Sep. 23, 2016
My Top 4, College Basketball Part 2
I personally don't like making final four predictions, because nobody knows at this point who will be in which bracket. So, instead of doing a final four prediction, I will do what teams I believe are the four most deserving. This is going to be a new weekly addition of the college basketball analysis, coming out every weekend from late January to March of who I think are the top four in college basketball at the moment. This might be the toughest year to determine who is at the top of the basketball world, as there are a lack of true standout programs at the moment. Teams like Kentucky and Gonzaga will have essential walkthroughs to the NCAA tournament, where the ACC and Pac-12 are full of final four threats. So here are my top four.
LAST WEEKS TOP 4: Kansas, Villanova, Florida State, Kentucky
Well, all four of those teams had a loss this week, and half of them had two. Florida State and Kentucky made my selections look really bad, and it's not even like they played the toughest competition. Kentucky did lose to Kansas at home, but they also lost to Tennessee. Florida State lost at Syracuse and Georgia Tech, and although they are no slouches, they aren't the best teams either. Villanova lost a tough one to Marquette and almost lost to Virginia at home, but managed to get through barely. Kansas lost at West Virginia, which is the best loss excluding Kansas vs. Kentucky, and then beat a top ten team on the road. Therefore, Kansas will remain at the number one spot.
1) KANSAS JAYHAWKS: 19-2 (7-1)
That Indiana loss just keeps getting worse and worse for the Jayhawks, as the Hoosiers already have NBA prospect OG Anunoby out for the year and now leading scorer James Blackmon is out indefinitely. That West Virginia loss isn't a bad one by any means, and they will have a chance to get revenge at home on February 13th. Kansas got its' best win yet at Kentucky without Carlton Bragg, and now have a tough home game against the Baylor Bears, followed by Iowa State coming to Lawrence. Kansas is not out of the woods by any means, and there is a lot of controversy surrounding this team, with the rape investigations involving essentially every key player including Frank Mason and Josh Jackson.
2) GONZAGA BULLDOGS: 22-0 (10-0)
I know a lot of people don't like hearing about Gonzaga being among the elites, and I don't get it. Yes, they play in a bad conference, but they play a tough schedule non-conference (ranked 37th overall). And they do have BYU and St. Mary's in the West Coast Conference as well, so it's not like they play against 7-20 teams all the time. They have wins over Arizona, Florida, St. Mary's and Iowa State so far, and still have a road game against the Gaels on February 11th and two against BYU, including this Thursday on the road. Their other game this week is a home game against Santa Clara. Don't sleep on the Bulldogs this year, because I think this might be their best team yet.
3) VILLANOVA WILDCATS: 20-2 (7-2)
With only road losses to Marquette and Butler, Villanova still has the look of a championship team. Losing at Marquette this week hurts them, but everybody else losing plus beating Virginia kind of saved their spot. They still have home games against Butler and Creighton, and a road test at (will be) unranked Xavier on February 11th, but other than that they should have a decent chance at winning out. Their journey starts this week with a road matchup at Providence and a home game with St. Johns.
4) ARIZONA WILDCATS: 19-2 (8-0)
I'm going to have to assume that Arizona beats lowly Washington at home, although they are down two at the half as I am writing this. Arizona is the hottest team in the country outside of Gonzaga right now, and they kind of have Florida State status right now. Losses to Butler and Gonzaga on a neutral site isn't good, but they also did not have sophomore Allonzo Trier available then. They also blew out UCLA in Los Angeles on Trier's first game back, and then took care of Washington State at home. Assuming they beat Washington today, they will be 9-0 in conference and 20-2 overall. They have a road trip to the state of Oregon this week, where they will be playing both Oregon State and then Oregon on Saturday. That's one to circle.
OTHERS IN THE HUNT: Baylor, North Carolina, Kentucky
I don't know why, but I'm not that big on Baylor right now, but I'm sure many of you would have them fourth. This week's showdown in Lawrence could answer my questions, I just don't believe that they are very legitimate right now. North Carolina is once again the favorite in the ACC with the collapses of Florida State and Notre Dame this week. I also am leaving Kentucky on board right now, and I know they lost at Tennessee, but they really shouldn't be expected to lose again, so they will have a chance to climb back in.
Something to note, it could be very possible that the ACC has no number one seeds yet still fills the Final Four. That league as a whole is leaps and bounds above every other league, and while the Pac-12 has the most contenders outside of the ACC, half of the league is awful. If things go according to the current trajectory, the one seeds will be the Big 12 Champion, Gonzaga, Kentucky and the ACC or Pac-12 Champion. Also, the Big Ten is really starting to look bad, as the best team is Wisconsin but they looked pretty bad against Rutgers. If Wisconsin cracks the top ten at some point, I think they could manage to work their way up to the contenders.