The transfer portal window and NBA draft decision deadline have come and gone, and rosters across college basketball are much closer to set than they were when the season came to a close nearly two months ago. While a few big fish in the portal have yet to find a destination, it’s a good time to refresh the national landscape and take a look at the top 25 teams for the 2023–24 season.
Here’s how Sports Illustrated sees things shaking out this season, with a blueblood resurgence headlining the top of the sport.
Top 25 Men’s Basketball Teams for 2023-24
The Blue Devils have rare amounts of player retention in 2023–24 after years of one-and-dones carrying the day in Durham. Duke brings back four starters from last year’s team, losing only up-and-down freshman center Dereck Lively from its 2022–23 starting unit. Kyle Filipowski averaged 15 points and 9 rebounds as a freshman and should be among the nation’s best players this season, while Tyrese Proctor showed flashes of stardom despite playing as one of the youngest players in the nation a season ago. Add in the stability of a senior point guard in Jeremy Roach, and this is a team that can cut down the nets.
Bill Self's team played small-ball last year. This season, expect the Jayhawks to get back to their more traditional bully-ball ways. KU added the best transfer in the portal in Michigan big man Hunter Dickinson, who should be one of the best frontcourt players in the sport in Self’s offense. That means bumping glue guy K.J. Adams to power forward after playing center most of last season, which could create some shooting concerns. Still, with Dickinson, a high-level floor general in Dajuan Harri and a deep stable of wings like veterans Kevin McCullar and Nick Timberlake to go with high-scoring youngsters Arterio Morris and Elmarko Jackson, this group looks like a clear title contender.
Zach Edey’s decision to return for his senior season is massive for the Boilermakers and marks the second straight season the sport’s national player of the year is returning to school. Edey is the nation’s most dominant player, and Purdue will be among the nation’s best teams in the regular season with him in tow. The bigger question is whether they can exorcise their March demons from last year’s calamity against Fairleigh Dickinson: Young guards Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer getting older should help, but this group still is lacking the big-time shot-making you want to see in a team that can cut down the nets.
4) Michigan State
Michigan State has the right mix of talent, experience and coaching to fit the bill of a potential Final Four team. The high-scoring backcourt trio of Tyson Walker, A.J. Hoggard and Jaden Akins returns for another year, and the Spartans have brought in reinforcements in the form of a top-five recruiting class per 247Sports that features three top-40 recruits. Center Xavier Booker has high upside, but big wing Coen Carr might be the most well-positioned to contribute right away. And long-term, watch for point guard Jeremy Fears to emerge into a Big Ten star.
The Cougars quickly reloaded in the transfer portal this spring, adding a pair of outstanding guards in L.J. Cryer (Baylor) and Damian Dunn (Temple) to offset the losses of Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark. Cryer, Dunn and returning point guard Jamal Shead make up one of the best backcourts in the country. Up front, J’Wan Roberts returns as one of the nation’s best rebounders. If one of Emanuel Sharp and Terrance Arceneaux breaks out, this group has the type of weapons to not miss a beat moving up to the Big 12.
The Volunteers hope they’ve addressed their scoring woes from a season ago with a pair of monster transfer portal pickups, adding sharpshooting wing Dalton Knecht from Northern Colorado and scoring wing/forward Chris Ledlum from Harvard to augment a strong returning core. Zakai Zeigler, Santiago Vescovi and Josiah-Jordan James return in the backcourt (assuming Zeigler continues to recover well from his March knee injury), and Jonas Aidoo is an intriguing breakout candidate up front. It’s up to Rick Barnes to finally get Tennessee its March breakthrough, but the Vols look like SEC favorites.
The Golden Eagles drop down slightly after losing a piece of their core in power forward Olivier-Maxence Prosper to the NBA draft, but a strong nucleus still returns from a team that won the Big East regular season and tournament titles. This should once again be one of the nation’s best offenses thanks to the remarkable passing ability of point guard Tyler Kolek and big man Oso Ighodaro, while Kam Jones and David Joplin provide plenty of scoring punch. How well they defend (particularly without Prosper) will determine whether this group has a national title ceiling, but all the other components are there for this to be a top-10 team.
The defending national champions do lose a lot from the team that cut down the nets, but have a very dangerous roster still in tow for Dan Hurley. The centerpiece of this year’s group will be big man Donovan Clingan, who often looked like a future All-American as a freshman in 2022–23. The return of Tristen Newton gives the Huskies some stability at the point guard spot, and Alex Karaban should be in for more responsibilities after excelling in his role as a freshman. A late portal splash for more proven production on the wing would help, but if not, Hurley has plenty of young talent like top-10 recruit Stephon Castle to turn to.
