- Ky McKeon
What do college basketball degenerates do to survive the dregs of the year when college basketball is nowhere to be found? Easy - we predict the Field of 68 10 months ahead of the next Tournament.
Jim and I discussed our offseason brackets on our latest podcast (Ep. 40 - it's a good one), but I thought I'd share mine on here for all the world to see:
Before grabbing a pitchfork and burning me at the stake, let's remember that college basketball is a world where even the surest of sureties are uncertain and chaos reigns supreme. Last offseason everybody and their mother was confident that Duke would win the 2017 National Championship led by unanimous POY and squeaky clean player Grayson Allen. To quote our president, "WRONG". With that in mind, let's break this thing down a little.
I would bet a hefty sum of money that both Arizona and Michigan State earn 1-seeds in the 2018 Tourney. Sparty should be the best team in the country with Miles Bridges returning to lead a suddenly loaded frontcourt and a (hopefully) much improved Cassius Winston (Tum Tum is allowed to cheer ala the Granny from Space Jam). Arizona brings in top-5 class of 2017 center DeAndre Ayton to complement its returning studs, Allonzo "Big Natural Muscles" Trier and Rawle Alkins. Both teams should dominate their respective conferences.
Trip Allen makes Duke a contender once again, and I'm pretty certain they're going to land Trevon Duval and (possibly) Kevin Knox. Wichita State could run the table in the American, which would make them the #1 overall seed. A more likely scenario is a 30-3-ish run with a respectable non-conference resume to propel them to the top line.
Notable 2017 Tourney Teams Left Out
South Carolina - the loss of P.J. Dozier and Sindarius Thornwell is simply too much for even legitimate businessman Frank Martin to overcome
Iowa State - with apologies to my colleague Mr. Root, this team was decimated by the departures of Monte Morris, Deonte Burton, Naz Long, and Matt Thomas. The Clones have a really good young class coming in, but they are very inexperienced and I'm still not 100% convinced Steve Prohm is a great coach.
Florida State - Leonard Hamilton is poised to remind us all why we questioned his coaching ability prior to last season's breakthrough. Losing Jonathan Isaac, Dwayne Bacon, and XRM will do that to a man.
Others - Rhode Island, Kansas State, Marquette, Wake Forest, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Oklahoma State, Dayton
Notable New Challengers
Missouri - Because of course I'm going to include my alma mater in light of their most hyped offseason since, well, ever. I also legitimately think Mizzou can get there with Michael Porter joining forces with a strong nucleus of Jordan Barnett, Kevin Puryear, and Terrance Phillips and addition of Canisius sharpshooter Kassius Robertson.
Alabama - Watch out for the SEC next year. Bama brings in electric point guard Collin Sexton to go along with Braxton Key and Dazon Ingram. Avery Johnson has loads of talent this year (Jim thinks they're 5-seed material).
Boise State - Finally, the Mountain West is a multi-bid league again. If there is a Vegas prop bet for this, give me a gazillion Yen on at least two squads coming out of the MWC. Nevada is the favorite, but Boise State with Christian Sengfelder and Chandler Hutchison will be the sexy dark horse candidate. If not the Broncos, Colorado State and San Diego State both have shots at at-large bids as well.
St. Joseph's - Ok. I'll admit this one is a reach and a half, and you're correct to question if I've been drinking heavily (I haven't, but I can drink a thousand beers no problem). I love the returning backcourt for the Hawks. Shavar Newkirk and Lamarr Kimble both come back from injury to complement a rising A-10 star in James Demery. This was a pretty good defensive team last year, and their offense should be light years ahead of 2016-17. Now, is it enough to turn around an 11-20 (4-14) record and make the Dance? Probably not, but it's a bold call, and I'll stick by it for at least several months because nobody can prove me wrong...yet.
Others - Texas Tech, TCU, Oklahoma, Georgia Tech, Texas A&M, Indiana