College basketball rankings: Gonzaga starts season as No. 1 in Top 25 And 1 on high note


The 2020-21 college basketball season has finally arrived — better late than never, better uncertain than non-existent. Needless to say, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Needless to say, it’s already a bumpy ride.

The head coaches at three of the schools ranked in the top 12 of the CBS Sports Preseason Top 25 And 1 — Scott Drew at No. 2 Baylor, Tom Izzo at No. 11 Michigan State, and Rick Barnes at No. 12 Tennessee — have recently tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, Baylor had to cancel games. And Tennessee had to cancel games. So some of the early marquee matchups we’ve been looking forward to for weeks are no longer scheduled to happen. And, yeah, that’s too bad.

But there will still be games!

There won’t be as many as usual, obviously. But there will still be games — presumably nearly every day for the next four-plus months. So in keeping with tradition, and because it’s my job, I’ll be updating the Top 25 And 1 every morning of this season until we have a bracket for the 2021 NCAA Tournament. And if you’ve been following along this offseason, you already know Gonzaga will start things at No. 1.

The Zags are loaded.

I would’ve felt comfortable typing that sentence even before Tuesday’s news that former Florida starter Andrew Nembhard has received a waiver from the NCAA to play for Mark Few this season. But now the Zags are even more loaded. And I can’t wait to watch them be tested for the first time Thursday when they play Kansas in Fort Myers, Florida.

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Wednesday’s Top 25 And 1 rankings

Biggest Movers








The Zags have had the nation’s most-efficient offense each of the past two seasons. They’ll have a chance to do it again thanks to the return of Corey Kispert, Joel Ayayi and Drew Timme – plus the arrival of five-star freshman Jalen Suggs and Florida transfer Andrew Nembhard.




The Bears are returning the top three scorers from a team that would’ve been a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. It’s among the reasons Scott Drew has an opportunity to guide Baylor to its first Final Four since Bill Henderson did it in 1950.




Everybody except Saddiq Bey is back from a team that won seven of its final eight games and shared the Big East title with Seton Hall and Creighton. So the Wildcats’ roster is talented and experienced enough to give Jay Wright a legitimate chance to become just the seventh coach in Division I men’s basketball history to win at least three national championships.




The Cavaliers are returning three starters from a team that closed the season with eight consecutive victories. They’re expected to be led by Sam Hauser, a transfer who averaged 14.9 points and 7.2 rebounds two seasons ago at Marquette.




Luka Garza, the CBS Sports Preseason National Player of the Year, is one of five starters back at Iowa. The Hawkeyes are only an improved defense away from competing for a national championship.




Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn might be the best inside-outside duo in college basketball. They’re expected to lead Illinois to its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2013.




How Marcus Garrett handles taking over the point guard duties from Devon Dotson will play a large role in determining whether Kansas repeats as Big 12 champs. Bryce Thompson is the latest five-star prospect expected play a role in keeping Kansas in the national conversation.




The return of Matthew Hurt and Wendell Moore gives Mike Krzyzewski two experienced and reliable pieces to pair with a top-three recruiting class highlighted by five-star prospects Jalen Johnson, Jeremy Roach, DJ Steward and Mark Williams. So Coach K winning a sixth national title remains very much in the cards.




Four of the five starters from a team that was the No. 1 seed in the Big East Tournament are back – most notably Marcus Zegarowski, a CBS Sports First Team Preseason All-American. It’s a core that should give Creighton a realistic chance to make its first Final Four in school history.




The top five scorers from Wisconsin’s final-game roster are back – among them Micah Potter, who averaged 10.1 points and 6.2 rebounds while shooting 52.8% from the field last season. He’s one of the reasons Greg Gard’s Badgers could win back-to-back Big Ten titles.



Michigan St.

The Spartans will need Aaron Henry and/or Rocket Watts to step into a primary role and flourish this season in the absence of Cassius Winston and Xavier Tillman. Assuming they do, Michigan State should be a factor at the top of the Big Ten per usual.




