by Ryan Duvall ‘21
College Basketball is finally here. From the months of November to March, colleges across the country fight for the right to be one of the 64 teams in amatuer basketball’s most prestigious event, March Madness. Entering the season, there are many teams who can win the big dance, but there are only a small numbers that are true contenders. So, here’s the rankings in order :
- Kansas Jayhawks: Kansas comes into the season having won fourteen straight Big 12 Conference titles. That speaks for itself. Coach Bill Self usually does a good recruiting job, but he has really out-done himself this year, bringing in the 5-star duo of Quentin Grimes and Devin Dotson. Put them together with junior forward Dedric Lawson, Kansas may be a lock for another Big 12 title
- Duke Blue Devils: Who needs upperclassmen? Apparently not Duke as they have managed to bring in college basketball’s highest recruited Freshman Class in years. The Blue Devils have four top ten recruits….including the top three overall in ESPN’s rankings. Duke could either be unstoppable or a huge disappointment. It all depends on the freshmen living up to their hype.
- Kentucky Wildcats: Coach John Calipari’s philosophy of one and dones continues to work as he brings in yet another talented Freshman Class. This comes after Calipari and Kentucky lost four freshmen to the NBA draft last year. Calipari is looking for his first title since 2012.
- Villanova Wildcats: Having won two of the past three National Championships, Villanova may have established themselves as one of college basketball’s blue bloods. Although a big part of the Wildcats went pro including the National Player of The Year, Jalen Brunson, Villanova is still a contender. Villanova will need seniors Eric Paschall and Phil Booth to step up in order to be successful.
- Gonzaga Bulldogs: Gonzaga may be the best team out west. Although the Zags are often criticized for playing in a weak conference, they show just how good they are in March, as they have been to the sweet-sixteen four consecutive times. As long as they play to their strengths, this is a team to watch out for.
- Virginia Cavaliers: Yes….I know Virginia may have had one of the most embarrassing losses in basketball when they lost to UMBC in the tournament last season, but it’s a new year, Virginia is out to prove that they are still an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) powerhouse.
- Nevada Wolf Pack: Nevada shocked the nation last year when they went all the way to the sweet sixteen. This season, however, they want to do more. Led by preseason All-American Cody Martin, the Wolfpack have the talent to win it all.
- North Carolina Tar Heels: How could a Roy Williams team not be a contender to win it all? The Tar Heels are coming off a disappointing campaign in which they got knocked out in the second round, but are a team with experience and talent. All-American forward Luke Maye and freshman Nassir Little are looking to get UNC its 2nd title in three years.
- Michigan State Spartans: Even with the loss of Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson, the Spartans still come in as a Big 10 Conference favorite. Tom Izzo’s team may not look the most talented, but it has the chemistry to make a run in March.
- Oregon Ducks: Despite losing three star players, the Ducks are loaded with talent. Oregon managed to reel in two 5-star recruits including 7’3 center Bol Bol, who is a highly skilled player and is already being talked about as a lottery pick in the draft. Opposing teams better be ready for the Ducks.