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Everyone in college basketball is chasing the blue bloods

Added on 07 November 2017 - 12:38 'Viewed 24 views times.

Off the court, college basketball is a mess, in the wake of the ongoing FBI investigation that already has led to the arrest of four assistant coaches from prominent programs on bribery and fraud charges, and the ousting of Hall of Fame Louisville coach Rick Pitino.

On the floor, the sport is exceedingly healthy. Blue bloods such as Duke, Michigan State, Kansas and Kentucky are loaded, the freshmen class appears spectacular and accomplished upperclassmen remain, such as Duke ’s Grayson Allen, Notre Dame ’s Bonzie Colson and Wisconsin ’s Ethan Happ who passed on the NBA draft.

It sets up what should be a fascinating season — on and off the court.

Here ’s a look at The Post ’s preseason top 25:

1. Duke

Surprise, surprise, the Blue Devils are everyone ’s favorite target again. Having gone two long seasons without a national championship, Mike Krzyzewski has the talent to get his sixth ring. Joining senior guard Grayson Allen are four freshman who could be first-round NBA picks in the spring. They are led by 6-foot-11 power forward Marvin Bagley III, who could help create one of the country ’s most dynamic offenses.

2. Michigan State

Miles BridgesAP

The Spartans have a Hall of Fame coach (Tom Izzo), experience (battle-tested seniors Ben Carter, Gavin Schilling and Lourawls Nairn Jr.), star power (projected top-10 pick Miles Bridges) and loads of young talent (returning sophomore starters Nick Ward and Joshua Langford, along with five-star freshman Jaren Jackson Jr.). Anything less than a trip to the Final Four in San Antonio would be considered a failure.

3. Arizona

The Wildcats are again a threat to win their first national championship since 1997. After battling injury as a freshman, and missing most of last season because of a failed drug test, junior guard Allonzo Trier will form a dangerous pairing with 7-foot freshman DeAndre Ayton, who could be a top-three pick in the draft.

4. Kansas

Picking against Kansas in the Big 12 is like trying to beat the house at a casino. It won ’t end well. The Jayhawks, loaded yet again, should win their 14th straight conference title behind the four-headed guard monster of Devonte ’ Graham, Lagerald Vick, Svi Mykhailiuk and Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman.

5. Kentucky

John Calipari isn ’t accustomed to starting the season so low in the rankings. The latest batch of highly-rated freshmen — including guard Quade Green and forward P.J. Washington — aren ’t quite as acclaimed as past Kentucky classes, but the young crew still will easily run away with another SEC championship, with Queens wing Hamidou Diallo likely to carry the scoring load after sitting out last season.

6. Wichita State

Landry Shamet and Markis McDuffie both underwent foot surgery in the offseason, meaning the Shockers may start slow as their two leading scorers get healthy. Fortunately, Wichita State has loads of depth — it returns everyone of note from a 31-win team last year — and now that it is in the AAC, coach Gregg Marshall ’s defensively-stingy group has résumé-building opportunities in league play.

7. Villanova

Jalen BrunsonShutterstock

Even without Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins, Jay Wright ’s team is the heavy favorite to secure its fifth straight Big East title. Villanova should remain among the best defensive teams, and could see a breakout season from Mikal Bridges. The ceiling will be decided by junior guard Jalen Brunson, who could be a first team All-American.

8. Florida

There were key departures and significant additions, creating a roster that could take time to gel, but should be dangerous come March. Explosive leading scorer KeVaughn Allen returns, as does guard Chris Chiozza — the hero of the classic Sweet 16 victory over Wisconsin at the Garden — and difference-making center John Egbunu. A four-man, top-20 recruiting class will provide depth, but the key new piece is Rice graduate transfer Egor Koulechov, a skilled wing who averaged 18.2 points per game and shot 47 percent from deep a year ago.

9. North Carolina

The Tar Heels were already going to have a difficult title defense before the Final Four ’s Most Outstanding Player (Joel Berry) broke his hand after losing a video game. North Carolina ’s star guard should be back before conference play begins, and until then, senior Theo Pinson and ex-Pitt sharpshooter Cameron Johnson will be counted on to make up for the champs losing four of their five top scorers from last season.

10. West Virginia

Jevon Carter, West Virginia ’s leading scorer and top playmaker a year ago, has improved across the board each season in Morgantown, and will be counted on to guide an inexperienced group that will be without key forward Esa Ahmad for the first half of the season because of eligibility reasons. Sophomore Sagaba Konate, a 6-foot-8 shot-blocking menace from Mali, could help fill the void.

11. USC

The rebuild is complete. After winning 23 games in his first two seasons with the Trojans, coach Andy Enfield has won 47 games over the past two seasons. The Trojans look like a lock to reach a third straight NCAA tournament with the entirety of an extremely balanced core back, including four double-digit scorers who will be teamed with Duke transfer Derryck Thornton.

12. Notre Dame

Bonzie ColsonAP

There isn ’t a better senior 1-2 punch in the country than Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell, hard-nosed veterans who averaged a combined 31.9 points per game a year ago and each shot better than 40 percent on 3-pointers. Keep an eye on sophomore Temple Gibbs, a Scotch Plains, N.J., native capable of making a major leap after receiving limited minutes as a freshman.

13. Miami

Jim Larranaga ’s team loses key players with experience, but an infusion of youth could be what brings Miami back to the NCAA tournament for a third straight year. Five-star guard Lonnie Walker leads an impressive recruiting class, joining senior Ja ’Quan Newton and sophomore Bruce Brown, whose all-around proficiency likely will make his second season his final one before leaving for the pros.

14. Cincinnati

The Bearcats don ’t just have to grind down opponents anymore. They can outscore them, too. Mick Cronin has four of his top five scorers back from a 30-win campaign, and he adds another major weapon in Sacred Heart transfer Cane Broome, the NEC Player of the Year in 2015-16.

15. Louisville

The Cardinals could make a run to the Final Four or miss the NCAA tournament, and it ’s hard to say that either outcome would be surprising. Reeling from the recruiting scandal that cost Rick Pitino his job, 32-year-old interim coach David Padgett will attempt to bring stability to the program, while hoping another postseason ban isn ’t approaching.

16. UCLA

Lonzo Ball is gone, but his attention-seeking father LaVar isn ’t, as middle brother LiAngelo arrives on campus as a likely reserve. There is good news for Steve Alford, though. His roster remains formidable, keyed by the return of center Thomas Welsh and guard Aaron Holiday, and the addition of an elite freshmen class led by five-star recruits Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes.

17. Xavier

Despite going .500 in the Big East last season, the Musketeers fell just one game short of the school ’s first Final Four, continuing its incredible success under Chris Mack in March, and reaching at least the Sweet 16 for the fourth time since 2010. With senior Trevon Bluiett back, Xavier could make another deep run, and potentially knock Villanova off its Big East throne. Green Bay transfer Kerem Kanter — brother of Knicks center Enes Kanter — gives the frountcourt a significant boost.

18. Gonzaga

Rui HachimuraGetty Images

Just two starters return from the program ’s first Final Four team, and just four rotation players. So Gonzaga is in for a long year, right? Wrong. Senior Johnathan Williams and junior Josh Perkins were preseason All-WCC selections, Japanese import Rui Hachimura is brimming with potential after spending his freshman year adjusting to the speed of the game and redshirt freshman wing Zach Norvell, a top-100 prospect, could blossom.

19. Northwestern

The monkey is off their backs. Long plagued by its status as one of only five teams to have been around since the creation of the NCAA tournament and never have made it, the Wildcats finally broke through last season, and even won their first-round matchup with Vanderbilt. Northwestern could go even farther this season, with its top-five scorers back, including guards Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey.

20. Minnesota

The Gophers were ahead of schedule last year, reaching their first NCAA tournament in four years, and are now primed to avenge their March jitters. Long-armed sophomore Amir Coffey has some Lamar Odom to his game, senior point guard Nate Mason was a preseason All-Big Ten selection and flashy freshman Isaiah Washington of Harlem will provide a jolt off the bench.

21. St. Mary ’s

Annually in the shadow of conference rival Gonzaga, the Gaels could take control of the WCC this season. After losing just five games last season — three to Gonzaga — St. Mary ’s will showcase one of the best starting units and most efficient shooting teams in the country, featuring big man Jock Landale and guard Emmett Naar, who will be joined in the backcourt by Ole Miss transfer Cullen Neal.

22. Seton Hall

Khadeen CarringtonBill Kostroun

The senior core of Khadeen Carrington, Angel Delgado, Ismael Sanogo and Desi Rodriguez arrived in South Orange in the summer of 2014 determined to turn around this flatlining program. Two NCAA tournament bids and a Big East tournament crown later, Seton Hall certainly has a heartbeat, but this group has one goal left: a lengthy March run.

23. Purdue

The defending Big Ten champions return all but one player from a Sweet 16 run. Unfortunately, the missing face is the biggest piece. With Caleb Swanigan off to the NBA, fellow big man Isaac Haas will be counted on to fill the massive void, having ranked second on the team last season with 12.6 points and five rebounds in 19.5 minutes per game. P.J. Thompson leads a deep backcourt, and should get Matt Painter ’s team back to the Dance for the fourth straight year.

24. Rhode Island

The class of the Atlantic 10, coming off the program ’s first NCAA tournament berth in 18 years, features one of the nation ’s deepest backcourts, a skilled and versatile unit headed by last year ’s leading scorer E.C. Matthews and fellow seniors Jared Terrell, Jarvis Garrett and Stanford Robinson. If sophomore Cyril Langevine and junior college transfer Ryan Preston from Brooklyn can help fill the void up front left by Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson, the Rams will be Sweet 16 good.

25. Virginia

After averaging 28 wins per season over the past four years, Tony Bennett faces his toughest task in a while. The top scoring defense in the nation comes back with even less offense — and experience — than usual. London Perrantes is gone, the Cavaliers have no double-digit scorers on the roster and Bennett ’s always stingy system will be relied on more than ever to get his team back to the NCAA Tournament.

Off the court, college basketball is a mess, in the wake of the ongoing FBI investigation that already has led to the arrest of four assistant coaches from prominent programs on bribery and fraud charges, and the ousting of Hall of Fame Louisville coach Rick Pitino.

On the floor, the sport is exceedingly healthy. Blue bloods such as Duke, Michigan State, Kansas and Kentucky are loaded, the freshmen class appears spectacular and accomplished upperclassmen remain, such as Duke ’s Grayson Allen, Notre Dame ’s Bonzie Colson and Wisconsin ’s Ethan Happ who passed on the NBA draft.

It sets up what should be a fascinating season — on and off the court.

Here ’s a look at The Post ’s preseason top 25:

1. Duke

Surprise, surprise, the Blue Devils are everyone ’s favorite target again. Having gone two long seasons without a national championship, Mike Krzyzewski has the talent to get his sixth ring. Joining senior guard Grayson Allen are four freshman who could be first-round NBA picks in the spring. They are led by 6-foot-11 power forward Marvin Bagley III, who could help create one of the country ’s most dynamic offenses.

2. Michigan State

Miles BridgesAP

The Spartans have a Hall of Fame coach (Tom Izzo), experience (battle-tested seniors Ben Carter, Gavin Schilling and Lourawls Nairn Jr.), star power (projected top-10 pick Miles Bridges) and loads of young talent (returning sophomore starters Nick Ward and Joshua Langford, along with five-star freshman Jaren Jackson Jr.). Anything less than a trip to the Final Four in San Antonio would be considered a failure.

3. Arizona

The Wildcats are again a threat to win their first national championship since 1997. After battling injury as a freshman, and missing most of last season because of a failed drug test, junior guard Allonzo Trier will form a dangerous pairing with 7-foot freshman DeAndre Ayton, who could be a top-three pick in the draft.

4. Kansas

Picking against Kansas in the Big 12 is like trying to beat the house at a casino. It won ’t end well. The Jayhawks, loaded yet again, should win their 14th straight conference title behind the four-headed guard monster of Devonte ’ Graham, Lagerald Vick, Svi Mykhailiuk and Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman.

5. Kentucky

John Calipari isn ’t accustomed to starting the season so low in the rankings. The latest batch of highly-rated freshmen — including guard Quade Green and forward P.J. Washington — aren ’t quite as acclaimed as past Kentucky classes, but the young crew still will easily run away with another SEC championship, with Queens wing Hamidou Diallo likely to carry the scoring load after sitting out last season.

