College Basketball Preview

November 8 marks the start of the 2013-2014 College Basketball season, continued from the print edition of The Blotter, here is the rest of my pre-season preview.

Pre-season Outlook:

Michigan State – The Spartans return potential superstar Gary Harris, along with veteran players Keith Appling, Adreian Payne and Brandon Dawson. With experience, talent and a former championship winning head coach, the Spartans have all the aspects in a team they need to win a National Championship.

Purdue – Last season, Purdue struggled greatly, especially to begin the season, however, they did pick up a few solid wins towards the end of the season. The good news for the Boilermakers? They return solid players in AJ Hammons,  Terone Johnson, and Ronnie Johnson along with three 4 star recruits. The bad news? 10 of the 15 players on their roster are underclassmen and Hammons has been suspended for at least three games early in the season. Purdue should be a bubble team and could  sneak in the tournament, but after last years performance and the lack of experience, it could be a struggle for the Boilermakers once again this season. Not to mention, Purdue barely beat DII team Indianapolis in an exhibition game yesterday.

Butler – With head coach Brad Stevens leaving the Bulldogs for the Boston Celtics, seemingly all the Butler magic the past few years has been sucked out of the team. Leaders Roteni Clarke and Andrew Smith are gone and Roosevelt Jones, arguably the Bulldogs best returning player, will miss the season with a wrist injury making the Bulldogs season even more difficult. The magic will need to return for Butler if they wish to have any chance at an NCAA appearance, but it does not look likely. 

Notre Dame – The Fighting Irish return seven of their top nine contributors from last season’s 25-win team. Notre Dame also adds a four man recruiting class which includes three 4-star players. With the incoming talent and the returning experience look for the Irish to have a solid year, even with the stout competition in their new conference, the ACC. 

Fun Facts:

  • Michigan State coach Tom Izzo has had six Final Four appearances along with a National Championship in 18 years.
  • Each time Louisville has won a National Championship, Indiana  won the championship the next year.
  • Kentucky has 2 championships in a three year span twice before. In fact, the Wildcats have skipped a year between championships twice just like they will try to do for a third time this year.
  • Louisville and Kentucky have played 14 times where both teams have been ranked. Kentucky has won 12 of those games.
  • The last team to win back-to-back Championships was Florida in 2006 and 2007.
  • Indiana is the last team to go undefeated for an entire season. (1976)
  • The Final Four this season is in Texas. These teams all won Championships in Texas: Connecticut (2011), Kansas (2008), Connecticut (2004), Kentucky (1998), Louisville (1986), UCLA (1971).
  • Each team that won a championship in Texas has won has at least three National Titles.
  • Since 2008, each years National Champions were beaten the previous year by the National Champions.

More Games to Watch:

Ohio State at Marquette – November 16
Indiana at Syracuse – December 3
Michigan at Duke – December 3
Kentucky at North Carolina – December 14
Purdue vs. Butler – December 14
Notre Dame vs. Ohio State – December 21
Louisville at Kentucky – December 28
Michigan State at Indiana – January 4
Louisville at Connecticut – January 18
Michigan at Michigan State – January 25 
Michigan at Ohio State – February 11
Duke at Syracuse – February 1
Gonzaga at Memphis – February 8 
Florida at Kentucky – February 15
Kansas at Oklahoma State – March 1 
North Carolina at Duke – March 8 
Ohio State at Indiana – March 9

*ORANGE = College GameDay

Predictions:

Champions – Michigan State 
Final Four – Michigan State, Kentucky, Duke, Oklahoma State
Indiana – Round of 32
Purdue – Miss NCAA Tournament
Butler – Miss NCAA Tournament
Notre Dame – Sweet 16

Bret’s Pre-Season Top 25:

1.Michigan State
2.Kentucky
3.Duke
4.Kansas
5.Florida
6.Arizona
7.Oklahoma State
8.Louisville
9.North Carolina
10.Syracuse
11.Ohio State
12.Michigan
13.Wichita State
14.Memphis
15.Marquette
16.Gonzaga
17.UConn
18.Notre Dame
19.Creighton
20.Wisconsin
21.Indiana
22.UCLA
23.VCU
24.New Mexico
25.Oregon

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