Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series. Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days. Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.
We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
The 15th seeded Lehigh Mountain Hawks shocked the world by knocking off second seeded Duke in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. With star shooting guard C.J. McCollum and three other starters returning, Lehigh won’t sneak up on anybody this year.
LEHIGH MOUNTAIN HAWKS
Last Season: 2nd, 11-3 in Patriot, 27-8 overall
Predicted Patriot Finish: 1st
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Gabe Knutson (Sr)/Justin Goldborough (Fr)/Jesse Chuku (Fr)
F: Holden Greiner (Sr)/Conroy Baltimore (So)
G/F: C.J. McCollum (Sr)/Stefan Czrkajl (So)
SG: B.J. Bailey (Jr)/Anthony D’Orazio (Jr)/Devon Carter (Fr)
PG: Mackey McKnight (Jr)/Corey Schaefer (So)
Gone: SF-Jordan Hamilton, F-John Adams, F/C-Justin Maneri
McCollum could have easily bolted for the NBA Draft after a terrific junior season and actually flirted with the idea but ultimately decided to return for his senior season. He will be one of the better scorers in the country this year and the target of very team’s opposing defense.
McCollum won’t have to do it all by himself though. Mackey McKnight is back to run the point while Gabe Knutson and Holden Greiner return to their spots in the starting frontcourt. Knutson provides Lehigh with an inside presence while Greiner can stretch defenses with his outside shooting.
The question will become who replaces Jordan Hamilton and becomes the fifth starter. A trio of guard figure to be in the running including back-up point guard Corey Schaefer and wings B.J. Bailey and Anthony DiIorzio. All three guys served as role players a year ago and will factor into the rotation in some manner. Freshman shooting guard Devon Carter is probably more skilled than either of those three and I wouldn’t be surprised if he worked his way into the starting line-up at some point during the season.
The frontcourt depth is young and experienced with the graduation of two seniors. Conroy Baltimore barely saw the floor as a freshman but should see an increased role. He is a bit undersized at 6-6 but uses his length and athleticism to be a factor on the glass. Freshmen Justin Goldsborough or Jesse Chuku will have to step in right away to provide the Mountain Hawks with some sort of size off the bench.
Two-time defending champ Bucknell will once again be in the Patriot League title race but Lehigh enters the season as the team to beat. They return a ton of talent in their starting five and if their young bench can mature, another tourney berth is likely in their very near future.
Player to Watch: C.J. McCollum
Obviously. The 6’3 senior does a little bit of everything for Lehigh. He can score from deep or use his strength to power his way to basket. He led the team in rebounds and steals last year and finished second in assists. Despite being a tad undersized by NBA standards, another productive year could earn McCollum a spot in the first round of the 2013 Draft.
OTHER 111 IN 111′S:
#87 Washington State Cougars
#88 Long Beach State 49ers
#89 Belmont Bruins
#90 Vanderbilt Commodores
#91 Dayton Flyers
#92 Houston Cougars
#93 UCF Knights
#94 Old Dominion Monarchs
#95 Oregon Ducks
#96 LSU Tigers
#97 South Carolina Gamecocks
#98 Seton Hall Pirates
#99 Georgia Bulldogs
#100 DePaul Blue Demons
#101 Boston College Eagles
#102 Penn State Nittany Lions
#103 Arizona State Sun Devils
#104 Virginia Tech Hokies
#105 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#108 TCU Horned Frogs
#109 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#110 Utah Utes
#111 Nebraska Cornhuskers
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)