6. Wichita State

Landry Shamet and Markis McDuffie both underwent foot surgery in the offseason, meaning the Shockers may start slow as their two leading scorers get healthy. Fortunately, Wichita State has loads of depth — it returns everyone of note from a 31-win team last year — and now that it is in the AAC, coach Gregg Marshall ’s defensively-stingy group has résumé-building opportunities in league play.

7. Villanova

Jalen BrunsonShutterstock

Even without Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins, Jay Wright ’s team is the heavy favorite to secure its fifth straight Big East title. Villanova should remain among the best defensive teams, and could see a breakout season from Mikal Bridges. The ceiling will be decided by junior guard Jalen Brunson, who could be a first team All-American.

8. Florida

There were key departures and significant additions, creating a roster that could take time to gel, but should be dangerous come March. Explosive leading scorer KeVaughn Allen returns, as does guard Chris Chiozza — the hero of the classic Sweet 16 victory over Wisconsin at the Garden — and difference-making center John Egbunu. A four-man, top-20 recruiting class will provide depth, but the key new piece is Rice graduate transfer Egor Koulechov, a skilled wing who averaged 18.2 points per game and shot 47 percent from deep a year ago.

9. North Carolina

The Tar Heels were already going to have a difficult title defense before the Final Four ’s Most Outstanding Player (Joel Berry) broke his hand after losing a video game. North Carolina ’s star guard should be back before conference play begins, and until then, senior Theo Pinson and ex-Pitt sharpshooter Cameron Johnson will be counted on to make up for the champs losing four of their five top scorers from last season.

10. West Virginia

Jevon Carter, West Virginia ’s leading scorer and top playmaker a year ago, has improved across the board each season in Morgantown, and will be counted on to guide an inexperienced group that will be without key forward Esa Ahmad for the first half of the season because of eligibility reasons. Sophomore Sagaba Konate, a 6-foot-8 shot-blocking menace from Mali, could help fill the void.

11. USC

The rebuild is complete. After winning 23 games in his first two seasons with the Trojans, coach Andy Enfield has won 47 games over the past two seasons. The Trojans look like a lock to reach a third straight NCAA tournament with the entirety of an extremely balanced core back, including four double-digit scorers who will be teamed with Duke transfer Derryck Thornton.

12. Notre Dame

Bonzie ColsonAP

There isn ’t a better senior 1-2 punch in the country than Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell, hard-nosed veterans who averaged a combined 31.9 points per game a year ago and each shot better than 40 percent on 3-pointers. Keep an eye on sophomore Temple Gibbs, a Scotch Plains, N.J., native capable of making a major leap after receiving limited minutes as a freshman.

13. Miami

Jim Larranaga ’s team loses key players with experience, but an infusion of youth could be what brings Miami back to the NCAA tournament for a third straight year. Five-star guard Lonnie Walker leads an impressive recruiting class, joining senior Ja ’Quan Newton and sophomore Bruce Brown, whose all-around proficiency likely will make his second season his final one before leaving for the pros.

14. Cincinnati

The Bearcats don ’t just have to grind down opponents anymore. They can outscore them, too. Mick Cronin has four of his top five scorers back from a 30-win campaign, and he adds another major weapon in Sacred Heart transfer Cane Broome, the NEC Player of the Year in 2015-16.

15. Louisville

The Cardinals could make a run to the Final Four or miss the NCAA tournament, and it ’s hard to say that either outcome would be surprising. Reeling from the recruiting scandal that cost Rick Pitino his job, 32-year-old interim coach David Padgett will attempt to bring stability to the program, while hoping another postseason ban isn ’t approaching.

16. UCLA

Lonzo Ball is gone, but his attention-seeking father LaVar isn ’t, as middle brother LiAngelo arrives on campus as a likely reserve. There is good news for Steve Alford, though. His roster remains formidable, keyed by the return of center Thomas Welsh and guard Aaron Holiday, and the addition of an elite freshmen class led by five-star recruits Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes.

17. Xavier

Despite going .500 in the Big East last season, the Musketeers fell just one game short of the school ’s first Final Four, continuing its incredible success under Chris Mack in March, and reaching at least the Sweet 16 for the fourth time since 2010. With senior Trevon Bluiett back, Xavier could make another deep run, and potentially knock Villanova off its Big East throne. Green Bay transfer Kerem Kanter — brother of Knicks center Enes Kanter — gives the frountcourt a significant boost.

18. Gonzaga

Rui HachimuraGetty Images

Just two starters return from the program ’s first Final Four team, and just four rotation players. So Gonzaga is in for a long year, right? Wrong. Senior Johnathan Williams and junior Josh Perkins were preseason All-WCC selections, Japanese import Rui Hachimura is brimming with potential after spending his freshman year adjusting to the speed of the game and redshirt freshman wing Zach Norvell, a top-100 prospect, could blossom.

19. Northwestern

The monkey is off their backs. Long plagued by its status as one of only five teams to have been around since the creation of the NCAA tournament and never have made it, the Wildcats finally broke through last season, and even won their first-round matchup with Vanderbilt. Northwestern could go even farther this season, with its top-five scorers back, including guards Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey.

20. Minnesota

The Gophers were ahead of schedule last year, reaching their first NCAA tournament in four years, and are now primed to avenge their March jitters. Long-armed sophomore Amir Coffey has some Lamar Odom to his game, senior point guard Nate Mason was a preseason All-Big Ten selection and flashy freshman Isaiah Washington of Harlem will provide a jolt off the bench.

21. St. Mary ’s

Annually in the shadow of conference rival Gonzaga, the Gaels could take control of the WCC this season. After losing just five games last season — three to Gonzaga — St. Mary ’s will showcase one of the best starting units and most efficient shooting teams in the country, featuring big man Jock Landale and guard Emmett Naar, who will be joined in the backcourt by Ole Miss transfer Cullen Neal.

22. Seton Hall

Khadeen CarringtonBill Kostroun

The senior core of Khadeen Carrington, Angel Delgado, Ismael Sanogo and Desi Rodriguez arrived in South Orange in the summer of 2014 determined to turn around this flatlining program. Two NCAA tournament bids and a Big East tournament crown later, Seton Hall certainly has a heartbeat, but this group has one goal left: a lengthy March run.

23. Purdue

The defending Big Ten champions return all but one player from a Sweet 16 run. Unfortunately, the missing face is the biggest piece. With Caleb Swanigan off to the NBA, fellow big man Isaac Haas will be counted on to fill the massive void, having ranked second on the team last season with 12.6 points and five rebounds in 19.5 minutes per game. P.J. Thompson leads a deep backcourt, and should get Matt Painter ’s team back to the Dance for the fourth straight year.

24. Rhode Island

The class of the Atlantic 10, coming off the program ’s first NCAA tournament berth in 18 years, features one of the nation ’s deepest backcourts, a skilled and versatile unit headed by last year ’s leading scorer E.C. Matthews and fellow seniors Jared Terrell, Jarvis Garrett and Stanford Robinson. If sophomore Cyril Langevine and junior college transfer Ryan Preston from Brooklyn can help fill the void up front left by Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson, the Rams will be Sweet 16 good.

25. Virginia

After averaging 28 wins per season over the past four years, Tony Bennett faces his toughest task in a while. The top scoring defense in the nation comes back with even less offense — and experience — than usual. London Perrantes is gone, the Cavaliers have no double-digit scorers on the roster and Bennett ’s always stingy system will be relied on more than ever to get his team back to the NCAA Tournament.

Off the court, college basketball is a mess, in the wake of the ongoing FBI investigation that already has led to the arrest of four assistant coaches from prominent programs on bribery and fraud charges, and the ousting of Hall of Fame Louisville coach Rick Pitino.

On the floor, the sport is exceedingly healthy. Blue bloods such as Duke, Michigan State, Kansas and Kentucky are loaded, the freshmen class appears spectacular and accomplished upperclassmen remain, such as Duke ’s Grayson Allen, Notre Dame ’s Bonzie Colson and Wisconsin ’s Ethan Happ who passed on the NBA draft.

It sets up what should be a fascinating season — on and off the court.

Here ’s a look at The Post ’s preseason top 25:

1. Duke

Surprise, surprise, the Blue Devils are everyone ’s favorite target again. Having gone two long seasons without a national championship, Mike Krzyzewski has the talent to get his sixth ring. Joining senior guard Grayson Allen are four freshman who could be first-round NBA picks in the spring. They are led by 6-foot-11 power forward Marvin Bagley III, who could help create one of the country ’s most dynamic offenses.

2. Michigan State

Miles BridgesAP

The Spartans have a Hall of Fame coach (Tom Izzo), experience (battle-tested seniors Ben Carter, Gavin Schilling and Lourawls Nairn Jr.), star power (projected top-10 pick Miles Bridges) and loads of young talent (returning sophomore starters Nick Ward and Joshua Langford, along with five-star freshman Jaren Jackson Jr.). Anything less than a trip to the Final Four in San Antonio would be considered a failure.

3. Arizona

The Wildcats are again a threat to win their first national championship since 1997. After battling injury as a freshman, and missing most of last season because of a failed drug test, junior guard Allonzo Trier will form a dangerous pairing with 7-foot freshman DeAndre Ayton, who could be a top-three pick in the draft.

4. Kansas

Picking against Kansas in the Big 12 is like trying to beat the house at a casino. It won ’t end well. The Jayhawks, loaded yet again, should win their 14th straight conference title behind the four-headed guard monster of Devonte ’ Graham, Lagerald Vick, Svi Mykhailiuk and Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman.

5. Kentucky

John Calipari isn ’t accustomed to starting the season so low in the rankings. The latest batch of highly-rated freshmen — including guard Quade Green and forward P.J. Washington — aren ’t quite as acclaimed as past Kentucky classes, but the young crew still will easily run away with another SEC championship, with Queens wing Hamidou Diallo likely to carry the scoring load after sitting out last season.

6. Wichita State

Landry Shamet and Markis McDuffie both underwent foot surgery in the offseason, meaning the Shockers may start slow as their two leading scorers get healthy. Fortunately, Wichita State has loads of depth — it returns everyone of note from a 31-win team last year — and now that it is in the AAC, coach Gregg Marshall ’s defensively-stingy group has résumé-building opportunities in league play.

7. Villanova

Jalen BrunsonShutterstock

Even without Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins, Jay Wright ’s team is the heavy favorite to secure its fifth straight Big East title. Villanova should remain among the best defensive teams, and could see a breakout season from Mikal Bridges. The ceiling will be decided by junior guard Jalen Brunson, who could be a first team All-American.

8. Florida

There were key departures and significant additions, creating a roster that could take time to gel, but should be dangerous come March. Explosive leading scorer KeVaughn Allen returns, as does guard Chris Chiozza — the hero of the classic Sweet 16 victory over Wisconsin at the Garden — and difference-making center John Egbunu. A four-man, top-20 recruiting class will provide depth, but the key new piece is Rice graduate transfer Egor Koulechov, a skilled wing who averaged 18.2 points per game and shot 47 percent from deep a year ago.

9. North Carolina

The Tar Heels were already going to have a difficult title defense before the Final Four ’s Most Outstanding Player (Joel Berry) broke his hand after losing a video game. North Carolina ’s star guard should be back before conference play begins, and until then, senior Theo Pinson and ex-Pitt sharpshooter Cameron Johnson will be counted on to make up for the champs losing four of their five top scorers from last season.

10. West Virginia

Jevon Carter, West Virginia ’s leading scorer and top playmaker a year ago, has improved across the board each season in Morgantown, and will be counted on to guide an inexperienced group that will be without key forward Esa Ahmad for the first half of the season because of eligibility reasons. Sophomore Sagaba Konate, a 6-foot-8 shot-blocking menace from Mali, could help fill the void.

11. USC

The rebuild is complete. After winning 23 games in his first two seasons with the Trojans, coach Andy Enfield has won 47 games over the past two seasons. The Trojans look like a lock to reach a third straight NCAA tournament with the entirety of an extremely balanced core back, including four double-digit scorers who will be teamed with Duke transfer Derryck Thornton.

