David K.’s College Hoops Predictions

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NCAA Mens Hoops Nerdom at its Finest!

Elite Eight:

Arizona State-

If you don’t know the name James Harden, get to know it.  The Sun Devil sophomore swingman should be one of the more exciting players to watch this season.  Including Harden, ASU returns their top five scorers.

Marquette-

To steal a phrase from a friend, this should be a major F-U season for the Golden Eagles.  Tom Crean bolted to Indiana as MU’s core of guards: Dominique James, Jerel McNeal, and Wesley Matthews enter their senior seasons.  Marquette should be motivated beyond belief and if forward Lazar Hayward can continue to improve like he did last season, people shouldn’t sleep on them.  Size will once again be a major Achilles heel though.

Pitt-

For a team that battled injuries all last season, Pitt turned it on when it counted most, winning the Big East Tournament.  Core players back from last year’s team include DeJuan Blair, Sam Young, and Levance Fields (though Field is recovering from foot surgery this summer) and they should help get the Panthers to the Elite Eight.

UCLA-

Even though the Bruins lost Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to the NBA Draft, UCLA should be in a position to contend for their 4th consecutive Final Four trip.  Back are Darren Collison, Josh Shipp, and Alfred Aboya.  Add in another talented freshmen class led by G Jrue Holliday, G Malcom Lee, and PF Drew Gordon, and the Bruins should once again be in title talk.

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Final Four:

UConn-

Jim Calhoun’s crew is stacked and deserving of their #2 pre-season ranking.  They have size up-front with 7’3 Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrian, scorers on the wing in Stanley Robinson, Jerome Dyson, and Craig Austrie, and a pair of talented point guards in senior A.J. Price and freshman Kemba Walker.  This program has experienced growing pains the past two seasons, but the patience should turn into reward for the Huskies.

Purdue-

The Boilermakers should be the cream of the Big Ten crop this season.  They play as a team and are extremely aggressive on defense.  Robbie Hummel put forth an impressive freshman season and will only get better!  Their trio of E’Twaun Moore, Keaton Grant, and Chris Kramer at guard will be pivotal towards Purdue’s success.

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Runner-up:

Texas-

The Longhorns seemingly didn’t miss a beat last season despite Kevin Durant’s departure, and this year’s team should follow suit even though D.J. Augustin bolted for the NBA.  A.J. Abrams returns and should be an All-American candidate while big men Connor Atchley and Damion James provide toughness inside, but are also versatile enough to step out and knock down three-pointers.
 

National Champion:

North Carolina-

There is a reason UNC was the unanimous pre-season #1 ranked team.  The Heels top six players are back from last year’s team that was ousted in the Final Four by Kansas, including reigning player of the year, Tyler Hansbrough.  Combine that with another talented recruiting class and the return of guard Bobby Frasor who missed most of last season with a torn ACL, and the NCAA Tournament will be Carolina’s to lose.  They have all the intangibles of a National Title team; experience, size, depth, and shooting.  The only way the Heels don’t win it all is if Hansbrough’s stress reaction injury is something more serious and becomes a season-long lingering problem.
 

Underrated:

Wisconsin-

If there’s one thing I have learned in covering the Badgers on a daily basis; it’s that Bo Ryan is going to get the absolute most out of his players.  Last year, people were wondering how Wisconsin was going to replace their two leading scorers in Alando Tucker and Kammron Taylor, and all the Badgers did was win the Big Ten regular season and conference tournament titles.  They likely won’t repeat that feat, but Bucky should certainly be in contention once again.

Syracuse-

Three things killed Cuse last year: inexperience, injuries, and a lack of depth.  Donte Greene is the only important player gone from last year (and with his gun-slinging long range tendencies, that could actually be a good thing.)  Jim Boeheim should have the luxury of going nine deep including the return of three-point threat Eric Devendorf from an ACL injury.  Their biggest hurdle will be surviving the extremely tough Big East.

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Overrated:

Arizona-

Even before Lute Olson announced he was leaving the program, I had the Wildcats on my overrated list.  I was a big fan of Chase Budinger his freshman year, but after seeing him struggle last season…I began to sour on him as a go-to type player.  Jordan Hill is a nice big man to have and Arizona should benefit from playing in a much weaker Pac 10 this season. However, don’t be surprised to see the Wildcats streak of 24 straight NCAA Tournament appearances come to an end.

