Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: Indiana, Kansas, and Maryland among 10 early 2024 offseason winners

Nebraska v Indiana
Nebraska v Indiana / David Berding/GettyImages
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2. Houston Cougars

Similar to Gonzaga, some teams have the luxury of returning most of their roster from the last season. Houston not only falls into that category but they’re in an even better position, coming off a 32-5 season and winning the Big 12 in its first year. The Cougars had a shot at making the Final Four, had it not been for the injury to star guard and Conference Player of the Year, Jamal Shead.

After averaging 12.9 ppg and 6.3 apg, he’s off to the NBA Draft. It’s certainly a big loss but Houston already found his replacement in Milos Uzan, a two-year starter at Oklahoma. The former four-star prospect averaged 9.4 ppg and 4.4 apg for the Sooners this past season and is a proven Big 12 contributor. He’s the only transfer for the team because just about everyone else is coming back.

That includes leading scorer LJ Cryer, starting guard Emanuel Sharp, and forward J’Wan Roberts and Ja’Vier Francis. They’ll have a healthy Terrance Arceneaux back from injury and Joseph Tugler could be a breakout candidate next season in the frontcourt.

There will be some rosters that are loaded with potential (including the No. 1 team on this list) but Houston’s continuity and returning talent makes for a real contender for preseason No. 1 next season. But they might not even be the team to beat in the Big 12, based on what they’ve done too.