College Basketball Season Preview

@DukeMBB on Twitter

College Basketball Season Preview

NCAA

College Basketball Season Preview

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@DukeMBB on Twitter

College basketball is upon us and here is what we believe will be the award winners as well as some other predictions of what will happen in the ACC as well the rest of the Power Five conferences this upcoming season.

ACC Basketball Preview 

Coach of the Year 

Austin Farrell-Mike Krzyzewski 

Duke is coming off a year in which they finished 13-11 and missed the NCAA tournament but in preparation for his final season, Krzyzewski went to work in the offseason overhauling this roster bringing in the number one recruiting class in the nation including stud freshman Paolo Banchero who will come in right away to compete for player of the year honors not only in the ACC but in the country. Duke will bounce back and see a drastic improvement, likely seeing a significant increase in their wins from last year with a fantastic chance to make the Final Four. If Duke can live up to the lofty expectations set forth for this team and finish with the best record it will be poetic that Coach K redeems himself for the poor performance last year and wins his 6th ACC Coach of the Year award.

Anthony Ravasio-Mike Krzyzewski

It’s his last season in an illustrious career. I expect the Blue Devils to be at the top or inside the top three for an entire season and inside the top 10 nationally for most of the season. Both of these reasons should be enough to give Coach K yet another award to add to the trophy case.

Tom Seipp- Mike Brey (Notre Dame) 

Player of the Year 

Austin Farrell-Paolo Banchero (Duke)

Banchero is not only going to be the freshman in the ACC but will be the best player in the conference from beginning to end. Banchero is already dominating in scrimmages with a reported dominant performance of a 20 point double-double already against Villanova in a closed scrimmage. Banchero is going to be a dominant force that will put Duke in contention for a national championship.

Anthony Ravasio- Paolo Banchero

Banchero was the best recruit in the 2021 class and is already being mocked as the first overall pick by multiple NBA draft analysts. Reports from Duke scrimmages have been even more promising. Duke reportedly beat Villanova in a closed scrimmage by double figures, and Paolo Banchero had a 20-point double-double. He will be the focal point in a Blue Devil frontcourt that is potentially the best in the nation, with Mark Williams alongside Banchero. 

Tom Seipp- Paolo Banchero

Newcomer of the Year 

Austin Farrell-Paolo Banchero (Duke) 

As stated above Banchero from day one is going to be a forced to reckon with in what will likely be his only season at Duke. Banchero enters this season as the highest-ranked Duke recruit since Zion Williamson came through two seasons ago. Banchero is the ultimate 6-feet-9-inch forward that perfectly fits the modern-day game with how deadly he is offensively with his strong frame and ability to space the floor. His explosiveness is nearly unmatched with his ability to be effective at any point on the floor with the ability to pass the ball, shoot and get to the rim with ease. With his immense skill set Banchero is going to have a chance to dominate immediately and on most nights will likely be the best player on the court. You would be hard-pressed to find any other player with the unique skill set that he has and only at 18-years-old. By year’s end, Banchero will likely have a strong resume to compete for not only player of the year but for the first overall pick in the upcoming NBA draft. 

Anthony Ravasio- Paolo Banchero

Is there anything else you can say? No freshman or transfer will make nearly as big of an impact as Banchero.

Tom Seipp- Paolo Banchero 

Dark Horse Team

Austin Farrell-Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech will begin the season as unranked but may quickly rise up the ranks with the quality of players returning for head coach Mike Young’s third season. The team returns three of its five starters from last season star forward Keve Aluma who averaged 15.2 points and 7 rebounds the previous season and will return for his redshirt senior season and will play a big part in the team’s success as a part of first-team preseason all ACC. The Hokies will have strong backcourt play as well from sharpshooter Nahiem Alleyne alongside Justyn Mutts. To compensate for some key transfer losses Virginia Tech went into the transfer portal and added even more shooting in the form of grad transfer Storm Murphy from Wofford who will likely see strong minutes throughout the season. Look for the Hokies to make the NCAA Tournament and be a top-five seed in the ACC Tournament. With the combination of strong shooting and the high rate of return of scoring from the previous season the Hokies will be among the deepest in the ACC and will have a serious chance to make some noise this year. 

