1. 2022-23 NCAA Power Rankings – Houston Cougars
Ed Cooley may have won the National Coach of the Year award for Providence but Houston’s Kelvin Sampson had a legitimate argument for the honor. Despite losing his top two players to season-ending injuries by mid-January, Sampson’s Cougars advanced all the way to the Elite Eight before losing 50-44 to Villanova.
The Cougars had dominated opponents even without the services of Tramon Mark and Marcus Sasser, who Sampson admitted would elevate the upside of his team into true title contender status. Both players should be back for next season, giving Houston a pair of stars to build around in its final season as a member of the American Athletic Conference.
Rising juniors Jamal Shead and J’Wan Roberts should join Mark and Sasser in the starting lineup to form a formidable core for Houston. A strong three-man recruiting class will serve as a supplement to the returners with power forward Jarace Walker, the highest-rated recruit in program history, likely to join the starting lineup.
There is also flexibility for Sampson to add an impact player from the transfer portal, which helped the Cougars land Kyler Edwards from Texas Tech this season, to top off the group with more dynamic potential. There isn’t a clear-cut title contender at the moment but Houston is in the best position to cut down the nets at NRG Stadium, which would serve as a de facto home site for a Cougars team that is based just over 90 minutes away from the 2023 Final Four location.
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