Every November I put out an article with my NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four, Championship, and All-American predictions. I’m easily the most accurate Champion predictor in the game. Check the report card:
2012: Kentucky Correct. Everyone else loved UNC that year.
2013: Louisville Correct. Indiana didn’t live up to the hype.
2014: Arizona Wrong. C’mon, no one saw UConn coming.
2015: Duke Correct. I told y’all not to believe the Kentucky hype.
While our blog doesn’t go back further, I also correctly predicted UConn in 2011, Duke in 2010, UNC in 2009 (that was a no-brainer, though), and had Memphis in 2008 when Mario Chalmers stole that prediction from me with Kansas. How do I do it? I watch a shit load of NCAA Men’s Basketball. We’re talking 100+ games a year (not including the 65 tournament games). I also watch (or go to) the McDonald’s High School All-American game every year. Then there’s the HoopMixtapes on YouTube of the incoming freshman. Using all that information, I make an educated decision and pick the teams I like.
But this article? This is for shits and giggles. It’s way too early as too many things can change with players going to the league and/or transferring, but you should probably read it anyway (and read the updated version here).
Virginia, Iowa State, Maryland, UNC, Kentucky, LSU, Michigan State, Wichita State, NC State, Gonzaga, and whatever team gets Thon Maker if he goes to college
If Justin Anderson didn’t injure his finger and then have his appendix removed, the Virginia Cavaliers likely would have marched on to the Final Four this season only to get shut down by Duke in Indianapolis. They should be returning everyone that matters besides Darion Atkins, which will have them poised for a deep tourney run. When Niang announced that he intends to come back to play another season for the Cyclones, Iowa State immediately joined the conversation as potential 2016 Champions. Maryland is especially intriguing, as Melo Trimble’s decision to stay in school as well as the arrival of incoming freshman Diamond Stone makes the Terps a popular choice to cut down some nets. This Stone kid is legit. He’s like a taller Zach Randolph. His hoopmixtapes feature him dunking on little white guys but I feel like his skills will transfer over to legit competition:
UNC likely has the most talented group of returning players for next season, but with inevitable sanctions looming over their heads, will they even be allowed to play in the Tournament? I have no clue what Kentucky’s roster will look like, but there are a few 1-and-done players left on the ESPN 100 board who I assume will be heading to play for Calipari, so they need to be on the radar. LSU snagged the top recruit from that list, Ben Simmons, an Aussie with serious game, and Antonio Blakeney, who is basically a clone of Stanley Johnson of Arizona. If they can get 1 more top recruit, LSU will make a deep run as well. Michigan State loses some leadership with the departure of Travis Trice (not to mention that deadly step-back move) and Branden Dawson, but their heart and soul Denzel Valentine is coming back along with a few others. Oh yea, and top 10 recruit Deyonta Davis will make an immediate impact. We can probably pencil Izzo in for the Final Four already. If Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker stick around, the Shockers of Wichita State are a 3 seed in the tournament at worst. People are sleeping on NC State, and they’re gonna be sorry, just like Villanova was. That whole team comes back to make a deep tourney run. Gonzaga loses four-year starting PG Kevin Pangos, but they return Kyle Wiltjer, Przemek Karnowski, and Domantas Sabonis. They’re gonna be OK. And then there’s whatever team gets Thon Maker, if any team gets Thon Maker that is. Put him on the Binghamton University Bearcats and they could get to the Final Four.
Kansas, Oklahoma, Villanova, Indiana, Baylor, VCU, Florida State
It’s difficult to identify “pretenders” when you don’t have AP or Coaches polls yet, but I assume all of these teams will be in the Top 25 and I don’t think any of them have a shot at winning it all. I thought Kansas was one of the weakest 2 seeds of all time. Their stars are going to the NBA, and their recruiting class is Carlton Bragg and no one else at this point. They’ll win the Big 12 again, because the Big 12 is garbage, but they won’t win a National Championship. Oklahoma’s star Junior, Buddy Hield, should be booking for the NBA. If he doesn’t, take them off this list and put the Sooners back on the contenders list. Villanova will win their conference again, because the Big East has turned into the Big Least, but they’re poised for yet another early round exit. Indiana will score a ton of points and be entertaining to watch, just not good enough to win it all. Baylor will be that team that eventually cracks the top 10 in the polls but fades off into oblivion come march. RIP VCU. Shaka Smart booked for Texas and the Rams relevancy went with him. If you’ve made it to this far in this article, it’s likely because you’ve been reading articles like this elsewhere who tout Florida State as a sneaky “sleeper” to go deep in 2016. FOH. This team pretty much slept through the 2014-2015 season. Making the tournament as an 8 seed seems like their ceiling in 2015-2016.
Final Four Prediction:
Virginia, Iowa State, Michigan State, whatever team that gets Thon Maker
whatever team that gets Thon Maker over Virginia.
Seriously. Did you watch that mixtape? If he doesn’t play overseas this year, this kid will likely go to a high-profile school, or LSU to team up with his Aussie buddy Ben Simmons. A team with Thon Maker, Ben Simmons, and Antonio Blakeney could probably have the other 2 guys sit indian style at mid-court for the entire game and still beat half of Division 1. My money is on Thon Maker 100%.
…but if he doesn’t play in college this year, I’ll go with Virginia.