Anthony Ravasio- Virginia Tech

Mike Young has the best team in his early career at Virginia Tech. Led by big man and preseason first-teamer Keve Aluma, the Hokies added some pieces to pair with sharpshooter Naheim Alleyne and Justyn Mutts. Wofford grad transfer Storm Muphy is a big addition for the Hokies, as he can open up the floor with his 40% three-point shooting clip as well as make plays inside the perimeter. Young should have a plethora of options to fill out the starting five, as this is one of the deeper ACC teams this season. They’re just outside the top 25 as of now, but look for the Hokies to make noise in the ACC.

Tom Seipp- Notre Dame and Syracuse

Regular Season Champion

Austin Farrell-Duke 

The Blue Devils have the best roster from top to bottom in the ACC and one of the deepest in the country and will look to send Coach K out on a high note. Duke is ranked No. 9 to start the season and may only go up from there with a star-studded freshmen class that ranks first in the nation including Paolo Banchero, A.J. Griffin, Trevor Keels, and Jordyn Blakes along with returning players Mark Williams, Wendell Moore jr., Jeremy Roach, and Joey Baker. There will be nights where the frontcourt of Banchero and Williams completely dominate down low with their tremendous size and skill. The frontcourt will likely be the focal point of their offense this upcoming season and with a strong backcourt, Duke will be hard to stop at all levels and may dominate from start to finish in the ACC in what would be a poetic finish from their head coach. 

Anthony Ravasio- Duke 

If it isn’t clear enough, Duke is by far the ACC’s best team going into the season. Duke is the only ACC team inside the top 10, with UNC being the next closest at 19. The Blue Devils feature an elite frontcourt and deep backcourt featuring Wendell Moore Jr and freshmen Trevor Keels and AJ Griffin. Jeremy Roach should also be reliable off the bench, as should senior shooter Joey Baker. Aiming to send Krzyzewski out with another Final Four run, these Blue Devils have the skill to compete for ACC and NCAA championships. Their coach’s farewell tour will bring even more attention to a program that already lives in the national spotlight. Look for a storybook ending to an unbelievable career. 

Tom Seipp- Duke

Big Ten Basketball Preview 

Coach of the Year 

Austin Farrell-Juwan Howard (Michigan)

Coming off a heartbreaking Elite 8 loss Howard and the Wolverines are going to come in as serious contenders not only for the Big 10 but for the national championship.  Howard has been among of if not the best coaching hire in the past several seasons in college basketball and is looking to continue his success. Howard went to work in the offseason after several key losses and was able to bring in the number two ranked recruiting class in the nation that will almost immediately make an impact. Michigan is the favorite coming into the year and Howard will prove that he is the best coach in the Big 10 and bring home his first regular-season Big 10 Championship.

Anthony Ravasio-Juwan Howard

Howard has had an unbelievable career as a coach at Michigan so far. Before Penny Hardaway and Memphis hauled in two of the best recruits in the current class, Michigan owned the No.1 recruiting class in the nation. In fact, Howard has been so good teams are now trying to bring back former players to be head coaches to replicate the success. Remember when Michigan fans thought John Beilein would’ve been a better hire than Howard? I wonder what they think now… Last season was Michigan’s first appearance as a one-seed since Howard played for the Wolverines. A third-place KenPom finish is the highest ever in the site’s history, and Howard led Michigan to an Elite 8 appearance. Howard has established himself as one of the top coaches in the country and there’s every indication his early success will continue into year three.

