Bruins land in the top 20 after deadline for withdrawal from NBA draft

The deadline to withdraw from the NBA Draft passed earlier this week, giving college players their last chance to withdraw from the NBA Draft and stay in college basketball for another season. With that deadline passing, the NCAA's latest Power Rankings were released, ranking the top 36 teams in college basketball.

The UCLA men's basketball team is ranked 18th in these rankings, a huge improvement from the 2023-24 season, where they failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament and finished the year with a negative record. After what was undoubtedly a disappointing season, head coach Mick Cronin went to work to improve the team, signing players such as Kobe Johnson, Skyy Clark, Tyler Bilodeau, Dominick Harris and Eric Dailey, as well as bringing in local star product Trent Perry.

These moves have catapulted them into the top 20 after spending most of last year outside the AP top 25 rankings.

Perhaps the most surprising ranking is that two-time defending champion UConn comes in at number five despite having another dominant season and defending its title. UConn is ahead of Alabama at number one, Kansas at number two, UCLA rival Gonzaga at number three and Houston at number four.

Other notable teams ahead of UCLA in this ranking are Indiana, Purdue and Ohio State. These three teams are new rivals for the Bruins, who enter the Big Ten in 2024-25. Purdue is ranked the highest of the three, 10th, after finishing second during a national title run.

However, they will have to do without Zach Edey, who has declared for the NBA draft after a dominant college career. After Purdue, Indiana comes in at number 12 and Ohio State at number 14.

With a revamped roster, the Bruins look to climb up the rankings and challenge other Big Ten teams to win the conference title and secure their spot in the NCAA Tournament after missing it last season. While a top-20 ranking after last season is generous, the Bruins are eager to continue climbing up the rankings and make up for last year.

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