Mark Few made a much-needed splash in the transfer portal to shepherd in the post-Drew Timme era in Spokane, adding point guard Ryan Nembhard, wing Steele Venters and big man Graham Ike this spring. Nembhard is the biggest fish, the top point guard in the portal and an immediate upgrade at a spot the Bulldogs were inconsistent at a season ago. Ike, a star at Wyoming in 2021–22 before missing last season with a foot injury, gives the Zags scoring punch on the block. The return of Anton Watson, one of the sport’s best glue guys, also helps.
Getting Ryan Kalkbrenner and Trey Alexander back is enough to put this Creighton team right in the thick of things at the top of a crowded Big East. Kalkbrenner’s two-way impact at the center position is matched by very few players in the sport, and Alexander should pair nicely with Steven Ashworth (Utah State) and Baylor Scheierman in the backcourt. The ability for Greg McDermott to surround Kalkbrenner with high-level shooting has the potential to be one of the top offenses in the country.
11) Texas A&M
After a disastrous start, the Aggies blossomed into a 25-win team a season ago and bring back several key components from that squad. Wade Taylor IV belongs on any list of the nation’s best point guards, a dynamic shot creator who was outstanding in SEC play a season ago. Around him is a deep stable of athletic wings that fits Buzz Williams’ aggressive defensive style, and frontcourt cog Henry Coleman is one of the more underappreciated players in the conference. This is the team for Williams to win an NCAA tournament game with for the first time in his Aggies tenure.
After a disappointing first season as head coach, Kyle Neptune has built an impressive roster this spring. He first held onto star guard Justin Moore after rumors he’d hit the transfer portal swirled late in the season, then added three versatile wings in T.J. Bamba (Washington State), Hakim Hart (Maryland) and Tyler Burton (Richmond) who should be plug-and-play starters. The amount of defensive versatility with a group like that starting 1–4 is tantalizing, and the Wildcats still have Eric Dixon to plug the middle. Neptune has a lot still to prove, but on paper this group has Final Four potential.
The spectacle that will inevitably surround the Trojans because of the presence of Bronny James may overshadow the fact that USC has a chance for a special season. No. 1 2023 recruit Isaiah Collier, veteran Boogie Ellis and James give the Trojans a strong ballhandling nucleus, and USC is also deep and athletic up front with Joshua Morgan and Vince Iwuchukwu manning the pivot spot. Arizona and UCLA have reloaded, but the Trojans have a strong case to be Pac-12 favorites.
14) North Carolina
Hubert Davis enters a critical third season as head coach with a retooled roster around veteran stars R.J. Davis and Armando Bacot. Ditching Caleb Love and replacing him with lower-usage players who keep the ball moving in Cormac Ryan (Notre Dame) and Harrison Ingram (Stanford) is a positive step in the right direction. The vision here of a ball-screen offense with reclassified PG Elliot Cadeau and Davis creating and Bacot dominating at the rim is intriguing, and there’s plenty of highly-rated recruits on this roster to round out the rotation. Davis has a lot to prove after last season’s disaster, but he has the pieces to build a contender.
It has been a chaotic offseason for Arizona, losing Azuolas Tubelis to the pros and Kerr Kriisa to the transfer portal but sticking the landing with a talented portal class. The headliner is Caleb Love, with Tommy Lloyd rolling the dice on a talented but enigmatic shot-maker from North Carolina to spark an offense that will also feature Jaden Bradley (Alabama) and Kylan Boswell in the backcourt and Oumar Ballo up front. Adding Love does come with some risk, but if he puts it all together he could lead the Wildcats to a deep March run.
Jim Larrañaga’s team loses two huge pieces from last year’s Final Four team in Isaiah Wong and Jordan Miller, but enough pieces return for this to be a clear top-20 team. Nijel Pack and Norchad Omier should thrive in their second seasons in the program; Omier’s offensive skill set continues to emerge and Pack will get to play with the ball in his hands more like he did at Kansas State. Florida State transfer Matthew Cleveland plugs in nicely at Miller’s combo forward spot and is a worthwhile reclamation project after once being projected as a potential one-and-done. Predicting a third straight Elite Eight trip would be unfair, but the pieces are here for another potential second weekend run.