Tom Seipp-Matt Painter (Purdue)

Player of the year 

Austin Farrell- Kofi Cockburn

Cockburn feels like a cut above the rest of the competition with just how dominant he can be at the college level. He averaged 17.7 points and 9.5 rebounds a game last year in 31 games and at times looked like a college Shaquille O’Neal. Cockburn does not have a mid-range jumper or three-point shot to say the least and struggles mightily at the free-throw line but at the collegiate level, there is no stopping him in the paint. Cockburn is also an incredible force on the defensive end with incredible speed despite his massive frame. Despite having entered the transfer portal, Cockburn returned to Illinois and instantly gave Illinois an opportunity to compete for a Big 10 championship. With the departure of Ayo Dosunmo to the NBA draft, Cockburn will be the focal point of the offense with his amazing down low abilities to dominate with his back to the basket along with finding open teammates when he double-teamed down low. Cockburn did return to college to likely also improve his shot so look to see if Cockburn can have a mid-range shot which may allow him to stretch the floor and if he can improve that he may not only win the Big 10 but could also win National Player of the Year.

Anthony Ravasio-Kofi Cockburn

I was torn between Cockburn and Michigan center Hunter Dickinson, but Cockburn’s post-game and interior defense are elite. He’s athletic and very quick down the court and features a build bigger than every All-NBA player from last season. A pound heavier than Nikola Jokic. He would’ve been more of a lock for me if his mid-range and free-throw shooting was better. Along with being able to find open teammates better when double or triple-teamed (five assists all of last season), Cockburn can improve his game vastly. Combine better individual play with a nasty pick and roll duo with Andre Curbello and he can easily win this award.

Tom Seipp- Trayce Jackson-Davis Indiana

Regular Season 

Austin Farrell- Michigan 

In only his second season at Michigan, Juwan Howard led his team to an Elite 8 appearance as a one seed and narrowly lost in what could have been a final four appearance. Although Michigan lost several key players and they lost several key players, they bring in the number two overall recruiting class to go along with several key transfers with the rise of the importance of the transfer portal. Star center Hunter Dickinson will likely be the key player that decides how far this team can go into the tournament. With such a new team with new faces that have yet to play with each other in a regular-season game. This team may face some bumps early in the season as they acclimate to each other but as the season goes along this team will find its footing and will be the team to reckon with in the Big 10. 

Anthony Ravasio-Michigan

They return Dickinson and Eli Brooks, bring in the second-best recruiting class in the nation, one of the top transfer targets in Coastal Carolina G Devante Jones, and a top 5 coach in the nation in Juwan Howard. Michigan has all the makings of a top ten team and Big Ten title contender this season. Dickinson is an All-American, there’s veteran leadership in the backcourt with Jones and Brooks, and there’s a wealth of young talent joining the fold.

Tom Seipp- Purdue 

Newcomer of the Year 

Austin Farrell- Caleb Houstan (Michigan)

As you can tell I am all in on the Wolverines this year and Houstan has a chance to be the best freshman in the conference next year as an excellent perimeter player that will come in and immediately contribute to an already deep Michigan team. Expect the No. 8 overall prospect in this year’s class to be a key piece for the Wolverines this year and will likely see a lot of time not only serving as a small forward but also serve as the perfect piece for Juwan Howard to insert as a small-ball power forward that will allow the Wolverines to open up their offense. 

Anthony Ravasio- Xavier Johnson Indiana

I really, really like Indiana this year. Definitely underrated in a top-heavy Big Ten, Indiana, and former Hoosier star Mike Woodson for his first season. Woodson was able to bring in multiple transfers, including Pitt guard Xavier Johnson, to pair with future first-rounder Trayce Jackson-Davis. Johnson scored over 1,000 points in three seasons at Pitt and was the ACC’s highest-used player in 2020-2021. He led the conference in assist rate and has proven to be a much better scorer, shooter, scorer, and all-around creator. Johnson would be a perfect fit for Woodson’s transition attack, an area he thrived in for the Panthers the past three seasons. 

