Looking at how this year’s Final Four teams could do next season


*Indicates early NBA draft entry.

Players stats are from the 2017-2018 season.

Now that the college basketball season has ended with Villanova cutting down the nets in San Antonio, what better time to start looking forward to next season. With incoming freshman, transfers that are eligible to play, and surprising returnees, every team has a clean slate and reason for optimism for the new season. There are still plenty of unsigned top prospects, but I want to take a look at next year’s outlook for those teams fortunate enough to make it to this year’s Final Four with what we know at this point.

Loyola-Chicago Ramblers

final four in 2019
Clayton Custer is the leading returning scorer from the Cinderella Loyola program.

Key Players Leaving:
1. Donte Ingram: 11.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG
2. Aundre Jackson: 11.0 PPG, 3.2 RPG
3. Ben Richardson: 6.9 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.8 APG

Key Players Returning:
1. Clayton Custer: 13.2 PPG, 4.1 APG
2. Marques Townes: 11.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG
3. Cameron Krutwig: 10.5 PPG, 6.1 RPG

Key Addition:
1. Franklin Agunanne, C

Loyola-Chicago grabbed Cinderella’s slipper from the UMBC Retrievers and enjoyed a tournament ride very much resembling a fairy tale. They proved they were not to be overlooked in this year’s tournament, but will not have that same luxury going into next season. The Ramblers will lose vital pieces to their tournament run, including a pair of double-digit scorers in Jackson and Ingram as well as the star of the Elite Eight, Ben Richardson. Returning starters with tournament experience, as well as a couple of incoming freshman bigs to help Krutwig defensively should help this team return to the big dance, except this time they won’t be flying under the radar. The trio of Custer, Townes, and Krutwig should be able to carry this team back into the Sweet Sixteen and from there – only a prayer from championship glory.

Michigan Wolverines

Key Players Leaving:
1. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman: 12.9 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.2 APG
2. *Mo Wagner: 14.6 PPG, 7.1 RPG
3. *Charles Matthews: 13.0 PPG, 5.5 RPG

Key Players Returning:
1. Jordan Poole: 6.0 PPG 1.4 RPG
2. Zavier Simpson: 7.3 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 3.7 APG

Key Addition:
1. Ignas Brazdeikis

Michigan was blessed by the easiest path to the championship game in a decade. Their toughest game before the final was against Houston and would not have advanced if not for a perfectly executed last second play. Not to take anything away from this Michigan team, because this was a team that Coach Beilein had peaking at the perfect time. You can only beat who’s in front of you, and the Wolverines did just that. Next year they look like returning a good group of underclassmen, starring Jordan Poole, and junior guard, Zavier Simpson. Combine that with the addition of a very deep, if not ultra-talented incoming class, the potential damage of losing your top three scorers along with a lot of experience, will be limited. So even assuming things won’t be as fortuitous for Michigan next year come March, they look like the favorites in the Big Ten and will have certainly have a good shot at returning to the Final Four.

Kansas Jayhawks

Key Players Leaving:
1. Devonte’ Graham: 17.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 7.2 APG
2. Svi Mykhailiuk: 14.6 PPG, 3.9 RPG
3. *Malik Newman: 14.2 PPG, 5.0 RPG

Key Players Returning:
1. Lagerald Vick: 12.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG
2. Udoka Azubuike: 13.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.7 BPG

Key Additions:
1. KJ & Dedric Lawson
2. Quentin Grimes
3. Devon Dotson
4. David McCormack

Kansas got blitzed by the eventual national champion, Villanova in the national semifinal. We all saw it. Three-pointers were raining down so fast it was almost like the difficulty was turned down to Rookie. I’m pretty sure Eric Paschall just hit another open three. Out goes leader Devonte’ Graham and three-point marksmen Svi Mykhailiuk, and with the incoming talent, I’d be willing to bet either Malik Newman or Lagerald Vick or both will bolt for the NBA draft and the chance to make money over a reduced role. So Kansas will be in for a down year, right? Uh, no. Bill Self has reloaded his team with a top recruiting class featuring Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson. Azubuike will have another year of experience, assuming he doesn’t head for the NBA, and incoming transfers KJ and Dedric Lawson will add experience and talent to an already deep guard position. Don’t worry, KU will be a Final Four favorite come 2019.

Villanova Wildcats

Key Players Leaving:
1. *Mikal Bridges: 17.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG
2. *Jalen Brunson:: 18.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 4.6 APG

Key Players Returning:
1. Dante DiVincenzo: 13.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 3.5 APG
2. Omari Spellman: 10.9 PPG, 8.0 RPG
3. Eric Paschall: 10.6 PPG, 5.3 RPG
4. Phil Booth: 10.0 PPG, 3.2 RPG

Key Addition:
1. Jahvon Quinerly

There is something that is inherently wrong about breezing your way through an NCAA Tournament and having no guaranteed departures. National Player of the Year, Jalen Brunson, and potential lottery pick, Mikal Bridges, are most likely gone, but the sheer fact that one or both of them could stay and improve their draft stock while potentially leading Villanova to another championship is extremely enticing. Millions of dollars via the NBA might just be the only thing more enticing, but even if the Wildcats lost both of their stars, Jay Wright will have plenty of talent to help soften the blow. The Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player, Dante DiVincenzo, is most definitely coming back for his sophomore season, and combine that with the return and growth of Spellman, Paschall, and Booth – Villanova might just be cutting down the nets in Minneapolis next year.


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