Fred Hoiberg leaving Iowa State to take the head coaching job with the Chicago Bulls will -- if you connect a few dots and look at a few preseason projections -- at least tangentially affects the Maryland Terrapins.
Not to use “affect” too strongly, but it could more so shuffle some of the cards and help to shape the conversation at the top of the preseason polls when they are released closer to the start of the season.
Of the handful or so teams that are in contention for the No. 1 overall spot, Maryland continues to look strong as time passes.
Let’s take a look at some of the teams at the top and the case for (or against) each:
The Terrapins are two deep at every position after the additions of Rasheed Sulaimon and Diamond Stone, as well as Georgia Tech transfer Robert Carter becoming eligible. Melo Trimble’s upward trajectory should continue and (lest we forget) Jake Layman was a borderline NBA first rounder before deciding to return to school.
The question will be chemistry. How do the new pieces mesh with the returning players and does each player fill the role he will be assigned?
The key to the Cyclones in 2015-16 will be the pieces they have returning -- namely Georges Niang, Naz Long, Jameel McKay, and Monte Morris -- but also the transfers (as always) that they’ll have coming in. Among those are Hallice Cooke from Oregon State and Deonte Burton from Marquette.
Hoiberg’s departure is at the very least another factor to consider, though not to say that it radically changes everything. Iowa State could end up promoting assistant T.J. Otzelberger, which would keep personnel and system familiarity in Ames during the transition.
Almost everyone important is back for the Tar Heels, but North Carolina received its notice of allegations from the NCAA late last month.
That will be the consistent additional storyline for UNC as it is the most likely candidate to challenge Maryland for the No. 1 overall spot in the preseason. The most fun part? The Terrapins will meet the Tar Heels in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Dec. 1, which could be a possible 1 vs. 2 matchup.
Bringing back a ton of pieces of your Big 12 title team and adding a few five-star prospects to the mix is why Kansas will be in the conversation at the top of the polls early in 2015.
Frank Mason is a former Towson commit now starting for the Jayhawks. Incoming freshman Cheick Diallo has a motor that just doesn’t stop. Perry Ellis is a fine clothing brand and a proven veteran. Tough not to like the Jayhawks.
Unlike the four teams above, Kentucky will have rollover like it always does. Out goes talent, but at the same time in comes talent.
Maybe we were just spoiled by the collection of All-Americans coach John Calipari was able to put together last season, but after missing on five-stars like Jaylen Brown, Cheick Diallo, Malik Newman, and Ivan Rabb this spring the roster isn’t as packed as it has been in the past.
But that doesn’t mean they’re not still talented -- and couldn't end up in the Final Four.