Badgers coming out favorably in early top-25 predictions

It's never too early to see where national pundits have the Wisconsin Badgers basketball team ranked for next season. Spoiler alert: It's looking good.

Wisconsin came painfully close to the the title this year, and with most key players returning, they are again poised to make a run next season.

Robert Deutsch

The college basketball season has barely been polished off, and already there is talk looking ahead to 2014-15. If you're a Wisconsin basketball fan, you should be lapping up all the (way too) early top-25 predictions because the Badgers are included in just about everybody's national top-5 rankings.

And who could blame them? With seven of the top eight players in the rotation returning after a Final Four appearance, all signs point to another special season in Madison. 

Here's what college basketball analysts and web sites are saying around the web about next year's Wisconsin team:

ESPN.com

No. 1: Arizona

No. 2: Duke

No. 3: Kentucky

No. 4: Wisconsin

No. 5: Wichita State

"Don't get it twisted: Wisconsin's Final Four run was no fluke. Save a rough patch in January, the Wisconsin offense you saw in March -- the one that was a possession away from a crack at the national title -- really was that good all season. Next season, almost everyone is back. Ben Brust is the only significant contributor graduating this spring. Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker both declared their intentions to return almost immediately following their loss to Kentucky on Saturday night; both could compete for national player of the year honors next season. Josh Gasser and Traevon Jackson will be seniors. Rising sophomore Nigel Hayes will be a seasoned and even more polished frontcourt force. And if Bronson Koenig can re-create his stellar work against Kentucky on a regular basis, the Badgers have every chance of getting back to the Final Four a year from now."

SI.com

No. 1: Duke

No. 2: Wisconsin

No. 3: Arizona

No. 4: Villanova

No. 5: North Carolina

"Frank Kaminsky will be tempted to enter the NBA draft, but if he comes back that means the Badgers will lose just one starter from their Final Four team."

TheBigLead.com

No. 1: Duke

No. 2: Arizona

No. 3: Wisconsin

No. 4: Kentucky

No. 5: North Carolina

"Bo Ryan loses senior leader Ben Brust, but assuming sophomore Sam Dekker doesn’t leave for the NBA, everyone else returns and the Badgers will be a fashionable Final 4 pick. Keep an eye on rising sophomore Bronson Koenig, who was excellent against Kentucky in the Final Four (11 points) and should more than make up for the loss of Brust. On paper, best team in the Big 10."

NBCSports.com

No. 1: Arizona

No. 2: Duke

No. 3: Wisconsin

No. 4: Kansas

No. 5: Kentucky

"Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker said that they would be returning to school on Saturday night, and there'€™s no reason we shouldn’t believe them at this point. Assuming they do, the Badgers are going to be loaded once again, as the only starter they lose is Ben Brust. That’s survivable, particularly when they have Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes waiting for more playing time."

SBNation.com

No. 1: Duke

No. 2: Wisconsin

No. 3: Arizona

No. 4: Kansas

No. 5: North Carolina

"The Badgers are likely only going to lose guard Ben Brust from the team that was a missed Aaron Harrison 24-footer away from playing for the national championship. The loss of Brust's leadership, ballhandling and perimeter shooting is a big-time blow, but this is still a squad that's going to bring back seven of its top eight scorers, including West Regional MVP Frank Kaminsky. If Bo Ryan can find one guard to take his game up a level, then Bucky is going to be right back in the thick of the title hunt a year from now."

CBSSports.com

No. 1: Duke

No. 2: Arizona

No. 3: Wisconsin

No. 4: Kansas

No. 5: Kentucky

No comments.

Sporting News

No. 1: Arizona

No. 2: Kentucky

No. 3: North Carolina

No. 4: Wisconsin

No. 5: Duke

"Seven of the Badgers'€™ top eight scorers are slated to return next year, including leading scorer Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, two guys who will likely have long NBA careers. Wisconsin came oh-so-close to a shot in the national title game, and it wouldn'€™t surprise us at all to see this veteran group back in the Final Four again next April."

USAToday.com

No. 1: Duke

No. 2: Arizona

No. 3: Wisconsin

No. 4: Kansas

No. 5: Kentucky

"The Badgers weren't on anyone's radar heading into 2013-14. That won't be the case next season. Wisconsin loses starting guard Ben Brust but could return the rest of its key faces from its Final Four roster. That's if 7-foot overnight celebrity Frank Kaminsky and top player Sam Dekker don't decide to turn pro. Traevon Jackson and Josh Gasser will be back and the Badgers will be back menacing Big Ten foes with a disciplined offense and suffocating defense."

NJ.com

No. 1: Kansas

No. 2: Michigan

No. 3: Duke

No. 4: Wisconsin

No. 5: Arizona

"Yes, losing Ben Brust (12.8 ppg, 41.9 FG percentage) is a blow, but as long as Sam Dekker eschews the NBA (all indications are he will)€” Bo Ryan's group should be loaded again. Frank Kaminsky is a potential first-team all-American and Traevon Jackson is poised for a big leap."

Bleacher Report

No. 1 Wisconsin

No. 2: Arizona

No. 3: Kansas

No. 4: North Carolina

No. 5: Duke

"Why They're Here: The last time a Final Four team returned at least four of five starters the following season was North Carolina in 2008-09. Those Tar Heels won the national title.

Assuming everyone comes back, Wisconsin only loses Ben Brust, and Bo Ryan has two viable options to replace Brust who were key bench contributors this past year in Nigel Hayes or Bronson Koenig.

Greatest Asset: Wisconsin cannot match that 2009 UNC title team for talent, but here's what we learned during the NCAA tournament: Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker formed one of the best front lines in the country and you'll have a hard time finding a better front line next year.

Both are extremely difficult to guard because they can knock down perimeter jumpers or score from the blocks. Kaminsky will be one of the preseason picks to win the Naismith award after averaging 16.4 points per game in the NCAA tournament.

The Badgers will also have better experience than anyone in the country as Kaminsky, Traevon Jackson and Josh Gasser will all be seniors and Dekker a junior. Mix in the coaching of Ryan, and that combination of talent, experience and coaching sounds like a championship formula.

Will Change If... Dekker or Kaminsky decide to declare for the draft. Both have NBA skill sets and improved their stocks during the tournament, but I'd be surprised if either player declared for the draft."

Follow Jesse Temple on Twitter