The 2015-16 season is finally in the books after a national title game for the ages (congrats, Villanova!), which means it's time for the business of looking ahead to next season. Obviously, projected rankings, brackets, and odds are a bit silly right now when we're still waiting to see where the final recruits will go, which players will stay in the NBA Draft (and which ones will return to school), and how the transfer merry-go-round might shake out. But, hey, they're out there, so we might as well talk about them.
Way-Too-Early Top 25s
|ESPN||CBS||Yahoo||Sports on Earth|
|6||North Carolina||Michigan State||Oregon||Wisconsin|
|7||Virginia||North Carolina||Xavier||North Carolina|
|17||Syracuse||Rhode Island||Texas||Saint Mary's|
|19||Texas A&M||Gonzaga||West Virginia||Seton Hall|
|20||UConn||West Virginia||UConn||West Virginia|
Despite losing a projected top-2 pick in Brandon Ingram, Duke returns several other key players (including noted asshole Grayson Allen) while adding in a loaded recruiting class. Get your Duke-hating pants laundered and ready to go -- we're going to need them next year. There's a lot of consensus (or groupthink) among the top four teams in the projected polls -- everyone seems pretty sure that Duke, Villanova, Kentucky, and Kansas are going to be very, very good. Partially that's a case of returning talent (both Duke and 'Nova are returning several key contributors), but it's also a case of much-hyped recruiting classes (all of those programs are bringing in highly-touted recruits, with Duke, Kentucky and Kansas bringing in several).
There isn't quite as much consensus after the Top 4, although Xavier, Oregon, North Carolina, and Louisville are all widely tabbed to do well next year. In Big Ten-land, Iowa isn't ranked (no shocker there, given Iowa's massive losses from the 2015-16 squad), but up to five other B1G teams are in the rankings. Indiana, Michigan State, and Wisconsin are getting the most love, followed by Maryland and Purdue.
At present, Iowa is slated to play at least seven games next year against potential Top 25 opponents -- the aforementioned Big Ten teams, plus Virginia (in the Emerald Coast Classic) and Iowa State (as part of the annual Cy-Hawk Series). That number could increase, pending the reveal of Iowa's opponent in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge (although I'd bet on Iowa not drawing one of the ACC's best in that series) and the determination of Iowa's single-play and double-play opponents in the 2017 Big Ten schedule.
As you can see, he has Iowa pegged for a #7 seed in the East region. If you could guarantee me that outcome right now, I... would take it in a heartbeat. Next year's team is going to have oodles of question marks to answer and will be relying on a lot of newcomers and unfamiliar faces. A fourth-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament (and a third-straight #7 seed) sounds like a pretty decent fate for the Hawkeyes, frankly.
Unsurprisingly, Lunardi has Duke, Villanova, Kentucky, and Kansas as the #1 seeds in his bracket -- they really do look like the consensus top four teams in the country next season. He also has a whopping eight Big Ten teams in the bracket: Michigan State (#2 seed), Wisconsin (#4 seed), Indiana (#4 seed), Purdue (#5 seed), Michigan (#6 seed), Iowa (#7 seed), Maryland (#7 seed), and Ohio State (#11 seed).
2017 National Championship Odds
And, finally, courtesy of Bovada, we also have early odds for next year's national championship. As you might expect, Vegas also likes Duke, Kentucky, Villanova, and Kansas quite a bit. Iowa checks in with 75/1 odds to win the title, the same as Florida and SMU.
In case you were curious about the odds for other Big Ten teams...
12/1 Michigan State
100/1 Ohio State
500/1 Penn State
The full odds are below:
|Duke Blue Devils||9/2|
|Michigan State Spartans||12/1|
|North Carolina Tar Heels||12/1|
|San Diego State||200/1|
H/T to VU Hoops for the HTML help on the odds table. Thanks!