Monday, November 12, 2012

2012-13 College Hoops Preview!

Greetings! This may be the fastest "league" preview I've ever written, so bear with me... and I know that there were games played on Friday night, so I'm officially late. Alas, here we go! Conference-by-conference first...

  • Champion - Duke
  • Sleeper - Florida State
  • All-Conference Team (POY in italics) - Lorenzo Brown (NC State, G), Michael Snaer (Florida State, G), James Michael McAdoo (North Carolina, F), CJ Leslie (NC State, F), Mason Plumlee (F), 
  • Tourney Locks - Duke, NC State, North Carolina, Florida State
Big East
  • Champion - Louisville
  • Sleeper - Syracuse
  • All-Conference Team - Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse, G), Shabazz Napier (UConn, G), Otto Porter (Georgetown, F), Chane Behanan (Louisville, F), Gorgui Dieng (Louisville, C)
  • Tourney Locks - Louisville, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh
Big 10
  • Champion - Indiana
  • Sleeper - Michigan State
  • All-Conference Team - Trey Burke (Michigan, G), Aaron Craft (Ohio State, F), Deshaun Thomas (Ohio State, F), Trevor Mbakwe (Minnesota, F), Cody Zeller (Indiana, C)
  • Tourney Locks - Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Minnesota
Big 12
  • Champion - Kansas
  • Sleeper - Texas (despite Rick Barnes)
  • All-Conference Team - Pierre Jackson (Baylor, G), Le'Bryan Nash (Oklahoma State, G), Rodney McGruder (Kansas State, G), Aaric Murray (West Virginia, PF/C), Jeff Withey (Kansas, C)
  • Tourney Locks - Kansas, Texas, West Virginia, Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma State
Pac 12 (*- Muhammed is ineligible at the moment)
  • Champion - Arizona
  • Sleeper - Stanford
  • All-Conference Team - Mark Lyons (Arizona, G), Allen Crabbe (Cal, G), Shabazz Muhammed (UCLA, F)*, Kyle Anderson (UCLA, G/F), Andre Roberson (Colorado, F/C)
  • Tourney Locks - Arizona, UCLA (yes, that's the full list)
  • Champion - Missouri
  • Sleeper - Florida
  • All-Conference Team - Phil Pressey (Missouri, G), BJ Young (Arkansas, G), Archie Goodwin (Kentucky, G), Patric Young (Florida, F), Nerlens Noel (Kentucky, C)
  • Tourney Locks - Kentucky, Florida, Missouri
  • Top 25 Teams - Creighton, Memphis, UNLV, San Diego State, Gonzaga
  • Tourney Teams - VCU, Butler, Temple, BYU, New Mexico, Northern Iowa, St. Mary's, New Mexico State, Murray State
  • All-Mid-Major Team - Isaiah Canaan (Murray State, G), Matthew Dellavedova (St. Mary's, G), Mike Moser (UNLV, F), Doug McDermott (Creighton, F), Elias Harris (Gonzaga, F)
Moving on to the national picture...

My Top 5
  1. Indiana - The fuss is warranted. Cody Zeller is the best big man (and the best player IMO) in the country, and he's surrounded by a nice cast. Christian Watford returns as a seasoned veteran (read: senior) that has gone through everything and is a top-50 player nationally. In addition, keep an eye on swingman Victor Oladipo who will be skying out of the gym nightly.
  2. Ohio State - The Big 10 is pretty good (you'll see) this year and Ohio State is still loaded. Thad Matta is an elite coach at this point and he returns big-time talent. Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas are returning all-american type players and they are solid as a rock. Not flashy, but they'll defend like crazy and you'll see them at the end.
  3. Louisville - Depth! Look at any "top 100" list this preseason and you'll see 4 Louisville players on them with some even with all 4 in the top 50. Peyton Siva (still in college!) is about as veteran as it gets at the point. Dieng is the best shot-blocker in the country. Wayne Blackshear and Behanen will man the wings, and the depth is really there as well. Add in Rick Pitino and go to work.
  4. Michigan - More Big Ten you say? The best conference in the country this year has 3 reps in the top 5. Michigan returns All-American guard Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr. to form the nation's top returning backcourt. Add in top recruit Mitch McGary and returners like Jon Horford, with a big-time coach? Bingo.
  5. Duke - My ACC champ lands at #5. It isn't the endless parade of NBA talent like it used to be, but Coach K still does work. Mason Plumlee is the anchor as a 4th-year starter, and guys like Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry are coming back as well. The real X-factor is probably Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon, who will challenge for PT right away, but I just can't see a dip here. They'll be in the mix.
All-Freshman Team
  • G - Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State - Starting PG for OSU from Day one. Highly touted as a versatile defender, but the biggest edge he has is scoring. Easily the biggest lock for playing time. 
  • G - Kyle Anderson, UCLA - You see "guard" by his name... but Anderson is 6'9. He's drawn Magic Johnson comparisons for his vision/passing and while that's likely ridiculous, there seems to be no doubt about his ability. He's a match-up nightmare.
  • F - Shabazz Muhammed, UCLA* (ed: ineligible right now) - The consensus #1 Freshman in terms of talent. There are some eligibility issues around him, but he's the best scorer of this class, and is pretty much the go-to-guy for UCLA off the bat.
  • F - Alex Poytharess, Kentucky - Combo forward who is probably an NBA lottery pick based on talent. Kentucky has a million guys, but he's the best bet (other than their center... who we'll get to) for big production.
  • C - Nerlens Noel, Kentucky - Dominant shot-blocker/rebounder in the Anthony Davis mold. He'll obviously draw those comparisons, but he's not near the offensive threat that Davis was. Still unquestionably the leader in the clubhouse here, though.
  • PG - Trey Burke, Michigan - Burke is the best point guard in the country and the only returning All-American from last year. He's got a big load on his shoulders as a sophomore, but he'll be an elite player. (Runner-up: Phil Pressey, Missouri)
  • SG - Michael Snaer, Florida State - Terrific defender and that's why he gets my nod here, but he also made a huge number of big shots for FSU this year, and I think he leads them to a top-20 team. (Runner-up: Le'Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State)
  • SF - Doug McDermott, Creighton - Can flat-out score and he gets his due this season. I see a fringe NBA lottery pick who can do everything but simply just lacks elite "burst" at the next level. For this year in college, however? I'm all-in. (Runner-up: Shabazz Muhammed, UCLA)
  • PF - Mike Moser, UNLV - Relentless rebounder. Veteran presence. 20-point scorer. All of these things are Mike Moser. Done and done. (Runner-up: James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina)
  • C - Cody Zeller, Indiana - As mentioned above, Zeller is the best player in America. He scores, he runs the floor, he protects the rim, and he rebounds. Did I mention that he can shoot, too? Easy choice. (Runner-up: Jeff Withey, Kansas)
Tourney Picks (as ridiculous as that is on November 10th)
  • Sweet 16 - Indiana, Louisville, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio State, Duke, Florida State, NC State, Arizona, Michigan State, Missouri, Creighton, UNLV, San Diego State, Kansas, Minnesota
  • Elite 8 - Indiana, Louisville, Michigan, Ohio State, Duke, Arizona, UNLV, Kansas
  • Final 4 - Indiana, Ohio State, Duke, Kansas
  • The Pick - Ohio State over Indiana (reverse jinx alert)
Enjoy it, everyone!

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