Duke loses three starters, but they bring in Kyrie Irving to take over at the point and Seth Curry (Stephon Curry’s brother) to add scoring off the bench. Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler should be key for this team to be successful. As long as the Plumlee brothers can provide defense and rebounding inside this team should be on its way to the Final Four in Houston.
2. Michigan State
This team has Final Four veterans all around. Now add Kalan Lucas back in the mix and this team is ready to go to the Final Four again. In addition, they add McDonald’s All American Keith Appling and big man Adreian Payne. The Spartans should make the Final Four or it would be a disappointment.
The trio of Johnson, Moore, and Hummel return for one more year. With Hummel back from injury this team should be in the top ten all year. As of Saturday, reports are Hummel has retore his ACL and will be out for the year. If they can get some quality scoring from their bench this team should have a good chance of making it to the Final Four. Now that it came out late Saturday of Hummel’s injury this team will drop a few spots.
4. Ohio State
The Buckeyes lose the player of the year Evan Turner but return the other four starters. Instead of one guy taking control of the offense this year’s team should be more balanced. They have highly touted freshman Jarred Sullinger coming in to fill the paint, but can he help them get to the top of the Big 10 conference. This team is going to have to have great point guard play for them to go deep in the tournament. With a lot of freshman on this team it makes me wonder what they are really capable of doing.
5. Kansas State
This team is going to lean on Jacob Pullen who is a very gifted point guard. The Wildcats are a very athletic team but are they ready to take over the Big 12 just yet? They will need players to step off the bench especially a sixth man (maybe Wally Judge) if they are going to finish in the top five. Like this team a lot but still iffy on what the bench will provide.
The Wildcats bring in some highly sought after recruits this year. Scottie Reynolds is gone but Corey Fisher should do a good job taking over for him. This team will be better defensively and down low have Mouphtaou Yarou who will have to step it up if this team wants to make another trip to the Final Four.
The team returns four starters but can they get the offense going? Their bench has experience as well, and need to be used wisely. The Panthers are well coached and should not be overlooked this year as a team. Dante Taylor should have a bigger role and their offense will have to spread it around more in order for them to be on top of the Big East.
The Jayhawks could very well make it to the Final Four this year. Aldrich and Collins are gone but in comes one of the best players in high school last year Josh Shelby. The Morris brothers should be controlling the paint with Tyshawn Taylor and Mario Little adding scoring from the wing. This is a versatile team and has a decent chance of going far in the tournament.
9. North Carolina
The Wear brothers have transferred but now the Tar Heels have brought in three highly recruited players led by Harrison Barnes. Barnes is going to be one of the top names to watch this year in college basketball besides Enes Kanter, for Kentucky, if he ever gets to play. The Tar Heels have a very talented backcourt but just need to find some interior game to go with it and they could be looking good.
This team should be the leading contender to win the SEC. The Gators have a good amount of returning players and bring in some pretty good recruits. Patrick Young is one recruit that should get some playing time early. If Gators can play consistent and have a leader step up; who knows how far they can go.
11. Kentucky – Reload with talent (Brandon Knight, Enes Kenter, Stacey Poole, Doron Lamb)
12. Baylor – Can Perry Jones carry this team on his shoulders?
13. Memphis – Tigers bring in one of the best recruiting classes.
14. Illinois – Deep team could be Final Four sleeper.
18. Texas – Watch out for Corey Joseph this kid can shoot.
19. Georgetown – One of the top backcourts in the country.
21. Brigham Young
22. Virginia Tech
23. New Mexico
Final Four Predictions – Duke, Michigan State, Ohio State, Kansas State