Will Richard and Riley Kugel should spell more success in the 2023-24 season.
Good thing Nate Oats prefers to run lineups full of guards because this year's Alabama team is short on proven frontcourt options. The Crimson Tide aren't lacking for guards, though, with Mark Sears and Rylan Griffen returning, and Aaron Estrada arriving from Hofstra.
How good the Bruins can be this season is still a bit of a question mark with the NCAA yet to rule on the eligibility of international recruits Aday Mara and Berke Buyuktuncel. Getting those two likely starters cleared should help UCLA remain among the Pac-12 title contenders.
27. San Diego State
The Aztecs have some crucial pieces to replace from last year's national runner-up team,but the cupboard isn't empty. Pairing returning guards Darrion Trammell and Lamont Butler with some under-the-radar transfers should keep San Diego State competitive.
The Terrapins probably exceeded expectations in Kevin Willard's first season as coach during the 2022-23 season with 22 wins and a top-half finish in the Big Ten. Now that's the standard, which Maryland is capable of hitting with the return of All-Big Ten guard Jahmir Young.
It shouldn't be a surprise that Jamie Dixon has built TCU into a consistent winner considering it's exactly what he did at Pittsburgh. Four key players from last year's rotation, plus a few key transfers, should help the Horned Frogs tack another stack another strong season.
Auburn has one of the best frontcourt duos in the SEC with John Broome and Jaylin Williams and added freshman Aden Holloway and Florida International transfer Denver Jones to bolster the backcourt next to veteran guard K.D. Johnson. It's enough for another 20-win season for Bruce Pearl.
31. Mississippi State
"Chris Jans has proven to win everywhere he has coached, and his ability to fit a system around a roster is a big reason why. You know the defense will be good. They made good offseason additions, from high school and the portal, to give reason to believe the offense will be improved. There are a lot of questions in the SEC outside of a couple teams, so Mississippi State should be able to compete in the top half."
Stefan Krajisnik, Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger
"Certainly the potential is there to be among Tad Boyle's best teams, no doubt. That standard is probably held by either the 2011-12 team (won the Pac-12 tournament and reached second round of the NCAA tourney) or the 2020-21 team (played in Pac-12 title game, reached the second round of NCAA). The team definitely can reach those heights. If they stay healthy and catch a few breaks, they certainly have a chance to be Boyle's best."
Pat Rooney, Boulder (Colo.) Daily Camera
33. New Mexico
Don't be surprised to see the Lobos challenge San Diego State for the Mountain West title. A strong backcourt got better with the addition of Kentucky/Arizona/Fresno State transfer Jemarl Baker Jr., and Nelly Junior Joseph (Iona) and Mustapha Amzil (Dayton) boost the frontcourt.
Not much has changed for the Badgers heading into the season, with St. John's transfer AJ Storr and freshman Nolan Winter the only likely new faces in the rotation. So Wisconsin is banking on continuity and bounce back seasons from Tyler Wahl and Chucky Hepburn.
"To sustain the high level of success that Tony Bennett's bunch has achieved with competing annually for ACC titles and being nationally relevant, this group will have to get significant production from transfers Dante Harris (Georgetown), Andrew Rohde (St. Thomas), Jordan Minor (Merrimack) and Jake Groves (Oklahoma) as well more contribution from returners Ryan Dunn and Isaac McKneely alongside Reece Beekman. Those transfers and few returners will also have to gel quickly to play with necessary chemistry needed to play well in Bennett's pack-line defense."
Greg Madia, Charlottesville (Va.) Daily Progress
Memphis is still waiting to see if DeAndre Williams will win his appeal and earn back one more year of eligibility. If he does, the Tigers could boast a lineup with an average age (23.6) higher than some NBA teams with two other sixth-year players in Jahvon Quinerly and Jordan Brown.
The real question for the Hoosiers heading into the season is guard play, where they're counting on a healthy Xavier Johnson to return to form. The frontcourt should be fine with the addition of Oregon transfer Kel'el Ware and five-star freshman Mackenzie Mgbako.
38. Kansas State
"Last year, depth was not a strength for K-State. This year, that may be different. The Wildcats add two star transfers in Tylor Perry from North Texas and Arthur Kaluma from Creighton to replace Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson. Key role players from last year, like Nae'Qwan Tomlin, David N'Guessan and Cam Carter, will be even more experienced than last season and freshman and redshirts will fill in the cracks."
