It’s hard to believe, but the new season of college basketball is beginning on Friday. Friday also makes the wait until Selection Sunday only 121 days. It felt like just a couple of weeks ago when Kris Jenkins nailed the game winning shot in the national championship and Villanova cut down the nets and claimed their spot on the NCAA basketball throne. College basketball is one of the most exciting sports to follow, and this season won’t be any different.
Best Opening Night Game - Kansas vs Indiana - 8:00 p.m. CST on ESPN
It’s #3 vs #11. It’s the Armed Forces Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Veterans Day. It’s a battle between two teams that both have real expectations of winning the national championship. Usually the first weekend doesn’t really have any good games, so we have a real special treat in this one right here.
Team That Got Snubbed Last Year That Will Make The Tournament this Year - Monmouth Hawks
Last year the Monmouth Hawks made headlines for their bench celebrations, but also for their significant wins. Monmouth was not just a team with hilarious celebrations, it had some big wins that deserved national attention too. They lost in their conference championship game, and as a result did not get an at-large bid to the tournament. This year they have another great team, and they will make it as at-large or automatic bid.
Power 5 Breakout Team That Nobody Saw Coming - Texas A&M
Texas A&M took Kentucky to the last minute last year in the SEC title game. This year they start off unranked by getting 14 votes in the first AP poll of the year. No one believes in the Aggies this year, but their potential is so high. They lost a leader in Danuel House to the NBA this past summer, but this team can replace him and thrive. This team will pose a major threat to the dominant Kentucky Wildcats this season. Watch out for the Aggies of Texas A&M.
Player of the Year - Josh Jackson, Kansas
Josh Jackson is the talk of the town in Lawrence, Kansas. The incoming 5-star recruit is my pick to win the Player of the Year honors for several reasons. Jackson is just a part of a really deep team. Having a better team around you makes you a better player. He is going to thrive not only because of his NBA-like skill, but also because of the team and coaches around him. He is most likely going to be a one and done player, so it would be cool to see him win this award and maybe make a run in March Madness in just his one year.
Power 5 Conference Champions
SEC - Kentucky - They are bringing in another #1 recruiting class and Coach Calipari has all the weapons he needs to win the SEC and go far in March Madness. They have competitors in the SEC like Florida and Texas A&M, but Kentucky is too good of a team this year to make it a close race.
PAC 12 - Arizona - It will be a heated and fun to watch race the whole year between Oregon and Arizona for the PAC 12 crown. Arizona will be able to win the critical games against Oregon that will propel them to retake control of this conference that is surely on the rise.
BIG 10 - Wisconsin - The Badgers have all of their starters returning from last season and head coach Greg Gard is going to have his first full year with the team. Last year they were a scary team once things picked up about midway through the season, and now they can start on a high note right from the start.
ACC - Duke - They are ranked #1 in the preseason top 25 poll, and look to stay there the whole season. The ACC is going to be a highly competitive conference this year but the Blue Devils are going to control it. North Carolina and Virginia won’t go down without swinging, but Duke will be too much to handle.
BIG 12 - Kansas - The Jayhawks are going for their 13th straight BIG 12 title, and they are going to get it. Over the past decade, Kansas has been the powerhouse of the BIG 12 and no one has been able to stop them. This year the Jayhawks are lead by freshman Josh Jackson and nobody is going to want to play this team.
Final Four - Who is going to be playing in Phoenix in April?
Kentucky - Big Blue Nation is going to be headed back to the final four after a one year absence. This year, Coach Calipari is set with many different players that are so good at what they do. This may not be the 38-1 Kentucky Wildcats this year, but it is still one of their better teams.
Oregon - After losing to Arizona in the PAC-12 tournament, Oregon will be fired up and ready to go for a deep tournament run. The ducks will try to be the first PAC-12 final four team since UCLA made it in 2008.
Villanova - The defending champs are going to be on a streak all year winning the Big East Conference in dramatic fashion. They are going to carry all that momentum right into the final four. Villanova has so many weapons this season that it may even be scarier than last years team.
Indiana - For some reason I have really high expectations this year for Tom Crean’s squad. The defending BIG 10 regular season champs are back this year lead by James Blackmon Jr. and Thomas Bryant. They have real big potential to make some noise.
The 2017 NCAA Basketball Champions - Who is going to be cutting down the nets on the night of April 3rd?
Villanova vs Oregon. National Championship.
The Villanova Wildcats will be cutting down the nets and celebrating their 2nd straight title this season. This would be the first tie there is a team won in back-to-back years since 07-08 Florida Gators. Villanova is just an overall complete team this year. They have great players in Josh Hart, Jalen Brunson, and Kris Jenkins. What separates this team from all others is their coaching and their cohesiveness. A combination of all these things can only mean another title for Jay Wright, and the Villanova Wildcats.