12. Notre Dame

Bonzie ColsonAP

There isn ’t a better senior 1-2 punch in the country than Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell, hard-nosed veterans who averaged a combined 31.9 points per game a year ago and each shot better than 40 percent on 3-pointers. Keep an eye on sophomore Temple Gibbs, a Scotch Plains, N.J., native capable of making a major leap after receiving limited minutes as a freshman.

13. Miami

Jim Larranaga ’s team loses key players with experience, but an infusion of youth could be what brings Miami back to the NCAA tournament for a third straight year. Five-star guard Lonnie Walker leads an impressive recruiting class, joining senior Ja ’Quan Newton and sophomore Bruce Brown, whose all-around proficiency likely will make his second season his final one before leaving for the pros.

14. Cincinnati

The Bearcats don ’t just have to grind down opponents anymore. They can outscore them, too. Mick Cronin has four of his top five scorers back from a 30-win campaign, and he adds another major weapon in Sacred Heart transfer Cane Broome, the NEC Player of the Year in 2015-16.

15. Louisville

The Cardinals could make a run to the Final Four or miss the NCAA tournament, and it ’s hard to say that either outcome would be surprising. Reeling from the recruiting scandal that cost Rick Pitino his job, 32-year-old interim coach David Padgett will attempt to bring stability to the program, while hoping another postseason ban isn ’t approaching.

16. UCLA

Lonzo Ball is gone, but his attention-seeking father LaVar isn ’t, as middle brother LiAngelo arrives on campus as a likely reserve. There is good news for Steve Alford, though. His roster remains formidable, keyed by the return of center Thomas Welsh and guard Aaron Holiday, and the addition of an elite freshmen class led by five-star recruits Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes.

17. Xavier

Despite going .500 in the Big East last season, the Musketeers fell just one game short of the school ’s first Final Four, continuing its incredible success under Chris Mack in March, and reaching at least the Sweet 16 for the fourth time since 2010. With senior Trevon Bluiett back, Xavier could make another deep run, and potentially knock Villanova off its Big East throne. Green Bay transfer Kerem Kanter — brother of Knicks center Enes Kanter — gives the frountcourt a significant boost.

18. Gonzaga

Rui HachimuraGetty Images

Just two starters return from the program ’s first Final Four team, and just four rotation players. So Gonzaga is in for a long year, right? Wrong. Senior Johnathan Williams and junior Josh Perkins were preseason All-WCC selections, Japanese import Rui Hachimura is brimming with potential after spending his freshman year adjusting to the speed of the game and redshirt freshman wing Zach Norvell, a top-100 prospect, could blossom.

19. Northwestern

The monkey is off their backs. Long plagued by its status as one of only five teams to have been around since the creation of the NCAA tournament and never have made it, the Wildcats finally broke through last season, and even won their first-round matchup with Vanderbilt. Northwestern could go even farther this season, with its top-five scorers back, including guards Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey.

20. Minnesota

The Gophers were ahead of schedule last year, reaching their first NCAA tournament in four years, and are now primed to avenge their March jitters. Long-armed sophomore Amir Coffey has some Lamar Odom to his game, senior point guard Nate Mason was a preseason All-Big Ten selection and flashy freshman Isaiah Washington of Harlem will provide a jolt off the bench.

21. St. Mary ’s

Annually in the shadow of conference rival Gonzaga, the Gaels could take control of the WCC this season. After losing just five games last season — three to Gonzaga — St. Mary ’s will showcase one of the best starting units and most efficient shooting teams in the country, featuring big man Jock Landale and guard Emmett Naar, who will be joined in the backcourt by Ole Miss transfer Cullen Neal.

22. Seton Hall

Khadeen CarringtonBill Kostroun

The senior core of Khadeen Carrington, Angel Delgado, Ismael Sanogo and Desi Rodriguez arrived in South Orange in the summer of 2014 determined to turn around this flatlining program. Two NCAA tournament bids and a Big East tournament crown later, Seton Hall certainly has a heartbeat, but this group has one goal left: a lengthy March run.

23. Purdue

The defending Big Ten champions return all but one player from a Sweet 16 run. Unfortunately, the missing face is the biggest piece. With Caleb Swanigan off to the NBA, fellow big man Isaac Haas will be counted on to fill the massive void, having ranked second on the team last season with 12.6 points and five rebounds in 19.5 minutes per game. P.J. Thompson leads a deep backcourt, and should get Matt Painter ’s team back to the Dance for the fourth straight year.

24. Rhode Island

The class of the Atlantic 10, coming off the program ’s first NCAA tournament berth in 18 years, features one of the nation ’s deepest backcourts, a skilled and versatile unit headed by last year ’s leading scorer E.C. Matthews and fellow seniors Jared Terrell, Jarvis Garrett and Stanford Robinson. If sophomore Cyril Langevine and junior college transfer Ryan Preston from Brooklyn can help fill the void up front left by Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson, the Rams will be Sweet 16 good.

25. Virginia

After averaging 28 wins per season over the past four years, Tony Bennett faces his toughest task in a while. The top scoring defense in the nation comes back with even less offense — and experience — than usual. London Perrantes is gone, the Cavaliers have no double-digit scorers on the roster and Bennett ’s always stingy system will be relied on more than ever to get his team back to the NCAA Tournament.

Off the court, college basketball is a mess, in the wake of the ongoing FBI investigation that already has led to the arrest of four assistant coaches from prominent programs on bribery and fraud charges, and the ousting of Hall of Fame Louisville coach Rick Pitino.

On the floor, the sport is exceedingly healthy. Blue bloods such as Duke, Michigan State, Kansas and Kentucky are loaded, the freshmen class appears spectacular and accomplished upperclassmen remain, such as Duke ’s Grayson Allen, Notre Dame ’s Bonzie Colson and Wisconsin ’s Ethan Happ who passed on the NBA draft.

It sets up what should be a fascinating season — on and off the court.

Here ’s a look at The Post ’s preseason top 25:

1. Duke

Surprise, surprise, the Blue Devils are everyone ’s favorite target again. Having gone two long seasons without a national championship, Mike Krzyzewski has the talent to get his sixth ring. Joining senior guard Grayson Allen are four freshman who could be first-round NBA picks in the spring. They are led by 6-foot-11 power forward Marvin Bagley III, who could help create one of the country ’s most dynamic offenses.

2. Michigan State

Miles BridgesAP

The Spartans have a Hall of Fame coach (Tom Izzo), experience (battle-tested seniors Ben Carter, Gavin Schilling and Lourawls Nairn Jr.), star power (projected top-10 pick Miles Bridges) and loads of young talent (returning sophomore starters Nick Ward and Joshua Langford, along with five-star freshman Jaren Jackson Jr.). Anything less than a trip to the Final Four in San Antonio would be considered a failure.

3. Arizona

The Wildcats are again a threat to win their first national championship since 1997. After battling injury as a freshman, and missing most of last season because of a failed drug test, junior guard Allonzo Trier will form a dangerous pairing with 7-foot freshman DeAndre Ayton, who could be a top-three pick in the draft.

4. Kansas

Picking against Kansas in the Big 12 is like trying to beat the house at a casino. It won ’t end well. The Jayhawks, loaded yet again, should win their 14th straight conference title behind the four-headed guard monster of Devonte ’ Graham, Lagerald Vick, Svi Mykhailiuk and Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman.

5. Kentucky

John Calipari isn ’t accustomed to starting the season so low in the rankings. The latest batch of highly-rated freshmen — including guard Quade Green and forward P.J. Washington — aren ’t quite as acclaimed as past Kentucky classes, but the young crew still will easily run away with another SEC championship, with Queens wing Hamidou Diallo likely to carry the scoring load after sitting out last season.

6. Wichita State

Landry Shamet and Markis McDuffie both underwent foot surgery in the offseason, meaning the Shockers may start slow as their two leading scorers get healthy. Fortunately, Wichita State has loads of depth — it returns everyone of note from a 31-win team last year — and now that it is in the AAC, coach Gregg Marshall ’s defensively-stingy group has résumé-building opportunities in league play.

7. Villanova

Jalen BrunsonShutterstock

Even without Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins, Jay Wright ’s team is the heavy favorite to secure its fifth straight Big East title. Villanova should remain among the best defensive teams, and could see a breakout season from Mikal Bridges. The ceiling will be decided by junior guard Jalen Brunson, who could be a first team All-American.

8. Florida

There were key departures and significant additions, creating a roster that could take time to gel, but should be dangerous come March. Explosive leading scorer KeVaughn Allen returns, as does guard Chris Chiozza — the hero of the classic Sweet 16 victory over Wisconsin at the Garden — and difference-making center John Egbunu. A four-man, top-20 recruiting class will provide depth, but the key new piece is Rice graduate transfer Egor Koulechov, a skilled wing who averaged 18.2 points per game and shot 47 percent from deep a year ago.

9. North Carolina

The Tar Heels were already going to have a difficult title defense before the Final Four ’s Most Outstanding Player (Joel Berry) broke his hand after losing a video game. North Carolina ’s star guard should be back before conference play begins, and until then, senior Theo Pinson and ex-Pitt sharpshooter Cameron Johnson will be counted on to make up for the champs losing four of their five top scorers from last season.

10. West Virginia

Jevon Carter, West Virginia ’s leading scorer and top playmaker a year ago, has improved across the board each season in Morgantown, and will be counted on to guide an inexperienced group that will be without key forward Esa Ahmad for the first half of the season because of eligibility reasons. Sophomore Sagaba Konate, a 6-foot-8 shot-blocking menace from Mali, could help fill the void.

11. USC

The rebuild is complete. After winning 23 games in his first two seasons with the Trojans, coach Andy Enfield has won 47 games over the past two seasons. The Trojans look like a lock to reach a third straight NCAA tournament with the entirety of an extremely balanced core back, including four double-digit scorers who will be teamed with Duke transfer Derryck Thornton.

12. Notre Dame

Bonzie ColsonAP

There isn ’t a better senior 1-2 punch in the country than Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell, hard-nosed veterans who averaged a combined 31.9 points per game a year ago and each shot better than 40 percent on 3-pointers. Keep an eye on sophomore Temple Gibbs, a Scotch Plains, N.J., native capable of making a major leap after receiving limited minutes as a freshman.

13. Miami

Jim Larranaga ’s team loses key players with experience, but an infusion of youth could be what brings Miami back to the NCAA tournament for a third straight year. Five-star guard Lonnie Walker leads an impressive recruiting class, joining senior Ja ’Quan Newton and sophomore Bruce Brown, whose all-around proficiency likely will make his second season his final one before leaving for the pros.

14. Cincinnati

The Bearcats don ’t just have to grind down opponents anymore. They can outscore them, too. Mick Cronin has four of his top five scorers back from a 30-win campaign, and he adds another major weapon in Sacred Heart transfer Cane Broome, the NEC Player of the Year in 2015-16.

15. Louisville

The Cardinals could make a run to the Final Four or miss the NCAA tournament, and it ’s hard to say that either outcome would be surprising. Reeling from the recruiting scandal that cost Rick Pitino his job, 32-year-old interim coach David Padgett will attempt to bring stability to the program, while hoping another postseason ban isn ’t approaching.

16. UCLA

Lonzo Ball is gone, but his attention-seeking father LaVar isn ’t, as middle brother LiAngelo arrives on campus as a likely reserve. There is good news for Steve Alford, though. His roster remains formidable, keyed by the return of center Thomas Welsh and guard Aaron Holiday, and the addition of an elite freshmen class led by five-star recruits Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes.

17. Xavier

Despite going .500 in the Big East last season, the Musketeers fell just one game short of the school ’s first Final Four, continuing its incredible success under Chris Mack in March, and reaching at least the Sweet 16 for the fourth time since 2010. With senior Trevon Bluiett back, Xavier could make another deep run, and potentially knock Villanova off its Big East throne. Green Bay transfer Kerem Kanter — brother of Knicks center Enes Kanter — gives the frountcourt a significant boost.

18. Gonzaga

Rui HachimuraGetty Images

Just two starters return from the program ’s first Final Four team, and just four rotation players. So Gonzaga is in for a long year, right? Wrong. Senior Johnathan Williams and junior Josh Perkins were preseason All-WCC selections, Japanese import Rui Hachimura is brimming with potential after spending his freshman year adjusting to the speed of the game and redshirt freshman wing Zach Norvell, a top-100 prospect, could blossom.

