We are smack in the middle of July, which means it’s been 3 months since Virginia cut down the nets. In those months, a lot has changed – players have graduated, transferred, committed, decommitted, and been drafted. Now that the dust has more or less settled, it is prime time for wild speculation about the upcoming college basketball season.
Louisville wins the ACC
Duke, UNC, and Virginia have long reigned over the best basketball conference in the country. It would take a lot for an outsider to dethrone the ACC’s big three, but the Cardinals just might have the firepower to do so.
Louisville killed the offseason, securing a top tier recruiting class lead by McDonald’s All-American Samuel Williamson and grabbing an established point guard (a major position of need) in transfer Lamarr Kimble. Together with Jordan Nwora and Steven Enoch, this Cardinals squad might just be the most talented in the ACC. Add in a year of experience for Chris Mack to work through some growing pains and you have a team poised to make a run at the ACC title.
Florida wins the SEC
Last year’s Florida team was utterly embarrassed by a Michigan team who had absolutely no place beating anyone of note in March Madness. This year’s Florida team is a whole lot different.
The Gators returned one of the best PGs in college basketball (Andrew Nembhard), recruited the best SF prospect in the country (Scottie Lewis), and added one of the best players in the nation (Kerry Blackshear Jr.). On paper, they’re scary good – good enough to challenge Kentucky’s yearly SEC dominance.
Virginia returns to the Final Four
This might not seem too bold given that Virginia is the current national champion. However, the Cavaliers lost their three best players to the NBA Draft and are currently hovering around the mid-teens in preseason polls. Nearly everyone expects them to have a down year amidst a rebuild; I don’t think so.
Tony Bennett is a basketball wizard with a knack for developing talent and should have players waiting and ready to fill the holes left by De’Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome, and Kyle Guy’s departures. Moreover, given the NCAA’s new 3-point line, Virginia’s vaunted Pack Line defense should be even harder to beat. Look for the Cavaliers to make another deep run in March.
Memphis gets bounced before the Sweet Sixteen
Memphis might just be the hottest team in college basketball. They own the top-ranked recruiting class, of which the top-ranked recruit (James Wiseman) is a member of. The hype train is out of control for the Tigers and many expect them to steamroll their way to at least the Elite Eight – no chance.
Penny Hardaway is still a largely unproven coach and this Memphis team will be one of the youngest in the NCAA. The Tigers also have a soft schedule relative to any power conference team, and come March the competition will heat up too much too quickly for a freshman-dominated team to handle. Memphis will be a talented squad, but don’t be surprised when they don’t make it out of the first weekend.
Chicago State wins a conference game
Chicago State games were my absolute favorite to bet on last season. No matter what the spread was, they always failed to cover. They were so inconceivably bad that betting against them was as good as printing free money. Chicago State plays in the Western Athletic Conference, one of the weakest D1 conferences, and managed to lose every single conference game en route to a 3-29 overall record. That is absolutely preposterous.
But, lucky for them, two of the WAC members – CSUB and UMKC – are headed to greener pastures (the Big West and Summit League, respectively) after this season. Whether it is because of distraction or outright pity, one of these teams will drop a game to Chicago State.
Bill Walton drops acid on live TV
The Pac-12 was in rough shape last year, but Bill Walton’s drug-addled brain still referred to it as the “conference of champions.” This season, with Arizona, Washington, Colorado, and USC all looking like solid teams, the Pac-12 should make its triumphant return to relevancy.
Both to celebrate the Pac-12 being good again and to cope with UCLA still not being good, Bill Walton – in a long overdue moment – will bust out a tab and trip balls mid-ESPN broadcast. Book it.
Tony Bennett’s smile cause an emotional breakthrough in Frank Martin
With John Beilein off to Cleveland, Tony Bennett is the undisputed king of wholesomeness in college basketball. A goddamn angel sent to Earth in the form of a silver fox, Tony Bennett might just be the nicest, classiest coach in college sports.
On the other hand, Frank Martin is the scariest man alive. How any referee or South Carolina player endures his sideline fury without crying is beyond me. Frank Martin’s cold, soulless eyes are the cause of my recurring nightmares and my adult bedwetting problems.
In a classic matchup of good versus evil, these two coaches will meet on December 22nd. Frank Martin will be powerless against Tony Bennett’s kind eyes, and the Gamecocks’ head coach will break down and cry on the sidelines after finally becoming in touch with his feminine side.
The NCAA makes a handful of rational decisions
On second thought, never mind. This one is too off the wall. The NCAA will go on making illogical choices and will remain unanimously hated, as always.