Tom Seipp- Trayce Jackson-Davis Indiana

Dark Horse Team 

Austin Farrell –Rutgers 

No, I do not think the Scarlet Knights will be winning the Big Ten this year, but I do see them as an under-the-radar team that can make some noise throughout the season and possibly wins a game or two in March. Barring the Tournament cancellation two seasons ago, this is a program that could have made the tournament the previous three years and head coach Steve Pikiell has done a solid job at a school that does not historically have a good basketball program. Rutgers at one point held a double-digit lead against two seed Houston in the Tournament last year but a late collapse and a lack of experience cost the Scarlet Knights a Sweet 16 appearance as an upstart 10 seed. The team will be led by center Cliff Omoruyi and despite having a down year the former top 50 recruit has a chance to blossom into a star coming into his sophomore year.

Anthony Ravasio- Indiana 

Tom Seipp- Indiana

Big 12 Preview 

Coach of the Year 

Austin Farrell- Chris Beard (Texas)

Texas made the best hire in college basketball in the offseason when it snatched Chris Beard from Texas Tech. Beard immediately got to work improving what was already a strong Texas roster that was on the wrong side of a 14-3 seed upset with Abilene Christian ending their season in the first round next year. Beard took advantage of the new transfer portal rules and added six high ceiling players who will all make an impact for the Longhorns this year including No. 1 ranked transfer Marcus Carr, a star senior guard for Texas who has the ability to be the National Player of the Year. Look for Beard to take Longhorns to new heights as it looks to compete for its first national championship in program history and will likely be competing for the foreseeable future with Beard at the helm.

Anthony Ravasio- Chris Beard 

Chris Beard crosses enemy lines to join the Longhorns after a great tenure at Texas Tech. Chris Beard’s roster features a nice mix of experience and talent transfers and should be near or at the top of the Big 12 by season end. Beard acquired high-ceiling transfers Marcus Carr and Timmy Allen as well as Devin Askew to pair with reliable seniors like Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey. Pair all of this with his first recruit in Jaylon Tyson, and Beard could lead his Longhorns deep into the postseason. 

Tom Seipp- Bill Self (Kansas) 

Player of the Year

Austin Farrell- Marcus Carr (Texas) 

This is a complete toss-up for me of star transfers with Carr and Remy Martin (Kansas) having an excellent chance at the honor.  Carr transferring to Texas instantly raised their ceiling and his play will likely dictate how far this team can go. Carr is an excellent scoring guard who averaged 19.4 points, 4 rebounds, and 4.3 assists at Minnesota last season. Transitioning into a more complete team at Texas Carr is likely going to be asked to take more of a scoring and passing role and will likely see his rebounding average take a dip but has an excellent chance to average well over 20 points-per-game and could be the leading scorer in the Big 12 next year and could be near or at the top of scoring in the nation.  While he is a good defender, he has some room to grow and if he can improve at that portion of his game, it will make him even more of a complete player. Carr, with his overall playmaking ability combined with his scoring, will be the key piece on a Longhorns team that looks to compete on the national stage. 

Anthony Ravasio- Remy Martin (Kansas)

Remy Martin removed himself from the 2020 NBA draft to chase dreams at Arizona State after Bobby Hurley brought in one of his best-recruiting classes ever. After a very disappointing season from both the team and himself (still averaged 19.1 ppg), Martin left ASU to chase dreams again in the Big 12 with Bill Self and the Jayhawks. Martin provides KU with a big playmaking piece that the Jayhawks lacked last season. Don’t overlook the strides that returners like Jalen Wilson, Christian Baun, and David McCormack are likely to make, which should be a byproduct of Martin’s abilities. Marcus Carr was an option here, but what Martin will be able to do at Kansas will overpower Carr’s potential at Texas.

Tom Seipp- Remy Martin 

Regular Season Winner 

Austin Farrell- Texas 

Texas was already a strong three-seed last year that was on the wrong side of an upset but upgraded at head coach in a big way and the roster shows it. Christ Beard dominated the transfer portal across the board and landed as mentioned above several top transfer portal recruits. With the era of the one and done completely dominating Texas is a veteran team led by its star guards with Andrew Jones and Carr making up arguably the best backcourt in the country. Beard has also constructed a roster with scoring threats from top to bottom and will be a heavy threat come postseason play.

