College basketball preview
College basketball season starts next week! No longer will we have to suffer through the NBA lockout. Wait, we probably will anyway. At any rate, here’s my bold predictions and other thoughts before the season begins.
Preseason NCAA title pick: Ohio State
Picking a title winner in the preseason is very similar to trying to throw a dart into a bulls eye that’s about 30 yards away, but I think Ohio State is a solid pick this year.
Jared Sullinger leads an extremely young Buckeyes squad; there are zero seniors on this team. They may not hit their stride until late in the season, but it worked for Connecticut last year.
Besides, we all know Butler is just going to show up to the NCAA title game anyway, regardless of whether or not they actually make it for a third straight year.
Most criminally overrated team: Michigan
I simply can’t understand how a school that has been ranked for just five weeks since the 1998-99 season is ranked No. 18 in the preseason polls.
They haven’t donemuch of anything recently (they made a horrendously weak NCAA Tourney field last year. Whoop de doo), and I don’t see them finishing any better than 10-8 in the Big Ten this year. I don’t think that’s Top 25-worthy.
Most criminally underrated team: Purdue
I’m not even trying to make this a Big Ten preview column, but the NCAA pollsters did this for me.Purdue is getting Robbie Hummel back after he tore his ACL in each of the last two seasons. When healthy, Hummel is an enigma for Purdue’s offense.
They may have lost star players JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore (both of whom are now on the Boston Celtics, which would be interesting if the NBA would actually end the lockout), but I think Purdue is Ohio State’s only threat in the Big Ten. And they’re not even ranked? That’s sad.
The next VCU: Richmond
Again, it’s a crapshoot, but I’ve been high on Richmond for years, and I think this is the year where it all comes together for the Spiders.
This is a squad that is loaded with seniors, and is notorious for its lockdown defense. They’re not going to blow up the scoreboard like VCU did in last year’s tournament, but this is a very methodical and calculating team (much like Butler) that is very capable of making a deep run this season.
Unlike so many other schools (hello, Wisconsin), Richmond went out of its way to procure a tough nonconference schedule. They have home games against Illinois and Old Dominion, and road games at UCLA, Wake Forest and, in what might be the mid-major game of the season, a contest at VCU. They’ll be battle-ready come march, and they won’t go down easily.
So get some popcorn and enjoy the season. There are some great games in the early going (including a Michigan State/North Carolina matchup next Friday), so don’t wait until March to get your madness on.