Bilas: Top contenders for 2014-15
The Bilastrator provides an early look at championship-caliber teams
After another fun, exciting and competitive NCAA tournament, our attention immediately turns to next season -- and predicting that which we annually confirm we cannot accurately predict. Instead of basking in the glow of the most geographically spread out Final Four in history (evidenced by the fact it was the first Final Four named after a general region rather than a city), we instead focus on the next Final Four, and a city in which we can walk from place to place and actually use its name publicly. We will not be in the Central Till Plains region of the United States, but will be allowed by the NCAA to call it "Indianapolis," as long as we don't carry the actual name of the city in an unsanctioned or unsponsored NCAA cup.
While we wait for walk-ons from NIT and CBI teams to decide whether to turn pro, and wait out the recruiting process for every fifth-year senior who may wish to pursue graduate degrees elsewhere (not to mention those that may receive a free tattoo or place this entire multibillion dollar enterprise in mortal jeopardy by playing in a summer league the NCAA has not blessed with its infinite wisdom), The Bilastrator is happy to reveal to you the 15 programs that will vie for the top spots in The Bilas Index next season.
Of course, The Bilas Index is more reliable than any resource ever invented to measure basketball accomplishment. It relies upon all of the best metrics in the game, especially ESPN's Basketball Power Index, but also has access to the greatest evaluator of basketball prowess and capability and achievement: the massive brain of The Bilastrator. If this allows you to place a small wager on the eventual 2014-15 national champion now, well, you're welcome.
1. Duke Blue Devils
With a recruiting class that will rival Kentucky's from this past season, Duke will have a formidable team. If Rodney Hood or Jabari Parker come back, Duke will have the best team, by a fair margin. Of course, there is no earthly way that either Hood or Parker comes back, is there? After all, this is 2014. Still, Duke will have Quinn Cook, Rasheed Sulaimon, Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee to go along with the likes of incoming freshmen Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones.
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As power conference teams are eliminated from the NCAA tournament, ESPN's team of recruiting experts will look at who's coming back, and who's coming in.