Tim Everson, Mahattan (Kan.) Mercury
39. Ohio State
Based on Chris Holtmann's tenure at Ohio State and career as a coach, last season's 16-19 finish (and Big Ten disaster) is an outlier. The good news for the Buckeyes is their now sophomores got plenty of experience a year ago and got some transfer reinforcements.
"Trust. Exciting basketball. Wins. Dennis Gates has brought it all. But at its heart, I think he's given Mizzou fans something to believe in. He asked the MU fan base — on Day 1 — to trust him, to believe in the team again. So far, he's delivered well above expectations on the court and on the recruiting trail. Even the most ardent Missouri fan wouldn't have seen this coming 12 months ago, but he's given them a reason to show some rare optimism."
Calum McAndrew, Columbia (Mo.) Tribune
Clemson's Brad Brownell continues to hang on no matter how often his seat is considered hot. The Tigers' going 23-11 and tying for third in the ACC last year was simply another in a line of job-saving seasons. The trio of PJ Hall, Chase Hunter and Joe Girard III could mean another.
42. St. John's
These Red Storm look nothing like the group that went 18-15 a year ago and finished eighth in the Big East. New coach Rick Pitino cleaned house after taking the job, keeping just two players and rebuilding the roster on the fly with an active offseason in the portal.
43. Texas Tech
Grant McCasland held the title of "Next mid-major coach to get a major job" for several seasons with a 135-65 record in six seasons at North Texas. The former Baylor assistant stayed in the Lone Star state and is moving forward at Tech with a guard-heavy roster.
The last time Northwestern made it to the NCAA tournament and returned multiple starters, the Wildcats back slid into a sub-.500 season. Boo Buie's return, along with three other key rotation pieces plus a pair of veterans out of the transfer portal, should forestall a repeat.
Oregon has missed the NCAA tournament each of the past two seasons, which last happened in Dana Altman's first two years in Eugene, Ore. The Ducks are counting on three returning starters and three talented freshmen to snap that streak.
46. Iowa State
Iowa State fans have gotten used to a steady dose of transfers. This year's Cyclones stuck to the trend with guards Keshon Gilbert (UNLV) and Jackson Paveletzke (Wofford), but freshmen forwards Omaha Biliew and Milan Momcilovic could have just as much impact during their first year in Ames.
This is the first season for the Hawkeyes without a Murray on the roster since the 2020-21 season. But if either Payton Sandfort or Patrick McCaffery can put together a workable impression of Keegan or Kris Murray, the Hawkeyes should be able to stay in the top half of the Big Ten.
Late transfers from Cam Spencer and Paul Mulcahy stung. The Scarlet Knights still have a dominant two-way big man in Clifford Omoruyi, but they'll need UMass transfer Noah Fernandes to be the answer at point guard in a backcourt with sophomore Derek Simpson.
"Ideally, in terms of results, not much changes. Providence reached the NCAA Tournament more often than not under Ed Cooley. That's the baseline expectation. Kim English has said he'll play more of a modern offense — four shooters around either a paint or stretch 5 man. Cooley favored a slower tempo and some flex sets."
Bill Koch, Providence (R.I.) Journal
Stanford coach Jerod Haase has stuck stuck around Palo Alto, Calif., for seven seasons despite winning 20 games just once. At least the projections are better for the Cardinal this season behind a Spencer Jones and Michael Jones-led backcourt.
The Cougars are probably going to find life in the Big 12 difficult at first. A pair of returning double-digit scorers in Fousseyni Traore and Spencer Johnson should help in that transition, but Big 12 basketball is a different animal than the top heavy West Coast Conference.
52. Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech is set at guard with Sean Pedulla and Hunter Cattoor returning as a 1-2 punch running the offense and knocking down a decent number of three-pointers. How transfers Robbie Beran (Northwestern) and Mekhi Long (Old Dominion) fare up front will be important.
Branden Carlson gives the Utes one of the more intriguing big men in the country as a 7-footer who can block shots and make three-pointers. Utah taking a step forward from last year's 17-15 finish, though, might come down to point guard Rollie Worster's continued growth.