Davidson-

Cinderella they are no more.  Everyone is going to be keying in on containing sharpshooter Stephen Curry.  What will really hurt the Wildcats is losing point guard Jason Richards who led all D-1 players in assists and perfectly executed the Davidson offense built around finding Curry.  With Richards gone, Curry will have to carry more of a ball-handling responsibility which may affect his prolific scoring ability.  They should still make Big Dance but with a much earlier exit.
 

All-American First Team:

Stephen Curry, G, Davidson
Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma
Tyler Hansbrough, PF, North Carolina
Luke Harangody, PF, Notre Dame
James Harden, SG, Arizona State
 

All-American Second Team:

A.J. Abrams, G, Texas
Jack McClinton, G, Miami, FL
Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky
Tyrese Rice, PG, Boston College
Sam Young, SF, Pitt
 

Player of the Year: Griffin

Hansbrough is obviously the favorite to repeat as player of the year.  I’m concerned his injury and the many talented players around him will stand in his way though.  Griffin is a legitimate 20 point, 10 rebound a night type of player and will likely be the first overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.  He could single-handedly take the Sooners to a Big 12 title this year and should be rewarded for doing so.

All-Freshman Team:

Demar DeRozan, SG, USC
Tyreke Evans, SG, Memphis
JaMychal Green, F, Alabama
Scotty Hopson, SG, Tennessee
Samardo Samuels, C, Louisville

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Freshman of the Year: Evans

Evans will by no means have the impact on Memphis that Derrick Rose did a year ago.  But with Rose, Chris Douglas-Roberts, and Joey Dorsey all in the pros, Evans should be a contributor in John Calipari’s Dribble-Drive offense.  Evans would have skipped college ball if the option was still available, so expect him to have an impressive freshman campaign then bolt for the NBA.
 

Toughest Conference: Big East

7 of the AP pre-season top 25 are from the Big East.  Three of those teams (UConn, Louisville, and Pitt) are in the top five and are all strong candidates to be Final Four teams.  Throw in NCAA Tournament teams from last year like Notre Dame and Marquette -who I have in my Elite Eight-, Georgetown, West Virginia, and Villanova. As well as a healthier, deeper, more experienced Syracuse team and this conference should have nine teams making the Big Dance.


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Comments

  1. I agree Zona is overrated. Moe you heard us right, we both think your beloved Arizona Wildcats are NIT bound this season!

  2. Peter Christian says

    Wow… I expected way more Marquette homering and shots at Tom Crean… What happened?

  3. Oh, I’m sure the Indiana bashing is coming. if not I’ll provide some

  4. wait for my MU preview article and Big Ten preview to get your Crean bashing… and it won’t really be bashing… I don’t really hate him…

    is that picture really necessary at the end???

  5. LOL! Ok, I removed it. ha ha! I used to love when Letterman would have actors on in the 80s or 90s, and when he intro’d a clip to their latest work, it would instead show a clip from the person’s early and exceedingly embarassing work. That’s a good prank!

  6. Budinger, Hill, Wise, they will be just fine..They have some good Freshman coming in..Stop hating!! I do not want to get in to detail, I am to drunk..I will do this at a later date

    Moe Out

  7. What are you drunk off of? Arz Wildcats kool-aid?

  8. Peter Christian says

    I would be willing to wager on the fact that Arizona finishes lower than 4th in the Pac-10… Mr. Moe are you a taker???

  9. I will take that bet!! I think they will finish 3rd or 4th in the Pac-10..Next year I think they will be dog crap, but this year they will be just fine. They are not going to turn to many heads, but they will win ball games..Jeff Withey, Brandon Lavender, and Kyle Fogg are going to be pretty good Freshman. Jamelle Horne is going to have a Sleeper season!!

    Diddy Out

  10. I will act as witness of the wager. what are the terms gentlemen?

  11. I’m glad my article could fuel the fire for a bet between two of my friends who have never met, and likely won’t ever meet (unless I get married some day)… so probably never

  12. If I get married some day, the random amalgamation of my friends there would be the most bizarre grouping ever. not just in the grooms party, but the reception overall. people would be like wtf? how do these people get along?

  13. What, no Duke?

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