With most teams eliminated from competition, its time to start looking ahead to the 2012-13 season. Following up on yesterday's Early 2012-13 Top 15, here are teams 16 to 30.
I had to make many assumptions about the NBA Draft in compiling the following list, and I've noted which assumptions I've made. Once players make their official Draft decisions later in the summer, this ranking will be updated. Also uncertain is where some remaining unsigned recruits will end up. In particular, Shabazz Muhammad (#1 by Rivals.com), Anthony Bennett (#7), Devonta Pollard (#9), and Nerlens Noel (#3 in 2013) remain up for grabs. I purposely made no assumptions about where unsigned prospects will end up. (All prospect rankings are according to the Rivals 150 ranking.)
Early 2012-13 Ranking: Teams 16-30
16 Kansas St Kansas State had a solid season, but they were always a step behind the elite teams. With Jamar Samuels being the lone senior of note, they should be able to take another step forward next year. A pair of solid bigs including 43rd ranked Robert Upshaw join the fray.
17 Memphis The key for Memphis is whether Will Barton decides to enter the Draft. Assuming he doesn't, the Tigers return a talented squad that only loses Wes Witherspoon. Three more 4-star recruits also enter the mix. With Barton back, Memphis has top 10 talent, but it remains to be seen whether Pastner is a top 10 coach.
18 Gonzaga While Robert Sacre graduates, the question remains whether Elias Harris goes pro. If Harris bolts, the roster would be deep, young, and talented, but thin up front. Little used guys like Hart and Spangler would need to emerge as legit contributors. Even without Harris, Gonzaga has top 20 potential.
19 Texas With such a young squad this year, simply making the tournament was an accomplishment. Veteran bigs Chapman and Wangmene graduate, but they'll be replaced by better prospects such as big man Cameron Ridley (#21 on Rivals) and Prince Ibeh (10th ranked center). I'm assuming J'Covan Brown returns, but that's no guarantee.
20 Saint Mary's Rob Jones graduates after a great career, but the rest of this squad returns intact. Freshman Brad Waldow has the potential to be even better than Jones, and so long as Dellavedova is around, Saint Mary's will be fine. They also have solid a solid PF prospect on the way who can help ease the Jones loss.
21 Notre Dame The Irish endured a lot of difficulties to put together a surprisingly fine season. If Tim Abromaitis is granted a redshirt season, Notre Dame could even exceed this ranking. Scott Martin graduates, but the 3-person recruiting class is full of solid forwards.
22 New Mexico Drew Gordon is a huge loss, as he was by far the Lobos best player. But 3 of their 4 next highest scorers were sophomores who should improve substantially. UNM's recruiting class is solid but unspectacular.
23 Florida Erving Walker is the Gators lone senior loss, but I'm assuming that both Brad Beal and Patric Young go pro in this projection. If even one of them returns, they could move up the ranking. Either way, Boynton, Murphy, and Rosario are solid players who will be joined by a 3-man class that lacks a blockbuster name (although 62nd ranked PG Braxton Ogbueze could be underrated).
24 Marquette In Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette loses its two best players and 36 ppg. But although they'll take a step back, don't expect Marquette to be complete irrelevant. There are emerging talents on the roster and the 4-person recruiting class will add scoring punch.
25 VCU Unlike most schools that will be awaiting NBA Draft decisions, the big x-factor for VCU is whether Shaka Smart returns. Brad Burgess was the lone senior on a team that looks very dangerous next year. There are even 3 solid newcomers, led by Jordan Burgess, an underrated wing.
26 florida St the Noles will take a step back after a surprise ACC title. They lose the core of the team in James, Dulkys, and Louks. However, a quality 4-person class full of Top 100 prospects will provide added depth. The real key is whether Michael Snaer decides to go pro. As of now, I'm assuming he's back.
27 Saint Louis The Bills lose their leading scorer in Brian Conklin, but the rest of this deep roster remains intact. There is no help on the way in terms of major recruits, but many of this year's sophomores could take major steps forward.
28 Alabama While losing senior JaMychal Green hurts, the bigger question is whether Anthony Grant returns as head coach. He did a fine job this season despite many distractions. However, if he leaves, the Tide would have to drop.
29 Drexel The dragons do lose their leading rebounder in Samme Givens, but the rest of the roster returns. Its been 13 years since Bruiser Flint has made the NCAA Tournament, this should be the year.
30 UCLA Despite a seemingly disastrous season, UCLA remained competitive in the Pac-12. Senior's Lazeric Jones and Jerime Anderson depart, but those losses are more than made up by the entry of Kyle Anderson, the country's 2nd best prospect. If UCLA were to also add Shabazz Muhammad, they'd jump even higher.