19. Northwestern

The monkey is off their backs. Long plagued by its status as one of only five teams to have been around since the creation of the NCAA tournament and never have made it, the Wildcats finally broke through last season, and even won their first-round matchup with Vanderbilt. Northwestern could go even farther this season, with its top-five scorers back, including guards Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey.

20. Minnesota

The Gophers were ahead of schedule last year, reaching their first NCAA tournament in four years, and are now primed to avenge their March jitters. Long-armed sophomore Amir Coffey has some Lamar Odom to his game, senior point guard Nate Mason was a preseason All-Big Ten selection and flashy freshman Isaiah Washington of Harlem will provide a jolt off the bench.

21. St. Mary ’s

Annually in the shadow of conference rival Gonzaga, the Gaels could take control of the WCC this season. After losing just five games last season — three to Gonzaga — St. Mary ’s will showcase one of the best starting units and most efficient shooting teams in the country, featuring big man Jock Landale and guard Emmett Naar, who will be joined in the backcourt by Ole Miss transfer Cullen Neal.

22. Seton Hall

Khadeen CarringtonBill Kostroun

The senior core of Khadeen Carrington, Angel Delgado, Ismael Sanogo and Desi Rodriguez arrived in South Orange in the summer of 2014 determined to turn around this flatlining program. Two NCAA tournament bids and a Big East tournament crown later, Seton Hall certainly has a heartbeat, but this group has one goal left: a lengthy March run.

23. Purdue

The defending Big Ten champions return all but one player from a Sweet 16 run. Unfortunately, the missing face is the biggest piece. With Caleb Swanigan off to the NBA, fellow big man Isaac Haas will be counted on to fill the massive void, having ranked second on the team last season with 12.6 points and five rebounds in 19.5 minutes per game. P.J. Thompson leads a deep backcourt, and should get Matt Painter ’s team back to the Dance for the fourth straight year.

24. Rhode Island

The class of the Atlantic 10, coming off the program ’s first NCAA tournament berth in 18 years, features one of the nation ’s deepest backcourts, a skilled and versatile unit headed by last year ’s leading scorer E.C. Matthews and fellow seniors Jared Terrell, Jarvis Garrett and Stanford Robinson. If sophomore Cyril Langevine and junior college transfer Ryan Preston from Brooklyn can help fill the void up front left by Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson, the Rams will be Sweet 16 good.

25. Virginia

After averaging 28 wins per season over the past four years, Tony Bennett faces his toughest task in a while. The top scoring defense in the nation comes back with even less offense — and experience — than usual. London Perrantes is gone, the Cavaliers have no double-digit scorers on the roster and Bennett ’s always stingy system will be relied on more than ever to get his team back to the NCAA Tournament.

Off the court, college basketball is a mess, in the wake of the ongoing FBI investigation that already has led to the arrest of four assistant coaches from prominent programs on bribery and fraud charges, and the ousting of Hall of Fame Louisville coach Rick Pitino.

On the floor, the sport is exceedingly healthy. Blue bloods such as Duke, Michigan State, Kansas and Kentucky are loaded, the freshmen class appears spectacular and accomplished upperclassmen remain, such as Duke ’s Grayson Allen, Notre Dame ’s Bonzie Colson and Wisconsin ’s Ethan Happ who passed on the NBA draft.

It sets up what should be a fascinating season — on and off the court.

Here ’s a look at The Post ’s preseason top 25:

1. Duke

Surprise, surprise, the Blue Devils are everyone ’s favorite target again. Having gone two long seasons without a national championship, Mike Krzyzewski has the talent to get his sixth ring. Joining senior guard Grayson Allen are four freshman who could be first-round NBA picks in the spring. They are led by 6-foot-11 power forward Marvin Bagley III, who could help create one of the country ’s most dynamic offenses.

2. Michigan State

Miles BridgesAP

The Spartans have a Hall of Fame coach (Tom Izzo), experience (battle-tested seniors Ben Carter, Gavin Schilling and Lourawls Nairn Jr.), star power (projected top-10 pick Miles Bridges) and loads of young talent (returning sophomore starters Nick Ward and Joshua Langford, along with five-star freshman Jaren Jackson Jr.). Anything less than a trip to the Final Four in San Antonio would be considered a failure.

3. Arizona

The Wildcats are again a threat to win their first national championship since 1997. After battling injury as a freshman, and missing most of last season because of a failed drug test, junior guard Allonzo Trier will form a dangerous pairing with 7-foot freshman DeAndre Ayton, who could be a top-three pick in the draft.

4. Kansas

Picking against Kansas in the Big 12 is like trying to beat the house at a casino. It won ’t end well. The Jayhawks, loaded yet again, should win their 14th straight conference title behind the four-headed guard monster of Devonte ’ Graham, Lagerald Vick, Svi Mykhailiuk and Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman.

5. Kentucky

John Calipari isn ’t accustomed to starting the season so low in the rankings. The latest batch of highly-rated freshmen — including guard Quade Green and forward P.J. Washington — aren ’t quite as acclaimed as past Kentucky classes, but the young crew still will easily run away with another SEC championship, with Queens wing Hamidou Diallo likely to carry the scoring load after sitting out last season.

6. Wichita State

Landry Shamet and Markis McDuffie both underwent foot surgery in the offseason, meaning the Shockers may start slow as their two leading scorers get healthy. Fortunately, Wichita State has loads of depth — it returns everyone of note from a 31-win team last year — and now that it is in the AAC, coach Gregg Marshall ’s defensively-stingy group has résumé-building opportunities in league play.

7. Villanova

Jalen BrunsonShutterstock

Even without Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins, Jay Wright ’s team is the heavy favorite to secure its fifth straight Big East title. Villanova should remain among the best defensive teams, and could see a breakout season from Mikal Bridges. The ceiling will be decided by junior guard Jalen Brunson, who could be a first team All-American.

8. Florida

There were key departures and significant additions, creating a roster that could take time to gel, but should be dangerous come March. Explosive leading scorer KeVaughn Allen returns, as does guard Chris Chiozza — the hero of the classic Sweet 16 victory over Wisconsin at the Garden — and difference-making center John Egbunu. A four-man, top-20 recruiting class will provide depth, but the key new piece is Rice graduate transfer Egor Koulechov, a skilled wing who averaged 18.2 points per game and shot 47 percent from deep a year ago.

9. North Carolina

The Tar Heels were already going to have a difficult title defense before the Final Four ’s Most Outstanding Player (Joel Berry) broke his hand after losing a video game. North Carolina ’s star guard should be back before conference play begins, and until then, senior Theo Pinson and ex-Pitt sharpshooter Cameron Johnson will be counted on to make up for the champs losing four of their five top scorers from last season.

10. West Virginia

Jevon Carter, West Virginia ’s leading scorer and top playmaker a year ago, has improved across the board each season in Morgantown, and will be counted on to guide an inexperienced group that will be without key forward Esa Ahmad for the first half of the season because of eligibility reasons. Sophomore Sagaba Konate, a 6-foot-8 shot-blocking menace from Mali, could help fill the void.

11. USC

The rebuild is complete. After winning 23 games in his first two seasons with the Trojans, coach Andy Enfield has won 47 games over the past two seasons. The Trojans look like a lock to reach a third straight NCAA tournament with the entirety of an extremely balanced core back, including four double-digit scorers who will be teamed with Duke transfer Derryck Thornton.

12. Notre Dame

Bonzie ColsonAP

There isn ’t a better senior 1-2 punch in the country than Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell, hard-nosed veterans who averaged a combined 31.9 points per game a year ago and each shot better than 40 percent on 3-pointers. Keep an eye on sophomore Temple Gibbs, a Scotch Plains, N.J., native capable of making a major leap after receiving limited minutes as a freshman.

13. Miami

Jim Larranaga ’s team loses key players with experience, but an infusion of youth could be what brings Miami back to the NCAA tournament for a third straight year. Five-star guard Lonnie Walker leads an impressive recruiting class, joining senior Ja ’Quan Newton and sophomore Bruce Brown, whose all-around proficiency likely will make his second season his final one before leaving for the pros.

14. Cincinnati

The Bearcats don ’t just have to grind down opponents anymore. They can outscore them, too. Mick Cronin has four of his top five scorers back from a 30-win campaign, and he adds another major weapon in Sacred Heart transfer Cane Broome, the NEC Player of the Year in 2015-16.

15. Louisville

The Cardinals could make a run to the Final Four or miss the NCAA tournament, and it ’s hard to say that either outcome would be surprising. Reeling from the recruiting scandal that cost Rick Pitino his job, 32-year-old interim coach David Padgett will attempt to bring stability to the program, while hoping another postseason ban isn ’t approaching.

16. UCLA

Lonzo Ball is gone, but his attention-seeking father LaVar isn ’t, as middle brother LiAngelo arrives on campus as a likely reserve. There is good news for Steve Alford, though. His roster remains formidable, keyed by the return of center Thomas Welsh and guard Aaron Holiday, and the addition of an elite freshmen class led by five-star recruits Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes.

17. Xavier

Despite going .500 in the Big East last season, the Musketeers fell just one game short of the school ’s first Final Four, continuing its incredible success under Chris Mack in March, and reaching at least the Sweet 16 for the fourth time since 2010. With senior Trevon Bluiett back, Xavier could make another deep run, and potentially knock Villanova off its Big East throne. Green Bay transfer Kerem Kanter — brother of Knicks center Enes Kanter — gives the frountcourt a significant boost.

18. Gonzaga

Rui HachimuraGetty Images

Just two starters return from the program ’s first Final Four team, and just four rotation players. So Gonzaga is in for a long year, right? Wrong. Senior Johnathan Williams and junior Josh Perkins were preseason All-WCC selections, Japanese import Rui Hachimura is brimming with potential after spending his freshman year adjusting to the speed of the game and redshirt freshman wing Zach Norvell, a top-100 prospect, could blossom.

19. Northwestern

The monkey is off their backs. Long plagued by its status as one of only five teams to have been around since the creation of the NCAA tournament and never have made it, the Wildcats finally broke through last season, and even won their first-round matchup with Vanderbilt. Northwestern could go even farther this season, with its top-five scorers back, including guards Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey.

20. Minnesota

The Gophers were ahead of schedule last year, reaching their first NCAA tournament in four years, and are now primed to avenge their March jitters. Long-armed sophomore Amir Coffey has some Lamar Odom to his game, senior point guard Nate Mason was a preseason All-Big Ten selection and flashy freshman Isaiah Washington of Harlem will provide a jolt off the bench.

21. St. Mary ’s

Annually in the shadow of conference rival Gonzaga, the Gaels could take control of the WCC this season. After losing just five games last season — three to Gonzaga — St. Mary ’s will showcase one of the best starting units and most efficient shooting teams in the country, featuring big man Jock Landale and guard Emmett Naar, who will be joined in the backcourt by Ole Miss transfer Cullen Neal.

22. Seton Hall

Khadeen CarringtonBill Kostroun

The senior core of Khadeen Carrington, Angel Delgado, Ismael Sanogo and Desi Rodriguez arrived in South Orange in the summer of 2014 determined to turn around this flatlining program. Two NCAA tournament bids and a Big East tournament crown later, Seton Hall certainly has a heartbeat, but this group has one goal left: a lengthy March run.

23. Purdue

The defending Big Ten champions return all but one player from a Sweet 16 run. Unfortunately, the missing face is the biggest piece. With Caleb Swanigan off to the NBA, fellow big man Isaac Haas will be counted on to fill the massive void, having ranked second on the team last season with 12.6 points and five rebounds in 19.5 minutes per game. P.J. Thompson leads a deep backcourt, and should get Matt Painter ’s team back to the Dance for the fourth straight year.

24. Rhode Island

The class of the Atlantic 10, coming off the program ’s first NCAA tournament berth in 18 years, features one of the nation ’s deepest backcourts, a skilled and versatile unit headed by last year ’s leading scorer E.C. Matthews and fellow seniors Jared Terrell, Jarvis Garrett and Stanford Robinson. If sophomore Cyril Langevine and junior college transfer Ryan Preston from Brooklyn can help fill the void up front left by Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson, the Rams will be Sweet 16 good.

25. Virginia

After averaging 28 wins per season over the past four years, Tony Bennett faces his toughest task in a while. The top scoring defense in the nation comes back with even less offense — and experience — than usual. London Perrantes is gone, the Cavaliers have no double-digit scorers on the roster and Bennett ’s always stingy system will be relied on more than ever to get his team back to the NCAA Tournament.

