Preseason Picks V
The Champ- Florida
The Rest- East: Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Vandy, South Carolina
West: LSU, Alabama, Arkansas, Miss St., Ole Miss, Auburn
Quick Take- Florida is the easy pick here. They bring back every starter and boast a stellar recruiting class. Anything less of a Final Four would be a disappointment. LSU lost a lot but still has Baby Shaq and some other good returnees as well as a good freshman group. Alabama has a lot of talent but also a short bench, if no one gets hurt a Top 6 seed is possible. Georgia also brings back a lot of last year’s team and they will go dancing too. Tennessee and Kentucky will also be there but will take a step back from where they were last year.
The Champ- UCLA
The Rest- Arizona, Washington, Oregon, USC, Washington St., Cal, Arizona St., Stanford, Oregon St.
Quick Take- UCLA only returns 2 starters but Darren Collison should have no problems jumping into the starting lineup and Josh Shipp returns from injury. They should also have a deep and experienced bench with and a Top 10 recruiting class and a lot of last year’s bench coming back. Arizona returns 4 starters and gets back Jawann McClellan who missed all but 2 games last year with grade problems and injuries. They also have a Top Ten recruiting class and most of last year’s bench coming back. I don’t foresee them finishing first because I think they will have chemistry issues and they will struggle to replace Hassan Adams scoring. Washington lost a lot of last year’s team but still have enough to finish third. Oregon, USC, and Washington St. have the talent to compete and should but all have their own issues to overcome. Oregon has the most talent of the three but it has been there for several years and they haven’t put it together yet and Washington St. can’t score and will have trouble overcoming deficits. USC is probably in the best shape but needs a point guard to step up after the tragic shooting death of Ryan Francis in the off-season.
The Champ- Wisconsin
The Rest- Ohio St., Michigan, Indiana, Michigan St., Purdue, Illinois, Iowa, Penn St., Minnesota, Northwestern
Quick Take- Wisconsin brings back a lot of talent and Alando Tucker is the best player in the Big Ten. Ohio St. is the only other lock to make it and their seed depends on how soon and how healthy Greg Oden gets. The next 5-7 teams all have a shot to make the Big Dance but all have to overcome their own problems whether it is youth, injury, or past attitude.
The Champ- Kansas
The Rest- Texas A&M, Oklahoma St., Texas Tech, Kansas St., Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas, Nebraska, Baylor, Iowa St., Missouri.
Quick Take- Kansas is easy the class of the league. The Aggies, Cowboys, and Red Raiders should all finish between 2nd and 4th. If the league gets 5 bids Kansas St. has the best chance but the Sooners and Buffalos will also have a chance.
The Champ- UNC
The Rest- Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Duke, Florida St., Clemson, BC, Wake Forest, Maryland, Miami Fl., NC St.
Quick Take- UNC and Georgia Tech are both legitimate Final Four teams. Both Virginia schools should be much improved and both should be safely in the Big Dance. Duke will struggle losing 3 starters and a key bench player from last year, but as usual Duke won’t stay down for long and the McRoberts-Hansbrough battles are going to be a lot of fun to watch.
The Champ- Pitt
The Rest- Georgetown, Marquette, Syracuse, Villanova, UConn, DePaul, Louisville, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Notre Dame, Rutgers, West Virginia, Cincy, South Florida.
Quick Take- The Big East has a great chance to get 8 bids led by Pitt and Georgetown. Marquette lost Steve Novak but has a ton of talent led by Freshman of the Year Dominic James. Syracuse’s season likely depends on how fast Paul Harris develops. The Orangemen could definitely be the most overrated team right now. Villanova and UConn both lost a lot but have good enough replacements to get into the Big Dance. DePaul will be much improved from last season and Louisville loses their leading scorer but gets back pretty much everyone else.