Dayton was a preseason top 25 team heading into the 2022-23 season. A 3-4 start, followed by some questionable Atlantic-10 losses, meant the Flyers ultimately didn't live up to expectations. But Dayton still boasts DaRon Holmes II, who the rest of the A-10 will be challenged to match.
The Sooners regressed in Porter Moser's second season, dropping into a tie for ninth in the Big 12. A bounce back could be tied to point guard Milos Uzan making that prototypical sophomore leap that many project for the Las Vegas native.
56. Boise State
Last year was Boise State's 10th with at least 20 wins in Leon Rice's first 13 seasons as coach. How the Broncos handle a tricky first month of the season with games against San Francisco, Clemson, Virginia Tech, St. Mary's and North Texas could determine if they get to 20 again.
57. Oklahoma State
The Cowboys reached the NIT quarterfinals last season. Pushing that postseason success to the NCAA tournament level will come down to the guard trio of Bryce Thompson, John-Michael Wright and East Carolina transfer Javon Small handling their business.
The best the Ivy League had to offer in the 2022-23 season should be just as good this season. The Bulldogs return four of five starters — all double-digit scorers led by senior forward Matt Knowling — but will need one of Yassine Gharram or Jack Molloy to step up in the post.
59. Wake Forest
"It starts with defense and rebounding and Steve Forbes has assembled a better team for that thanks to the portal and through high-school recruits. Under Forbes, the Demon Deacons have had little trouble getting up for the big ACC games and even winning those games, but it's the consistency in the conference that has to be there. They have yet to go to the NCAA tournament under Forbes, but if everything falls into place and Damari Monsanto, the team's best shooter, comes back strong in December, they just might make the field this season."
John Dell, Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal
60. Seton Hall
The Pirates have a chance to improve their stock in the Big East with starters Al-Amir Dawes and Kadary Richmond returning along with sixth man Dre Davis. That's a competitive backcourt that St. John's transfer Dylan Addae-Wusu will only add to.
Colgate didn't win immediately with Matt Langel at coach, but it's basically all the Raiders have done the last six seasons. Those teams combined to go 131-57 and win basically every Patriot League title possible. Multiple returning starters means this year's team should do the same.
This is arguably the best team Fred Hoiberg has had at Nebraska. Not that the bar for that honor is particularly high. If the Cornhuskers' forays into the portal pay off next to All-Big Ten caliber guard Keisei Tominaga, Hoiberg could have his first winning season in Lincoln, Neb.
Drake has been a top-two team in the Missouri Valley Conference in four of Darian DeVries' first five seasons as coach on the Des Moines, Iowa campus. That shouldn't change this season with Tucker DeVries the early favorite for MVC Player of the Year and a slew of reinforcements via the transfer portal.
64. Colorado State
Isaiah Stevens is one of the best guards (and among the most underrated) in the country. Having the 6-foot Texan — a threat as a scorer and facilitator — is enough to keep Colorado State competitive in the Mountain West. But veteran forward Patrick Cartier helps, too.
New coach Chris Beard would be better off if transfers Brandon Murray (LSU/Georgetown) and Moussa Cisse (Memphis/Oklahoma State) have their waivers approved. If not? Ole Miss still has some talent, but probably not enough to break into the top half of the SEC.
Before there was Florida Atlantic last season, there was Charleston. The Cougars were the early season mid-major darlings after a 21-1 start (with the lone loss at North Carolina), and should be just as good this year with the inside-out duo of Ante Brzovic and Reyne Smith leading the way.
Expectations have risen for the Bulldogs in year two under coach Mike White after a 16-16 record and 11th-place finish in the SEC last season. Mostly because White went for a full-scale portal rebuild. Just three of Georgia's projected top 10 contributors were on the roster last year.
The Dukes' turnaround last season was drastic, going from six wins during the 2021-22 season to 20 victories in the 2022-23 season. Dae Dae Grant and Jimmy Clark played a major role in that as Duquesne's top two scorers and both return after averaging a combined 27.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and five assists.
Cincinnati has appealed the denied waivers for transfers Aziz Bandaogo and Jamille Reynolds. The good news for the Bearcats is both would simply be a bonus to have in the frontcourt. Cincinnati still has 6-11 Viktor Lakhin and enough guard talent to get buy in the Big 12.
