Time for the annual exercise in futility that is the early college basketball top 25. I've done it every year since 2005 -- before the Hotline was created -- and have found it's just as difficult as the football version despite smaller rosters.

Not only are there more teams capable of finishing high in the polls (and winning the title), but the combination of spring recruiting, transfers and NBA defections makes lineups difficult to project at this point, two days after the tournament.

Here we go ...

(I retain the right to revise the projections based on draft decisions and spring recruiting. In fact, count on it.)

Also considered (in no particular order): Tennessee, Dayton, Baylor, Iowa, Stanford, Syracuse, UNLV, Harvard, Utah, San Diego State, BYU, Ohio State, UCLA and Kansas State.

25. San Diego State: Must find a replacement for that Xavier guy.

24. Villanova: Four returning starters make the Wildcats the team to beat in the Big East.

23. Michigan State. If Gary Harris and Branden Dawson leave, it could be a long winter in East Lansing. And then there's the weather.

22. Gonzaga: The backcourt should be one of the best in the west, but the Zags must replace Sam Dower's production up front.

21. Connecticut: Hard to envision UConn being an upper-echelon team. Then again, it was hard to envision them winning the national title.

20. Iowa State: Fred Hoiberg could have an entire roster of slow, 6-foot-1 freshmen, and I'd still slot his team in the top 20. Nobody's better than the Mayor these days.

19. Minnesota: From the NIT title to the NCAAs for Pitino the Younger.

18. Louisville: No more Russdiculousness for the Cardinals, but Pitino the Elder will make the most of a revamped roster.

17. Michigan: If Mitch McGary shuns the NBA and stays healthy, the Wolverines will win 20-25. If Nik Stauskas also comes back, move UM into the top 10.

16. Oklahoma: Four starters return for Lon Kruger, one of the most under-appreciated coaches in the country.

15. Oregon: With Joseph Young back (plus Damyean Dotson), the Ducks will duel for silver in the Pac-12.

14. VCU: The Rams return all but two top players from the team that collapsed against SFA.

13. Nebraska: Basketball school.

12. Colorado: If Spencer Dinwiddie returns to join Josh Scott, Xavier Johnson and Askia Booker, the Buffs should have the second-best team in the Pac-12.

11. North Carolina: Should look more like the team that beat Kentucky and Michigan State than the one that lost to UAB and Belmont.

10. Southern Methodist: Larry Brown can still coach a wee bit, it appears. He'll have a highly motivated veteran team (after the at-large snub) and adds one of the nation's top prospects in Emmanuel Mudiay.

9. Wichita State: The Shockers aren't going away, especially with Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker back for another run at the Final Four.

8. Kansas: Despite losing Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid (presumably), the Jayhawks should remain a top-10 team with rising sophomore Wayne Selden and another top-notch recruiting class.

7. Kentucky: Typical Big Blue: Awesome freshman class and a handful of holdovers will make them dangerous in March.

6. Texas: The Longhorns return all their key players from a team that was considered a year away (but progressed quickly).

5. Florida: Yes, the Gators lose a ton of experience and skill (Scottie Wilbekin, for one). But there's plenty of returning talent. Watch out for sophomore big man Chris Walker.

4. Virginia: Tony Bennett has it rolling in Charlottesville. The return of Malcolm Brogdon and Anthony Gill will keep the Cavs among the elite.

3. Duke: A loaded recruiting class, which includes Jahlil Okafor, the nation's top big man, joins a solid returning core. If Jabari Parker shuns the NBA (unlikely), make the Blue Devils No. 1.

2. Arizona: Assuming Aaron Gordon departs, Nick Johnson stays and Brandon Ashley returns to full health. But the Wildcats need to be better offensively without losing much on the other end.

1. Wisconsin: Everyone's back except Ben Brust for a team that was one shot away from playing for the title.