Tennessee is adding five-star guards Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson to a proven core of John Fulkerson and Yves Pons. It’s an experienced and talented roster that most believe will result in a nice bounce-back season for Rick Barnes’ Vols.




The Wildcats lost the top six scorers from a team that won the SEC by multiple games – most notably SEC Player of the Year Immanuel Quickley and fellow first-round pick Tyrese Maxey. But if any program is built to overcome these departures, it’s the one that has once again enrolled the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class featuring five-star guards Terrence Clarke, BJ Boston and Devin Askew.



W. Virginia

The Mountaineers lost six of their final nine games last season but still finished 10th at KenPom, which suggests they were better than their record. Now West Virginia is returning the top three players from that team – most notably Oscar Tshiebwe, who averaged 11.2 points and 9.3 rebounds while shooting 55.2% from the field.




The Cougars are returning four of the top six scorers from a team that won a share of the American Athletic Conference title and finished 14th at KenPom. Houston is the favorite to win what would be a third straight league championship.



Texas Tech

The Red Raiders are returning three of the top six scorers from a team that finished 21st at KenPom and combining them with talented transfers Marcus Santos-Silva and Mac McClung. That suggests Texas Tech should have a chance to finish in the top three of the Big 12 for the fourth consecutive season.



N. Carolina

The Tar Heels are likely to bounce back in a big way from a horrendous season thanks to the return of ACC Preseason Player of the Year Garrison Brooks and a recruiting class featuring three five-star prospects. The best of the newcomers is Caleb Love, a possible one-and-done point guard who will replace Cole Anthony in UNC’s backcourt.



Ohio St.

The Buckeyes are returning five of the top nine scorers from a team that finished eighth at KenPom last season. Duane Washington, CJ Walker and Kyle Young should provide the kind of experienced nucleus that allows Chris Holtmann to make his seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.




Texas is returning every meaningful player from a team that went 5-1 in its final six games and entered the Big 12 Tournament with a chance to make the NCAA Tournament. The addition of five-star forward Greg Brown enhances the roster to the point where this could be Shaka Smart’s best team since leaving VCU for UT.




Two of the best three scorers from the Pac-12 champs are returning – among them former JUCO National Player of the Year Chris Duarte. If the Ducks get a waiver for St. John’s transfer LJ Figueroa, they’ll be even stronger and clearly talented enough to win back-to-back league titles.




The Scarlet Knights are returning seven of the top eight scorers from a team that finished 28th at KenPom – among them double-digit scorers Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker. Steve Pikiell should have a team equipped to make the NCAA Tournament for what would be, under normal circumstances, the second straight season.




The late additions of Moussa Cisse, a five-star center, and Landers Nolley, an All-ACC player at Virginia Tech, were massive developments for Penny Hardaway’s Tigers. They’ll join a roster highlighted by sophomores D.J. Jeffries, Boogie Ellis and Lester Quinones, all of whom are former top-60 prospects good enough to get Memphis to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014.




The top five scorers from a team that went 11-3 in its final 14 games are back – among them Chris Smith, who entered the NBA Draft but ultimately withdrew. The Bruins should be contenders to win what would be the fourth conference title of Mick Cronin’s career.




The Hoosiers are returning seven of the top nine scorers from a team that was projected to make the NCAA Tournament, The addition of five-star point guard Khristian Lander pushed Indiana’s recruiting class into the top 20 and provided Archie Miller with the perfect compliment to an experienced and talented roster.



Arizona St.

The addition of five-star guard Josh Christopher gives Arizona State a chance to finish in the top three of the Pac-12 for what would be the third consecutive season. He’ll be joining a nice nucleus of Alonzo Verge and Remy Martin, the latter of whom is the CBS Sports Pac-12 Preseason Player of the Year.




The return of Trendon Watford and Javonte Smart means LSU is bringing back four of the top six scorers from a team that was projected to make the NCAA Tournament. They’ll combine with a top-10 recruiting class highlighted by five-star guard Cameron Thomas and have an opportunity to finish in the top four of the SEC for the third consecutive season.


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