Uh oh, here we go.
The 2017-18 college basketball season came to a close last night with Villanova winning its second national championship in three seasons, beating Michigan 79-62 and completing one of the more dominant runs in recent NCAA Tournament history. However, immediately after the Wildcats cut down the nets, many were already looking ahead to this November and how things may shake out when we all take stock of the best teams for the 2018-19 season.
And look who’s near the top according to some of the biggies.
Never too early to start thinking about next season.— ESPN (@espn) April 3, 2018
The rest: https://t.co/ORiLAUcb9n
CBS puts Auburn fourth heading into next season. FOURTH!
It’s not crazy at all, though, and that’s the fun part. Auburn should return everyone except Davion Mitchell, whose transfer was announced last week. The Tigers not only bring back guys like Bryce Brown, Jared Harper, Mustapha Heron, Anfernee McLemore, Horace Spencer, Desean Murray, and Malik Dunbar, but they’ll add two long-forgotten former starters in Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy. Furthermore, Samir Doughty comes in after sitting a year per transfer rules, and he’ll fill the void left by Mitchell as a more polished offensive player.
In case that loss to Clemson made you forget, Auburn won the SEC this year without Wiley and Purifoy. Yes, we saw the Tigers falter late, but that was due to injury issues and depth problems. They still won the league and earned the school’s first NCAA Tournament bid in fifteen years.
Now, look ahead to next year in the SEC.
Tennessee’s right behind Auburn in CBS’ rankings, pretty much because the Vols also return everyone, including SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams. Kentucky is sixth in the early poll because it’s Kentucky, but they’ll lose their best player in Kevin Knox.
Mississippi State also makes an appearance because they return everyone as well, but Auburn rolled the Bulldogs in Starkville and had no trouble running away from them in the second half. LSU’s there near the bottom of the rankings with a top five recruiting class coming in, and Florida makes an appearance in ESPN’s version of the early poll. The Gators lose Chris Chiozza, but return some other key players.
Either way, Auburn won the league and returns everyone. Pretty easy decision to put them near the top of the rankings. Now we just have to see if the hype train rolls out of the station before getting properly tuned up, or we might have it jump the tracks a la the football team in 2003.
For the first time in a long time, this basketball offseason could be a long one as we await what should be a really fun time this coming November and beyond. War Eagle!