Let's go conference-by-conference first...
This preview boils down to what you think of North Carolina... there is wide-ranging speculation that this could be an "all-timer"-type team... that's pretty strong praise, and you can see why behind their front-court of Zeller/Henson/Barnes, and the return of Kendall Marshall at the point... that being said, I think they win the league, but not in an overly dominant fashion... Elsewhere, I really like Duke's team, and if they get a leap out of the Plumlee brothers now that Singler is gone, they'll be a contender... watch out for Austin Rivers... if he takes the Kyrie Irving role and runs with it (unselfishly), they'll be scary... Florida State is the only other semi-contender because they will defend you all over the place... unfortunately in a league this proud, those are the only tourney "locks" in my opinion... Virginia and Virginia Tech are the next tier, and I'm not sold...
- Definite Tourney Teams - North Carolina, Duke, Florida State
- Fringe Teams - Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami, Georgia Tech
- First Team All- Conference - Tyler Zeller (UNC), Mike Scott (UVA), Harrison Barnes (UNC), Durand Scott (Miami), Kendall Marshall (UNC)
- Second Team All-Conference - John Henson (UNC), Ryan Kelly (Duke), Mason Plumlee (Duke), Austin Rivers (Duke), Michael Snaer (FSU)
- Freshman of the Year - Austin Rivers
- Player of the Year - Harrison Barnes
It's almost not even fair to do a preview of this league... at least in one-part... 16 teams of pure goodness, and while this could be the last of the Big East as we know it, it's still the epicenter of college hoops for one more year... UConn is considered, by most, to be the favorite... they return everything EXCEPT Kemba from the title team last year, and they have a big-time freshman in Andre Drummond... Syracuse returns Kris Joseph, Scoop Jardine, and company, and may be the deepest team in the league... Pitt brings back Ashton Gibbs (maybe the most prolific shooter in the country) and that tough, rugged style they always employ under Jamie Dixon... I could go all day here...
- Definite Tourney Teams - UConn, Pitt, Syracuse, Louisville, Villanova, Marquette
- Fringe Teams - Cincy, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Georgetown, St. John's
- First Team All- Conference - Alex Oriakhi (UConn), Kevin Jones (WV), Jeremy Lamb (UConn), Ashton Gibbs (Pitt), Maalik Wayns (Nova)
- Second Team All-Conference - Mouph Yarou (Nova), Andre Drummond (UConn), Jason Clark (G-Town), Tim Abromaitis (ND), Scoop Jardine (Cuse)
- Freshman of the Year - Andre Drummond
- Player of the Year - Ashton Gibbs
This may be the most lopsided of the Big 6 conference as far as who people are picking to win it... Ohio State is the only team I've seen picked to win, and rightly so... they return the best player (Sullinger), one of the best coaches in Matta, and a ton of talent elsewhere in a good, but not top-heavy league... Michigan would be in the conversation with the Buckeyes had Darius Morris not foolishly left early (I'm not bitter at all), but I have them at #2 with the return of every other core player and the maturation of Tim Hardaway, Jr... Wisconsin is always a team to be reckoned with and they return one of my favorite players in the country in Jordan Taylor... and Michigan State is there... the talent level has dipped a bit, but Izzo's team will be around... oh... and Robbie Hummel is back... yes, I'm serious...
- Definite Tourney Teams - Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin
- Fringe Teams - Purdue (moves to definite if Hummel is healthy all year), Illinois, Indiana
- First Team All- Conference - Robbie Hummel (Purdue), Jared Sullinger (OSU), Draymond Green (MSU), Tim Hardaway (Mich), Jordan Taylor (Wisc)
- Second Team All-Conference - Trevor Mbakwe (Minnesota), Deshaun Thomas (OSU), John Shurna (NW), William Buford (OSU), Aaron Craft (OSU)
- Freshman of the Year - Cody Zeller (Indiana)
- Player of the Year - Jared Sullinger
This league belongs to Kansas... they've won (or tied for the regular season) the conference 7 times in a row... seven... they just reload and move on... and that continues here led by Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor... Baylor is the most talented team with Perry Jones (athletic freak), and Quincy Miller... Texas A&M and Missouri have new coaches, but big-time talent and depth respectively, and they should be quality teams... always a deep league...
- Definite Tourney Teams - Kansas, Baylor, A&M, Missouri,
- Fringe Teams - Oklahoma State, Texas, Iowa State
- First Team All- Conference - Thomas Robinson (Kansas), Perry Jones (Baylor), Myck Kabongo (Texas), Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas), Marcus Denmon (Missou)
- Second Team All-Conference - Khris Middleton (A&M), LeBryan Nash (OK State), Quincy Miller (Baylor), J'Covan Brown (Texas), Rodney McGruder (K-State)
- Freshman of the Year - LeBryan Nash
- Player of the Year - Thomas Robinson
I almost feel unqualified to write about the Pac-12 because it's the least covered conference (East coast bias still exists), but then I realize it's because... it kind of stinks?... Now... let me say that it ISN'T as bad as the media lets it seem, but there's not a national title contending team in the league in my estimation, and they have a long way to go... UCLA is loaded up front and they are my preseason pick to win this thing behind Reeves Nelson and the massive Josh Smith... Arizona keeps recruiting talent, but it'll be a big task to overcome the loss of Williams and Jones... Cal has a better roster than they've had in a while, and Mike Montgomery knows how to win games... and I haven't even mentioned perennial contender, Washington, who has Terrence Ross, Abdul Gaddy, and freshman Tony Wroten coming in...
