Where is IU ranked next year? A look at the way-too-early polls #iubb

The college basketball off-season began in earnest Tuesday with Indiana closing the 2015-16 campaign locked in at No. 9 in the final USA Today Coaches Poll.

The Hoosiers’ fortunes next winter may be just as promising.

In some of the way-too-early polls released Tuesday, Indiana is ranked as high as No. 8 and as low as No. 21. Granted, these projections are bound to change depending on whether players like Thomas Bryant and Troy Williams decide to begin their professional careers or stay in school, but here’s a quick look at where IU stands on the first day of the off-season:

— ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan likes the way Tom Crean’s team looks entering a new season, pegging the Hoosiers at No. 8.

The return of guard James Blackmon Jr. from injury is among the many reasons to stay bullish on the Hoosiers. Robert Johnson, Collin Hartman, and OG Anunoby, a basketball cyborg incrementally approaching self-awareness, are also on that list. The draft, in the end, might be the difference: If neither Troy Williams nor Thomas Bryant return — the latter especially — the Hoosiers will be a fun, competitive Big Ten team. If either comes back, or both, title contention is totally in play.

Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo! Sports has Indiana at No. 9:

Indiana is likely to contend in the Big Ten again next season, but how good the Hoosiers can be may depend on how many of their frontcourt standouts return. Bryant and Anunoby both have first-round potential but could potentially improve their stock by returning, while Williams’ athleticism should at least get him some looks if he chooses to forgo his senior season. If even two of those three return, Indiana will be loaded in the frontcourt.

— Ryan Fagan of the Sporting News also believes Indiana will crack the top 10:

It’s hard to know exactly where to rank Indiana right now. If Williams, Bryant and Anunoby all return — which is certainly possible — the Hoosiers deserve to be in the discussion for a spot in the top three. If all three leave — which doesn’t seem likely — they’d be a bit further down in the top 25. So we’ll put Tom Crean’s team here for now, knowing they’ll score a ton of points regardless and knowing that De’Ron Davis (a 6-9 recruit) will make an immediate impact next year, too.

— C.J. Moore of Bleacher Report sees Indiana just outside the top 10, entering the year at No. 11.

But even if (Bryant and Williams) do leave, the Hoosiers still have the talent to be a top-25 team with James Blackmon returning and OG Anunoby continuing to get better. It will be tough to replace Yogi Ferrell at point guard, but Robert Johnson is capable of playing the point, and head coach Tom Crean does a good job of putting his scorers in position to succeed.

— Over at CBS Sports, Gary Parrish sees IU as the No. 12 team in the nation.

This ranking is based on Thomas Bryant returning to school, which is obviously still up in the air. But even if Bryant leaves, Tom Crean will have enough pieces to keep the Hoosiers competing at, or near, the top of the Big Ten.

Scott Gleeson at USA Today thinks Indiana could open next season at No. 18.

Do-everything floor general Yogi Ferrell is gone, but Tom Crean will keep Indiana in the Big Ten race. Remember doubting them last season when second leading scorer James Blackmon Jr. went down for the season? It’s not recommended to count out the Hoosiers in 2016-17, either. Like other teams, the outlook is uncertain until NBA decisions happen. Troy Williams (13.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and Thomas Bryant (11.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg) both will test the waters. If either or both return, it’d be a big boost for Indiana, which will need to see reserves step up and Blackmon Jr. to become an even bigger star.

— NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster believes the questions surrounding next year knock Indiana down to No. 21.

The Hoosiers are another team that is very up in the air at this point. Will Williams, Anunoby and Thomas Bryant be back? Can anyone replace Yogi Ferrell at the point?