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It was an unlikely outcome, sure. But there was, at least on a surface level, always a chance Alabama could return every player who averaged at least 5.0 points per game — except All-American Brandon Miller — from last season's team that won the outright SEC regular-season title and SEC Tournament before securing the No. 1 overall seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. Instead, the Crimson Tide seem set to lose at least four of the top six scorers from that team now that Charles Bediako is reportedly committed to remaining in the 2023 NBA Draft despite the realistic possibility that he could go completely unselected.

It's a tough break for Nate Oats.

Lose Miller? Of course. Noah Clowney too? Sure. (It's hard to keep projected first-round picks in school.) But losing Jaden Bradley to the transfer portal, and Bediako to a draft that likely won't include him, is a pair of unfortunate developments that should make somebody besides Alabama the favorite to win the SEC next season. The Crimson Tide will probably still be good, if only because Oats is too good of a coach to have a bad team at this point in his tenure. But, for what it's worth, I now have Alabama down to No. 18 in Version 13.0 of the 2023-24 CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 preseason college basketball rankings, where Kansas remains No. 1 thanks mostly to the addition of former Michigan All-American Hunter Dickinson.

A possible KU starting lineup now looks like this:

  • G: Dajuan Harris
  • G: Elmarko Jackson
  • G: Nick Timberlake
  • F: K.J. Adams
  • C: Hunter Dickinson

That's a starting lineup with size, shooting and experience. Combine it with the fact that Naismith Memorial Hall of Famer Bill Self — a man who has made 24 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and earned No. 1 seeds in 10 of the past 16 NCAA Tournaments — will be the person developing the roster and coaching the team, and I personally think the Jayhawks should now be considered the favorites to win the 2024 NCAA Tournament. 

Top 25 And 1 rankings

Biggest Movers
1 Michigan St.
11 Alabama
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Teams
 
