Men’s College Basketball Preview

Highly+touted+Jalen+Johnson+will+look+to+keep+the+Duke+Blue+Devils+among+college+basketball%27s+elite+teams+this+year.

Photo courtesy of www.goduke.com.

Highly touted Jalen Johnson will look to keep the Duke Blue Devils among college basketball’s elite teams this year.

College basketball is a game that many ignore until March when the NCAA Tournament takes place and millions of Americans try to complete the almost impossible task of having a perfect bracket. Here are some of the teams we think could make a run at the title as college basketball gets set to tip off.

Gonzaga’s guard Jalen Suggs hopes to bring the Bulldogs their first national title this year. (Photo courtesy of www.si.com.)

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs have been a top team for the last five years, and this year is no exception as they are the #1 team in the preseason AP Poll. Gonzaga features star freshman guard Jalen Suggs and big man Filip Petrusev. The Neersyde’s pick for the X factor of this team is wing Corey Kispert who averaged 13.9 points per game last year, but he’s expected to bump that number up during his senior season.

Villanova: This team has great leadership on the court and on the sidelines in Coach Jay Wright and PG Collin Gillespe. The Wildcats start off the year ranked #2 in the AP Poll. This team also has a great young big man in Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. As a result, the Wildcats could go far this season.

Baylor: The Baylor Bears would have likely been a #1 seed in last year’s tournament until it was cancelled due to COVID-19. The Bears, however, bring back an extremely experienced group. They were ranked #3 in the preseason AP Poll. Guard Jared Butler will likely be this team’s leading scorer. He averaged 16 points per game last year and is looking like a real contender for The Wooden Award (NCAA Division I College Basketball’s MVP). But the problem with the Bears is that they don’t shoot the ball. They win games mainly due to their defense. This may be costly when running into an explosive offense as they are sure to do at some point this season.

University of Virginia: The Cavs are a team that knows how to win in a low scoring, ugly game. Virginia’s Coach, Tony Bennet, is often the leader of the team, but this year they have multiple threats on both sides of the ball.  PG Kihei Clark and PF Sam Hauser are both options that could be important for Virginia’s success.

Iowa center Luka Garza dunks the ball during a men’s basketball game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Nebraska Huskers at Carver-Hawkeye arena on Saturday, February 8, 2020. The Hawkeyes defeated the Huskers 96-72. (Photo courtesy of Nichole Harris/The Daily Iowan.)

Iowa: This team has a legitimate favorite for the Wooden Award in big man Luka Garza who averaged almost 25 points and 10 rebounds last year. But Garza is not the only one who can score for the Hawkeyes; they also have forward Joe Wieskamp and guard Jordan Bohannon. This is a dangerous Hawkeyes team that could go very far this year.

Duke: The Blue Devils will rely on newcomers which has become a frequent occurrence in Durham. But this team also has some vetran leadership in wing players Wendell Moore and inside/out force Matthew Hurt. The Blue Devils have some very talented freshmen, too, in SF Jalen Johnson (#13 in the ESPN 100, a ranking of the nation’s top high school basketball players) and PG Jeremy Roach (#19 in the ESPN 100). So watch out for this group of Blue Devils.

Small forward BJ Boston looks to lead the Kentucky Wildcats to the Final Four this year. (Photo courtesy of www.247sports.com.)

Kentucky: As usual, this team has many good freshman options because of stellar recruiting by coach John Calipari. This team is equipped with a very good freshman wing in small forward BJ Boston.

University of North Carolina: I would argue that the Tar Heels are the most interesting team on this list because of their poor performance last year with Coach Roy Williams ending up with the worst record of his career (14-19). But Williams recruited a ton of talent to Chapel Hill with guard Caleb Love and returning players such as forward Garrison Brooks and guard/forward Leaky Black. They could make the Tar Heels a dangerous team this year.

When all is said and done, here is The Neersyde’s Final Four prediction: Duke Blue Devils, Gonzaga Bulldogs, Kentucky Wildcats, Iowa Hawkeyes. 

Champion: Gonzaga Bulldogs

This year will be an interesting one in college basketball not only because of COVID-19, but also because of the great players, storied teams, and the unpredictability that every season seems to bring. The season is upon us, so let the madness begin.