Making the Madness Preseason Hot Takes
College Basketball season is nearly here and there is no better thing to do before the season starts than bring out some Hot Takes. These hot takes will be some things that I believe can or could become true this year and while some things will go against things that I have said in the past, that is okay because it is a hot takes article that matters not to reasoning. Without any further introduction, let us dive into my 25 hottest takes going into next season.
1.Virginia will not make the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament
Coming off a National Championship, most people are expecting Virginia to at least be solid this season but I am here to spoil those narratives. The Cavaliers lose their three leading scorers in Guy, Hunter, and Jerome and really don’t replace them with that much. Jay Huff and Mamadi Diakite will be solid but not as good as some are making them out to be while Braxton Key and Kihei Clark are being heavily overrated. I think this team will struggle a little bit this year meaning they won’t get a high seed which spells early exit for the Cavaliers.
2.Florida wins the SEC regular-season title and makes a Final Four
If you have read anything that involves Florida then you already know that I think of this team as a realistic National title team. They have maybe the best Top-6 of their rotation headliner by grad transfer Kerry Blackshear and sophomore point guard Andrew Nembhard. I think this team is talented enough to win not only the SEC but I also think that they are good enough to make a Final Four run.
3.Oklahoma State will win an NCAA Tournament game
Oklahoma State is a team I am really excited to watch this season as they have a really good roster. They have some good defensive pieces in Yor Anei and Isaac Likekele as well as some really good shooters in Thomas Dziagwa and Lindy Waters that mesh really well. I think this Oklahoma State team not only makes the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the Mike Boyton era but I think they also have what it takes to win a game in the big dance.
4.Purdue makes the second weekend once again
Purdue has been one of those teams that have just found a way to be decent every single year it feels like which shouldn’t be too different this year. Yes, they lose Carsen Edwards and Ryan Cline but with Nojel Eastern at the point, Matt Haarms down low and a group of potential breakout guys waiting to seize their chance at playing time I expect Purdue to once again overachieve as they make the second weekend.
5.Seton Hall wins the Big East Tournament
Three of the last four years Seton Hall has either won the Big East Tournament or came one made shot away from beating eventual Champion Villanova. The Pirates have played especially well in the Garden lately which is a trend I look to continue. I expect Myles Powell to have a Big East Tournament and go out on top of the league.
6.Oregon will get at least a two seed in the NCAA Tournament
Oregon is a team that is really good as they have a point guard in Payton Pritchard who has been through the wars of PAC-12 play and the NCAA Tournament while he is surrounded by a group of solid returning and incoming players that should be able to help Oregon win the league by a couple of games. Assuming the league makes the jump forward that most expect and if the Ducks just pick up a couple of decent non-conference wins that will put them in position to get a top-two seed in the NCAA Tournament.
7.Houston misses the NCAA Tournament
Houston is a team that will lose a lot of talent from last year’s team and while they add Quentin Grimes I still don’t think that is enough to be the Top-25 team that many are projecting them to be. I think they take a major step back and find themselves not hearing their name called during the Selection Show.
8.New Mexico State will win a tournament game
Many people remember Auburn going to the Final Four for the first time in program history last year but what they don’t remember is that they also came just a couple of made free throws away from getting bounced in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to New Mexico State. This Aggies team returns a lot of pieces from that team last year and will be extra motivated to win in the NCAA Tournament. I think they find a way to beat whoever their first-round opponent is and maybe they could sneak into the Sweet 16.
9.Floirda State finishes third or better in the ACC
The ACC is going through a bit of a down year with 13 of the leagues 15 All-ACC players gone either to the NBA or to graduation leaving room for a surprise team. I think Florida State is that team that will jump up and look to surprise some people as they have a really good returning duo of Trent Forrest and MJ Walker paired with potential one and done freshman Pat Williams and three-point shooting sniper Devin Vassell. I think the Seminoles have a good year and at least snag a third-place finish in the league standings.
10.Baylor, not Texas Tech will be the main challenger to Kansas atop the Big 12
The Big 12 race is always fascinating as we get to see which team might actually be able to unseat Kansas atop the league standings and for once that happened last year with Kansas State and Texas Tech both finishing two games ahead of the Jayhawks. Many people this year are projecting Texas Tech to once again be the main challenger to Kansas, however, that won’t be the case because a Baylor team that will run 10 guys on the court every night will finish ahead of Texas Tech while giving the Jayhawks at least a little run for their money.
11.Alabama finishes third in the SEC
The SEC is a two-team race for the league title as both Kentucky and Florida are both much better than the rest of the teams within the league. That leaves the race for third wide open for the taking and while many people think LSU is the team to slide into that third spot I think it’s Nate Oats and Alabama. Oats’ system will fit in well with the current crop of players headlined by guard Kira Lewis Jr.
12.Vermont goes undefeated in American East play
Vermont is on a whole new level when it comes to American East teams, as they have the size and versatility to match up well against any team in that league. I think given the experience on this team as well they will bring it every night and will find a way to run the table in league play.