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1 Kansas This ranking is based on the Jayhawks returning two starters - Dajuan Harris and K.J. Adams - from a team that won the Big 12 regular-season title before securing a No. 1 seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. Bill Self has reshaped the roster with a top-10 recruiting class highlighted by former Michigan All-American Hunter Dickinson, former Towson sharpshooter Nick Timberlake, former McDonald's All-American Arterio Morris and five-star freshman Elmarko Jackson. -- 21-6
2 UConn This ranking is based on the Huskies returning four of the top six scorers from a team that won the 2023 NCAA Tournament - specifically everybody except Jordan Hawkins and Adama Sanogo, both of whom are expected to remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. That core combined with a top-five recruiting class should have UConn as a real contender to win back-to-back national championships. -- 25-3
3 Purdue This ranking is based on the Boilermakers returning six of the top seven scorers - everybody except Brandon Newman - from a team that won the Big Ten regular-season title and the Big Ten Tournament before securing a No. 1 seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. CBS Sports National Player of the Year Zach Edey has a decision to make, obviously, but for now I'm projecting him to return to Purdue. -- 25-3
4 Marquette This ranking is based on the Golden Eagles returning every relevant player from a team that won the Big East regular-season title and the Big East Tournament before securing a No. 2 seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. Tyler Kolek and Kam Jones should provide Shaka Smart with a core capable of competing for a national championship. -- 21-6
5 Duke This ranking is based on the Blue Devils returning the top four scorers - Kyle Filipowski, Jeremy Roach, Tyrese Proctor and Mark Mitchell - from a team that finished 10-1 in its final 11 games and won the ACC Tournament. Duke is also enrolling a top-two recruiting class and will be among the most talented teams in the country, per usual. -- 21-6
6 FAU This ranking is based on the Owls returning all five starters from a team that won the C-USA regular-season title and the C-USA Tournament before advancing to the 2023 Final Four. FAU should be the AAC favorite in its first season in its new conference. -- 21-7
7 Michigan St. This ranking is based on the Spartans returning five of the top six scorers - everybody except Joey Hauser -- from a team that advanced to the Sweet 16 of the 2023 NCAA Tournament. Michigan State will combine that core with a top-five recruiting class headlined by five-star prospects Xavier Booker and Jeremy Fears. 1 17-11
8 Houston This ranking is based on the Cougars returning five of the top eight scorers - Jamal Shead, J'Wan Roberts, Emanuel Sharp, Ja'Vier Francis and Terrance Arceneaux - from a team that won the AAC regular-season title before securing a No. 1 seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. The addition of Baylor transfer LJ Cryer should have Houston competing for a league title in its first season in the Big 12. 1 24-3
9 Arkansas This ranking is based on the Razorbacks returning five of the top eight scorers - Trevon Brazile, Davonte Davis, Jordan Walsh, Makhi Mitchell and Jalen Graham - from a team that advanced to the Sweet 16 of the 2023 NCAA Tournament. Five-star prospects Baye Fall and Layden Blocker, plus transfers Tramon Mark and Khalif Battle, will combine with that core and give Eric Musselman a chance to make a fourth straight Sweet 16. 1 14-13
10 Creighton This ranking is based on the Bluejays returning everybody except Ryan Nembhard and Arthur Kaluma from a team that won 24 games and advanced to the Elite Eight of the 2023 NCAA Tournament. The addition of Steven Ashworth, a transfer from Utah State, is significant considering he's a point guard who averaged 16.2 points per game for a team that made the 2023 NCAA Tournament. 1 20-8
11 Miami This ranking is based on the Hurricanes returning three starters - Nijel Pack, Norchad Omier and Wooga Poplar - from a team that shared the ACC regular-season title with Virginia and advanced to the 2023 Final Four. The addition of Florida State transfer Matthew Cleveland should help offset the loss of Isaiah Wong and Jordan Miller. 1 15-13
12 Gonzaga This ranking is based on the Zags returning four of the top seven scorers - Anton Watson, Malachi Smith, Nolan Hickman and Ben Gregg - from a team that shared the West Coast Conference title with Saint Mary's before making the Elite Eight of the 2023 NCAA Tournament. Mark Few will combine that core with a recruiting class headlined by transfers Ryan Nembhard (Creighton), Graham Ike (Wyoming) and Steele Venters (Eastern Washington) and have a chance to finish in the top 25 at KenPom for the 13th straight season. 1 22-6
13 USC This ranking is based on the Trojans returning four of the top seven scorers - Boogie Ellis, Kobe Johnson, Joshua Morgan and Vincent Iwuchukwu - from a team that won 22 games and secured a No. 10 seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. USC is also enrolling two heralded guards - Isaiah Collier, the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2023, and Bronny James, the son of NBA legend LeBron James. 1 11-16
14 Kentucky This ranking is based on the Wildcats enrolling the nation's top-ranked recruiting class featuring four five-star prospects - among them Justin Edwards, DJ Wagner and Aaron Bradshaw -- to pair with a returning core headlined by two-time All-American Oscar Tshiebwe. It's a roster that could give John Calipari a realistic chance to return to the Final Four for the first time since 2015. 1 19-8
15 San Diego St. This ranking is based on the Aztecs returning four of the top six scorers - everybody except Matt Bradley and Keshad Johnson - from a team that won the Mountain West Conference regular-season title and the Mountain West Tournament before advancing to the championship game of the 2023 NCAA Tournament. Another MWC title seems likely for San Diego State. 1 21-7
16 Tennessee This ranking is based on the Vols returning three of the top four scorers - Santiago Vescovi, Zakai Zeigler and Josiah-Jordan James - from a team that secured a No. 4 seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament and made the Sweet 16. Chris Ledlum, a transfer from Harvard, should slide into the starting lineup and help the Vols make the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight year. 1 21-6
17 Texas A&M This ranking is based on the Aggies returning four starters - everybody except Dexter Dennis - from a team that won 25 games and secured a No. 7 seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. A second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament is a likely scenario for Texas A&M. 1 15-12
18 Alabama This ranking is based on the Crimson Tide returning three of the top seven scorers - Mark Sears, Jahvon Quinerly and Rylan Griffen - from a team that won the SEC regular-season title and SEC Tournament before securing the No. 1 overall seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. Jaden Bradley and Charles Bediako both following Brandon Miller and Noah Clowney out the door are notable blows. 11 19-8
19 Texas This ranking is based on the Longhorns returning two of the top five scorers - Tyrese Hunter and Dylan Disu - from a team that won the Big 12 Tournament before securing a No. 2 seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. The enrollment of Max Abmas, a transfer from Oral Roberts who has scored 2,562 points in four years of college, is a big addition. -- 17-10
20 Baylor This ranking is based on the Bears returning three of the top six scorers - Jalen Bridges, Langston Love and Jonathan Tchamwa-Tchatchoua - from a team that won 23 games and secured a No. 3 seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. The loss of Adam Flagler (NBA Draft), Keyonte George (NBA Draft) and LJ Cryer (transfer portal) will be tough to overcome but should be somewhat offset by the arrival of top-45 freshmen Ja'Kobe Walter, Yves Missi and Miro Little. -- 19-8
21 Arizona This ranking is based on the Wildcats returning two of the top four scorers - Oumar Ballo and Pelle Larsson - from a team that won the Pac-12 Tournament before securing a No. 2 seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. If Kylan Boswell and Alabama transfer Jaden Bradley have breakthrough sophomore seasons, Arizona should compete for the Pac-12 title. -- 21-6
22 UCLA This ranking is based on the Bruins returning three of the top seven scorers - Jaylen Clark, Adem Bona and Dylan Andrews - from a team that won the Pac-12 regular-season title before securing a No. 2 seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. That core combined with a top-15 recruiting class highlighted by four-star prospect Sebastian Mack and Slovenian guard Jan Vide should allow UCLA to be a Pac-12 contender again. -- 14-13
23 Saint Mary's This ranking is based on the Gaels returning four of the top five scorers - everybody except Logan Johnson - from a team that shared the West Coast Conference title with Gonzaga before securing a No. 5 seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. Aidan Mahaney should return as one of the best point guards in the country. -- 23-6
24 Iowa St. This ranking is based on the Cyclones returning five of the top nine scorers - Tamin Lipsey, Tre King, Robert Jones, Hason Ward and Demarion Watson - from a team that started 13-2 and secured a No. 6 seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. Iowa State is also enrolling a top-10 recruiting class highlighted by five-star prospect Omaha Biliew. -- 21-6
25 Miss. St. This ranking is based on the Bulldogs returning the top five scorers - among them Shakeel Moore and D.J. Jeffries - from a team that won 21 games and secured a No. 11 seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. Tolu Smith, Mississippi State's leading scorer, has entered the NBA Draft but for now I'm projecting him to eventually withdraw and return to school. -- 19-8
26 Auburn This ranking is based on the Tigers returning five of the top seven scorers - Johni Broome, Jaylin Williams, K.D. Johnson, Dylan Cardwell and Chris Moore - from a team that won 21 games and advanced to the second round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament. Broome, Williams and Cardwell have all entered the 2023 NBA Draft, but each is expected to eventually withdraw and return to Auburn. -- 21-6