What Does Next Season Hold in Store for National Semifinalists?

villanova hoops

Swinging Johnson

Monday, April 2, 2018 2:54 PM GMT

Monday, Apr. 2, 2018 2:54 PM GMT

Villanova beat Michigan for the 2017-18 national championship Monday night, but what are the prospects for those teams as well as fellow Final Four clubs Loyola-Chicago and Kansas next year? Are any of these schools likely to return to the Final Four?

The 2019 Final Four will be held at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, the site of this past NFL season's thrilling Super Bowl. Let's take an early look at the chances of this season's four national semifinalists of getting back there in 2018-19.

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VIDEO: Awesome moment between Loyola Chicago head coach Porter Moser and senior Ben Richardson after the Ramblers historic run came to an end.

"You keep that head high walking through here because you changed the direction of this whole program." #FinalFour pic.twitter.com/0p9DPZA7dE

— Jeff Barker (@JeffBarker_) April 1, 2018
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Loyola-Chicago

It was a script ripped from a Hollywood screenwriter’s vivid imagination. A virtually unknown team slaying dragons throughout, culminating in a David vs. Goliath showdown against a Michigan team with a storied tradition. Add a sprinkle of divine intervention from a 98-year-old nun, and it was almost too good to be true. The dream ended in the Final Four as the Wolverines dashed the hopes of the Ramblers to advance as the only No. 11 seed ever to compete in the national championship.

Next season, the Ramblers will be more well known, but unless lightning strikes twice chances are the only name you will remember is Sister Jean. And the good news is that this will not be Custer’s last stand, as junior guard and Loyola’s leading scorer Clayton Custer will return to mount another miraculous campaign. Donte Ingram, Aundre Jackson and Ben Richardson are the only significant seniors graduating; therefore, the Ramblers’ lineup will be largely intact for next season as none of the underclassmen will be leaving for the bright lights of the NBA. The 2018-19 college basketball odds are not out yet, but Loyola will be a long shot to do it all over again.

Kansas

The Jayhawks will be losing valuable senior guards in Devonte Graham, the Big 12 Player of the Year, and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, both of whom will most likely be selected in the second round of this year’s NBA draft. Seven-foot center Udoka Azubuike could make the jump and not return for his junior year but that would probably not be the wisest move for a player who could use more seasoning and a better free-throw percentage.

However, the Kansas ranks will be bolstered by five-star prospects such as guards Quentin Grimes of The Woodlands College Park High School and Devon Dotson of Providence Day School. Rounding out the class is 6-foot-10 center David McCormack and guard Ochai Agbaji. The Jayhawks will contend because Bill Self will still be roaming the sidelines, but can they make another Final Four run or better? Chances are they will be there again next season.

Michigan

Michigan has maximized its potential this season with only one underclassman, junior forward Moritz Wagner, as a remote possibility of making the jump to the pros. Michigan is hoping the 6’11” power forward/center will stay the course and remain for his senior campaign. However, the same cannot be said of seniors Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Duncan Robinson, who will graduate and try to latch onto an NBA team or another professional opportunity overseas.

The Wolverines have forward Brandon Johns packing up and moving to Ann Arbor for his freshman year but this is not a power-packed basketball program and will be lucky to reach the Sweet 16 next season. Keep an eye on Michigan as a potential early-season fade in your college basketball picks for next season.

Villanova

The Wildcats are the class of college basketball right now. Their resident superstar, junior Mikal Bridges, is all but out the door and appears to be a mid-to-late 2018 lottery pick. Junior point guard Jalen Brunson, the national player of the year, may also make the leap to the pros and is slated as a likely late first-round pick if he goes. Fortunately, the Wildcats should retain point guard Donte DiVincenzo, the star of the national title game, and power forward Omari Spellman for next season. Seniors Danny Grace, Tom Lebig and Matt Kennedy will graduate, but their departures are of no consequence.

Villanova will welcome Hudson Catholic’s five-star Jahvon Quinerly into the fold, as well as Cole Swider of St. Andrews School and Brandon Slater of Pope VI Catholic, all talented guards who could impact next year’s team, particularly Quinerly. I see Villanova as an odds-on-favorite to repeat its Final Four tour next season.

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