Billy Donovan has senior leadership in both the back court and front court. Scottie Wilbekin is a talented guard who can do a little of everything and Patric Young is beast inside and a monster on the boards. Kasey Hill is a freshman sensation who has Gator nation excited for his explosive potential. They will have trouble beating Kentucky in the SEC, but still expected to make a nice run in the tourney.
9. Oklahoma State
People think the Cowboys are just Marcus Smart, but they have a nice collection of players around him. Smart has player of the year potential with his driving ability and defensive skills. Le’Bryan Nash and Markel Brown are upper classmen that will make Smart’s season even easier. Nash will demand attention in the post, while Brown is a tweener that can be a hassle all over the court. Oklahoma State will be a thorn in Kansas side and Smart wants to make up for his poor tournament performance last year.
Jim Boeheim has a nice mix of a senior veterans and a freshman who has him drooling. C.J. Fair is a s0lid big man who has been a weapon for the Orange. He can take it to the hoop and also has impressive perimeter skills. Tyler Ennis is a 6-2 point guard who coaches say plays beyond his years. Syracuse enters the ACC and expects to contend right away. The Cuse are always a mystery come tourney time, they either exit early or make a final four run.
Losing in the National Championship game left a bad taste in the Wolverines mouth. Michigan loses Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr, but returns many from that championship team. Mitch McGary is a force inside and proved that through the NCAA tournament last season. Glenn Robinson III is a guy who can get to the basket and knock down open jumpers. They also have a talented point guard coming in freshman Derek Walton Jr, who hopes to make the transition from Burke very smooth. A legit contender in the Big Ten and easily a Sweet 16 team.
The Wildcats have solid upperclassmen, a veteran coach and a sensational freshman. Guards T.J. McConnell and Nick Johnson, who are both juniors make for a great back court in Tucson. Sean Miller brings plenty of experience in the tournament with Xavier and Arizona. Aaron Gordon is a 6-9 freshman who has people pumped for the potential he can have on this team. Arizona will be right in the thick of the Pac 12 race and will have a nice run in March.
All you hear about in Lawrence is Andrew Wiggins, but Bill Self has a decent team around him. Perry Ellis is a double-double threat inside, scoring and rebounding at will. Wiggins does a bit of everything at small forward, going to the hoop and doing damage from the perimeter. Wayne Selden Jr runs the point and sets up the other scorers for the Jayhawks. Bill Self has a national title under his belt and hopes to make a run for another this season with Wiggins.
Just like Bill Self, Coach K is very excited for his freshman. Jabari Parker is a well rounded small forward who can do everything on the court. Rodney Hood joins him in the front court to cause many match up problems. Quin Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon form a very good back court that is dangerous from the perimeter. Duke should win the ACC and make a Final Four run.
The reigning champs return a very nice team that is trying to repeat. Russ Smith returns and is the Cardinals best player after Dieng and Siva left. Wayne Blackshear and Montrel Harrell make a up a nice front line who can pound the ball inside. Chane Behanan is a tweener that can play anywhere on the floor and demands attention. It has been a nice year for Rick Pitino as he won a National Championship and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. The Cardinals have a very nice team, but face a much tougher field to repeat this year.
2. Michigan State
They dont have the heralded freshman in East Lansing, but the Spartans should make some noise. Gary Harris is their go to guy and a serious three point threat. Adreian Payne is a “pain” inside and their biggest front court threat. Keith Appling runs the point, but he can also get boards and create his own shot. The Spartans are the favorite in the Big Ten and should be back in the Final Four.
Kansas and Duke may have a sensational freshman, but Kentucky has a whole starting five. John Calipari recruited possibly the best class in NCAA history. The class is led by Julius Randle, a power foward who can take over a game from the low post. Aaron and Andrew Harrison are a set of twins that form a lethal back court who can get to the basket and knock down the three. Willie Cauley-Stein is a nice complement to Randle in the front court and is a monster on the boards. This Kentucky team is very similar to the one that won the NCAA title two years ago. The scary part is this team might be a little better.