Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Possession Arrow 11/7/17: College Basketball Returns!!!!!

By Pat Tregoning, @PatNShaker

It’s November which can only mean one thing…the most wonderful season of the sports year has returned! College basketball season gets underway this week with most schools opening their regular seasons, signifying the beginning of the journey to this year’s Men’s Final Four in San Antonio, Texas. In this edition of Possession Arrow, we will give you everything you need to know for this exciting season that awaits us; from previewing the favorites to win the tournament to bold predictions to WAY too early Final Four predictions, and we try to predict the NCAA Tournament field. We have you covered here.

The Favorites

Duke Blue Devils (Last Season: 28-9, 11-7; NCAA Round of 32)

Another year is upon us and once again Duke enters this college hoops season as one of the favorites to cut down the nets come tournament time. Despite losing Luke Kennard, Harry Giles, Frank Jackson and Jayson Tatum to the NBA Draft; Coach K reloaded with another top 5 recruiting class that will feature some size. The team is led by Senior Greyson Allen, but outside of that? He will need to rely on this incoming recruiting class of future NBA picks Wendell Carter, Gary Trent Jr. (Yes THAT Gary Trent, MAC fans), Trevon Duval and Marvin Bagley III. The biggest challenge this team will face this year is leadership. Can Greyson Allen become the leader the team needs? Another thing to watch for this team will be whether or not this Freshmen class can step in and meet the expectations the fans of Durham have. The Blue Devils have an early test in Michigan State (Neutral Court). If Allen can lead this team with a strong senior year and these freshmen can contribute right away? Expect to see the Blue Devils in San Antonio this April.

Kansas Jayhawks (Last Season: 31-5,16-2; NCAA Elite Eight)

One of the few constants in College Basketball is the Kansas Jayhawks. The Jayhawks have won the Big 12 each of the last 13 seasons and have not missed the NCAA tournament since 1989. Do not expect that to change this year under Bill Self. While Josh Jackson, Frank Mason III and Landon Lucas are gone, look to Devontae Graham, Malik Newman and Sviatoslav Mykhailliuk to lead this team. With the edition of five star recruit Billy Preston arriving on campus, all eyes will be to Allen Fieldhouse and the Kansas Jayhawks to make a possible National Championship run.

Michigan State Spartans (Last Season: 20-15, 10-8; NCAA 2nd round)

After a year with a lot of hype, only to be met by underwhelming results; Coach Izzo went out and strengthened his basketball team, to the tune of a top 15 recruiting class and a number two preseason ranking. A big plus for the Spartans this season comes in the form of Miles Bridges returning for a sophomore season. If he wants to improve his draft stock, it is vital for him to have a strong year. Tom Izzo also strengthened his team even more by adding five star recruit Jaren Jackson Jr, who should make an immediate impact this season. If this team can get out to a good start early on (early season games include Duke (neutral court) and Notre Dame at home)? They will be making some noise in March.

Kentucky Wildcats (Last Season: 32-6, 16-2; NCAA Elite Eight)

For yet another year, Kentucky and Coach Calipari are welcoming in yet another top 5 recruiting class. Even after losing five players to last season’s draft (led by first rounders De’Aaron Fox, Bam Adebayo, Malik Monk) expect a reload of talent from the Wildcats this season under John Calipari. A loaded freshmen class storms into Lexington this season led by SG Hamidou Diallo, PG Quade Green, SF Kevin Knox, C Nick Richards, PF P.J Washington and SF Jarred Vanderbilt. The Wildcats are an EXTREMELY young team with high expectations for another deep run in the NCAA Tournament with the hope of putting another title banner in Rupp Arena. With early games against UCLA (neutral court) and at Louisville, all eyes will be on this loaded recruiting class to produce.

Don’t Sleep On These Teams (for a deep tournament run)

· North Carolina Tar Heels
· Wichita State Shockers
· Notre Dame Fighting Irish
· Florida Gators
· Arizona Wildcats
· Villanova Wildcats
· West Virginia Mountaineers
· USC Trojans
· UCLA Bruins
· Gonzaga Bulldogs

My Preseason Award Picks

Player of the Year: Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State
Coach of the Year: Mike Krzyzewski, Duke

My WAY too early Final Four picks
Final Four: Duke, Michigan State, Kentucky, Wichita State
Champion: Michigan State Spartans

Predicting The Tournament Field

ACC (7): North Carolina, Duke, Notre Dame, Miami, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Florida State
America East (1): Vermont
American (3): Cincinnati, SMU, Wichita State
Atlantic 10 (2): St. Bonaventure, Rhode Island
Atlantic Sun (1): Florida Gulf Coast
Big 12 (8): Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, TCU, Iowa State, Baylor, Texas Tech, West Virginia
Big East (6): Providence, Xavier, Butler, Seton Hall, Villanova, Creighton
Big Sky (1): Idaho
Big South (1): UNC Asheville
Big Ten (8): Michigan State, Michigan, Northwestern, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Purdue, Ohio State, Maryland
Big West (1): Long Beach State
Colonial (1): Charleston
Conference USA (1): Middle Tennessee State
Horizon League (1): Oakland
Ivy League (1): Princeton
MAAC (1): Fairfield
Mid American (1): Kent State
MEAC (1): Norfolk State
Missouri Valley (1): Loyola-Chicago
Mountain West (1): Nevada
Northeast (1): St. Francis (PA)
Ohio Valley (1): Belmont
Pac 12 (4): USC, UCLA, Oregon, Arizona
Patriot League (1): Belmont
SEC (5): Kentucky, Florida, Missouri, Alabama, Vanderbilt
Southern (1): Furman
Southland (1): Lamar
SWAC (1): Texas Southern
Summit League (1): South Dakota
Sun Belt (1): UT Arlington
West Coast (2): Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s
WCC (1): New Mexico State

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