No sooner had the final buzzer gone off in Monday night's national championship game, with Duke topping Wisconsin 68-63, did several outlets publish their way-too-early preseason top 25 for next year's college basketball season. Topping those lists? None other than the Virginia Cavaliers
The first two outlets that we saw publish their early preseason top 25 articles are SportingNews and CBS's Gary Parrish. Both predicate Virginia's top ranking with, of course, Justin Anderson's return to next year's squad.
Here's what SportingNews had to say on Virginia:
Having won the ACC championship in each of the past two seasons and earned a No. 1 and No. 2 seed in those years, the Cavaliers appear ready to take that big step toward NCAA Tournament success. They will not be the most talented team in 2014-15 [sic], but they will be experienced and eager for greater success.
Rounding out SportingNews' top 10, in order, are Arizona, Maryland, North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, Iowa State, Duke, NC State and Oklahoma.
Parrish writes that "Virginia should be No. 1 next season ... if Justin Anderson returns." But he goes on to list Anderson as a player expected to return, and that aside from Darion Atkins, who graduates this year, nobody is expected to leave. He writes this about Virginia:
Why the Cavaliers are ranked here: Virginia is expected to return eight of the top nine scorers from a team that finished 30-4 and won the ACC regular-season title. Justin Anderson could turn pro, and, if he does, this ranking might change. But, at this point, Virginia is a reasonable pick for the nation's top spot.
Rounding out his top 10, in order, are UNC, Kentucky, Maryland, Kansas, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Gonzaga, Michigan State and Wichita State. National Champions Duke check in at No. 15.
ESPN's Eamonn Brennan leaves Kentucky as No. 1, but has Virginia coming in at No. 2. Among other things, he writes:
Anderson appears to be a fringe first-rounder. If he returns alongside Malcolm Brogdon, Anthony Gill, London Perrantes and Mike Tobey, UVa might well be the preseason national title favorite. If Anderson does leave, the Cavs will still be the best defensive team in the country, and promising freshman guard Marial Shayok could step into Anderson's shoes as a sophomore. Whatever the decision, Bennett's team will be one to reckon with -- a fact the rest of the college basketball world has suddenly learned to expect.
After Virginia, his top 10 includes UNC, Iowa State, Maryland, Villanova, Gonzaga, Kansas, Oklahoma and Wichita State. Duke comes in at No. 11.
Fourthly, our own SB Nation has Virginia at...number two? OH COME ON YOU GUYS. The mothership has abandoned us. They've ranked North Carolina at No. 1, and then has this to say about Virginia:
The Cavaliers are another ACC powerhouse that figures to return nearly all of its production from this past season. The one question mark is forward Justin Anderson, but it seems unlikely that he'd jump for the NBA after joking about it while scaring Cavalier fans to death with an April Fool's prank.
After Virginia, SB Nation has Iowa State, Kansas, Maryland, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Duke, Indiana and NC State.
What do you think? If Justin Anderson returns for the Hoos, should Virginia be the team to beat in 2016? How far down, if at all, do the Hoos fall if Anderson decides to turn pro?