OT: Breaking down the preseason AP Top 25 for men’s basketball

Kentucky senior forward Oscar Tshiebwe won the John R. Wooden Award last season. Photo courtesy of Nathan Ray Seeback/USA Today.

MICHAEL TERZAKIS | SPORTS REPORTER | mterzakis@butler.edu 

Overtime, or “OT,” is an opinion column series where the Collegian takes national sports headlines and gives them a Butler-centric angle.

The Associated Press released their rankings of the Top 25 teams in all of college basketball for the 2022-23 season, meaning that we are just moments away from the action. 

The college basketball rankings change every Monday during the regular season all the way until a National Champion is declared in April. The rankings serve as the groundwork to determine quadrant one victories and are used to evaluate the teams when the field of 68 is announced on Selection Sunday. 


  1. North Carolina
  2. Gonzaga
  3. Houston
  4. Kentucky
  5. Kansas
  6. Baylor
  7. Duke
  8. UCLA
  9. Creighton
  10. Arkansas
  11. Tennessee
  12. Texas
  13. Indiana
  14. TCU
  15. Auburn
  16. Villanova
  17. Arizona
  18. Virginia
  19. San Diego St
  20. Alabama
  21. Oregon
  22. Michigan
  23. Illinois
  24. Dayton
  25. Texas Tech 


Should be ranked higher 



Head Coach: John Calipari 

Record Last Season: 26-8, 14-4 in the SEC, No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament 

Exit: Round of 64 vs. 15 Saint Peter’s 

Ranking: No. 4 

Preseason KenPom Ranking: No. 1 

Where they should be ranked: No. 1 

Projected Starting Lineup: 

PG Sahvir Wheeler (10.8 ppg, 6.9 apg) 

SG Chris Livingston (first-year) 

SF Antonio Reeves (20.1 ppg at Illinois State) 

PF Jacob Toppin (6.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg) 

C Oscar Tshiebwe (17.4 ppg, 15.3 rpg) 

Bench: C.J Fredrick (7.5 ppg at Iowa in 2020-21), Cason Wallace (first-year) 


The 2021-22 season for the Wildcats was overlooked when they were shocked in the first round of the NCAA tournament by the Saint Peter’s Peacocks. The team still had a very successful season, going 18-0 at home  and 14-4 in conference play. Kentucky returns John R. Wooden Award winner Oscar Tshiebwe, who had a double double in 28 out of the 34 games he played for the Wildcats last season. They also return Sahvir Wheeler, who was third out of any division one player in assists per game. Kentucky also is heavily favored in the KenPom rankings for 2022-23, having the best Adjusted Efficiency Margin at +29.77. Based on last year’s performance, the amount of talent on the roster and the analytics, Kentucky is the best team in the country. 


San Diego State 

Head Coach: Brian Dutcher 

Record Last Season: 23-9, 13-4 in the Mountain West, No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament 

Exit: Round of 64 vs. No. 9 Creighton 

Ranking: No. 19 

Where they should be ranked: No. 12 

Projected Starting Lineup: 

PG Darrion Trammell (17.3 ppg, 5.0 apg at Seattle) 

SG Lamont Butler (7.3 ppg) 

SF Matt Bradley (16.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg) 

PF Keshad Johnson (7.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg) 

C Nathan Mensah (7.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.2 bpg) 

Bench: Jaedon LeDee (5.8 ppg at TCU), Adam Seiko (5.3 ppg), Aguek Arop (3.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg), Micah Parrish (12.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg) 


Brian Dutcher enters his sixth season with the Aztecs and looks to have maybe the best team he has ever coached. The defensive side of the ball stands out for the Aztecs, as they were ranked second in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency for the 2021-22 season and return the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year in Nathan Mensah. The Aztecs also brought back their leading scorer, Matt Bradley, and landed one of the most sought after transfers in the portal in Darrion Trammell. The Aztecs are certainly the favorites to win the Mountain West. Do not be surprised if they are the best non-power six team behind Gonzaga and a dark horse to win the National Championship. 



