ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's not often you see a headline that intentionally undermines the piece below it. This, dear hoops fans, is one of those times.
Yes, the "Way Too Early" prefix in "Way-Too-Early Top 25" pretty much gives this game away. We are not even a day removed from the confetti-infested "One Shining Moment" madness of the 2014 NCAA tournament. There are six months of offseason between now and the start of practice in October, and seven months between here and the return of actual college basketball. This depressingly long stretch of calendar will comprise a rush of NBA draft decisions, at least one massive recruiting race ( Myles Turner, a 7-foot center ranked No. 2 overall in the 2014 class, is still undecided), transfer market dominoes, a coaching change or two, and any number of minor surprises -- suspensions, dismissals, reclassifications, and all the rest.
In the infamous words of a former United States defense secretary, there are known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns. The Way-Too-Early Top 25 is a prisoner to these same predictive limitations. It is a glimpse at the landscape, and an educated guess. It is subject to change. It certainly will. And we will update it accordingly as the offseason rolls along.
This is especially true at the top of the Top 25. Any of at least three teams could, depending on draft decisions and Turner's final call, end up in the preseason No. 1 spot. Let's see how that plays out in the weeks and months to come. For now, the way-too-early No. 1 team in the 2014-15 season is . . .
While coach Sean Miller fell agonizingly short of his first-ever Final Four, he (and that legion of hungry Arizona fans) can be comforted knowing that their Wildcats will be every bit the national title contender next season. Miller has delivered so well in recruiting that Arizona could lose star freshman forward Aaron Gordon and junior All-American Nick Johnson and still project as one of the best, deepest teams in the country. Gordon's departure seems a given, and Johnson is reportedly leaning toward it. Center Kaleb Tarczewski and athletic pivot player Rondae Hollis-Jefferson seem likely to be back. Point guard T.J. McConnell will still be running the show. Brandon Ashley will have recovered from the foot injury that ended his season in February. And incoming recruit Stanley Johnson -- the No. 1-ranked small forward and the prize of a loaded five-man haul -- might be the most skilled all-around player in the Class of 2014. Miller's team had one real flaw in 2013-14: its dearth of depth after Ashley's injury . Even if Johnson, a probably second-round pick, leaves -- and that's a 50-50 proposition right now -- this team might be even deeper and more versatile on the offensive end, if not nearly as dominant defensively. Either way, it's a title favorite. Maybe the title favorite. The future in Tucson is as bright as the midday Arizona sun.