Top-50 Team Countdown: #40.UCF Knights
The Knights have had many issues standing in the way of them making the NCAA Tournament, however, this year things look to be shaping up for a great season for the Knights. Last year the Knights looked to make that a breakout season, however, a season-ending shoulder injury to Aubrey Dawkins in October and a season-ending shoulder injury to Tacko Fall in January helped keep UCF out of the tournament picture. This year will have to be the year though, as BJ Taylor, Aubrey Dawkins, and Tacko Fall all will be healthy coming into this season. Assuming everyone can stay healthy, this team has the talent to stay atop the AAC standings and make the NCAA Tournament.
The Knights will be led in the backcourt by senior BJ Taylor, who is already one of the best players in program history and he will look to add to that legacy by helping UCF make the NCAA Tournament while competing for AAC player of the year. Joining Taylor in the backcourt as an extra ball-handler will be Terrell Allen, who will look to play better offensively this season. Ceasar DeJesus was a solid defender his freshman season and he should do similar things this season as a sophomore. The majority of hype around UCF will be with Aubrey Dawkins who has not played in two years but has produced already at Michigan. Dawkins will likely play a small-ball four this year, due to his size and the Knight’s depth at the guard position. Dayon Griffin is another piece who has proven to be a good player off the bench and should get a lot of minutes off the bench this season. Frank Bertz is a well-known three-point shooter who could help provide a spark off the bench for the Knights. Overall this backcourt is very deep, making this one of the more fun teams to watch this season.
The Knights have the biggest player in College Basketball inside in Tacko Fall, who is 7’6 and can block any shot around the rim. His frame and defensive abilities led him to a Defensive Player of the year award in 2017 and helped the Knights lead the nation in defensive field goal percentage that year. Fall will be relied heavily upon, as his size allows UCF to work well defensively. Assuming he can remain healthy the Knights will have a good chance to win the AAC and make the NCAA Tournament. The Knights also have Chad Brown and Rokas Ulvydas, who have provided good minutes off the bench in the past. Collin Smith is a 6’11” player who will probably be on the court any time Fall takes a break to help provide some length. This team mostly revolves around Tacko Fall’s ability to be on the court, so assuming he can stay healthy that could be enough to help the Knights make the tournament.
The Knights have an average non-conference schedule, which means they will likely need a good non-conference record to help them make the NCAA Tournament. The Knights start the season with three buy games before they will play in the Myrtle Beach Invitational. The Myrtle Beach Invitational has some solid teams in Western Kentucky and West Virginia but could potentially provide them with a couple of wins. The Knights will also play Alabama at home and Missouri on the road in non-conference play. The AAC schedule starts January 2nd at home against Temple and will end with a road game at Temple on March 9th. The AAC Tournament goes March 14th-17th, with the NCAA Tournament starting March 19th if the Knights make it there.
What to expect this season
The Knights first will need to stay healthy throughout the season but if they can the Knights have a good chance to win the AAC and make it to the NCAA Tournament. The Knights should continue to be one of the best teams defensively in the sport, while offensively this team looks capable of being a better team on that side of the court. This team has the talent and experience to not only win the AAC but also win games in the tournament this season, which makes this an exciting year for UCF.
PG: BJ Taylor
SG: Terrell Allen
SF: Ceasar DeJesus
PF: Aubrey Dawkins
C: Tacko Fall
Key Reserves: Dayon Griffin, Frank Bertz, Chad Brown, Rokas Ulvydas, Collin Smith
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