College basketball top-25 projections (updated): UNC remains on top as Gonzaga and Kansas soar, Arizona and Michigan fall

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The cyclone that walloped college basketball rosters this spring has lost much of its force, allowing us to peer into the future with reasonable clarity.

The NBA Draft deadline has passed, the transfer portal is emptying, and we have a strong sense for the teams to beat in 2022-23.

For some schools, the outlook has changed little from early April.

For others, the clouds either have brightened immeasurable (Gonzaga and Kansas) or darkened considerably (Arizona and Michigan).

The following rankings have been updated from the originals, published by the Hotline on April 4.

1. North Carolina (previous: 1): The national runners-up secured this spot when star guard Caleb Love and forward Armando Bacot opted to return, leaving the Tar Heels with only one significant departure: forward Brady Manek. Plus, we have a soft spot for any team with guys named Leaky and Puff.

2. Gonzaga (8): The most significant change to our top 10 comes as a result of big man Drew Timme and wing Julian Strawther returning. (We figured the Zags might get one back, but not both.) Mark Few has enough options to replace point guard Andrew Nembhard that the position isn’t a major concern, yet.

3. Houston (4): The Cougars lost four double-digit scorers but return three double-digit scorers. How is that possible? The Elite Eight lineup was without two of its best players, guards Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark, who were injured early in the season. They’re back, along with point guard Jamal Shead.

4. Duke (5): The best way to replace a slew of first-round draft picks is with a returning point guard (Jeremy Roach) and a slew of future first-round picks. The top-ranked recruiting class in the country features four players with five-star ratings. And for readers who were cryogenically frozen until recently: Duke has a new coach (Jon Scheyer).

5. Kentucky (2): With Wooden Award-winning big man Oscar Tshiebwe eschewing the NBA and two five-star recruits joining the roster, the Wildcats have enough talent to produce a deep run in the NCAAs … as long as John Calipari doesn’t coach against Shaheen Holloway in the early rounds.

6. Arkansas (7): A sensational recruiting class — it includes the nation’s No. 1 guard, Nick Smith — and excellent use of the transfer portal should fuel another impressive season for the Hogs under fourth-year coach Eric Musselman, who owns back-to-back trips to the Elite Eight.

7. Kansas (13): The defending champions were hit hard by departures, but their outlook improved with the return of forward Jalen Wilson and the addition of former Texas Tech guard Kevin McCullar, who reportedly picked KU over Gonzaga during his time in the portal.

8. Creighton (12): The Bluejays were a year ahead of schedule last season with 23 wins and a senior-light roster. Their spot in our top 10 was solidified when the trio of Ryan Kalkbrenner, Ryan Nembhard and Arthur Kaluma (35 points per game, combined) opted to return.

9. UCLA (6): Although it could have been worse, the attrition in Westwood was nonetheless substantial with Johnny Juzang and Jules Bernard staying in the draft. The degree to which UCLA mitigates the damage depends largely on freshman guard Amari Bailey and rookie big man Adem Bona.

10. Baylor (14): Veterans Adam Flagler and LJ Cryer will team with top-10 recruit Keyonte George to form one of the best perimeter units in the country. And since March is all about the perimeter, count the Bears as a threat to return to the Final Four.

11. Tennessee (18): The Vols lost point guard Kennedy Chandler to the NBA, as expected, but were an offseason winner (relative to other teams in our rankings) with the returns of their No. 2 and 3 scorers, guards Santiago Vescovi and Josiah-Jordan Jameson.

12. Texas (21): We suspected the Longhorns would bring back top scorers Timmy Allen and Marcus Carr. But the offseason value-add came in the form of point guard Tyrese Hunter, a transfer from Iowa State who was named Big 12 Freshman of the Year last season.

13. Michigan (3): Few teams can match Michigan’s level of attrition and no team dropped so far in our rankings. The Wolverines will have a new supporting cast around star big man Hunter Dickinson.

14. Oregon (17): The Ducks jumped a few spots thanks to the return of point guard Will Richardson and a group of newcomers that includes both premium recruits and impact transfers (for example: guard Jermaine Couisnard, who led South Carolina in scoring). Look for Oregon to return to the NCAAs after an unexpected absence.

15. Alabama (10): Basketball recruiting is beginning to mirror football recruiting in Tuscaloosa, with two five-star prospects joining coach Nate Oats’ program. But the shape of the regular season will depend on the speed of guard Jahvon Quinerly’s ACL recovery.

16. TCU (not ranked): The team that pushed Arizona to the brink in the second round of the NCAAs has far more returning production than Arizona.

17. USC (not ranked): We were skeptical of USC’s prospects until the final days before the NBA stay-or-go deadline, when two starters, guard Boogie Ellis and wing Drew Peterson, decided to stay. Count the Trojans as a legitimate contender in the Pac-12.

18. Villanova (9): Not much has changed for the Wildcats since our early-April rankings except, well, everything. Year One of the post-Jay Wright era could be bumpy.

19. Indiana (not ranked): Once big man Trayce Jackson-Davis announced his return (in mid-May), the Hoosiers became a lock for top-25 inclusion. And they just might be the best team in a potentially deflated Big Ten.

20. Arizona (11): The departures of star wing Bennedict Mathurin and dominant center Christian Koloko staggered the roster; the gut punch came just prior to the deadline when do-everything wing Dalen Terry stayed in the draft. We suspect Tommy Lloyd isn’t finished his spring restocking process.

21. Auburn (not ranked): The Hotline underestimated the Tigers last season and won’t make the same mistake in 2022-23 even with the departures of stellar big men Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler.

22. Saint Louis (not ranked): We like the Billikens to win the Atlantic 10 with all their returning veterans from a 23-win season. But the conference is wide open with Davidson, Dayton and St. Bonaventure all carrying top-25 potential.

23. San Diego State (23): The Aztecs’ presence in our rankings was secured when senior guard Matt Bradley (17 ppg) announced his return. Meet the best team in the Mountain West (unless it’s Wyoming, or Boise State, or Colorado State).

24. Virginia (25): The Cavaliers haven’t missed the NCAAs in back-to-back seasons since the early years of Tony Bennett’s tenure. His best-recruiting class, which includes three four-star prospects, will power the recovery.

25. Connecticut (not ranked): Danny Hurley has a cornerstone piece in forward Adama Sanogo and a slew of impact transfers to create a high ceiling for the Huskies.

Also considered: Boise State, Colorado State, Davidson, Dayton, Illinois, Iowa, Memphis, Miami, Michigan State, New Mexico State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Providence, Purdue, Saint Mary’s, Seton Hall, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Wake Forest, Wyoming, Xavier

Support the Hotline: Receive three months of unlimited access for just 99 cents. Yep, that’s 99 cents for 90 days, with the option to cancel anytime. Details are here, and thanks for your support.

*** Send suggestions, comments and tips (confidentiality guaranteed) to or call 408-920-5716

*** Follow me on Twitter: @WilnerHotline

*** Pac-12 Hotline is not endorsed or sponsored by the Pac-12 Conference, and the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Conference.