The NCAA Basketball season begins on Monday, November 7. When it comes to an end on the first Monday in April, expect the North Carolina Tar Heels to be the team cutting the nets as champions.
We are now just a few days away from the beginning of the 2011-12 NCAA Basketball, and after previewing the six major conferences previously, we now conclude our preseason previews with a look at our national top 10 teams.
You will notice that nine of our top 10 teams are from the major conferences, but you will also see some notable omissions. There are four major conferences represented in our top 10, but the two majors that did not land a team are the Pac-12 and the Big 12.
Also, take note that our top 10 does not include Duke, who we feel will disappoint with a third place finish in the ACC this season. We simply feel that the Blue Devils were hit too hard in the NBA Draft, as they do not return a single player that averaged double-digits last season, and that their youth will hold them back come tournament time. We predict that the upstart Miami Hurricanes will split North Carolina and Duke for second in the ACC.
Only one of those ACC teams made our national top 10, but it just happens to be out predicted National Champion. Here is our entire top 10, including the current odds to win the NCAA National Championship from The Greek Sports Book.
1 – North Carolina (+300): Now we are not usually in the habit of taking futures at short odds, but we think something really out of the ordinary would need to happen for the Tar Heels not to win it all this year. The return of Harrison Barnes when he could have potentially been the top pick in the NBA Draft means that this team returns all five starters from a club that reached the Elite Eight last season before losing to Kentucky. The Tar Heels have no real weaknesses, with Barnes joining Tyler Zeller and John Henson to form probably the best frontcourt in the country, and they also have one of the nation’ best pure passers in the backcourt in point guard Kendall Marshall. This is a team that will send practically the whole lineup to the NBA, so this is their year to shine in college.
2 – Kentucky (+500): Another season, another year with the best recruiting class in the country! The Wildcats are clearly theclass of the SEC, they were the team that knocked out North Carolina in the Elite Eight off the NCAA Tournament last year and they look like the biggest threat in the nation to do so again. The Wildcats return three double-digit scorers, most notably SEC Player of the Year candidate Terrence Jones, and they also landed three of the top 10 ranked recruits in the country with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Anthony Davis and Marquis Teague all expected to see playing time. However, the one player not returning may be the reason that North Carolina beats the Wildcats if there is indeed a rematch this season, as departed point guard Brandon Knight also doubled as the team’s leading score before an early jump to the NBA.
3 – Ohio State (+800): The way we see things in college basketball this year, North Carolina and Kentucky are clearly the two best teams in the country in whatever order you want to put them, then there is bit of a gap but these Buckeyes look like clearly the third best team, and then there is another discernable gap to the rest of the teams in the country. Unfortunately, that thinking aligns perfectly with the future betting odds, but it is what it is. The Buckeyes should win the Big Ten fairly easily again this year, as the big man in the middle Jared Sullinger returning for his sophomore season when he could have been a lottery back in the NBA Draft after just one year of college is huge. Now we get that David Lighty and John Diebler did depart for greener pastures, but as great as those players were for Ohio State, they are more replaceable than Sullinger would have been. Deshaun Thomas looks ready to step right in and pick up the slack quickly in what should be a breakout year for him, while the Buckeyes also return a quality point guard in Aaron Craft, who was among the nation’s leaders in both assist rate and steal percentage last year and should only get better in this, his sophomore season.
4 – Syracuse (+1200): People forget that not much was expected from Syracuse in the Big East last year, so those that considered the way their season ended after an 18-0 start as a disappointment are missing the point. Yes, they finished just 9-8 to end up 27-8 overall, but that was a very young team that should only get better from the experience, and the Orange are returning six of their top seven scorers. On top of that returning talent, this team also adds three talented recruits including highly sought guards Trevor Cooney and Michael Carter-Williams, which could make Syracuse primed for a run to the Final Four this season.
5 – Connecticut (+2000): The Huskies are the defending NCAA Basketball Champions, but people sometimes forget that Connecticut actually finished ninth in the Big East during the regular season before catching fire beginning with the Big East Tournament, as the great Kemba Walker simply willed them to one win after another. Well, Walker in now in the NBA, but the team does return all four other starters, including Jeremy Lamb, who blossomed before are very eyes during the post-season and will now be asked to pick up some of the slack for the departed Walker. While this is still a very good team, the lack of depth at the guard position should prove costly in the late stages of the NCAA Tournament.
