UNC, Kentucky, Arkansas Dick Vitale's top three teams for 2022-23

UNC, Kentucky, Arkansas Dick Vitale’s top three teams for 2022-23

The NBA decision deadline will hit just before midnight ET June 1. And while a few players still have decisions to make, that didn’t stop ESPN personality Dick Vitale from ranking his top three teams for the 2022-23 season. Vitale picked UNC, which fell just short in last year’s national title game, as his No. 1 team. Just behind, at Nos. 2 and 3, were a pair of SEC teams in Kentucky and Arkansas, respectively.

“Will this be the special year for @KentuckyMBB and @UKCoachCalipari that BBN wants badly?” Vital asked.

The Tar Heels struggled for much of the season, and were still considered a bubble team heading into the regular-season finale against Duke. But not only did North Carolina win that game, the Tar Heels were the nation’s best team from March 1-on, according to statistics website BartTorvik.com.

From Feb. 19 through April 2, North Carolina won 11 of 12 games with the only loss coming to Virginia Tech in the ACC Tournament. And that included two wins over Duke, one in a historic Final Four matchup. UNC also knocked defending national champion Baylor out of the tournament in the second round, and defeated another 2021 Final Four team in UCLA in the Sweet 16.

North Carolina returns four starters, including likely preseason ACC Player of the Year Armando Bacotfrom the team that built a 16-point lead in the national championship game before falling to Kansas by three points when Caleb Love’s game-tying attempt failed.

Kentucky brings back college hoops’ best player, National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe, and plenty of motivation of its own after the Wildcats were unceremoniously dumped from the tournament by No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s. That the Peacocks made it to the Elite Eight before falling to North Carolina, did little to take the sting of the defeat from Wildcats fans. Goal with Tshiebwe and point guard Sahvir Wheeler back, and multiple new additions, Kentucky could once again be among college basketball’s best teams. Those additions include two five-star wings who could immediately step into the starting lineup in Cason Wallace and Chris Livingston.

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Then there’s Arkansas, which could have one returning player among its top 10: Devo Davis. The nation’s No. 2 recruiting class, one that includes three five-star players and 247Sports’ top-ranked prospect Nick Smith should help, as should several impact transfers. And while the Razorbacks lost Jaylin Williams to the NBA Draft, center was a spot Arkansas coach Eric Musselman attacked well in the transfer portal, bringing in players like Jalen Graham from Arizona State, Makhel Mitchell and Makhi Mitchell from Rhode Island and Trevon Brazile from Missouri.

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