NCAA Tournament Predictions

2010 Final Four Logo

By: David Kay

Seven weeks of college basketball previews at The Sports Bank comes to an end as I pick my Final Four and national champion.  If you missed any of our in-depth conference previews, my All-American predictions, or NCAA Tournament Field, be sure to check them out at the links at the bottom of the page.

Sleepers:
Georgia Tech- With returning players Gani Lawal and Iman Shumpert, and super-freshman Derrick Favors, the Yellow Jackets boast a lot of talent.  Their inexperience may hold them back a bit, but the potential is definitely there to make some major noise in the NCAA’s

Kansas State- The dynamic duo of Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen in the backcourt is one of the best and most underrated in the country.  Add in talented freshman forward Wally Judge and Villanova transfer Curtis Kelly and the Wildcats are definitely on my radar as a possible sleeper come tourney time.

Busts:
Duke- For some reason, Duke is always one of my early exits when I fill out my brackets in March.  This year will probably be the same.  The guard-led Dukies of year’s past are no more as the post play will lead the Blue Devils.  How well their thin backcourt can perform will dictate the success of this team.

UCLA- Injuries have already played a major factor for the Bruins early in the season.  Combine that with a young team that loses four starters and it could be a rough year for Ben Howland’s team.  Their only saving grace may be playing in a weak Pac-10 Conference.

Elite Eight:
North Carolina-
The Heels are re-loaded after losing four starters from last year’s championship team, but there are some question marks especially at the point.  They have one of the deepest and most versatile frontcourts in the nation and if there wings and point guard play is steady, there could be another trip to the Final Four in their near future.

Purdue- Michigan State is getting all the pub in the Big Ten after their trip to the Championship game last season, but I think Purdue’s experience and defense makes them the team to beat in the toughest conference in the country.  Health was a major issue last season for the Boilermakers and if they can stay healthy, their top six should help them make a run.

Villanova- Their guard play might be the best in the country, but they lose some size up-front.  The true test of how deep a run Nova can make will hinge on the development of their four very talented freshmen.  If they catch on quickly, Jay Wright’s team has a chance to make the Final Four.

Ohio State- I like Evan Turner enough to think that he can lead the Buckeyes into the Elite 8.  Size may be a concern for The Ohio State, but they have four extremely talented guards and we all know how important guard play is come March.  Plus, I need at least one sleeper to make a deep run.

Final Four:
Texas- The ‘Horns have it all; good guard play, talented wings, and size inside.  They will be very hungry after an incredibly disappointing 2008-2009 campaign and should be making the trip to Indy for the Final Four.

West Virginia- Bob Huggins’ teams have always been very solid on defensive end and this year’s Mountaineers will be no different.  They are long and athletic and will make every team work for every basket.  Devin Ebanks is the complete package as a forward as is poised for a breakout season.

Runner-up:
Kansas- The pre-season number one team in the country is loaded with a ton of returning talent including All-American candidates Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich and a skilled wing player on board in freshman Xavier Henry.  When it comes down to it, I just don’t think they are talented or deep to keep up with Kentucky.

National Champion:
Kentucky- John Calipari has assembled the most talented team in the country.  They are young and their success will come down to whether or not they can put it all together.  I say, yes they can and that John Wall will have a Derrick Rose-like impact for the Wildcats as they are hoisting the national championship at the end of the season.

kentucky ashley judd

More college hoops previews this week:
Monday: College Hoops 101
Tuesday: Mid-Majors Preview
Wednesday: All-American Predictions
Thursday: The Field of 65

The Sports Bank Big 10 Preview/Power Rankings:
Teams 8-11 (Northwestern, Penn State, Indiana, Iowa)
Teams 4-7 (Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin)
Teams 1-3 (Purdue, Michigan State, Ohio State)

The Sports Bank Big 12 Previews/Power Rankings:
Teams 10-12 (Colorado, Texas Tech, Nebraska)
Teams 7-9 (Missouri, Baylor, Iowa State)
Teams 4-6 (Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M)
Teams 1-3 (Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma)

The Sports Bank ACC Previews/Power Rankings:
Teams 10-12 (Virginia Tech, Virginia, N.C. State)
Teams 7-9 (Wake Forest, Miami FL, Boston College)
Teams 4-6 (Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech)
Teams 1-3 (UNC, Duke, Maryland)

The Sports Bank SEC Previews/Power Rankings:
SEC East Teams 4-6 (Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Georgia)
SEC East Teams 1-3 (Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida)
SEC West Teams 4-6 (Arkansas, Auburn, LSU)
SEC West Teams 1-3 (Mississippi State, Mississippi, Alabama)

The Sports Bank Pac-10 Preview/Power Rankings:
Teams 8-10 (Washingon State, Arizona State, Stanford)
Teams 5-7 (Arizona, USC, Oregon)
Teams 1-4 (Oregon State, UCLA, Washington, Cal)

The Sports Bank Big East Previews/Power Rankings
:
Teams 13-16 (Rutgers, South Florida, Providence, DePaul)
Teams 9-12 (Notre Dame, Pitt, Marquette, St. John’s)
Teams 5-8 (Syracuse, Louisville, Cincinnati, Seton Hall)
Teams 1-4 (Villanova, West Virginia, UConn, Georgetown)
Post-Season Award Predictions

For all the latest college basketball info, you can also follow David Kay on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB