About a month ago, the NCAA Tournament concluded; immediately, everyone in the college basketball world forgot every single thing that happened back in March and began to look forward to next season. That was nice for Wahoo fans, because the reigning NCAA Champions are distasteful, to say the least, and UVA was picked 1st or 2nd in multiple "Too Early" Top 25s for 2015-2016.
Since those predictions, another bad thing happened, proving that those rankings were, in fact, "too early." However, all is not lost! Even after Justin Anderson's decision to enter the NBA Draft, multiple media outlets have updated their preseason predictions and have UVA safely inside their top tens. Here's where the experts rank Virginia:
SBNation - #3 (previously #2):
Losing Justin Anderson drops UVA from the No. 2 spot, but likely first-team preseason All-American Malcolm Brogdon and virtually every other major contributor is back from a team that lost just four games last season. If the Cavs hadn't run up against Michigan State in each of the past two NCAA Tournaments, no one would be doubting this team's status as a preseason top-five lock.
ESPN - #5 (previously #2):
[...]With Anderson now departed for the NBA draft -- a slightly surprising, though totally understandable, decision -- the same offensive questions will be asked about UVa. But here's the thing: This team, otherwise more or less intact, was still a defensive purebred when Anderson was out, good enough to win nine of its final 10 regular-season games (and finish 28-2 overall). And this time, coach Tony Bennett has an entire offseason to account for his star wing's absence, namely by coercing promising rising sophomore Marial Shayok into an approximation of Anderson's perimeter shooting and athletic slashing. You might not pick the Hoos to hang a national title as readily as if Anderson had returned, sure. But they're still awfully good.
USA Today - #5 (previously #3):
[...]The loss of Justin Anderson to the NBA draft hurts, but his late-season injury could prove to be a blessing in disguise because Virginia started to learn to play without him. The Cavs return the bulk of the ACC regular-season championship roster.
Malcolm Brogdon(14.0 ppg) is a two-time All-American and will return as Virginia's leading scorer. Anthony Gill and Mike Tobey should make significant improvements as seniors, and look for pass-first point guard London Perrantes to score more.
NBC Sports - #6 (previously #5..but "as high as #2" if Anderson returns):
Why they're here: Cavs return essentially their entire roster from the 2015-2016 team with the notable exception of Anderson. Without him, they really struggled to score at times. The key for this group will be the development of Shayok as a potential replacement for Anderson.
CBS Sports - #7 (previously #1):
Why the Cavaliers are ranked here: Justin Anderson entering the 2015 NBA Draft dropped Virginia from the top spot. The Cavaliers will still be good, probably. But they'll now be without two of the top four scorers from a team that won the ACC this past season.
Overall, the consensus is that Anderson's departure for the NBA drops Virginia from the best or second-best team in the nation to something like the fifth-best. The included blurbs predictably expect Brogdon to lead the Hoos, but also point at Marial Shayok to pick up some of the slack, especially shooting the basketball. In non-UVA news, North Carolina has surged into the top two in all five rankings, while Kentucky has slipped after some recruiting stumbles.