Writer: Andrew Martin
It’s finally the best time of the year for sports. MLB playoffs are beginning, were in the midst of college football and NFL, NHL and NBA are beginning, and my personal favorite, college basketball, is starting up. Like many other people, I spend way too much time watching basketball this time of year. How can you not though? With my anticipation building up more every day, I decided to make my preseason final four predictions for this season.
Duke brings back senior superstar, and newly appointed captain Grayson Allen, along with Marques Bolden, Javin DeLaurier, and Jack White. Already, four great players there, but let’s take a look at Duke’s recruiting class coming in. They welcome Jordan Goldwire, Jordan Tucker, Alex O’Connell, Gary Trent Jr, Wendell Carter Jr, Trevon Duval, and Marvin Bagley III. One 3-Star, two 4-Stars, and four 5-Star. With these new players, the floor really opens up for Duke offensively. Wendell Carter Jr. and Bagley both have outstanding jumpers for big men, which will help spread the floor. Also, the pick and roll could end up being Duke’s most deadly play by the end of the season. With a powerful guard in Trevon Duval at point getting screens from Bagley, Carter, or even Bolden with outstanding shooters Grayson Allen and Gary Trent on the wings, this play might be unstoppable. Captain Grayson Allen hopes to lead the Blue Devil’s through the ACC on their way to a sixth national championship.
2. Michigan State
Big Ten Network
Last season, the Spartans were very young and still managed to make the tournament. During the offseason, Spartan fans got a wish come true when superstar freshman, Miles Bridges, who was a projected first round NBA draft pick announced he was returning for his sophomore season. Bridges might be this year’s top candidate for player of the year, making the Spartans a real threat to the BIG 10 and the rest of the nation. Along with Bridges, MSU brought back three more freshmen in Nick Ward, Joshua Langford, and Cassius Winston. We can assume that Bridges will not return again after this season, and possibly even more players in his class will leave after this year, so this could be the Spartans make or break year.
Arizona Daily Star
Last year’s leading scorer for Arizona, Allonzo Trier, is returning for another year after the news of Lauri Markkanen entering the NBA Draft. While Arizona also has several returning players such as Rawle Alkins and Parker Jackson-Cartwright, they also bring in a top five recruiting class this year. The star in their recruiting class is 7-foot DeAndre Ayton, who was the #1 ranked big man of the 2017 class. This recruiting class will help significantly, but don’t be fooled, this team’s success comes down to the scoring production of Allonzo Trier. He averaged just over 17 points last season, and with help from DeAndre Ayton and playmaking guard, Jackson-Cartwright, Trier should be able to average just as much (if not more). If he can make that happen, then expect to see the Wildcats in San Antonio in early April.
After losing Malik Monk, De’Aaron Fox, and Bam Adebayo to the NBA Draft, Calipari went out and reloaded with a new recruiting class. The Cats got three dominant big men in Jarred Vanderbilt, Nick Richards, and P.J. Washington, creating the best frontcourt in the nation. Next, they got the third best guard in the class in Quade Green. If that wasn’t enough, they got one of the most well-rounded players in this year’s class in Kevin Knox. Knox was a late decision, and many people thought he’d pick Duke, but he ended up with the Cats making them a serious title contender. Just as we’ve come to expect from Kentucky, they will be relying on freshmen all year long to lead them, but if anyone knows how to deal with that problem it is Calipari. Heading into this season, Big Blue Nation expects nothing short of an SEC and NCAA title, just as they do every year.