Sep. 23, 2016
My Top 4, College Basketball Part 3
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. Gonzaga is the only team that looks like a clear one seed, and that will really upset power conference fans. Meanwhile, the ACC, Big 10, Pac 12 and Big 12 all continue to beat each other up, while the SEC no longer has a realistic candidate.
LAST WEEKS TOP FOUR: Kansas, Gonzaga, Villanova, Arizona
1) GONZAGA BULLDOGS (24-0; 11-0 in West Coast)
I'm sorry to all of you who for some reason hate teams like Gonzaga or Wichita State, but name another team who truly deserves this? Six of the top nine all lost this week, including one losing twice, and the tenth ranked team (Wisconsin) could conceivably lose Sunday. Kansas struggled against Baylor, then blew one IN ALLEN FIELDHOUSE!!! against Iowa State. Baylor lost twice, Arizona got blown out, Kentucky lost again, the ACC is a slug-fest. After they beat Santa Clara tonight, Gonzaga goes to Loyola Marymount before their biggest test left, at St. Mary's.
2) VILLANOVA WILDCATS (22-2; 9-2 in Big East)
Villanova is one of the three two loss teams remaining, and the only one in a major conference. I would say Cincinnati of the AAC has a distant chance for a one seed, but New Mexico State has none. In other words, everybody else relevant has at least three losses, meaning Nova and Gonzaga should have the inside track. I know Villanova is the defending champions right now, but I'm just not as big on them as some people. They aren't a deep team, and they don't have a ton of size. Then again, nobody else has really shown me any reason to disbelieve. They have a home game against Georgetown before heading to Xavier this weekend.
3) KANSAS JAYHAWKS (20-3; 8-2 in Big 12)
When this many teams lose, it's hard to knock out some of the better ones. Kansas did beat Baylor this week despite losing to Iowa State, but their loss is among the better ones since they lost in overtime. They also have the best win. Kansas needs to bring back Carlton Bragg from his suspension soon since their depth chart is getting scary thin. The Jayhawks schedule is no easier, with road tests against Kansas State and Texas Tech (who are both borderline tournament teams) followed by a home game with West Virginia and a road game in Baylor. If they make it through that unscathed, they're back at number one.
4) LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (19-4; 8-3 in ACC)
I haven't really discussed Louisville too much this season since they have really flown under the radar, but Louisville is the top AP & Coaches Poll team left that didn't lose, and that is also the case for the RPI. Louisville isn't filled with stars, but more like a ten man squad of quality players, and their resume and record really show it. Don't expect anybody from the ACC to be here for that long, but at this point there is nobody left to pick, as I'm not ready to reach all the way down to Wisconsin (although I live 5 miles from the Kohl Center, so I'm not reaching that far...). Anyways, Louisville goes on the road to Virginia before having a home game against the University of Miami.
EVERYBODY LEFT WHO HAS A CHANCE, LISTED BY CURRENT AP POLL RANKINGS
Baylor, Arizona, West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Wisconsin, North Carolina, UCLA, Oregon, Cincinnati, Florida State, Duke
I think the top three is pretty clear and could stay that way for a while, but Louisville realistically should be in the other grouping at this point in time, but it's about picking a top four, and I think Louisville at the moment is the best in that group. Some of these teams are free falling (Kentucky, West Virginia) where others are rising fast (Wisconsin, Cincinnati) and the rest all have a chance at a one seed as well. I think it would be a stretch to put any other team besides these as serious national title contenders, so you likely won't see a team outside of this list at that spot. Also, if Wisconsin keeps winning and holding the loss column at three, they are most likely to join in the top four and potentially jump Louisville.