As the NCAA men’s college basketball season approaches, many wonder who will make a championship run this year. Below is a list of the top 5 teams in the nation, in my opinion, and why they will be a championship contender when March rolls around.
No. 1 : Duke Blue Devils : Duke will have Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith back, but they are now without leader Jon Scheyer. The loss of Scheyer will definitely be a big blow to the team, but it’s Duke. They always find ways to win and have players who step up in the big moments. I look for Kyrie Irving (#9 prospect in nation) to be a Freshman All-American and expect big things for him. The Blue Devils have a good shot of defending their national championship from 2010.
No. 2 : Michigan State Spartans : Michigan State looks extremely solid coming into 2011. Kalin Lucas, Draymond Green, and Korie Lucious all return and I would be surprised if the Spartans weren’t a number one seed come tournament time. Raymar Morgan is now gone and this will hurt the Spartans greatly but several freshman may get solid playing time. Adreian Payne may have a huge impact on the Spartans team and may be the x-factor when it comes to winning a championship.
No. 3 : North Carolina Tar Heels : After the disappointing year last year, I expect North Carolina to get back to their usual ways. Freshman Harrison Barnes should be a pleasure to watch and I expect the team to be built around him. The Tar Heels success will greatly depend on Barne’s success and I think he will have a Josh-Wall like season. Another freshman who was greatly overlooked because of the signing of Barnes is Reggie Bullock who was the #10 high prospect in the nation last year.
No. 4 : Kansas State Wildcats : This is my surprise pick of the year. K-State is greatly overlooked and many will be shocked when they prove they can win games consistently. I expect the Wildcats to be a top three seed when March Madness arrives and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make a championship run. Jacob Pullen, Jamar Samuels, and Curtis Kelly all return. The Wildcats should dominate the Big 12. I don’t expect any incoming freshman to make a very big impact on this team but if I had to pick the one with the best chance to, I would pick SHane Southwell who was the #123 prospect in the nation last year.
No. 5 : Butler Bulldogs : The Bulldogs return Matt Howard but lose Gordon Hayward. Hayward was THE reason the Bulldogs made it as far as they did in 2010 but Howard played a big role to. I don’t think the Bulldogs are one of the most talented teams in 2011 but I think that heart and pride can take you a long way, especially when tournament time comes. Butler is a bit of a sleeper pick this year, but I am expecting big things from the Bulldogs.