Head Coach: Kyle Neptune 

Record Last Season: 30-8, 16-4 in the Big East, No. 2 seed in NCAA tournament 

Exit: Lost in Final Four to No. 1 Kansas 

Ranking: No. 16 

KenPom: No. 20 

Where they should be: No. 10 

Projected Starting Lineup: 

PG Mark Armstrong (first-year) 

SG Justin Moore (14.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg) 

SF Caleb Daniels (10.3 ppg) 

PF Brandon Slater (8.5 ppg, 1.1 spg) 

C Eric Dixon (9.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg) 

Bench: Cam Whitmore (first-year), Jordan Longino (1.8 ppg), Chris Archidiacono (1.6 ppg), Trey Patterson (0.6 ppg), Branden Hausen (first-year) 


The Villanova faithful received shocking news in the offseason when legendary head coach Jay Wright called it quits after 21 seasons. The Wildcats enter the new season with long time Villanova assistant and former Fordham head coach Kyle Neptune at the helm. Neptune did a sensational job in his first season with the Rams, improving them from 14th in the conference to eighth in the conference. Neptune now enters a situation where he returns four key rotational pieces and has two top 100 recruits. If Justin Moore’s knee doesn’t sideline him too long, the Wildcats should certainly be a top ten team in the nation.


Should be ranked lower 


North Carolina 

Head Coach: Hubert Davis 

Record Last Season: 29-10, 15-5 in the ACC, No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament 

Finish: Lost to No. 1 Kansas in the National Championship 

Ranking: No. 1 

KenPom: No. 9 

Where they should be ranked: No. 6 

Projected Starting Lineup: 

PG RJ Davis (13.5 ppg, 3.6 apg) 

SG Caleb Love (15.9 ppg, 3.6 apg) 

SF Leaky Black (4.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg) 

PF Pete Nance (14.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg) 

C Armando Bacot (16.3 ppg, 13.1 rpg) 

Bench: Puff Johnson (3.1 ppg), Dontrez Styles (2.0 ppg), D’Marco Dunn (1.0 ppg), Justin McKoy (1.0 ppg) 


The Tar Heels had an improbable run in March, advancing all the way to the National Championship game as an eight seed. This Tar Heels team brings back significant pieces from that run including Preseason ACC Player of the Year, Armando Bacot. However, putting the Tar Heels number one after a hot March shows the impact tournament bias has the following year. Look at UCLA in 2020-21 — they made a run to the final four as an 11 seed and were rewarded with the two spot in the following year’s preseason poll. The Bruins went on to be a four seed in the NCAA tournament and lost in the sweet 16. This is not to discredit either of these two teams’ runs in the tournament, this is just to say that the season as a whole is a better resource to predict success. North Carolina is still a top ten team, but they are not the best team. 



Head Coach: Nate Oats 

Record Last Season: 19-14, 9-9 in the SEC, No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament 

Finish: Lost to No. 11 Notre Dame in the Round of 64 

Ranking: No. 20 

KenPom: No. 18 

Where they should be ranked: NR 

Projected Starting Lineup: 

PG Jaden Bradley (first-year) 

SG Mark Sears (19.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg at Ohio University) 

SF Dominick Welch (12.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg at St. Bonaventure) 

PF Brandon Miller (first-year) 

C Charles Bediako (6.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg) 

Bench: Noah Gurley (6.8 ppg), Jahvon Quinerly (injured) (13.8 ppg), Rylan Griffen (first-year), Noah Clowney (first-year), Nick Pringle (JUCO), Nimari Burnett (first-year) 


The Crimson Tide’s favorable seeding in the NCAA tournament was dependent on their quality wins last season. Alabama’s season was highlighted with wins against Baylor, Gonzaga and Kentucky last season. However, the Crimson Tide still lost fourteen games, had a .500 record in SEC conference play and still somehow managed to get a six seed in the NCAA tournament. Alabama also had one of the worst defenses in the SEC and ranked 92nd in defensive efficiency last season. Alabama does bring some exciting first-years to showcase this season, however, I think the Associated Press is riding the Alabama hype train too much — they’re barely a top 40 team right now. 



Head Coach: Juwan Howard 

Record Last Season: 19-15, 11-9 in the Big Ten, No. 11 seed in the NCAA tournament 

Finish: Lost in the Sweet 16 to No. 2 Villanova 

Ranking: No. 22 

Kenpom: No. 26 

Where they should be ranked: NR 

Projected Starting Lineup: 

PG Jaelin Llewellyn (15.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg at Princeton) 

SG Tarris Reed Jr. (first-year) 

SF Jett Howard (first-year) 

PF Terrance Williams II (4.7 ppg) 

C Hunter Dickinson (18.6 ppg, 8.8 rpg) 

Bench: Jace Howard (1.1 ppg), Isaiah Barnes (0.5 ppg), Joey Baker (4.5 ppg at Duke), Kobe Bufkin (3.0 ppg), Dug McDaniel (first-year), Gregg Glenn (first-year) 


The Michigan Wolverines come off an underwhelming year, barely finishing above .500 in the regular season. They still somehow managed to get an at-large bid in the tournament, and were able to seize the opportunity and reach the Sweet 16. The Wolverines lost every key rotational player from last year besides Hunter Dickinson and only landed one transfer in the portal in Jaelin Llewellyn. The Wolverines will have to rely on young players and bench pieces to provide key minutes. This team is heavily overrated and if Hunter Dickinson is off, this team will struggle tremendously. 


