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.
Two steps forward, one step back. A year after making the NCAA Tournament, Tony Bennett’s Virginia Cavaliers are unlikely to match that level of success with a young roster that doesn’t boast a whole lot of size or skill inside.
Last Season: T-4th, 9-7 in ACC, 22-10 overall
Predicted ACC Finish: 6th
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Akil Mitchell (Jr)/Mike Tobey (Fr)/Darion Atkins (So)
G/F: Justin Anderson (Fr)/Evan Nolte (Fr)
G/F: Joe Harris (Jr)/Paul Jesperson (So)
G/F: Malcolm Brogdon (So)/Taylor Barnette (Fr)
PG: Jontel Evans (Sr)/Teven Jones (Fr)
Gone: PF-Mike Scott, SG-Sammy Zeglinski, C-Assane Sene, SG-KT Harrell (transfer-Auburn), F/C James Johnson (transfer-San Diego State)
The loss of inside/outside threat Mike Scott is obviously going to be felt since he meant so much to last year’s UVA team specifically on the offensive end. His departure leaves the Cavaliers with Akil Mitchell and Darion Atkins as the lone returning post players. Both guys were decent enough role players off the bench last season but neither pack a whole lot of punch on the offensive end. That’s where 6-11 freshman Mike Tobey could come into play as he is an inside/outside threat with a decent enough back-to-the-basket game to complement a solid mid-range jumper.
Without a go-to inside presence, Bennett will likely utilize a smaller, more athletic, versatile line-up thanks to the addition of top 50(ish) freshmen wings Justin Anderson and Evan Nolte. Anderson is an aggressive, physical wing who thrives when attacking the rim while Nolte can light it up from deep. Both newcomers will play a prominent role this season.
Virginia should be a rather balanced team on offense but junior Joe Harris figures to assume the role of go-to scorer after averaging 11.8 points per game last year. Malcolm Brogdon was the team’s top reserve a year ago but is line to move into the starting line-up and be another quality option in any four-guard line-up. Versatile wing Paul Jesperson improved as last season progressed and should see quality minutes off the bench while freshman Taylor Barnette is likely the odd man out of the rotation.
As the only senior on the roster, starting point guard Jontel Evans inherits the team’s leadership role which is fitting for a point guard. Evans is a pest on the defensive end and won’t have to fill up the scoreboard but must set the table in running the offense. Freshman Teven Jones will be groomed this season as the back-up with the goal being that he will take over for Evans in 2013-14.
That’s when forward Anthony Gill becomes eligible at UVA. Gill transferred in from South Carolina but must sit out this season. He will add some needed versatility to the frontcourt and have three years of eligibility remaining.
The lack of talent and size inside is a concern for the Cavaliers this season. One thing is certain with any Bennett-coached team; they will get after you on the defensive end and value possessions on O’. That must be the recipe for success this season for Virginia to grind out wins and remain in the upper-half of the ACC.
Player to Watch: Justin Anderson
If Bennett does go with a point guard/3 wing line-up, Anderson will likely draw the responsibility of playing bigger than his 6-6 frame due to his physicality and ruggedness. Nolte has the length to play some four as well but how well Anderson plays this season could be the difference between Virginia being a NCAA Tournament or NIT team.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/9 at George Mason
11/21 & 23 vs. Michigan/Pittsburgh/Kansas State (NIT Tip-Off)
11/28 at Wisconsin (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
12/5 vs. Tennessee
12/22 vs. Old Dominion (in Richmond)
OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#69 Maryland Terrapins
#70 Marshall Thundering Herd
#71 Iona Gaels
#72 Northwestern Wildcats
#73 Oklahoms State Cowboys
#74 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#75 USC Trojans
#76 UConn Huskies
#77 Harvard Crimson
#78 Xavier Musketeers
#79 Ole Miss Rebels
#80 Clemson Tigers
#81 Oregon State Beavers
#82 Texas A&M Aggies
#83 Providence Friars
#84 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#85 Oklahoma Sooners
#86 Lehigh Mountain Hawks
#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.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.