Off the court, college basketball is a mess, in the wake of the ongoing FBI investigation that already has led to the arrest of four assistant coaches from prominent programs on bribery and fraud charges, and the ousting of Hall of Fame Louisville coach Rick Pitino.

On the floor, the sport is exceedingly healthy. Blue bloods such as Duke, Michigan State, Kansas and Kentucky are loaded, the freshmen class appears spectacular and accomplished upperclassmen remain, such as Duke ’s Grayson Allen, Notre Dame ’s Bonzie Colson and Wisconsin ’s Ethan Happ who passed on the NBA draft.

It sets up what should be a fascinating season — on and off the court.

Here ’s a look at The Post ’s preseason top 25:

1. Duke

Surprise, surprise, the Blue Devils are everyone ’s favorite target again. Having gone two long seasons without a national championship, Mike Krzyzewski has the talent to get his sixth ring. Joining senior guard Grayson Allen are four freshman who could be first-round NBA picks in the spring. They are led by 6-foot-11 power forward Marvin Bagley III, who could help create one of the country ’s most dynamic offenses.

2. Michigan State

Miles BridgesAP

The Spartans have a Hall of Fame coach (Tom Izzo), experience (battle-tested seniors Ben Carter, Gavin Schilling and Lourawls Nairn Jr.), star power (projected top-10 pick Miles Bridges) and loads of young talent (returning sophomore starters Nick Ward and Joshua Langford, along with five-star freshman Jaren Jackson Jr.). Anything less than a trip to the Final Four in San Antonio would be considered a failure.

3. Arizona

The Wildcats are again a threat to win their first national championship since 1997. After battling injury as a freshman, and missing most of last season because of a failed drug test, junior guard Allonzo Trier will form a dangerous pairing with 7-foot freshman DeAndre Ayton, who could be a top-three pick in the draft.

4. Kansas

Picking against Kansas in the Big 12 is like trying to beat the house at a casino. It won ’t end well. The Jayhawks, loaded yet again, should win their 14th straight conference title behind the four-headed guard monster of Devonte ’ Graham, Lagerald Vick, Svi Mykhailiuk and Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman.

5. Kentucky

John Calipari isn ’t accustomed to starting the season so low in the rankings. The latest batch of highly-rated freshmen — including guard Quade Green and forward P.J. Washington — aren ’t quite as acclaimed as past Kentucky classes, but the young crew still will easily run away with another SEC championship, with Queens wing Hamidou Diallo likely to carry the scoring load after sitting out last season.

6. Wichita State

Landry Shamet and Markis McDuffie both underwent foot surgery in the offseason, meaning the Shockers may start slow as their two leading scorers get healthy. Fortunately, Wichita State has loads of depth — it returns everyone of note from a 31-win team last year — and now that it is in the AAC, coach Gregg Marshall ’s defensively-stingy group has résumé-building opportunities in league play.

7. Villanova

Jalen BrunsonShutterstock

Even without Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins, Jay Wright ’s team is the heavy favorite to secure its fifth straight Big East title. Villanova should remain among the best defensive teams, and could see a breakout season from Mikal Bridges. The ceiling will be decided by junior guard Jalen Brunson, who could be a first team All-American.

8. Florida

There were key departures and significant additions, creating a roster that could take time to gel, but should be dangerous come March. Explosive leading scorer KeVaughn Allen returns, as does guard Chris Chiozza — the hero of the classic Sweet 16 victory over Wisconsin at the Garden — and difference-making center John Egbunu. A four-man, top-20 recruiting class will provide depth, but the key new piece is Rice graduate transfer Egor Koulechov, a skilled wing who averaged 18.2 points per game and shot 47 percent from deep a year ago.

9. North Carolina

The Tar Heels were already going to have a difficult title defense before the Final Four ’s Most Outstanding Player (Joel Berry) broke his hand after losing a video game. North Carolina ’s star guard should be back before conference play begins, and until then, senior Theo Pinson and ex-Pitt sharpshooter Cameron Johnson will be counted on to make up for the champs losing four of their five top scorers from last season.

10. West Virginia

Jevon Carter, West Virginia ’s leading scorer and top playmaker a year ago, has improved across the board each season in Morgantown, and will be counted on to guide an inexperienced group that will be without key forward Esa Ahmad for the first half of the season because of eligibility reasons. Sophomore Sagaba Konate, a 6-foot-8 shot-blocking menace from Mali, could help fill the void.

11. USC

The rebuild is complete. After winning 23 games in his first two seasons with the Trojans, coach Andy Enfield has won 47 games over the past two seasons. The Trojans look like a lock to reach a third straight NCAA tournament with the entirety of an extremely balanced core back, including four double-digit scorers who will be teamed with Duke transfer Derryck Thornton.

12. Notre Dame

Bonzie ColsonAP

There isn ’t a better senior 1-2 punch in the country than Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell, hard-nosed veterans who averaged a combined 31.9 points per game a year ago and each shot better than 40 percent on 3-pointers. Keep an eye on sophomore Temple Gibbs, a Scotch Plains, N.J., native capable of making a major leap after receiving limited minutes as a freshman.

13. Miami

Jim Larranaga ’s team loses key players with experience, but an infusion of youth could be what brings Miami back to the NCAA tournament for a third straight year. Five-star guard Lonnie Walker leads an impressive recruiting class, joining senior Ja ’Quan Newton and sophomore Bruce Brown, whose all-around proficiency likely will make his second season his final one before leaving for the pros.

14. Cincinnati

The Bearcats don ’t just have to grind down opponents anymore. They can outscore them, too. Mick Cronin has four of his top five scorers back from a 30-win campaign, and he adds another major weapon in Sacred Heart transfer Cane Broome, the NEC Player of the Year in 2015-16.

15. Louisville

The Cardinals could make a run to the Final Four or miss the NCAA tournament, and it ’s hard to say that either outcome would be surprising. Reeling from the recruiting scandal that cost Rick Pitino his job, 32-year-old interim coach David Padgett will attempt to bring stability to the program, while hoping another postseason ban isn ’t approaching.

16. UCLA

Lonzo Ball is gone, but his attention-seeking father LaVar isn ’t, as middle brother LiAngelo arrives on campus as a likely reserve. There is good news for Steve Alford, though. His roster remains formidable, keyed by the return of center Thomas Welsh and guard Aaron Holiday, and the addition of an elite freshmen class led by five-star recruits Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes.

17. Xavier

Despite going .500 in the Big East last season, the Musketeers fell just one game short of the school ’s first Final Four, continuing its incredible success under Chris Mack in March, and reaching at least the Sweet 16 for the fourth time since 2010. With senior Trevon Bluiett back, Xavier could make another deep run, and potentially knock Villanova off its Big East throne. Green Bay transfer Kerem Kanter — brother of Knicks center Enes Kanter — gives the frountcourt a significant boost.

18. Gonzaga

Rui HachimuraGetty Images

Just two starters return from the program ’s first Final Four team, and just four rotation players. So Gonzaga is in for a long year, right? Wrong. Senior Johnathan Williams and junior Josh Perkins were preseason All-WCC selections, Japanese import Rui Hachimura is brimming with potential after spending his freshman year adjusting to the speed of the game and redshirt freshman wing Zach Norvell, a top-100 prospect, could blossom.

19. Northwestern

The monkey is off their backs. Long plagued by its status as one of only five teams to have been around since the creation of the NCAA tournament and never have made it, the Wildcats finally broke through last season, and even won their first-round matchup with Vanderbilt. Northwestern could go even farther this season, with its top-five scorers back, including guards Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey.

20. Minnesota

The Gophers were ahead of schedule last year, reaching their first NCAA tournament in four years, and are now primed to avenge their March jitters. Long-armed sophomore Amir Coffey has some Lamar Odom to his game, senior point guard Nate Mason was a preseason All-Big Ten selection and flashy freshman Isaiah Washington of Harlem will provide a jolt off the bench.

21. St. Mary ’s

Annually in the shadow of conference rival Gonzaga, the Gaels could take control of the WCC this season. After losing just five games last season — three to Gonzaga — St. Mary ’s will showcase one of the best starting units and most efficient shooting teams in the country, featuring big man Jock Landale and guard Emmett Naar, who will be joined in the backcourt by Ole Miss transfer Cullen Neal.

22. Seton Hall

Khadeen CarringtonBill Kostroun

The senior core of Khadeen Carrington, Angel Delgado, Ismael Sanogo and Desi Rodriguez arrived in South Orange in the summer of 2014 determined to turn around this flatlining program. Two NCAA tournament bids and a Big East tournament crown later, Seton Hall certainly has a heartbeat, but this group has one goal left: a lengthy March run.

23. Purdue

The defending Big Ten champions return all but one player from a Sweet 16 run. Unfortunately, the missing face is the biggest piece. With Caleb Swanigan off to the NBA, fellow big man Isaac Haas will be counted on to fill the massive void, having ranked second on the team last season with 12.6 points and five rebounds in 19.5 minutes per game. P.J. Thompson leads a deep backcourt, and should get Matt Painter ’s team back to the Dance for the fourth straight year.

24. Rhode Island

The class of the Atlantic 10, coming off the program ’s first NCAA tournament berth in 18 years, features one of the nation ’s deepest backcourts, a skilled and versatile unit headed by last year ’s leading scorer E.C. Matthews and fellow seniors Jared Terrell, Jarvis Garrett and Stanford Robinson. If sophomore Cyril Langevine and junior college transfer Ryan Preston from Brooklyn can help fill the void up front left by Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson, the Rams will be Sweet 16 good.

25. Virginia

After averaging 28 wins per season over the past four years, Tony Bennett faces his toughest task in a while. The top scoring defense in the nation comes back with even less offense — and experience — than usual. London Perrantes is gone, the Cavaliers have no double-digit scorers on the roster and Bennett ’s always stingy system will be relied on more than ever to get his team back to the NCAA Tournament.

Off the court, college basketball is a mess, in the wake of the ongoing FBI investigation that already has led to the arrest of four assistant coaches from prominent programs on bribery and fraud charges, and the ousting of Hall of Fame Louisville coach Rick Pitino.

On the floor, the sport is exceedingly healthy. Blue bloods such as Duke, Michigan State, Kansas and Kentucky are loaded, the freshmen class appears spectacular and accomplished upperclassmen remain, such as Duke ’s Grayson Allen, Notre Dame ’s Bonzie Colson and Wisconsin ’s Ethan Happ who passed on the NBA draft.

It sets up what should be a fascinating season — on and off the court.

Here ’s a look at The Post ’s preseason top 25:

1. Duke

Surprise, surprise, the Blue Devils are everyone ’s favorite target again. Having gone two long seasons without a national championship, Mike Krzyzewski has the talent to get his sixth ring. Joining senior guard Grayson Allen are four freshman who could be first-round NBA picks in the spring. They are led by 6-foot-11 power forward Marvin Bagley III, who could help create one of the country ’s most dynamic offenses.

2. Michigan State

Miles BridgesAP

The Spartans have a Hall of Fame coach (Tom Izzo), experience (battle-tested seniors Ben Carter, Gavin Schilling and Lourawls Nairn Jr.), star power (projected top-10 pick Miles Bridges) and loads of young talent (returning sophomore starters Nick Ward and Joshua Langford, along with five-star freshman Jaren Jackson Jr.). Anything less than a trip to the Final Four in San Antonio would be considered a failure.

3. Arizona

The Wildcats are again a threat to win their first national championship since 1997. After battling injury as a freshman, and missing most of last season because of a failed drug test, junior guard Allonzo Trier will form a dangerous pairing with 7-foot freshman DeAndre Ayton, who could be a top-three pick in the draft.

4. Kansas

Picking against Kansas in the Big 12 is like trying to beat the house at a casino. It won ’t end well. The Jayhawks, loaded yet again, should win their 14th straight conference title behind the four-headed guard monster of Devonte ’ Graham, Lagerald Vick, Svi Mykhailiuk and Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman.

5. Kentucky

John Calipari isn ’t accustomed to starting the season so low in the rankings. The latest batch of highly-rated freshmen — including guard Quade Green and forward P.J. Washington — aren ’t quite as acclaimed as past Kentucky classes, but the young crew still will easily run away with another SEC championship, with Queens wing Hamidou Diallo likely to carry the scoring load after sitting out last season.