13.Tennessee not only misses the NCAA Tournament but also will also fail to make the NIT
Tennessee is a team that I am out on as they lose a lot more than people are leading on. Lamonte Turner and Jordan Bowden are being way overrated in my opinion and the frontcourt is very bad. This mix leads me to believe not only that Tennessee will miss the NCAA Tournament but they will miss the NIT after a bottom-three finish in the league.
14.Xavier gets at least a share of the Big East regular-season title
The Big East is the deepest league in the sport this year so let’s start off by stating that the league will be a grind. Luckily Xavier, yes Xavier is the team that will start four players who have gone through the grit and grind and come out as Big East Champions. While I don’t think this team is as talented as that edition of the roster, it is just as good if not better than every other team’s roster within the league.
15.Saint Mary’s misses the NCAA Tournament
In most preseason rankings you will find St. Mary’s which is understandable considering they return a lot of pieces from last year’s NCAA Tournament team. That being said, I’m not quite buying into them just yet as while they have Jordan Ford who’s outstanding, they could have a tough time replacing Jordan Hunter inside. While I think they will be decent, I definitely can envision a scenario where they get passed over like they did two years ago.
16.Davidson misses the NCAA Tournament
Most people right now consider Davidson an at-large caliber team so while this isn’t the steamiest take, I will say it is a take that technically is correct. Their duo of Jon Axel-Gudmundsson and Kellan Grady is a really good 1-2 punch but besides that, there’s a bunch of role players. I think in an improved A10 the Wildcats pick up enough losses to miss the NCAA Tournament.
17.New Mexico wins the Mountain West Tournament title
No mid-major team has more talent than New Mexico who has a loaded roster full of former high-major players that were good at their last stops. While I think it could be a long regular season for New Mexico when they will be put in a win or go home scenario I think they deliver and win the Mountain West Tournament.
18.Indiana finishes below .500 this year
Indiana had a really good roster going into last season and greatly underachieved by missing the NCAA Tournament and finishing just over .500. Now this year they lose their two best players and really don’t add any outstanding pieces. I think Indiana continues to struggle as they miss the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season while also going under .500 on the season.
19.The Big East finishes the year as the best conference in College Basketball
The typical conferences you would associate with this award for being the best conference in the sport are the ACC, Big 12, and Big Ten. Those conferences though really don’t have the overall depth that they usually have but luckily one league does have that depth and it is the Big East. The league has 7 teams that should be in the NCAA Tournament and their bottom teams DePaul and St. John’s are all that terrible. Overall this depth is what makes me give them the nod as the best league in the sport.
20.DePaul makes the NIT
Yes, you read that one right, as we all know DePaul has been extremely bad for the past few years making this one of the hotter takes. Let me start off by stating that Charlie Moore, Romeo Weems, and Markese Jacobs is an outstanding group of additions to this roster that showed itself to be decent. I think they will get around 7 league wins which aren’t enough for an at-large bid, however, I think the NIT is more than happy to allow them to be in their tournament.
21.The Big Ten only sends six teams to the NCAA Tournament
The Big Ten has been consistently one of the best leagues on a yearly basis but this year won’t be a banner season from a depth perspective. Michigan State is great and the league has five other really good teams. The thing is that I don’t trust either Iowa or Wisconsin to get the necessary amount of wins to make the NCAA Tournament only leaving the league with just six bids.
22.The SEC gets the most NCAA Tournament bids
As mentioned earlier the SEC is really a giant cluster after Florida and Kentucky which is a good thing for the league as there are some good teams up and down the league. I think what happens is that the league gets 8 teams in the NCAA Tournament just because everyone is going to have a bunch of quality wins from the league beating up on each other.
23.Michigan State fails to live up to high expectations
Michigan State comes into the year as the consensus number one team in the sport and for good reason too as they return a lot of quality players including National Player of the year favorite Cassius Winston. With these extremely high expectations, it will be hard to live up to these expectations. If they don’t get to a Final Four or dominate the regular season it probably goes down as a disappointment.
24.Cole Anthony wins National Player of the year
The National Player of the year award seems to be Cassius Winston’s to lose and that is for good reason but there’s a couple of players that have a great chance to take that award from him and one of them is UNC guard Cole Anthony. Anthony projects to play a really big role for the Tar Heels. If Anthony can put up 22 points and 6 assists per game type stats while carrying the Tar Heels to a high finish in the ACC that might do enough to give him the National Player of the year award.
25.Amidst the NCAA fog, Kansas wins the National Championship
The biggest storyline coming into the year is Kansas who has received a notice of allegations for paying players. This mixed with the Snoop Dogg controversy has made the school look not great in the eyes of the NCAA and will cause some distractions. The thing is that this Kansas roster knows that this might be the time to strike and win a second National Championship for Head Coach Bill Self. I think the Jayhawks will find enough floor-spacing and shooting while Udoka Azubuike stays healthy which will help them win this year’s National Championship.