Maryland, Louisville lead combined men’s and women’s college hoops ranks

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A premier group of college basketball-playing schools will have their names called when the Division I NCAA tournament brackets are revealed in mid-March.

A select few of those schools will be fortunate enough to have their names called twice.

With the 2019-20 season in its infancy, we dug into the rankings and projected NCAA brackets to identify the schools that do it best across both men’s and women’s basketball, using polls and ESPN’s own projected NCAA brackets to devise a list of the top 25 schools in our combined rankings.

Which schools serve as the biggest dual threat on the hardwood?

Rankings: AP No. 7 (men), AP No. 4 (women)

Men: With Jalen Smith and Anthony Cowan Jr. leading the way, Mark Turgeon possesses one of his best rosters, a team with a chance to compete with Michigan State in the Big Ten race. The Terps beat a mid-major Holy Cross squad, 95-71, in their debut, while displaying the balance that could lead to a run in March. Six players recorded nine or more points in the win. — Myron Medcalf

Women: The Terps return all five starters, led by senior and preseason All-American Kaila Charles, and are expected to be the titans of the Big Ten again. They have a strong freshman class, too, and coach Brenda Frese expects them to contribute right away. Maryland should be really hungry after a disappointing end to last season. The Terps lost in the Big Ten tournament final, and then they fell at home in the second round of the NCAA tournament. — Mechelle Voepel

Rankings: AP No. 5 (men), AP No. 9 (women)

Men: The Cardinals didn’t get as much preseason hype as Duke in the post-Zion Williamson era or as North Carolina with Cole Anthony, but they just might be the ACC favorites. Chris Mack returns several key pieces from last season’s team, while also bringing in Saint Joseph’s grad transfer Lamarr Kimble and a top-10 recruiting class. Louisville opened its season with a blowout win at Miami. — Jeff Borzello

Women: How transfers Elizabeth Balogun and Elizabeth Dixon fare in the face of a brighter spotlight and higher expectations at Louisville might determine whether the Cardinals make good on their status as preseason ACC favorite. Veterans Jazmine Jones, Dana Evans and Kylee Shook will have to take on bigger roles as coach Jeff Walz tries to replace Asia Durr, the program’s second all-time leading scorer. — Charlie Creme

Rankings: AP No. 2 (men), AP No. 13 (women)

Men: John Calipari’s men came within an overtime period of making the Final Four last season, and the Wildcats are poised to be better in 2019-20. Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley are back to anchor the backcourt, and this season they’re joined by freshman sensation Tyrese Maxey. Bucknell transfer Nate Sestina adds perimeter range (and rebounding ability at 6-foot-9) and, in UK’s season-opening win over top-ranked Michigan State, Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery looked like they’re ready to anchor an elite defense. — John Gasaway

Women: At 6-foot-2, sophomore Rhyne Howard is one of the best big guards in the country and can score from anywhere. The question is how well the rest of Wildcats will help her, especially early in the season. Kentucky has plenty of talent, but a few players will need to step forward offensively. The Wildcats have always depended on defense under coach Matthew Mitchell, and that should continue to be a strength. — Mechelle Voepel

Rankings: AP No. 15 (men), AP No. 1 (women)

Men: When Dana Altman led the Ducks to the Final Four in 2017 and came within a rebound of advancing past North Carolina, he had a collection of bouncy, long athletes that manufactured an efficient offensive attack while also protecting the rim. This season’s team, featuring players such as Francis Okoro and Shakur Juiston, has the same makeup and athleticism that might overwhelm the Pac-12, especially with Payton Pritchard leading the way. — Myron Medcalf

Women: Reigning national player of the year Sabrina Ionescu passed up a chance to enter the WNBA draft after Oregon’s run to the Final Four a season ago, so the Ducks enter this season as the team to beat. With Ruthy Hebard and Satou Sabally also back, Oregon might have three of the 10 best players in the country as it pursues the first national title in program history. — Graham Hays

Rankings: AP No. 1 (men), AP No. 17 (women)

Men: Tom Izzo’s Spartans dropped their season-opener to Kentucky, but, this is still a team that can win in all in 2020. In Cassius Winston, MSU has arguably the nation’s best two-way point guard, and even in losing to the Wildcats this defense displayed its trademark ability to force misses in the paint. If Joshua Langford returns from injury and/or Marquette transfer Joey Hauser is approved to play this season, Michigan State could again be the favorite to win it all. — John Gasaway

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