The college basketball season is about two months away, with ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi projecting what the 2022 NCAA Tournament could look like. And his projected fittings featured four teams at the top: the overall total seed Gonzaga and other No. 1 seed UCLA, Kansas and Texas.
Gonzaga will look to finish what it started a year ago when the Bulldogs ran to a 31-0 start before being traded to a rabid Baylor team in the 86-70 national championship game. Three of the Bulldogs’ top six players from this list return: American Drew Timme, point guard Andrew Nembhard and forward Anton Watson. To that added the Bulldogs Iowa State backcourt transfer Rasir Bolton and three of the 32 best players in the 247Sports Composite, including the country’s top-rated 7-foot view Chet Holmgren.
UCLA nearly finished Gonzaga’s run a game earlier, falling 93-90 in overtime in the Final Four on Jalen Sugg’s miraculous summer whip. The Bruins bring back all five starters from this team, inclusive Johnny juzang, who averaged 22.8 points in the NCAA Tournament and looks to be one of the nation’s best players.
Just returning to the core would be enough to be bullish on the Bruins’ chances — although UCLA was relatively common as it overcame adversity in the regular season — but UCLA also exacerbated a potential weakness in rim protection by bringing Rutger’s shot blocks into Myles Johnson and added to its depth with five-star wing Peyton Watson, No. 3 small forward and No. 11 overall player in 247Sports Composite.
Kansas brings back four starters from a team that went 21-9 and reached the second round last year. David McCormack played at an All-Big 12 level at the end of the season while Jalen Wilson will attempt to transfer its warm start to the 2020-21 season throughout the 2021-22 year. Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun bring experienced shooters to the wings while a number of newcomers — including the All-Pac-12 transfer Remy Martin, which is connected to the open guard point. Joseph Yesufu (Drake), Jalen Coleman-Lands (Iowa State) and Cam Martin (Missouri Southern) brings athletics, shooting and shooting / size, respectively.
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And while Texas returns two starters, Courtney Ramey and Andrew Jones, from last year’s 19-8 team, new coach Chris Beard has a great new look built by the country’s most loaded class of transfers. Former Minnesota point guard Marcus Carr is headliner, but he is joined by All-Pac-12 honors Timmy Allen, formerly of Utah, big men Dylan Disu (Vanderbilt) and Three Mitchell (UMass) and small-ball five Christian Bishop (Creighton). Rounding off the transfer class is vague Devin Askew, who was the No. 32 overall prospect in the 2020 247Sports Composite before spending his final season in Kentucky.