70. North Carolina State
Replacing Terquavion Smith and Jarkel Joiner will be a challenge for the Wolfpack. Getting Casey Morsell and DJ Burns back for an inside-out combo will help, and so should transfers DJ Horne (Arizona State), Jayden Taylor (Butler) and Michael O'Connell (Stanford).
It's now or never for Washington coach Mike Hopkins, who had a pair of 20-win seasons at the start of his time in Seattle and is 53-69 in the four seasons since. Transfer guards Paul Mulcahy (Rutgers) and Sahvir Wheeler (Kentucky) should be of considerable help.
Having four of last year's top six scorers, including the two at the top in guards Jarod Lucas and Kenan Blackshear, should help Nevada make a second straight NCAA tournament appearance. Maybe even better than a First Four this time for coach Steve Alford's program.
The Commodores are trending in the right direction after a rough start to the Jerry Stackhouse era. The return of starting guards Ezra Manjon and Tyrin Lawrence helps, but how a young frontcourt of sophomores Colin Smith and Ven-Allen Lubin fares will be important.
LSU's hope is it can eventually get boomerang transfer Jalen Cook eligible after the former Tulane (and LSU) guard had his waiver denied this week. There's talent on the roster without him, but not quite as much a chance to emerge from the bottom of the SEC.
Xavier still has a talented backcourt between transfers Dayvion McKnight (Western Kentuck) and Quincy Olivari (Rice), but the Musketeers' frontcourt — and chances this season — took a hit with Zach Freemantle's lingering foot injury and Jerome Hunter's undisclosed illness.
Whether or not Pittsburgh can build off last year's 24-12 breakthrough season will come down to guard play. Leading scorer Blake Hinson returns on the wing, but the Panthers are going to have to rely on transfers and freshmen in the backcourt.
77. Grand Canyon
GCU had its breakthrough during the 2020-21 season, Bryce Drew's first season as coach that doubled as the program's first NCAA tournament appearance. The 'Lopes got back there last season and, as WAC favorites, should again behind guards Rayshon Harrison and Jovan Blacksher.
Mike Rhoades took the Rams' best player with him when Ace Baldwin Jr. followed the former VCU coach to Penn State. New VCU coach Ryan Odom got a boost in year one with double-digit scorers Max Shulga and Sean Bairstow following him from Utah State.
"In some ways, things will stay very much the same. Adrian Autry played for Jim Boeheim and he's been an assistant under Boeheim for the past 12 years. There's a sense of consistency at the early practices. On the other hand, there's no way to quantify how different this is going to be. Boeheim has been SU's coach since 1976. He was synonymous with this program. Or vice versa? I'm expecting we'll see obvious differences — like more man-to-man and an attempt to increase the tempo — but the real differences are going to have more to do with the absence of the Boeheim than anything else."
Mike Waters, Syracuse (N.Y.) Post-Standard
Michigan had an All-American caliber center and two eventual first-round draft picks on their roster last season and could only manage an NIT berth. This year's team has less talent and a coach in Juwan Howard dealing with heart surgery recovery. Bottom half of the Big Ten again?
81. Arizona State
The Sun Devils' floor — and their chances at getting to a second straight NCAA tournament — hinge squarely on former Illinois/LSU guard Adam Miller's appeal on his declined waiver. Either way, though, Arizona State is going to need a lot of Frankie Collins in the 2023-24 season.
82. West Virginia
A nine-game suspension for Kerr Kriisa is simply the latest in a "What else can go wrong for West Virginia?" offseason. The rest? Bob Huggins having to resign. Multiple players transferring because of it. Akok Akok collapsing. Jose Perez getting dismissed. Good luck, Josh Eilert.
Exactly who the Runnin' Rebels will have eligible this season is still to be determined between transfer issues and some off-the-court problems. But third-year coach Kevin Kruger has the talent to help keep the top tier of the Mountain West an interesting multi-team race.
Andy Kennedy led UAB to a 22-win season before Jelly Walker arrived in Birmingham, Ala., a year later. The Blazers' success — they were 56-18 the last two years — isn't solely tied to the dynamic guard, but the move to the AAC would probably go smoother if Walker was around.
