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Hola, amigos. Sorry for the delay, I’m back from Mexico and ready to resume my blogging duties. If you are new to Total Sports Blog, you probably are unaware of the amount of college basketball I watch. We’re talking upwards of 200+ games a year. So before you doubt my credentials, check yourself. I know my shit. I correctly predicted Kentucky’s National Championship last year when everyone was on UNC’s jock. Let’s take a look at the AP Pre-season Top 25 as I break it down and give you my Final Four and AP All American predictions:
|6||North Carolina State||0-0||1,270|
|20||San Diego State||0-0||463|
Teams Ranked Too High:
#3 Kentucky, #4 Ohio State, #7 Kansas, #13 UCLA, #23 UCONN
UK reloaded this year, but they lost 6 players to the NBA draft. Noel is a beast and Poythress is under-rated, but this is a young and inexperienced team. I expect them to struggle early (they just lost to #9 Duke) but should be in Final Four contention come March. Ohio State lost their workhorse Jared Sullinger, and I just don’t think they’re a top 5 team. Kansas is in the same boat, losing prime-time-player Thomas Robinson to the NBA, as they should also go through a myriad of early struggles before they right the ship in March. UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad has been declared ineligible by the NCAA, otherwise they’d be on my list of under-rated teams. UCONN is post-season ineligible this year… why bother ranking them at all?
Teams Ranked Too Low:
#2 Louisville, #6 NC State, #14 Michigan State, #21 Gonzaga
Louisville is going to be a beast this season. They battled injuries late last year and still made it to the NCAA Championship VS Kentucky. As I said, Kentucky lost their 6 best players and the Cardinals lost Kyle Kuric. Hmm. A team makes it to the championship game, loses 1 player… let’s go ahead and rank them #2 going into next season. Great job, AP. I know Indiana is going to be good (they’d be my #2), but the Cardinals deserve top billing. The Wolfpack is ranked too low by 3 spots in my opinion. I saw them play in St Louis in the Sweet 16 last year, they are a strong team. With a solid Freshman class they are going to make some noise this year. Michigan State is too well coached to be ranked this low. Sure, they lost Draymond Green, but #14 is a slap in the face to Izzo. (Oh, they just beat Kansas? Shocker.) Some analysts are saying this could be Gonzaga’s best team ever. I’m not penciling them in for a Final Four run just yet, but they should be 3-4 spots higher in the poll.
#1 Indiana, #2 Louisville, #3 Kentucky, #5 Michigan, #6 NC State, #8 Duke, #11 UNC, #12 Arizona, #14 Michigan State
That’s 9 teams that could potentially win the NCAA championship this year. 9. If Shabazz Muhammad is somehow declared eligible, throw the Bruins in the mix too. This thing is wide open. Think Duke in 2010 or UConn in 2011. Last year there were only a handful of teams that I liked preseason. This year is harder to call.
#4 Ohio State, #7 Kansas, #10 Florida, #15 Mizzou
When a team loses a stud and doesn’t reload with an equally talented stud, they simply aren’t going to come close to winning a National Championship. See above for exhibits A, B, C, and D . Each of these teams lost their best player from last year’s squad (or more) and didn’t reload with a stud Freshman. That spells trouble with a capital T.
Peyton Siva G, Louisville
Isaiah Canaan G, Murray State
CJ Leslie F, NC State
Doug McDermott F, Creighton
Cody Zeller C, Indiana
Trey Burke G, Michigan
CJ McCollum G, Lehigh
Alex Poythress F, Kentucky
Mason Plumlee F-C, Duke
Nerlens Noel C, Kentucky
Player of the Year: Doug McDermott F, Creighton
All of these guys can play, but Doug McDermott will be this year’s Jimmer. Dude is easily the most fundamentally sound player in the country. He won’t blow you away with athleticism like some of the other guys on this list (Poythress and Noel are freaks of nature) but he’ll gain a cult following by March.
Final Four Predictions:
Louisville, NC State, Indiana, Duke
National Championship Game: Louisville VS NC State
NCAA 2013 Champion: Louisville
Last year I went out on a limb and said St Johns was going to make a miracle Final Four run. That was before I knew Steve Lavin had cancer and wasn’t going to coach at all last season. While I’m glad to see Coach Lavin is back in his Air Force Ones, I’m pretty much going chalk this year (not rock chalk, obviously).
Indiana was one of 2 teams to beat Kentucky last season. Cody Zeller is an absolute stud and should finish as runner-up in POY votes if not take the title himself. The Hoosiers finally have a team that can make something happen come March. I thought they’d be crippled for years after scandals, but they’ve risen above that.
I’m a Duke homer, I’ll admit it. They’ve been my favorite team since the 90’s when I first got into college basketball. If Ryan Kelly wasn’t injured there’s no way they lose to Lehigh in the first round last year. This year’s team is better than last year as Austin Rivers was pretty much a cancer to the Blue Devils in 2012. They’re experienced, confident, and just beat #3 Kentucky on a neutral court. While I expect some bumps in the road come February, I like their chances to make it to Atlanta in 2013.
NC State really impressed me in St Louis last year. I watched them almost upset a strong Kansas team. CJ Leslie can ball, and had it not been for foul trouble we probably would have seen the Wolfpack knocking off UNC in the Elite 8 instead of the Jayhawks. This is the best team NC State has had since Jimmy V’s boys, and I like their chances to go (almost) all the way.
Louisville has a solid leader in Peyton Siva, and a talented defender in Gorgui Dieng, who held his own against Anthony Davis in the National Championship last year. Lousiville should win a hard-fought game against NC State in the 2013 Championship, giving Rick Pitino another National title.