6. Wichita State

Landry Shamet and Markis McDuffie both underwent foot surgery in the offseason, meaning the Shockers may start slow as their two leading scorers get healthy. Fortunately, Wichita State has loads of depth — it returns everyone of note from a 31-win team last year — and now that it is in the AAC, coach Gregg Marshall ’s defensively-stingy group has résumé-building opportunities in league play.

7. Villanova

Jalen BrunsonShutterstock

Even without Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins, Jay Wright ’s team is the heavy favorite to secure its fifth straight Big East title. Villanova should remain among the best defensive teams, and could see a breakout season from Mikal Bridges. The ceiling will be decided by junior guard Jalen Brunson, who could be a first team All-American.

8. Florida

There were key departures and significant additions, creating a roster that could take time to gel, but should be dangerous come March. Explosive leading scorer KeVaughn Allen returns, as does guard Chris Chiozza — the hero of the classic Sweet 16 victory over Wisconsin at the Garden — and difference-making center John Egbunu. A four-man, top-20 recruiting class will provide depth, but the key new piece is Rice graduate transfer Egor Koulechov, a skilled wing who averaged 18.2 points per game and shot 47 percent from deep a year ago.

9. North Carolina

The Tar Heels were already going to have a difficult title defense before the Final Four ’s Most Outstanding Player (Joel Berry) broke his hand after losing a video game. North Carolina ’s star guard should be back before conference play begins, and until then, senior Theo Pinson and ex-Pitt sharpshooter Cameron Johnson will be counted on to make up for the champs losing four of their five top scorers from last season.

10. West Virginia

Jevon Carter, West Virginia ’s leading scorer and top playmaker a year ago, has improved across the board each season in Morgantown, and will be counted on to guide an inexperienced group that will be without key forward Esa Ahmad for the first half of the season because of eligibility reasons. Sophomore Sagaba Konate, a 6-foot-8 shot-blocking menace from Mali, could help fill the void.

11. USC

The rebuild is complete. After winning 23 games in his first two seasons with the Trojans, coach Andy Enfield has won 47 games over the past two seasons. The Trojans look like a lock to reach a third straight NCAA tournament with the entirety of an extremely balanced core back, including four double-digit scorers who will be teamed with Duke transfer Derryck Thornton.

12. Notre Dame

Bonzie ColsonAP

There isn ’t a better senior 1-2 punch in the country than Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell, hard-nosed veterans who averaged a combined 31.9 points per game a year ago and each shot better than 40 percent on 3-pointers. Keep an eye on sophomore Temple Gibbs, a Scotch Plains, N.J., native capable of making a major leap after receiving limited minutes as a freshman.

13. Miami

Jim Larranaga ’s team loses key players with experience, but an infusion of youth could be what brings Miami back to the NCAA tournament for a third straight year. Five-star guard Lonnie Walker leads an impressive recruiting class, joining senior Ja ’Quan Newton and sophomore Bruce Brown, whose all-around proficiency likely will make his second season his final one before leaving for the pros.

14. Cincinnati

The Bearcats don ’t just have to grind down opponents anymore. They can outscore them, too. Mick Cronin has four of his top five scorers back from a 30-win campaign, and he adds another major weapon in Sacred Heart transfer Cane Broome, the NEC Player of the Year in 2015-16.

15. Louisville

The Cardinals could make a run to the Final Four or miss the NCAA tournament, and it ’s hard to say that either outcome would be surprising. Reeling from the recruiting scandal that cost Rick Pitino his job, 32-year-old interim coach David Padgett will attempt to bring stability to the program, while hoping another postseason ban isn ’t approaching.

16. UCLA

Lonzo Ball is gone, but his attention-seeking father LaVar isn ’t, as middle brother LiAngelo arrives on campus as a likely reserve. There is good news for Steve Alford, though. His roster remains formidable, keyed by the return of center Thomas Welsh and guard Aaron Holiday, and the addition of an elite freshmen class led by five-star recruits Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes.

17. Xavier

Despite going .500 in the Big East last season, the Musketeers fell just one game short of the school ’s first Final Four, continuing its incredible success under Chris Mack in March, and reaching at least the Sweet 16 for the fourth time since 2010. With senior Trevon Bluiett back, Xavier could make another deep run, and potentially knock Villanova off its Big East throne. Green Bay transfer Kerem Kanter — brother of Knicks center Enes Kanter — gives the frountcourt a significant boost.

18. Gonzaga

Rui HachimuraGetty Images

Just two starters return from the program ’s first Final Four team, and just four rotation players. So Gonzaga is in for a long year, right? Wrong. Senior Johnathan Williams and junior Josh Perkins were preseason All-WCC selections, Japanese import Rui Hachimura is brimming with potential after spending his freshman year adjusting to the speed of the game and redshirt freshman wing Zach Norvell, a top-100 prospect, could blossom.

19. Northwestern

The monkey is off their backs. Long plagued by its status as one of only five teams to have been around since the creation of the NCAA tournament and never have made it, the Wildcats finally broke through last season, and even won their first-round matchup with Vanderbilt. Northwestern could go even farther this season, with its top-five scorers back, including guards Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey.

20. Minnesota

The Gophers were ahead of schedule last year, reaching their first NCAA tournament in four years, and are now primed to avenge their March jitters. Long-armed sophomore Amir Coffey has some Lamar Odom to his game, senior point guard Nate Mason was a preseason All-Big Ten selection and flashy freshman Isaiah Washington of Harlem will provide a jolt off the bench.

21. St. Mary ’s

Annually in the shadow of conference rival Gonzaga, the Gaels could take control of the WCC this season. After losing just five games last season — three to Gonzaga — St. Mary ’s will showcase one of the best starting units and most efficient shooting teams in the country, featuring big man Jock Landale and guard Emmett Naar, who will be joined in the backcourt by Ole Miss transfer Cullen Neal.

22. Seton Hall

Khadeen CarringtonBill Kostroun

The senior core of Khadeen Carrington, Angel Delgado, Ismael Sanogo and Desi Rodriguez arrived in South Orange in the summer of 2014 determined to turn around this flatlining program. Two NCAA tournament bids and a Big East tournament crown later, Seton Hall certainly has a heartbeat, but this group has one goal left: a lengthy March run.

23. Purdue

The defending Big Ten champions return all but one player from a Sweet 16 run. Unfortunately, the missing face is the biggest piece. With Caleb Swanigan off to the NBA, fellow big man Isaac Haas will be counted on to fill the massive void, having ranked second on the team last season with 12.6 points and five rebounds in 19.5 minutes per game. P.J. Thompson leads a deep backcourt, and should get Matt Painter ’s team back to the Dance for the fourth straight year.

24. Rhode Island

The class of the Atlantic 10, coming off the program ’s first NCAA tournament berth in 18 years, features one of the nation ’s deepest backcourts, a skilled and versatile unit headed by last year ’s leading scorer E.C. Matthews and fellow seniors Jared Terrell, Jarvis Garrett and Stanford Robinson. If sophomore Cyril Langevine and junior college transfer Ryan Preston from Brooklyn can help fill the void up front left by Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson, the Rams will be Sweet 16 good.

25. Virginia

After averaging 28 wins per season over the past four years, Tony Bennett faces his toughest task in a while. The top scoring defense in the nation comes back with even less offense — and experience — than usual. London Perrantes is gone, the Cavaliers have no double-digit scorers on the roster and Bennett ’s always stingy system will be relied on more than ever to get his team back to the NCAA Tournament.

Off the court, college basketball is a mess, in the wake of the ongoing FBI investigation that already has led to the arrest of four assistant coaches from prominent programs on bribery and fraud charges, and the ousting of Hall of Fame Louisville coach Rick Pitino.

On the floor, the sport is exceedingly healthy. Blue bloods such as Duke, Michigan State, Kansas and Kentucky are loaded, the freshmen class appears spectacular and accomplished upperclassmen remain, such as Duke ’s Grayson Allen, Notre Dame ’s Bonzie Colson and Wisconsin ’s Ethan Happ who passed on the NBA draft.

It sets up what should be a fascinating season — on and off the court.

Here ’s a look at The Post ’s preseason top 25:

1. Duke

Surprise, surprise, the Blue Devils are everyone ’s favorite target again. Having gone two long seasons without a national championship, Mike Krzyzewski has the talent to get his sixth ring. Joining senior guard Grayson Allen are four freshman who could be first-round NBA picks in the spring. They are led by 6-foot-11 power forward Marvin Bagley III, who could help create one of the country ’s most dynamic offenses.

2. Michigan State

Miles BridgesAP

The Spartans have a Hall of Fame coach (Tom Izzo), experience (battle-tested seniors Ben Carter, Gavin Schilling and Lourawls Nairn Jr.), star power (projected top-10 pick Miles Bridges) and loads of young talent (returning sophomore starters Nick Ward and Joshua Langford, along with five-star freshman Jaren Jackson Jr.). Anything less than a trip to the Final Four in San Antonio would be considered a failure.

3. Arizona

The Wildcats are again a threat to win their first national championship since 1997. After battling injury as a freshman, and missing most of last season because of a failed drug test, junior guard Allonzo Trier will form a dangerous pairing with 7-foot freshman DeAndre Ayton, who could be a top-three pick in the draft.

4. Kansas

Picking against Kansas in the Big 12 is like trying to beat the house at a casino. It won ’t end well. The Jayhawks, loaded yet again, should win their 14th straight conference title behind the four-headed guard monster of Devonte ’ Graham, Lagerald Vick, Svi Mykhailiuk and Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman.

5. Kentucky

John Calipari isn ’t accustomed to starting the season so low in the rankings. The latest batch of highly-rated freshmen — including guard Quade Green and forward P.J. Washington — aren ’t quite as acclaimed as past Kentucky classes, but the young crew still will easily run away with another SEC championship, with Queens wing Hamidou Diallo likely to carry the scoring load after sitting out last season.

6. Wichita State

Landry Shamet and Markis McDuffie both underwent foot surgery in the offseason, meaning the Shockers may start slow as their two leading scorers get healthy. Fortunately, Wichita State has loads of depth — it returns everyone of note from a 31-win team last year — and now that it is in the AAC, coach Gregg Marshall ’s defensively-stingy group has résumé-building opportunities in league play.

7. Villanova

Jalen BrunsonShutterstock

Even without Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins, Jay Wright ’s team is the heavy favorite to secure its fifth straight Big East title. Villanova should remain among the best defensive teams, and could see a breakout season from Mikal Bridges. The ceiling will be decided by junior guard Jalen Brunson, who could be a first team All-American.

8. Florida

There were key departures and significant additions, creating a roster that could take time to gel, but should be dangerous come March. Explosive leading scorer KeVaughn Allen returns, as does guard Chris Chiozza — the hero of the classic Sweet 16 victory over Wisconsin at the Garden — and difference-making center John Egbunu. A four-man, top-20 recruiting class will provide depth, but the key new piece is Rice graduate transfer Egor Koulechov, a skilled wing who averaged 18.2 points per game and shot 47 percent from deep a year ago.

9. North Carolina

The Tar Heels were already going to have a difficult title defense before the Final Four ’s Most Outstanding Player (Joel Berry) broke his hand after losing a video game. North Carolina ’s star guard should be back before conference play begins, and until then, senior Theo Pinson and ex-Pitt sharpshooter Cameron Johnson will be counted on to make up for the champs losing four of their five top scorers from last season.

10. West Virginia

Jevon Carter, West Virginia ’s leading scorer and top playmaker a year ago, has improved across the board each season in Morgantown, and will be counted on to guide an inexperienced group that will be without key forward Esa Ahmad for the first half of the season because of eligibility reasons. Sophomore Sagaba Konate, a 6-foot-8 shot-blocking menace from Mali, could help fill the void.

11. USC

The rebuild is complete. After winning 23 games in his first two seasons with the Trojans, coach Andy Enfield has won 47 games over the past two seasons. The Trojans look like a lock to reach a third straight NCAA tournament with the entirety of an extremely balanced core back, including four double-digit scorers who will be teamed with Duke transfer Derryck Thornton.

12. Notre Dame

Bonzie ColsonAP

There isn ’t a better senior 1-2 punch in the country than Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell, hard-nosed veterans who averaged a combined 31.9 points per game a year ago and each shot better than 40 percent on 3-pointers. Keep an eye on sophomore Temple Gibbs, a Scotch Plains, N.J., native capable of making a major leap after receiving limited minutes as a freshman.