17) Florida Atlantic
Remarkably, FAU has kept its roster entirely intact from its Final Four run, a highly rare feat in the age of the transfer portal. Not a single player entered the portal, and with Johnell Davis and Alijah Martin running it back after testing the NBA waters, the Owls will have sky-high expectations in 2023–24. It’s not realistic to expect a second straight deep March run, but this team was no Cinderella last season, ranking in the top 25 of KenPom’s rankings heading into the NCAA tournament. They’ll be challenged with a tougher nonconference schedule and a move up to the AAC, but the Owls should be relevant nationally.
18) West Virginia
Perhaps no program did more work in the portal this spring than the Mountaineers, which added plenty of firepower headlined by Syracuse transfer center Jesse Edwards. Edwards is a double-double machine and one of the best rim protectors in the sport, and his offensive game should be unlocked more by playing with a great pick-and-roll passer in Arizona transfer Kerr Kriisa. Montana State transfer RaeQuan Battle provides firepower on the wing, and WVU may not be done, as the Mountaineers are among those in pursuit of Tennessee transfer Olivier Nkamhoua.
The Illini got a huge boost from the return of Terrence Shannon Jr, who elected to play a fifth year of college hoops despite being a projected draft pick had he stayed in this year’s draft. Shannon should be one of the best players in the sport in 2023–24, and the Illinois roster around him is better built around his strengths than it was a season ago. The Illini should have better shooting and versatility surround a high-usage guy like Shannon, and also got back skilled big Coleman Hawkins, who also tested the waters. The lone missing piece is at point guard, but Illinois remains heavily involved with Toledo transfer RayJ Dennis.
Unsurprisingly, it was a busy spring in the transfer portal for Eric Musselman, who added four talented guards in the portal. I’m buying the most stock in former Houston guard Tramon Mark, the type of bigger wing playmaker that has thrived under Musselman over the years. That said, the star of this team could be Trevon Brazile, who flashed enormous promise early in 2022–23 before a knee injury ended his season. Brazile is the safest bet to be the next first round pick out of Fayetteville and could have a huge year if he returns healthy.
Scott Drew has been making noise on the recruiting trail lately, and in this class adds a trio of top-50 recruits headlined by wing Ja’Kobe Walter. Addressing the point guard spot is the primary concern: Freshman Miro Little could capably fill that role, but the Bears have also looked into portal options for its 2023–24 floor general. Fixing a defense that ranked outside the top 100 on KenPom last year also needs to be a priority.
The Bruins lose a lot from a nucleus that took the program to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament three straight seasons. Gone are Tyger Campbell, Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Jaylen Clark, all turning pro after strong careers. The biggest returners: Big man Adem Bona, an elite defender, and point guard Dylan Andrews, a dynamic ballhandler who showed promise in limited action as a freshman. The Bruins have also hit the international market hard with upside bets on Ilane Fibleuil and Jan Vide, and are still in the mix for top transfer Cam Spencer.
The Wildcats had a disastrous draft decision deadline, losing Oscar Tshiebwe and Chris Livingston to leave the Wildcats with just eight scholarship players. Meanwhile, Antonio Reeves withdrew from the draft, but remains the subject of transfer portal rumors and isn’t a lock to return to Lexington still. The talent of this year’s top-ranked recruiting class, headlined by guard D.J. Wagner and wing Justin Edwards, gives this nucleus enough talent to still slot in the back end of these rankings. But winning with youth is getting harder and harder, and the 2023 high school class is considered among the worst of the past two decades. John Calipari needs to find multiple playable pieces to add to the mix this summer to position the Wildcats for success this fall.
24) St. John’s
Rick Pitino taking over the Red Storm gives St. John’s a chance to crack these rankings despite a virtually brand-new roster. Pitino added 11 scholarship players, retaining just Joel Soriano and Drissa Traore. Soriano is a huge piece, a skilled offensive player at center and a double-double machine. A backcourt featuring high-scoring Penn transfer Jordan Dingle, Iona transfer Daniss Jenkins and UMass import R.J. Luis also presents plenty of intrigue. There weren’t as many flashy moves as some expected when Pitino took the job, but the talent here is enough for Pitino to have them in the thick of the national conversation.[
25) San Diego State
Fresh off a trip to the national title game, the Aztecs will look to build on that momentum and have enough returning pieces to be in the national conversation again in 2023–24. Darrion Trammell and Final Four hero Lamont Butler return in the backcourt for some much-needed stability, and big man Jaedon LeDee should be in for a bigger role. The Aztecs also added Reese Dixon-Waters from USC for some scoring pop on the wing after being plagued by scoring droughts a season ago.
Also considered: Texas, Virginia, Indiana, Colorado, Saint Mary’s