Assuming thatFlorida's Corey Brewer, Taurean Green, Al Horford and Joakim Noah, Georgetown'sJeff Green and Roy Hibbert, Kansas's Brandon Rush, North Carolina's BrandanWright, Ohio State's Greg Oden, Texas's Kevin Durant, UCLA's Arron Afflalo andUSC's Nick Young all jump to the NBA, this is how next season's rankings shapeup.
1. NORTH CAROLINAProvided Tyler Hansbrough passes on the draft to work on his offensiverepertoire, he'll be back with a vengeance for his junior season. After comingwithin a Georgetown three-pointer of the Final Four in '07, the Tar Heels'backcourt of sophomores Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington has matured enough tohelp Psycho T take Carolina all the way.
2. UCLA Juniorpoint guard Darren Collison, who was snubbed for All-America honors in '07,will emerge from Afflalo's shadow and become a household name. With five-starfreshman power forward Kevin Love adding an offensive dimension inside, a thirdstraight Final Four and coach Ben Howland's first national title are wellwithin reach.
3. KANSAS For thesecond straight season the Jayhawks will be the best team on paper--but canthey get it done in March? Ballhawks Russell Robinson and Mario Chalmers willensure that the D remains fierce, but bullish guard Sherron Collins and elasticforward Julian Wright need to become scoring stars.
4. MEMPHIS Chicagophenom Derrick Rose, Rivals.com's top-ranked point guard, joins one of thenation's deepest, most athletic rosters and should form a devastating duo inthe backcourt with slasher Chris Douglas-Roberts. Look for another undefeatedConference USA run.
5. OHIO STATE Aslong as ultrasteady point guard Mike Conley Jr. returns, the Buckeyes willsurvive without their bearded baron of the paint. Incoming 7-foot freshmanKosta Koufos will try to fill Oden's shoes, while guards Jamar Butler andDaequan Cook, who played auxiliary roles in '06-07, will shoulder more of thescoring load.
6. LOUISVILLE RickPitino's collection of blue-chip youngsters--particularly breakout NCAAtournament star Edgar Sosa, who dropped 31 on Texas A&M--looks ready tooutduel Marquette and Notre Dame for the Big East title.
7. WASHINGTONSTATE Tony Bennett--ball was no one-hit wonder. The coach signed a seven-yearextension, and the Cougars will lose only forward Ivory Clark from theirstarting lineup. Led by its Island-Dairyland backcourt blend of Derrick Low(Honolulu) and Kyle Weaver (Beloit, Wis.), Wazzu will be in the thick of atight Pac-10 race.
8. USC Thenational spotlight will follow superrecruit O.J. Mayo to Troy, where theTrojans are already loaded. He'll join Daniel Hackett and Gabe Pruitt in athree-headed backcourt, and as long as the chemistry clicks--and it doesn'tbecome the O.J.-only show--USC will be a force.
9. TENNESSEESweet-shooting Chris Lofton, a likely Wooden Award front-runner, should have afine swan song in Knoxville after nearly bouncing Ohio State from the bracketin '07. Look for point guard Ramar Smith, one of four freshmen who played majorminutes, to have a big sophomore season.
10. INDIANAPolished scorer Eric Gordon, the Indianapolis recruit who spurned Illinois forthe Hoosiers, arrives in Bloomington for what may be his only collegiateseason. Paired with forward D.J. White, they'll have Indiana challenging OSUfor the Big Ten crown.
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH
ALL GROWN UP Lawson and the more mature Tar Heels will be the top title threat.