13. Miami

Jim Larranaga ’s team loses key players with experience, but an infusion of youth could be what brings Miami back to the NCAA tournament for a third straight year. Five-star guard Lonnie Walker leads an impressive recruiting class, joining senior Ja ’Quan Newton and sophomore Bruce Brown, whose all-around proficiency likely will make his second season his final one before leaving for the pros.

14. Cincinnati

The Bearcats don ’t just have to grind down opponents anymore. They can outscore them, too. Mick Cronin has four of his top five scorers back from a 30-win campaign, and he adds another major weapon in Sacred Heart transfer Cane Broome, the NEC Player of the Year in 2015-16.

15. Louisville

The Cardinals could make a run to the Final Four or miss the NCAA tournament, and it ’s hard to say that either outcome would be surprising. Reeling from the recruiting scandal that cost Rick Pitino his job, 32-year-old interim coach David Padgett will attempt to bring stability to the program, while hoping another postseason ban isn ’t approaching.

16. UCLA

Lonzo Ball is gone, but his attention-seeking father LaVar isn ’t, as middle brother LiAngelo arrives on campus as a likely reserve. There is good news for Steve Alford, though. His roster remains formidable, keyed by the return of center Thomas Welsh and guard Aaron Holiday, and the addition of an elite freshmen class led by five-star recruits Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes.

17. Xavier

Despite going .500 in the Big East last season, the Musketeers fell just one game short of the school ’s first Final Four, continuing its incredible success under Chris Mack in March, and reaching at least the Sweet 16 for the fourth time since 2010. With senior Trevon Bluiett back, Xavier could make another deep run, and potentially knock Villanova off its Big East throne. Green Bay transfer Kerem Kanter — brother of Knicks center Enes Kanter — gives the frountcourt a significant boost.

18. Gonzaga

Rui HachimuraGetty Images

Just two starters return from the program ’s first Final Four team, and just four rotation players. So Gonzaga is in for a long year, right? Wrong. Senior Johnathan Williams and junior Josh Perkins were preseason All-WCC selections, Japanese import Rui Hachimura is brimming with potential after spending his freshman year adjusting to the speed of the game and redshirt freshman wing Zach Norvell, a top-100 prospect, could blossom.

19. Northwestern

The monkey is off their backs. Long plagued by its status as one of only five teams to have been around since the creation of the NCAA tournament and never have made it, the Wildcats finally broke through last season, and even won their first-round matchup with Vanderbilt. Northwestern could go even farther this season, with its top-five scorers back, including guards Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey.

20. Minnesota

The Gophers were ahead of schedule last year, reaching their first NCAA tournament in four years, and are now primed to avenge their March jitters. Long-armed sophomore Amir Coffey has some Lamar Odom to his game, senior point guard Nate Mason was a preseason All-Big Ten selection and flashy freshman Isaiah Washington of Harlem will provide a jolt off the bench.

21. St. Mary ’s

Annually in the shadow of conference rival Gonzaga, the Gaels could take control of the WCC this season. After losing just five games last season — three to Gonzaga — St. Mary ’s will showcase one of the best starting units and most efficient shooting teams in the country, featuring big man Jock Landale and guard Emmett Naar, who will be joined in the backcourt by Ole Miss transfer Cullen Neal.

22. Seton Hall

Khadeen CarringtonBill Kostroun

The senior core of Khadeen Carrington, Angel Delgado, Ismael Sanogo and Desi Rodriguez arrived in South Orange in the summer of 2014 determined to turn around this flatlining program. Two NCAA tournament bids and a Big East tournament crown later, Seton Hall certainly has a heartbeat, but this group has one goal left: a lengthy March run.

23. Purdue

The defending Big Ten champions return all but one player from a Sweet 16 run. Unfortunately, the missing face is the biggest piece. With Caleb Swanigan off to the NBA, fellow big man Isaac Haas will be counted on to fill the massive void, having ranked second on the team last season with 12.6 points and five rebounds in 19.5 minutes per game. P.J. Thompson leads a deep backcourt, and should get Matt Painter ’s team back to the Dance for the fourth straight year.

24. Rhode Island

The class of the Atlantic 10, coming off the program ’s first NCAA tournament berth in 18 years, features one of the nation ’s deepest backcourts, a skilled and versatile unit headed by last year ’s leading scorer E.C. Matthews and fellow seniors Jared Terrell, Jarvis Garrett and Stanford Robinson. If sophomore Cyril Langevine and junior college transfer Ryan Preston from Brooklyn can help fill the void up front left by Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson, the Rams will be Sweet 16 good.

25. Virginia

After averaging 28 wins per season over the past four years, Tony Bennett faces his toughest task in a while. The top scoring defense in the nation comes back with even less offense — and experience — than usual. London Perrantes is gone, the Cavaliers have no double-digit scorers on the roster and Bennett ’s always stingy system will be relied on more than ever to get his team back to the NCAA Tournament.

Off the court, college basketball is a mess, in the wake of the ongoing FBI investigation that already has led to the arrest of four assistant coaches from prominent programs on bribery and fraud charges, and the ousting of Hall of Fame Louisville coach Rick Pitino.

On the floor, the sport is exceedingly healthy. Blue bloods such as Duke, Michigan State, Kansas and Kentucky are loaded, the freshmen class appears spectacular and accomplished upperclassmen remain, such as Duke ’s Grayson Allen, Notre Dame ’s Bonzie Colson and Wisconsin ’s Ethan Happ who passed on the NBA draft.

It sets up what should be a fascinating season — on and off the court.

Here ’s a look at The Post ’s preseason top 25:

1. Duke

Surprise, surprise, the Blue Devils are everyone ’s favorite target again. Having gone two long seasons without a national championship, Mike Krzyzewski has the talent to get his sixth ring. Joining senior guard Grayson Allen are four freshman who could be first-round NBA picks in the spring. They are led by 6-foot-11 power forward Marvin Bagley III, who could help create one of the country ’s most dynamic offenses.

2. Michigan State

Miles BridgesAP

The Spartans have a Hall of Fame coach (Tom Izzo), experience (battle-tested seniors Ben Carter, Gavin Schilling and Lourawls Nairn Jr.), star power (projected top-10 pick Miles Bridges) and loads of young talent (returning sophomore starters Nick Ward and Joshua Langford, along with five-star freshman Jaren Jackson Jr.). Anything less than a trip to the Final Four in San Antonio would be considered a failure.

3. Arizona

The Wildcats are again a threat to win their first national championship since 1997. After battling injury as a freshman, and missing most of last season because of a failed drug test, junior guard Allonzo Trier will form a dangerous pairing with 7-foot freshman DeAndre Ayton, who could be a top-three pick in the draft.

4. Kansas

Picking against Kansas in the Big 12 is like trying to beat the house at a casino. It won ’t end well. The Jayhawks, loaded yet again, should win their 14th straight conference title behind the four-headed guard monster of Devonte ’ Graham, Lagerald Vick, Svi Mykhailiuk and Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman.

5. Kentucky

John Calipari isn ’t accustomed to starting the season so low in the rankings. The latest batch of highly-rated freshmen — including guard Quade Green and forward P.J. Washington — aren ’t quite as acclaimed as past Kentucky classes, but the young crew still will easily run away with another SEC championship, with Queens wing Hamidou Diallo likely to carry the scoring load after sitting out last season.

6. Wichita State

Landry Shamet and Markis McDuffie both underwent foot surgery in the offseason, meaning the Shockers may start slow as their two leading scorers get healthy. Fortunately, Wichita State has loads of depth — it returns everyone of note from a 31-win team last year — and now that it is in the AAC, coach Gregg Marshall ’s defensively-stingy group has résumé-building opportunities in league play.

7. Villanova

Jalen BrunsonShutterstock

Even without Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins, Jay Wright ’s team is the heavy favorite to secure its fifth straight Big East title. Villanova should remain among the best defensive teams, and could see a breakout season from Mikal Bridges. The ceiling will be decided by junior guard Jalen Brunson, who could be a first team All-American.

8. Florida

There were key departures and significant additions, creating a roster that could take time to gel, but should be dangerous come March. Explosive leading scorer KeVaughn Allen returns, as does guard Chris Chiozza — the hero of the classic Sweet 16 victory over Wisconsin at the Garden — and difference-making center John Egbunu. A four-man, top-20 recruiting class will provide depth, but the key new piece is Rice graduate transfer Egor Koulechov, a skilled wing who averaged 18.2 points per game and shot 47 percent from deep a year ago.

9. North Carolina

The Tar Heels were already going to have a difficult title defense before the Final Four ’s Most Outstanding Player (Joel Berry) broke his hand after losing a video game. North Carolina ’s star guard should be back before conference play begins, and until then, senior Theo Pinson and ex-Pitt sharpshooter Cameron Johnson will be counted on to make up for the champs losing four of their five top scorers from last season.

10. West Virginia

Jevon Carter, West Virginia ’s leading scorer and top playmaker a year ago, has improved across the board each season in Morgantown, and will be counted on to guide an inexperienced group that will be without key forward Esa Ahmad for the first half of the season because of eligibility reasons. Sophomore Sagaba Konate, a 6-foot-8 shot-blocking menace from Mali, could help fill the void.

11. USC

The rebuild is complete. After winning 23 games in his first two seasons with the Trojans, coach Andy Enfield has won 47 games over the past two seasons. The Trojans look like a lock to reach a third straight NCAA tournament with the entirety of an extremely balanced core back, including four double-digit scorers who will be teamed with Duke transfer Derryck Thornton.

12. Notre Dame

Bonzie ColsonAP

There isn ’t a better senior 1-2 punch in the country than Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell, hard-nosed veterans who averaged a combined 31.9 points per game a year ago and each shot better than 40 percent on 3-pointers. Keep an eye on sophomore Temple Gibbs, a Scotch Plains, N.J., native capable of making a major leap after receiving limited minutes as a freshman.

13. Miami

Jim Larranaga ’s team loses key players with experience, but an infusion of youth could be what brings Miami back to the NCAA tournament for a third straight year. Five-star guard Lonnie Walker leads an impressive recruiting class, joining senior Ja ’Quan Newton and sophomore Bruce Brown, whose all-around proficiency likely will make his second season his final one before leaving for the pros.

14. Cincinnati

The Bearcats don ’t just have to grind down opponents anymore. They can outscore them, too. Mick Cronin has four of his top five scorers back from a 30-win campaign, and he adds another major weapon in Sacred Heart transfer Cane Broome, the NEC Player of the Year in 2015-16.

15. Louisville

The Cardinals could make a run to the Final Four or miss the NCAA tournament, and it ’s hard to say that either outcome would be surprising. Reeling from the recruiting scandal that cost Rick Pitino his job, 32-year-old interim coach David Padgett will attempt to bring stability to the program, while hoping another postseason ban isn ’t approaching.

16. UCLA

Lonzo Ball is gone, but his attention-seeking father LaVar isn ’t, as middle brother LiAngelo arrives on campus as a likely reserve. There is good news for Steve Alford, though. His roster remains formidable, keyed by the return of center Thomas Welsh and guard Aaron Holiday, and the addition of an elite freshmen class led by five-star recruits Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes.

17. Xavier

Despite going .500 in the Big East last season, the Musketeers fell just one game short of the school ’s first Final Four, continuing its incredible success under Chris Mack in March, and reaching at least the Sweet 16 for the fourth time since 2010. With senior Trevon Bluiett back, Xavier could make another deep run, and potentially knock Villanova off its Big East throne. Green Bay transfer Kerem Kanter — brother of Knicks center Enes Kanter — gives the frountcourt a significant boost.

18. Gonzaga

Rui HachimuraGetty Images

Just two starters return from the program ’s first Final Four team, and just four rotation players. So Gonzaga is in for a long year, right? Wrong. Senior Johnathan Williams and junior Josh Perkins were preseason All-WCC selections, Japanese import Rui Hachimura is brimming with potential after spending his freshman year adjusting to the speed of the game and redshirt freshman wing Zach Norvell, a top-100 prospect, could blossom.

19. Northwestern

The monkey is off their backs. Long plagued by its status as one of only five teams to have been around since the creation of the NCAA tournament and never have made it, the Wildcats finally broke through last season, and even won their first-round matchup with Vanderbilt. Northwestern could go even farther this season, with its top-five scorers back, including guards Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey.

