My fellow college basketball fans, rejoice! For the better part of three months, college football represented our sun. Other sports begin to stretch their legs for the long haul, but most of the sporting world lives for college football (and football in general). In November, college basketball spins aimlessly, millions of light years away from college football. Last night, college football concluded with a dud and paved the way for college basketball to take its rightful place among the inner solar system.
With a re-energized focus on NCAA Basketball, let’s take a wild spin at some bold predictions that will happen the rest of the way. Be careful, these are the hottest of hot takes, so make sure to wear your oven gloves before touching the keyboard.
Kansas will NOT win the Big 12.
Kansas has won or tied for first in the Big 12 every single year since 2004, an absolutely ridiculous feat achieved under the watch of Bill Self. While we must point out that the Big 12 has only a few teams that can threaten Kansas, the achievement is still marvelous none the less. In 2019, Kansas will be in the fight of their lives to keep the crown. The conference finally looks to have some darn good teams, including Texas Tech, Iowa State, Texas, TCU, and Oklahoma. In fact, Iowa State has already taken down Kansas once, with a convincing 77-60 final. More importantly, Kansas will be without their best big man in Udoka Azubuike, putting a ton of pressure on Lawson and Vick to pick up the slack. This year, Kansas will see the streak end.
The Big Ten will get 10 teams in the NCAA Tournament.
I suppose this is not a sizzling opinion, but one that needs to be pointed out. The Big 10 was woefully underrepresented in March Madness last year, sending a measly 4 teams. In 2019, the conference has done a complete 180 and is represented well from top to bottom. Look for the conference to get AT LEAST 9 bids, but I will go ahead and say 10.
Blue Bloods Kentucky, Kansas, and North Carolina fall early.
The aforementioned Kansas, Kentucky, and North Carolina will fall very early in the NCAA Tournament. As always, Kentucky is uber-talented but seems to be missing that “it” factor early in the 2018-2019 campaign. Same goes for North Carolina, who also has a great talent pool to work from, but not enough to make a deep push. Parody seems to be taking place this year in college basketball, with schools like Houston, Tennessee, Texas Tech, Virginia Tech, and Nevada replacing those well-known programs in the standings.
Virginia will FINALLY break through.
History will always remember Virginia for being the first team to lose to a 16-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Over the years, the 16 has occasionally threatened the 1 but never fully broke through. Not only did scrappy UMBC beat highly-touted Virginia, they completely ran them off the court. With coach Tony Bennett at the helm, Virginia has lacked the firepower to make deep runs in March Madness. However, the majority of his team from last year is back, and they will have the motivation to make sure that does not happen again. I see Virginia getting to the Final Four.
Michigan wins the NCAA Tournament.
Yeah, this is a COMPLETE homer pick. As a lifelong Michigan fan, I have been slowly melting inside waiting for something good to happen with my favorite school. This year, Michigan has the makings of a championship team. While they play defense at a similar clip to Virginia, the playmakers on the roster can do more than Virginia. Jordan Poole is turning into an NBA pick, Iggy Brazdeikis has produced great basketball as a freshman, Zavier Simpson could be the best defensive guard in the country, and the frontcourt depth is getting better. John Beilein is one of the best coaches in basketball to never win a championship, and this is the year he gets it done.
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