85. St. Bonaventure
The Bonnies took a step back last season after being ravaged by the transfer portal. But Mark Schmidt has built a program with expectations, and St. Bonaventure should be back in the top half of the A-10 with its deep backcourt led by senior guard Daryl Banks III.
Liberty has significant scoring to replace with Darius McGhee trying to make it in the NBA. It won't be a one-for-one replacement either given McGhee was the No. 3 scorer in the country last year. Think scoring by committee instead, with veteran wing Kyle Rode leading the way.
87. Wright State
Wright State and coach Scott Nagy — a Centennial graduate — shouldn't have too many troubles scoring with Trey Calvin returning for a fifth season and Tanner Holden boomeranging back after a lost year at Ohio State. Calvin averaged 20.3 points last season, and Holden put up 20.1 points per game during the 2021-22 season for the Raiders.
88. Eastern Kentucky
The return of veteran forward Devontae Blanton alone should keep the Colonels among the Atlantic Sun title contenders. That the next four leading scorers from last year's 23-win team also return all but assures EKU as the outright conference favorites.
89. Loyola Chicago
Last season was several backward steps for the Ramblers, going from 25-8 in Drew Valentine's first season to 10-21 in his second in a new league. The good news for year three? Four key starters return and some shooters arrived via the portal, including Colgate gunner Greg Dolan.
90. San Francisco
All three of the Dons' top scorers from the 2022-23 season have moved on, but that opens the door for well-traveled guard Marcus Williams to be more of a scorer. Coach Chris Gerlufsen also went heavy in the portal, with Mike Sharavjamts (Dayton) a possible sophomore breakout candidate.
91. North Texas
North Texas had to contend with its coach and top player leaving for the Big 12 this offseason. The Mean Green stayed in house by promoting assistant coach Ross Hodge, and he'll rely on a pair of returning veterans in Aaron Scott and Rubin Jones in the move to the AAC.
92. Kent State
The Golden Flash's roster includes some familiar names, including former Illinois commit Reggie Bass — a Central Michigan transfer — and former Bloomington standout Chris Payton, who was part of last year's 28-win team.
Some bigger program will eventually offer John Becker a job. The longtime Vermont coach is 280-113 in his career, with no fewer than 20 wins in each of his 11 full seasons (plus 10 wins in a shortened 2020-21 campaign). This year's team projects to do more of the same.
"It's important for Butler to shoot better from three-point range. I think the additions of transfers D.J. Davis (UC Irvine) and Pierre Brooks II (Michigan State) along with freshman Finley Bizjack will help the Bulldogs improve their perimeter shooting."
Akeem Glaspie, Indianapolis Star
95. Boston College
More people know about veteran BC center Quinten Post after he earned ACC Most Improved Player honors last season. What the Eagles need is some similar improvement from the likes of Jaeden Zackery, Prince Aligbe and Mason Madsen to escape the bottom half of the ACC.
The Green Wave should head into the expanded — and tougher — AAC with a solid foundation of wins. A single game against Mississippi State is the only non-Quad III or IV game on Tulane's schedule. But another 20-win season is certainly possible for coach Ron Hunter.
97. UNC Wilmington
Winning a Colonial title will be a challenge for the Seahawks with Charleston still at the top of the conference, but four returning starters provides the continuity to make a run at it. That experienced group includes leading scorer and rebounder Trazarien White.
The Mustangs stumbled to 10-22 overall and 10th in the AAC last season, but the return of guards Zhuric Phelps and Samuell Williamson is promising. So are the additions of Chuck Harris (Butler), Tyreek Smith (Oklahoma State) and Ja'Heim Hudson (Georgia State).
Former Illinois coach John Groce should benefit greatly from boomerang transfer Ali Ali. Re-pairing the 6-8 forward in the frontcourt with Enrique Freeman should make the Zips one of the favorites in the MAC along with Kent State and Ohio.
100. Georgia Tech
New coach Damon Stoudamire has some work to do in his first season in Atlanta. The end of the Josh Pastner era came with two sub-.500 seasons and a semi-permanent spot in the ACC basement. Stoudamire will rely on junior guards Miles Kelly and Deebo Coleman taking another leap to be competitive.