Preview of the Top 5 College basketball teams right now.
What’s not to love about the Zags going into the new season. Mark Few is one of the best coaches in the country and did an incredible job on the recruiting trail snagging Hunter Sallis, Nolan Hickman, and Chet Holmgren who should be immediate impacts. Zags return Timme, Nembhard, and Watson three key pieces to the team that made a championship run last season plus add an electric scorer in Rasir Bolton from Iowa State who should be a stud under Mark Few. Don’t get it twisted everyone will say Gonzaga does this time and time again where they have a great season then come up short, but don’t forget what they were able to accomplish last season. They scheduled a hard non con and wiped everyone out and ran the table undefeated until the championship where Baylor was just too much. I am expecting Timme to be in consideration for POY and Holmgren to be an All American. The ceiling on offense is so high for this team. Expect a lot of blowouts with margin and expect Gonzaga to be in the Final 4 once again where I do believe Few can finally get over the hump.
Marquee games for Gonzaga in Non Conference:
- Texas Tech
Kansas didn’t lose much and they added ALOT. Bill Self has himself a squad this year that should be looking at Final 4 or bust. Kansas lost Marcus Garrett, which on paper is a big loss, but what they needed is what they got in my opinion with Remy Martin from Arizona State. Remy is a pure scorer and playmaker and with a coach like Bill Self that should be a dangerous duo. Kansas returns Agbaji, Wilson, and McCormack who should all once again average double figure digits in points. Kansas also brings in Yesufu from Drake and Coleman-Lands from Iowa State who are veteran savvy and pose an instant impact from multiple angles right away. Kansas is deep and offense should be better than ever with all these guys in the rotation. This season should be merely the opposite of the last for the Jayhawks where I fully expect the Big 12 to run through Kansas all conference season long.
Marquee games for Kansas in Non Conference
- Michigan State
- St. John’s
Kentucky should bounce back in a major way this season. A 9-16 team the previous year ranked #3 in the next season Top 5 may seem like a head scratcher from the outside looking in, but this team should be ready to absolutely explode in 2021-2022. This roster is stacked with players and is possibly the deepest team in the country. My favorite thing about Kentucky this season is they actually have shooters. Calipari added great players and great shooters in Grady from Davidson who averaged 17 PPG, Frederick from Iowa who averaged 8 PPG but lights out from 3, and Wheeler from Georgia who averaged 14 PPG. Not only did Calipari add them, but he also added Tshiebwe from WVU who should feast down low in the SEC and added a great freshman in TyTy Washington who could potentially start right away. Although Kentucky’s non con schedule is quite weak I think this is the boost of confidence this team needs. They need easy wins by 20/30+ to get going and build up that chemistry. Last season Kentucky started 1-6 with their only win against Morehead State. This season Calipari got away from a tough non con and scheduled teams like Southern, Albany, I don’t need to continue with that list you get it. They should start this season in flying colors which should lead to success all season long. Kentucky wins the Sec in 2021/2022 and makes a deep tournament run come March.
Marquee games for Kentucky in Non Conference
- Notre Dame
- Ohio State
Chris Beard. Loaded. Three words that tell the story before I even start explaining to you why this is a top 5 team in the country. I have loved Chris Beard as many know because we backed Texas Tech a lot last season even with a sub par offense, but now they are loaded with weapons at Beards disposal. Beard has managed to snag Carr from Minnesota who averaged 19 PPG, Disu from Vanderbilt who averaged 15 PPF, and Mitchell from UMASS who averaged 15 PPG. Three studs who can win you tons of games oh and by the way they also added Allen from Utah, Bishop from Creighton, and Askew from Kentucky. Plus (Yes there is more) Beard also got Jones and Ramey to comeback and brought Benson with him from Texas Tech. This team has all the names and pieces to be great, but will they gel? I think that could be the biggest challenge plus Beard has never had an offense close to this. If he can get them too buy in on defense and gel on offense this team could be absolutely lethal. High upside, high downside is the story with Texas this season, but come March I am fully expecting Beard to have full grasp on this team which sets them up for a deep run, maybe even one where they are cutting down the nets.
Marquee games for Texas in Non Conference:
- Seton Hall
Bold ranking, but an also not so bold ranking due to what Penny Hardaway has been able to due in the offseason. Penny has brought in two freshman I think we could be the best in the country in Jalen Duren and Emoni Bates. I think these guys are absolutely the real deal and guys who can take this team to new heights. I like the fact he was also able to bring back Nolley the transfer from Va Tech who should have a much better year 2 with the Tigers. Memphis did lose a few guys to the transfer portal, but also added Timberlake from Miami and Lawson from Oregon who should be very good for them. I think the biggest issue for Memphis in the past has been turnovers and knocking down FT’s. I think they have elite rim protection and a solid defense that should create havoc. Clean up the turnovers and knock down three’s to free up Duren in the post and this team has one of the highest ceilings in the country. The American should run through Memphis and some may debate Houston, but I am confident on Memphis. Winning a post season tournament in the NIT should mean something to this coaching staff and resonate a winning culture. At the end all this ranking could be a head scratcher and a bad one or one I believe people will be saying “He nailed Memphis.”
Marquee games for Memphis in Non Conference:
- Virginia Tech
- St. Louis
Just Missed Top 5
- Villanova: Jay Wright returns Gillespie, Daniels, Moore, Samuels, and Antoine. Solid team that should be gritty and win games by doing all the little things right. Not sexy, but a team that gets it done.
- Alabama: Nate Oats returns Schakelford and Quinerly and adds Gurley from Furman who may be SEC newcomer of the year (Kid has massive upside and should flourish in Oats system) Offense should be punishing, but not sure if they’ll be able to get stops especially against the teams I included in my top 5.
- Baylor: Scott Drew returns Mayer, Flagler, and big men Thamba and Tchamwa. Back court obviously won’t be as good, but do add Akinjo from Arizona who should be a stud. Bench has some question marks, but they should answer them. A top 10 team, but not one close to top 5.
- UCLA: Last season run a fluke? I believe it, but with Juzang back plus Campbell, Riley, and Jaquez they should be really good. Mick also adds Johnson from Rutgers, so that’s a nice addition.
- Michigan: Lost a TON, but did bring back Brooks and Dickinson and added Jones, a lethal scorer from Coastal Carolina, so they have a nice foundation. Howard also brought in the #2 recruiting class, so if they aren’t above and beyond this year they could be next year.
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