2019 Roundball Preview
Let's take a quick break from football to look at the upcoming college basketball season. Nationally, the usual suspects are at the top of the class. Tonight's games include #1 Michigan State v #2 Kentucky and #3 Kansas v #4 Duke. Remember when Duke thumped Kentucky by 30 points in last season's opener? What did it mean? It meant very little in the long run. All the top teams depend on developing freshmen. Some hit their ceiling quicker than others. It doesn't mean much toward the overall outcome of a team's season. It's easy to argue that Kentucky was a better team than Duke at the end of the year. Time will tell once again.
I expect Michigan State and North Carolina to be contenders once all is said and done. Kentucky can also be really good, with their point guard returning for a second season for the first time in forever. Florida also has a chance. Kansas has a great roster, but I wonder if the cloud surrounding Bill Self will be too much to overcome.
For those in and around the 256, here is a quick forecast for the SEC, in order from worst to first....
14. Vanderbilt - Four SEC schools break in new coaches. Vandy got the least-proven of the bunch in Jerry Stackhouse. They will have another miserable season and it is way too early to tell if it gets better anytime soon.
13. Missouri - They have struggled to get good talent and the good talent they do get cannot stay on the floor. One of the only SEC teams that doesn't have an optimistic fan base.
12. South Carolina - This could be my one pick that is really off. It's hard to tell how young college players will respond to Frank Martin's tough coaching style, but my guess is it gets worse before it gets better.
11. Arkansas - Eric Musselman brings a ton of experience in his first year, but not a ton of talent. He needs time. Their fan base deserves a winner and they will have a winning program soon.
10. Ole Miss - They lose a lot of points from last year's team. Their back court will be solid so they could be another surprise.
9. Texas A&M - Buzz Williams is another new coach to the conference. A great hire that will get this team going in the right direction quickly.
8. Georgia - Tom Crean is bringing in major talent. Give him another great recruiting class and they will be a major threat.
7. Mississippi State - Talented roster. This team can finish anywhere between 3-10
in the conference. They haven't shown the ability to be consistent....yet.
6. Alabama - Went against the grain in hiring Nate Oats. He brings an up-tempo offense that Anthony Grant and Avery Johnson could never deliver. John Petty and Kira Lewis will thrive in this offense.
5. Tennessee - They lose a ton of leadership from Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams. They do retain a lot of talent but must get it together quickly.
4. LSU - It's amazing that Will Wade is still the head coach. If he can navigate this team through the noise, they will have another big year to follow up last season's SEC regular season title.
3. Auburn - Could start 4 or 5 seniors, depending on what Bruce Pearl decides to go with. The seniors will take this team a long way as long as they are healthy, but the freshman provide a big drop in production.
2. Florida - Key graduate transfer Kerry Blackshear will get them over the hump and in position to make a big run in March.
1. Kentucky - Once again the most talented team in the conference. They will win the SEC tournament, the SEC championship outright, or both. They are a team that can go very far.