If Tyler Ennis had returned, coach Jim Boeheim's team would be in the ACC contention tier with Duke and Virginia. With Ennis committed to the NBA draft, the Orange could struggle. There is obviously still some talent left ( Michael Gbinije, Trevor Cooney, Rakeem Christmas) -- and that goes double if Jerami Grant, a potential late first-round pick right now, decides to come back -- but losing Ennis may mean forcing incoming freshman guard Kaleb Joseph into a starting point role. Wait and see.
Can coach Steve Alford maintain the Bruins' trajectory in his Year 2 as coach? Kyle Anderson, UCLA's multitalented 6-9 point guard, is headed to the NBA, a major loss for a team structured around his versatile skills. Jordan Adams seems likely to join him in the NBA draft, though he hasn't announced yet; little-used guard Zach LaVine surprised many with his decision to throw his lot into the NBA sweepstakes. UCLA adds some serious talent in the form of Kevon Looney (and others), but going from Anderson to Bryce Alford at the point guard position could portend a downturn.
Oregon had one of the strangest campaigns in the country this past season, one that began 13-0 and saw the Ducks droop to 3-8 in Pac-12 play before a late-season surge carried them through to the NCAA tournament. What fresh madness does 2014-15 hold? Coach Dana Altman's 1-2-3 trio is among the best in the country; Dominic Artis, Joseph Young, and Damyean Dotson are difficult to guard on the perimeter. (Young was especially impressive as an efficient perimeter shooter and midrange scorer who almost never turned the ball over.) The Ducks look far less sturdy in the frontcourt. But Providence transfer Brandon Austin could be a factor, and Altman finds a way to get the most out of his teams.
In a season spent fetishizing elite freshmen, Kansas State's Marcus Foster was simultaneously one of the sport's least heralded and most productive. Foster's breakout season augurs an even better sophomore campaign, and coach Bruce Weber will surround him with a batch of quality role players and an imposing big man in Thomas Gipson.