Anthony Ravasio- Texas 

I have Texas as the second-best team in the nation in my Top 25, only behind Gonzaga. As mentioned above, Beard has done an excellent job in just his first few months on the job to make Texas one of the best programs in the conference. With so many new faces arriving in the portal, there is always concern about chemistry. But Beard has done a masterful job of getting transfer talent to play well together in the past. With their remade roster, the Longhorns have to be considered a threat to reach the Final Four in Beard’s first year of his alma mater. 

Tom Seipp- Kansas 

Newcomer of the Year

Austin Farrell- Marcus Carr

This award is also a toss-up for me between Carr and Martin but I like Carr more and believe he will have a better season at Texas.

Anthony Ravasio- Remy Martin 

Tom Seipp- Marcus Carr 

Dark Horse Team

Austin Farrell- Oklahoma 

After the departure of longtime coach Lon Kruger, Oklahoma went out and made an excellent hire in Porter Moser and looks to build off a season in which they finished with an overall record of 19-12 and were defeated by Gonzaga in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Sooners did lose several key players with their top three scorers leaving the program. But Moser did an excellent job of replacing them by bringing in several key transfers in forwards Tanner Groves and Jacob Groves from Eastern Washington as well as bringing in guard Jordan Goldwire from Duke. The Sooners may suffer a few losses as the team gels in early in the year but has an excellent opportunity to build off the success of last season in Moser’s first season.

Anthony Ravasio-Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State brings back seven rotation players from last year’s team, other than Cade Cunningham. With the emergence of Avery Anderson last season alongside Cunningham (12.2 ppg), Anderson should lead the Cowboys backcourt. Forward Kalib Boone made a marked leap in his sophomore season as well. Coach Boynton also brings in an infusion of talent with a good recruiting class. Despite the NCAA postseason class, expect the Cowboys to still be in contention for the Big 12 regular-season title. 

Tom Seipp- Oklahoma

Pac 12 Basketball preview

Coach of the Year 

Austin Farrell- Mick Cronin (UCLA)

After a miraculous run to the Final Four last year, UCLA only got better from where they were when they nearly made a championship appearance if not for a Jalen Suggs half-court shot. UCLA lost almost none of its production and is only going to improve with star guard Johnny Juzang likely to be a strong contender for Player of the Year in the Pac-12 as well as nationally. The team was only bolstered even more by the additions of five-star guard Peyton Watson as well as Myles Johnson, an experienced big man transfer from Rutgers. With an improving roster and a relatively weak Pac-12, Cronin has a chance to get UCLA two Final Four appearances in as many years.

Tom Seipp-Mick Cronin

Player of the year 

Austin Farrell- Johnny Juzang (UCLA) 

The former transfer is now the key component in a UCLA team that hopes to replicate its success in the tournament from last season.  The once transfer averaged 16 points a game to go along with 4.1 rebounds a game last season in his first year at UCLA and expect those numbers to only increase in his first real offseason with the team with COVID severely impacting the development of younger players last season. Juzang is a good playmaker for the Bruins and is a dangerous scorer at all three levels. Juzang was the hero for the Bruins in the tournament last year and will get a chance to be the key for the engine for the team this season.

Tom Seipp- UCLA  

Regular season winner 

Austin Farrell- UCLA 

Tom Seipp-UCLA 

Newcomer of the Year  

Austin Farrell Marreon Jackson (Arizona State) 

Arizona State lost one of the great players the program has had with Remy Martin transferring to Kansas in the offseason and head coach Bobby Hurley brought in Jackson from the University of Toledo to try and fill the enormous shoes he left behind. Jackson is a terrific point guard who can score at all three levels and rebounds well for a guard who is only 6-feet-1-inches. Jackson brings a tenacity to the guard spot for Sun Devils. Jackson is coming off a stellar season at Toledo averaging 18.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game last season with the Zips, and is likely to see even more shot attempts in his senior season at Arizona State with him being the focal point of this offense as the Sun Devils look to bounce back after a disappointing season in which they went 11-14. 

