Wednesday, 7 November 2007

2007 College Basketball Predictions

I wanted to do detailed predictions of each conference, but, well, time is a little short these days. So with the season underway, time for me to scrap the rest of those and give my season predictions.

By the way, I am so pumped that college basketball is back. And Gardner Webb shocks Kentucky early... college basketball is the best. Anyway.

All-American Team
Tyler Hansbrough, UNC - Of course. He's on everyone's team, and for good reason. He's a junior now, playing for one of the most talented teams in the country, and he's going to put up great numbers. No brainer.
Roy Hibbert, Georgetown - With Green gone, Hibbert should get the ball more and more down low. He was getting more comfortable in the paint as last year wore along, and should be even more developed. He's got great touch around the rim.
Chris Lofton, Tennessee - He's the best shooter in college basketball, and should get a lot of shots and numbers playing for a team that likes to get up and down the floor.
OJ Mayo, USC - Yes, the freshman sensation should be pretty spectacular in his lone season for the Trojans. He's going to play tons of minutes, get tons of shots, and put up lots of numbers. Oh, and the Trojans should be a pretty good team.
Darren Collison, UCLA - Best pure PG in college basketball. He's a fantastic defender with his long arms and exceptional quickness, excellent penetrator, finisher, and he's even developed a reliable outside shot.

All-Freshman Team
OJ Mayo, USC - See above.
Michael Beasley, Kansas St. - A freakishly gifted athlete, immediately becomes the go-to-guy in the Kansas St. offense. He'll be counted on very heavily for the Wildcats.
Kevin Love, UCLA - Love this guy. He's a great rebounder, fundamentally sound on the block, great passer, and has been called the best outlet passer since Wes Unseld, which should help Darren Collison and the Bruins get up the floor quickly. He's the reason that i think the Bruins offense will be better this year even without Arron Afflalo.
Eric Gordon, Indiana - We've been hearing a ton about the guy, and for good reason... he's going to have a huge impact in the Big 10. He could be in the running for the Conference Player of the Year. He's explosive offensively, and will make a fine duo along with DJ White (and Armon Bassett is pretty good too).
Derrick Rose, Memphis - We've already seen him in a couple games... he's like the college version of Jason Kidd. Just a great all-around player.

Surprise Teams
Clemson - OK, maybe they won't be a huge surprise, but I could see them challenging for the top 3 in the ACC this year.
West Virginia - They're being picked very low, and while I can understand why (they'll be playing a vastly different style), I think they'll be OK. Huggins will bring a toughness to the team on the glass and defensively, and I think the talent and efficiency will remain on offense. I think they'll challenge for an NCAA berth.
Arizona St. - Herb Sendek is turning things around for the Sun Devils. With Jeff Pendergraph and very talented freshmen James Harden in the mix, Arizona St. will be much improved. They might not be ready for the NCAA tournament yet, but they'll be vastly improved from last year's 2-16 Pac-10 mark.

Final Four Picks

UCLA - Of course, I had to pick them. But they'll be really good. As is becoming a Howland Staple, they'll be one of the best teams in the country defensively. They have great quickness on the perimeter, versatile defenders, and lots of depth up front. They were also a very young team last year. They lose Arron Afflalo, but with the return of basically everyone else plus the addition of Kevin Love, I think UCLA will be good enough to make their 3rd straight trip to the Final Four.

Tennessee - Just really like these guys this year. They'll be really talented, deep, and tough to prepare for and beat. They have a unique up-and-down style... if you let them run on you, you will get beat. They'll also immediately add Tyler Smith, one of the best freshmen in the Big 10 last year. With experience (especially after last year's tough Sweet 16 defeat), talent, and a tough style to play against, I like the Volunteers to reach San Antonio.
Memphis - They're really, really talented. I think the addition of Derrick Rose will be enough to push them to the Final Four, especially with guys like Chris Douglas-Roberts already in place and playing well. This will be an experienced group... they should get a #1 seed playing in C-USA (better than it's been in years past, but still not up to par with the Major conferences), and this will lead them on their drive to San Antonio.

Kansas - Like the other teams in my Final Four, they lose one guy (Julian Wright), but everyone else is back, making for an experienced, deep, and talented team. Assuming Brandon Rush is back healthy, they'll be tough to beat. Led by Mario Chalmers, they'll be really good defensively. Another thing to watch out for is the emergence of Darrell Arthur, who should come into his own starting this year in Julian Wright's spot. Bill Self finally reaches the Final Four

National Championship

UCLA over Kansas
OK, shouldn't have been too hard to guess that I'd pick UCLA. But they are going to be a fun team to follow this year.

What are your choices?