- Definite Tourney Teams - UCLA, Arizona, Washington
- Fringe Teams - Cal, Stanford, Oregon
- First Team All- Conference - Josh Smith (UCLA), Reeves Nelson (UCLA), Dwight Powell (Stanford), Jorge Gutierrez (Cal), Josiah Turner (Arizona)
- Second Team All-Conference - Tony Woods (Oregon) Harper Kemp (Cal), Jared Cunningham (Oregon State), Terrence Ross (Washington), Trent Lockett (Arizona State)
- Freshman of the Year - Josiah Turner
- Player of the Year - Reeves Nelson
I can smell the SEC from here... Yes, the Pac-12 is worse... but you don't seem to hear as much about how bad the bottom of the SEC is... typical... anyway, Kentucky brings in another RIDICULOUS freshman class led by Anthony Davis and is everyone's preseason favorite... Florida returns 4 legitimate guards (too many?) to go with Patric Young underneath.... Vandy is a team everyone seems to love except me, but there's no denying they have top-of-conference talent... the injury to Festus Ezeli hurts them early... and that's about it for locks... watch out for Mississippi State if Renardo Sidney ever gets his life together (good luck)...
- Definite Tourney Teams - Kentucky, Vandy, Florida
- Fringe Teams - Miss State, Alabama
- First Team All- Conference - Anthony Davis (Kentucky), Terrence Jones (Kentucky), Marquis Teague (Kentucky), John Jenkins (Vandy), Doron Lamb (Kentucky)
- Second Team All-Conference - JaMychal Green (Bama), Jeffery Taylor (Vandy), Festus Ezeli (Vandy), Dee Bost (Miss State), Erving Walker (Florida)
- Freshman of the Year - Anthony Davis
- Player of the Year - John Jenkins
College hoops, unlike college football, exists beyond the power six conferences... I can't hit everyone here, but I'll hit on every team that I think can make a conceivably deep tourney run... Memphis is poised to blitz through Conference USA with a talented, deep roster led by Will Barton... that's a potential top-10 team... Xavier is a team that we're all familiar with at this point, but Tu Holloway may be a 1st-team All-American, and the Indiana transfer will lead them to the A-10 title... Gonzaga is Gonzaga... they return Robert Sacre (he's STILL there?!), Elias Harris, and David Stockton... still the most talented of the West coast mid-majors on a yearly basis... Temple will give Xavier a run at the A-10 title led by Ramone Moore and Juan Fernandez... The WCC is overall loaded (relatively of course)... we've already hit on Gonzaga, but Saint Mary's is very good (Rob Jones and Matthew Dellavedova), Santa Clara has talent, and BYU is playing in that league this year (did you know that?!)... maybe the best conference outside of the Big Six... The Mountain West and Missouri Valley each have tourney teams (New Mexico and UNLV in the MWC and Wichita State in the MVC) for sure, and they are always entertaining... not to mention some of the unearthed gems (players) from around the country that I'll give love to here... watch out for: Orlando Johnson (UCSB), Kyle Weems (Missouri State), Doug McDermott (Creighton), Andrew Nicholson (St. Bonaventure), DeAndre Kane (Marshall), Brandon Davies (BYU, yes that guy), and Casper Ware (Long Beach State)...
Okay then... guess I should pick some All-Americans and some tourney teams... here we go...
- 1st Team - Tyler Zeller (UNC), Jared Sullinger (Ohio State), Harrison Barnes (UNC), Tu Holloway (Xavier), Jordan Taylor (Wisconsin)
- 2nd Team - Thomas Robinson (Kansas), Perry Jones (Baylor), Elias Harris (Gonzaga), John Jenkins (Vandy), Ashton Gibbs (Pitt)
- 3rd Team - Trevor Mbakwe (Minnesota), Reeves Nelson (UCLA), Jeremy Lamb (UConn), Marcus Denmon (Missouri), Tim Hardaway (Michigan)
- All-Freshman 1st Team - Austin Rivers (Duke), Myck Kabongo (Texas), Jabari Brown (Oregon), LeBryan Nash (OK State), Anthony Davis (Kentucky)
- All-Freshman 2nd Team - Josiah Turner (Arizona), Brad Beal (Florida), Quincy Miller (Baylor), Michael Gilchrist (Kentucky), Andre Drummond (UConn)
- Player of the Year - Harrison Barnes
- Sweet 16 - North Carolina, Duke, Florida State, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan, UConn, Syracuse, Pitt, Kansas, Xavier, Temple, Gonzaga, UCLA
- Elite 8 - North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Syracuse, Pitt, Xavier
- Final 4 - North Carolina, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Syracuse
- Champs - Ohio State over North Carolina
Enjoy it everyone... it's the only hoops we have...