20. Minnesota

The Gophers were ahead of schedule last year, reaching their first NCAA tournament in four years, and are now primed to avenge their March jitters. Long-armed sophomore Amir Coffey has some Lamar Odom to his game, senior point guard Nate Mason was a preseason All-Big Ten selection and flashy freshman Isaiah Washington of Harlem will provide a jolt off the bench.

21. St. Mary ’s

Annually in the shadow of conference rival Gonzaga, the Gaels could take control of the WCC this season. After losing just five games last season — three to Gonzaga — St. Mary ’s will showcase one of the best starting units and most efficient shooting teams in the country, featuring big man Jock Landale and guard Emmett Naar, who will be joined in the backcourt by Ole Miss transfer Cullen Neal.

22. Seton Hall

Khadeen CarringtonBill Kostroun

The senior core of Khadeen Carrington, Angel Delgado, Ismael Sanogo and Desi Rodriguez arrived in South Orange in the summer of 2014 determined to turn around this flatlining program. Two NCAA tournament bids and a Big East tournament crown later, Seton Hall certainly has a heartbeat, but this group has one goal left: a lengthy March run.

23. Purdue

The defending Big Ten champions return all but one player from a Sweet 16 run. Unfortunately, the missing face is the biggest piece. With Caleb Swanigan off to the NBA, fellow big man Isaac Haas will be counted on to fill the massive void, having ranked second on the team last season with 12.6 points and five rebounds in 19.5 minutes per game. P.J. Thompson leads a deep backcourt, and should get Matt Painter ’s team back to the Dance for the fourth straight year.

24. Rhode Island

The class of the Atlantic 10, coming off the program ’s first NCAA tournament berth in 18 years, features one of the nation ’s deepest backcourts, a skilled and versatile unit headed by last year ’s leading scorer E.C. Matthews and fellow seniors Jared Terrell, Jarvis Garrett and Stanford Robinson. If sophomore Cyril Langevine and junior college transfer Ryan Preston from Brooklyn can help fill the void up front left by Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson, the Rams will be Sweet 16 good.

25. Virginia

After averaging 28 wins per season over the past four years, Tony Bennett faces his toughest task in a while. The top scoring defense in the nation comes back with even less offense — and experience — than usual. London Perrantes is gone, the Cavaliers have no double-digit scorers on the roster and Bennett ’s always stingy system will be relied on more than ever to get his team back to the NCAA Tournament.

Off the court, college basketball is a mess, in the wake of the ongoing FBI investigation that already has led to the arrest of four assistant coaches from prominent programs on bribery and fraud charges, and the ousting of Hall of Fame Louisville coach Rick Pitino.

On the floor, the sport is exceedingly healthy. Blue bloods such as Duke, Michigan State, Kansas and Kentucky are loaded, the freshmen class appears spectacular and accomplished upperclassmen remain, such as Duke ’s Grayson Allen, Notre Dame ’s Bonzie Colson and Wisconsin ’s Ethan Happ who passed on the NBA draft.

It sets up what should be a fascinating season — on and off the court.

Here ’s a look at The Post ’s preseason top 25:

1. Duke

Surprise, surprise, the Blue Devils are everyone ’s favorite target again. Having gone two long seasons without a national championship, Mike Krzyzewski has the talent to get his sixth ring. Joining senior guard Grayson Allen are four freshman who could be first-round NBA picks in the spring. They are led by 6-foot-11 power forward Marvin Bagley III, who could help create one of the country ’s most dynamic offenses.

2. Michigan State

Miles BridgesAP

The Spartans have a Hall of Fame coach (Tom Izzo), experience (battle-tested seniors Ben Carter, Gavin Schilling and Lourawls Nairn Jr.), star power (projected top-10 pick Miles Bridges) and loads of young talent (returning sophomore starters Nick Ward and Joshua Langford, along with five-star freshman Jaren Jackson Jr.). Anything less than a trip to the Final Four in San Antonio would be considered a failure.

3. Arizona

The Wildcats are again a threat to win their first national championship since 1997. After battling injury as a freshman, and missing most of last season because of a failed drug test, junior guard Allonzo Trier will form a dangerous pairing with 7-foot freshman DeAndre Ayton, who could be a top-three pick in the draft.

4. Kansas

Picking against Kansas in the Big 12 is like trying to beat the house at a casino. It won ’t end well. The Jayhawks, loaded yet again, should win their 14th straight conference title behind the four-headed guard monster of Devonte ’ Graham, Lagerald Vick, Svi Mykhailiuk and Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman.

5. Kentucky

John Calipari isn ’t accustomed to starting the season so low in the rankings. The latest batch of highly-rated freshmen — including guard Quade Green and forward P.J. Washington — aren ’t quite as acclaimed as past Kentucky classes, but the young crew still will easily run away with another SEC championship, with Queens wing Hamidou Diallo likely to carry the scoring load after sitting out last season.

6. Wichita State

Landry Shamet and Markis McDuffie both underwent foot surgery in the offseason, meaning the Shockers may start slow as their two leading scorers get healthy. Fortunately, Wichita State has loads of depth — it returns everyone of note from a 31-win team last year — and now that it is in the AAC, coach Gregg Marshall ’s defensively-stingy group has résumé-building opportunities in league play.

7. Villanova

Jalen BrunsonShutterstock

Even without Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins, Jay Wright ’s team is the heavy favorite to secure its fifth straight Big East title. Villanova should remain among the best defensive teams, and could see a breakout season from Mikal Bridges. The ceiling will be decided by junior guard Jalen Brunson, who could be a first team All-American.

8. Florida

There were key departures and significant additions, creating a roster that could take time to gel, but should be dangerous come March. Explosive leading scorer KeVaughn Allen returns, as does guard Chris Chiozza — the hero of the classic Sweet 16 victory over Wisconsin at the Garden — and difference-making center John Egbunu. A four-man, top-20 recruiting class will provide depth, but the key new piece is Rice graduate transfer Egor Koulechov, a skilled wing who averaged 18.2 points per game and shot 47 percent from deep a year ago.

9. North Carolina

The Tar Heels were already going to have a difficult title defense before the Final Four ’s Most Outstanding Player (Joel Berry) broke his hand after losing a video game. North Carolina ’s star guard should be back before conference play begins, and until then, senior Theo Pinson and ex-Pitt sharpshooter Cameron Johnson will be counted on to make up for the champs losing four of their five top scorers from last season.

10. West Virginia

Jevon Carter, West Virginia ’s leading scorer and top playmaker a year ago, has improved across the board each season in Morgantown, and will be counted on to guide an inexperienced group that will be without key forward Esa Ahmad for the first half of the season because of eligibility reasons. Sophomore Sagaba Konate, a 6-foot-8 shot-blocking menace from Mali, could help fill the void.

11. USC

The rebuild is complete. After winning 23 games in his first two seasons with the Trojans, coach Andy Enfield has won 47 games over the past two seasons. The Trojans look like a lock to reach a third straight NCAA tournament with the entirety of an extremely balanced core back, including four double-digit scorers who will be teamed with Duke transfer Derryck Thornton.

12. Notre Dame

Bonzie ColsonAP

There isn ’t a better senior 1-2 punch in the country than Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell, hard-nosed veterans who averaged a combined 31.9 points per game a year ago and each shot better than 40 percent on 3-pointers. Keep an eye on sophomore Temple Gibbs, a Scotch Plains, N.J., native capable of making a major leap after receiving limited minutes as a freshman.

13. Miami

Jim Larranaga ’s team loses key players with experience, but an infusion of youth could be what brings Miami back to the NCAA tournament for a third straight year. Five-star guard Lonnie Walker leads an impressive recruiting class, joining senior Ja ’Quan Newton and sophomore Bruce Brown, whose all-around proficiency likely will make his second season his final one before leaving for the pros.

14. Cincinnati

The Bearcats don ’t just have to grind down opponents anymore. They can outscore them, too. Mick Cronin has four of his top five scorers back from a 30-win campaign, and he adds another major weapon in Sacred Heart transfer Cane Broome, the NEC Player of the Year in 2015-16.

15. Louisville

The Cardinals could make a run to the Final Four or miss the NCAA tournament, and it ’s hard to say that either outcome would be surprising. Reeling from the recruiting scandal that cost Rick Pitino his job, 32-year-old interim coach David Padgett will attempt to bring stability to the program, while hoping another postseason ban isn ’t approaching.

16. UCLA

Lonzo Ball is gone, but his attention-seeking father LaVar isn ’t, as middle brother LiAngelo arrives on campus as a likely reserve. There is good news for Steve Alford, though. His roster remains formidable, keyed by the return of center Thomas Welsh and guard Aaron Holiday, and the addition of an elite freshmen class led by five-star recruits Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes.

17. Xavier

Despite going .500 in the Big East last season, the Musketeers fell just one game short of the school ’s first Final Four, continuing its incredible success under Chris Mack in March, and reaching at least the Sweet 16 for the fourth time since 2010. With senior Trevon Bluiett back, Xavier could make another deep run, and potentially knock Villanova off its Big East throne. Green Bay transfer Kerem Kanter — brother of Knicks center Enes Kanter — gives the frountcourt a significant boost.

18. Gonzaga

Rui HachimuraGetty Images

Just two starters return from the program ’s first Final Four team, and just four rotation players. So Gonzaga is in for a long year, right? Wrong. Senior Johnathan Williams and junior Josh Perkins were preseason All-WCC selections, Japanese import Rui Hachimura is brimming with potential after spending his freshman year adjusting to the speed of the game and redshirt freshman wing Zach Norvell, a top-100 prospect, could blossom.

19. Northwestern

The monkey is off their backs. Long plagued by its status as one of only five teams to have been around since the creation of the NCAA tournament and never have made it, the Wildcats finally broke through last season, and even won their first-round matchup with Vanderbilt. Northwestern could go even farther this season, with its top-five scorers back, including guards Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey.

20. Minnesota

The Gophers were ahead of schedule last year, reaching their first NCAA tournament in four years, and are now primed to avenge their March jitters. Long-armed sophomore Amir Coffey has some Lamar Odom to his game, senior point guard Nate Mason was a preseason All-Big Ten selection and flashy freshman Isaiah Washington of Harlem will provide a jolt off the bench.

21. St. Mary ’s

Annually in the shadow of conference rival Gonzaga, the Gaels could take control of the WCC this season. After losing just five games last season — three to Gonzaga — St. Mary ’s will showcase one of the best starting units and most efficient shooting teams in the country, featuring big man Jock Landale and guard Emmett Naar, who will be joined in the backcourt by Ole Miss transfer Cullen Neal.

22. Seton Hall

Khadeen CarringtonBill Kostroun

The senior core of Khadeen Carrington, Angel Delgado, Ismael Sanogo and Desi Rodriguez arrived in South Orange in the summer of 2014 determined to turn around this flatlining program. Two NCAA tournament bids and a Big East tournament crown later, Seton Hall certainly has a heartbeat, but this group has one goal left: a lengthy March run.

23. Purdue

The defending Big Ten champions return all but one player from a Sweet 16 run. Unfortunately, the missing face is the biggest piece. With Caleb Swanigan off to the NBA, fellow big man Isaac Haas will be counted on to fill the massive void, having ranked second on the team last season with 12.6 points and five rebounds in 19.5 minutes per game. P.J. Thompson leads a deep backcourt, and should get Matt Painter ’s team back to the Dance for the fourth straight year.

24. Rhode Island

The class of the Atlantic 10, coming off the program ’s first NCAA tournament berth in 18 years, features one of the nation ’s deepest backcourts, a skilled and versatile unit headed by last year ’s leading scorer E.C. Matthews and fellow seniors Jared Terrell, Jarvis Garrett and Stanford Robinson. If sophomore Cyril Langevine and junior college transfer Ryan Preston from Brooklyn can help fill the void up front left by Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson, the Rams will be Sweet 16 good.

25. Virginia

After averaging 28 wins per season over the past four years, Tony Bennett faces his toughest task in a while. The top scoring defense in the nation comes back with even less offense — and experience — than usual. London Perrantes is gone, the Cavaliers have no double-digit scorers on the roster and Bennett ’s always stingy system will be relied on more than ever to get his team back to the NCAA Tournament.

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