Teams that were left out of the rankings 


Texas A&M 

Head Coach: Buzz Williams 

Record Last Season: 27-13, 9-9 in the SEC, No. 1 seed in the NIT 

Finish: Lost in NIT Championship to Xavier 

KenPom: No. 45 

Where they should be ranked: No. 22 

Projected Starting Lineup: 

PG Wade Taylor IV (8.2 ppg, 2.2 apg) 

SG Dexter Dennis (8.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg) 

SF Tyrece Radford (10.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg) 

PF Harry Coleman (11.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg) 

C Julius Marble (6.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg) 

Bench: Jalen Johnson (5.2 ppg in 2020-21), Manny Obaseki (3.6 ppg), Ethan Henderson (2.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg), Solomon Washington (first-year), Erik Pratt (first-year), Jordan Williams (first-year), Andersson Garcia (4.3 ppg at Mississippi St) 


The Aggies head into the 2022-23 season with arguably their best team under Buzz Williams. The Aggies played great basketball down the stretch last season, going 11-2 in their final 13 games and beating Auburn, Arkansas and Alabama in that stretch. Many questioned the committee’s decision to give an at-large bid to Michigan over a Texas A&M team that finished stronger and had a significantly better record. The Aggies bring back three of their top four scorers as well as some interesting transfers in Julius Marble and Dexter Dennis. If the Aggies weren’t robbed of an NCAA tournament appearance and made some noise in the field, their preseason ranking would look completely different. 



Head Coach: Jim Larranaga 

Record last season: 26-11, 14-6 in the ACC, No. 10 seed in the NCAA tournament 

Finish: Lost in the Elite Eight to No. 1 Kansas 

Kenpom: No. 42 

Where they should be ranked: Top 20 

Projected Starting Lineup: 

PG Nijel Pack (17.4 ppg at Kansas St.) 

SG Isaiah Wong (15.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg) 

SF Jordan Miller (10.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg) 

PF Norchad Omier (17.9 ppg, 12.2 rpg at Arkansas St.) 

C Anthony Walker (4.9 ppg) 

Bench: Wooga Poplar (2.3 ppg), Bensley Joseph (2.3 ppg), A.J Casey (first-year), Favour Aire (first-year), Christian Watson (first-year), Danilo Jovanovich (first-year) 


The Miami Hurricanes made a Cinderella run in last year’s NCAA Tournament, falling just a game short of the Final Four. This year’s Hurricanes team is even better than last years, retaining key players such as Isaiah Wong and Jordan Miller and adding two of the best transfers in the entire portal in Nijel Pack and Norchad Omier. This team is the best in the ACC outside of North Carolina and Duke and is a serious dark horse to reach the Final Four. People should be all in on the Canes. 



Head Coach: Sean Miller 

Record Last Season: 8-11 in the Big East, 23-13 overall, No. 2 seed in the N.I.T 

KenPom: No. 38 

Where they should be ranked: No. 20 

Projected Starting Lineup: 

PG Souley Boum (19.8 ppg at UTEP) 

SG Adam Kunkel (8.8 ppg) 

SF Colby Jones (11.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg) 

PF Zach Freemantle (10.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg) 

C Jack Nunge (13.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg) 

Bench: Desmond Claude (first-year), Kam Craft (first-year), Jerome Hunter (4.1 ppg) 


The Musketeers have had back-to-back disappointing ends to their regular season, both times having losing records in February and losing to Butler in the Big East Tournament. Xavier looks to change their misfortunes with the hiring of their new head coach, Sean Miller. Almost all of Xaviers’ top scorers from last year are back, and they add one of the more anticipated transfers in the portal in Souley Boum. With a coaching change and some new talent coming to the team, this team is definitely an NCAA Tournament caliber team, and a top 20 team as well.

While the preseason poll is a fun way to evaluate talent for the upcoming season, it is important to remember that it is just an estimate. At the end of the day, a lot of new teams will enter the poll and a lot will exit. The bottom line is when March rolls around, everyone is under the same set of rules — survive and advance. 


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