6 – Vanderbilt (+3000): The Commodores may have a reputation for early exits during March Madness, but we actually think they offer nice value at these bloated odds considering that they are one of the most experienced teams in the country. This is a team that returns everyone, as in the entire starting lineup including another SEC Player of the Year candidate in John Jenkins, who is probably one of the three best point guards in the entire country. There is a bit of debate regarding the quality of this team on SBR Forum, but we think that this could be the best basketball team in Vanderbilt history, with center Festus Ezeli and guard Jeffery Taylor joining Jenkins as possible first round NBA Draft picks next season.
7 – Louisville (+1200): Louisville was plagued by inconsistency last season, but when the Cardinals were good, they were very good, and having probably the best backcourt in the Big East this year should help them settle down and gain that needed consistency. They have a great distributor at point guard in Peyton Siva, who has a fine all-around game including being a surprisingly good rebounder for his size, and he has the perfect compliment alongside him as Kyle Kuric is a great pure shooter at the scoring guard position. That duo also has some quality depth behind it, so the Cardinals are set in the backcourt and will be a dangerous out in the Big Dance with just a decent performance out of the frontline. The Cardinals get a boost in that regard with the return of Jared Swopshire this year after he missed last season due to injury.
8 – Memphis (+2000): The Memphis Tigers are the only team not from a major conference to crack our top 10. Most teams would be happy with a 25-10 season, but Memphis considered it a disappointment last year, especially with the six losses inside Conference USA being the most conference losses the Tigers have had in a season in like forever! Still, this could be a team with Final Four talent if the six-foot-nine forward Wesley Witherspoon can return to his sophomore form after being a disappointment in his junior season last year, There is nothing that Witherspoon cannot do physically, as he can handle the ball, pass and shoot, and he is joined by three sophomores that were all blue-chip recruits as freshman last year, most notably guard Will Barton, who ended up being the team’s leading scorer. It is understandable that the Tigers got better as the year went on last season, and with normal development by the three hyped recruits after a full season of experience and a return to form by Witherspoon, this team has the look of the best mid-major team in the country this year.
9 – Michigan (+4000): Now this selection may appear to be against the grain, but we see Michigan finishing second in the Big Ten this season and we see the Wolverines improving after being one of the most pleasant surprises in the country last year, which culminated with a 30-point win over Tennessee in the NCAA Tournament followed by a two-point loss to Duke. This team has some nice senior leadership in Stu Douglass and Zack Novak, and youngster Tim Hardaway Jr. looks ready to fill the shoes of the departed Darius Morris, who was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers. At the very least, the Wolverines should provide nice hedging possibilities down the road at these enormous 40/1 odds.
10 – Florida (+2000): This is one NCAA Basketball pick that has more to do with where we feel this team will be come March than where it is now. The Gators actually won the regular season SEC title last season at 13-3, and they did advance to the Elite Eight of the Big Dance. The downside is that Florida lost three starters, but do not forget that college basketball is more of a guard’s game than the NBA. The two returning starters just happen to be the Gators’ two leading scorers from last year in guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton, and the addition of blue-chip recruit guard Brad Beal gives Florida amazing depth in the backcourt, so much so that the Gators may use more three-guard sets this season. Yes, the frontcourt is young, although Patric Young and Erik Murphy both showed great promise while coming off the bench last year, but we have a great deal of respect for Coach Billy Donavan and trust that he will have this team peaking at the right time, just like he always does.
|—||Roy Williams on Everett Withers’ (interim head coach of the UNC football team) radio show (via uncbball)|
Leslie McDonald (via uncbball)
UNC players in bow ties (dot) tumblr (dot) com?
2011-2012 UNC Men’s Basketball Schedule
We’re ready! We’ll be posting Roy’s tie each game, and the W-L record for each tie through the season.
"BRB, getting another one of these."
For you lucky jerks who can afford it, Tarheel Ticket Packages go on sale Saturday. Enjoy your fortune, and GO HEELS!
Remember in the Harry Potter books when Dumbledore tries destroy Voldemort’s ring that’s secretly a Horcrux, and it makes his hand all shriveled and black? Looks like that also happened to Roy Williams, probably as a result of coaching Rashard McCants.
Roy also has one or two pretty badass rings.