Tom Seipp- Jacob Young (Oregon)

Dark Horse Team 

Austin Farrell- Colorado

No matter the year, it seems the Buffaloes led by head coach Tad Boyle always seems to find a way to get 20 plus wins and this doesn’t feel like this will be the exception. Buffalo quietly boasted the best scoring defense and highest scoring bench in all of the Pac 12 last year and with nine returning players and five incoming players has an opportunity to improve upon that. Although they may not make a run for the National Championship. Colorado always makes a run at the Pac 12 title and always seems to find itself in the NCAA Tournament with a solid seed and this year is not going to be an exception.

Tom Seipp-Arizona State

SEC Basketball Preview

Coach of the Year 

Austin Farrell- John Calipari (Kentucky)

Calipari and Kentucky are coming off a season in which Kentucky had arguably their worst season in program history finishing the season with a dreadful 9-16 record and the Wildcats of course missing the NCAA tournament. Despite an abysmal season, Calipari went to work immediately and had arguably the best offseason of any coach in the country, taking full advantage of the transfer portal. Calipari took most of Kentucky’s many weaknesses from last year’s team from minimal playmakers and shooters and targeted specific players in the transfer portal that have made those weaknesses and turned them into strengths. Georgia transfer point guard Sahvir Wheeler is likely going to be the leader of the backcourt to go along with top 10 recruit TyTy Washington in yet another top 10 recruiting class for the Wildcats. 

Tom Seip Eric Mussleman (Arkansas)

Player of the Year

Austin Farrell- Jahvon Quinerly (Alabama)

Guard Jahvon Quinerly is going to be the leader of both the backcourt and team for the Crimson Tide heading into his senior season after averaging 12.9 points and 3.2 assists per game last season. Quinerly and fellow returning guard Jaden Shackleford are among the best backcourt duos in the country and are coming off a March Madness in which the Crimson Tide lost to UCLA in the Sweet 16 and can only go up and improve from that. Look for Quinerly and the Crimson Tide to compete for the SEC championship and possibly make a long run in March this time around.

Tom Seipp- Scotty Pippen Jr. (Vanderbilt)

Regular Season Winner 

Austin Farrell- Kentucky 

Anthony Ravasio- Auburn

Tom Seipp- Kentucky

Newcomer of the year

Austin Farrell Kellan Grady-Kentucky 

Grady is coming off a tremendous career at Davidson where he scored over 2000 points for the team in 4 years and is playing his final season in Lexington. Grady averaged 17.4 points and 4.6 rebounds a game last season for the (Davidson) Wildcats and will likely make a big impact as Kentucky looks to rebound from last season. Grady is fantastic at all three scorers and will have a strong chance to lead the Cats in scoring. As a fifth-year senior, Grady is going to be among the leaders on this team that has its sights high as Kentucky looks to end its seven-year Final Four drought.

Tom Seipp- Jaemyn Brakefield (Ole Miss)

Dark Horse

Austin Farrell- Auburn

Despite being ranked 22nd in the country, Auburn is going to likely be overlooked by some going into this season. Auburn is also trying to rebound from a poor season as it is coming off its worst season under head coach Bruce Pearl finishing with a 13-14 overall record. Auburn brought in several big additions including Walker Kessler from the transfer portal from North Carolina, as well as five-star, top-five prospect forward Jabari Smith. These two players are going to be key for the team and are likely going to be the focal point of the team with the team’s leading scorer last year in Allen Flannigan who averaged 14.3 points a game recovering from Achilles surgery. Once Flannigan returns, I expect this team to make a serious push for the SEC regular-season title. 

Tom Seipp-Mississippi State

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