The NCAA Basketball season is over. Take a look at the recap of the season and look ahead at the 2019 season.
Monday night in San Antonio, the Villanova Wildcats wrapped up their second national championship in the last three years, doing so in impressive fashion. Jay Wright’s team cruised to a 79-62 win over Michigan behind a 31-point effort from 6th man Donte DiVincenzo. With two national titles, four conference titles, and a record of 165-21 over the last five seasons, Villanova may be approaching what some would call a dynasty.
Despite the anti-climatic title game, the NCAA Tournament as a whole was far from disappointing. We saw countless upsets, including the first ever 16 seed to beat a 1 seed with UMBC knocking off Virginia. This year’s tournament will also be remembered for the magical Cinderella run of 11 seed Loyola (Chicago) all the way to the Final Four.
Of course, with the tournament behind us, we can start to focus on next season. That begins with the mass exodus of star players who are moving onto the NBA before exhausting their college eligibility. Over a dozen players have announced their intentions to leave school and hire an agent, eliminating any chance of returning to school.
The list of players on their way to the professional ranks includes DeAndre Ayton (Arizona), Mohamed Bamba (Texas), Trae Young (Oklahoma), Michael Porter Jr. (Missouri), Marin Bagley III (Duke), Jaren Jackson (Michigan State), and Miles Bridges (Michigan State).
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There are also two-dozen players who have announced they will test the waters without hiring an agent. Those players can receive an evaluation from the NBA, and as long as they don’t hire an agent, they’ll be able to return to college if they pull out of the draft within 10 days of the NBA Combine from May 16 to May 20.
The list of players who are still deciding whether they should stay or go includes Bruce Brown (Miami), Shelton Mitchell (Clemson), Jacob Evans (Cincinnati), Omer Yurtseven (N.C. State), Allonzo Trier (Arizona), and Deng Adel (Louisville). Of course, players have until April 22 to enter the draft, so the list of underclassmen leaving school early could continue to grow over the next couple of weeks.
It’s less than 48 hours since Villanova cut down the nets in San Antonio, but it’s not too early to look ahead to next season. Oddsmakers have already distinguished a few of the favorites to win the 2019 national championship. These odds will no doubt change as certain players leave or return to school. Nevertheless, here is a look at some of the top favorites to win next year’s title.
Coach K could end up losing his entire starting lineup, although one or two holdovers is possible. In either case, the Blue Devils have a ridiculous recruiting class coming to Durham. The players most believe are the three best recruits in the country: R.J. Barrett, Cameron Reddish, and Zion Williamson are all Duke bound. The Blue Devils will be young next season but loaded with talent.
Bill Self will have a few key players to replace, but he has some outstanding recruits coming to Lawrence, most notably Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson. Kansas will also welcome a few transfers who will now be eligible, most notably former Memphis star Dedric Lawson. With a few transfers and plenty of players returning, the Jayhawks should have another experienced team capable of making a Final Four run.
It’s unclear which of Kentucky’s young players will stay and which will go, but most of the roster should remain intact. John Calipari will also bring in another impressive recruiting class to challenge the players that come back to Lexington for another year. As usual, Calipari will have more than enough talent at his disposal, and odds are he’ll mold them into a team that peaks in March.
The Wildcats look like a well-oiled machine. It’s possible that everyone from this year’s championship team returns, but it’s more likely that Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, and Omari Spellman will leave. However, Villanova was so deep this season that other players will simply step into bigger roles. The Cats also have a top-15 recruiting class, so the team’s overall talent won’t be an issue.