11 Predictions for College Basketball Season

David Ridderhoff, Contributor

Predictions can be tough. I remember when I predicted the Tigers to beat the Giants in five games in the 2012 World Series (which the Giants swept). Or when I told my buddy the Bears would start the season 1-7 this year (they didn’t lose until Week 4). But something I seem to predict pretty well is college basketball. I mean last year I did tell people that two No. 4 seeds would make the Final Four, in Michigan and Syracuse. I was correct. I also picked Michigan to play Louisville in the National Championship game, even though I chose Michigan to win it all.  So, I thought one day, I should put my predictions to the test. Here are my 11 predictions for the upcoming college basketball season.

1. No Big Ten team will make the Final Four this year

Michigan State always seems to be right there, thanks to Tom Izzo, but they just can’t get over the hump. They start the season at No. 2, but I wouldn’t expect them to finish anywhere near there. Ohio State and Michigan are the only other teams that appear to have any hopes at a Final Four run. Ohio State always seems to have one really bad game in each tournament, which sinks them, while Michigan lost way too much from last year’s team to contend.

2. A team will go winless this year.

There are four new teams to Division-I this year: Abilene Christian, Grand Canyon, Massachusetts-Lowell and Incarnate Word will all be making the leap to the top level of college basketball. Expect one of those teams to go the whole season without a win.

3. Creighton’s Doug McDermott will lead the country in scoring and three-point percentage.

He averaged 23.2 PPG last year, and his team lost some good players. He takes a lot of three’s (approximately five a game), but also hit them at an astounding 49 percent clip last year. He is what Stephen Curry was to Davidson a few years ago.

4. Duke won’t win both the regular season and conference championship in the ACC.

New additions Syracuse and Notre Dame will give Mike Krzyzewski fits, and adding those teams to North Carolina, Virginia and Miami will be too much for the Blue Devils to overcome twice. The Blue Devils did add Simeon phenom Jabari Parker to an already outstanding team, but the ACC is too deep. They should win one, but not both.

5. No Mid-Major will be in the Final Four.

There’s too many what-if’s when it comes to teams like Gonzaga, VCU and Wichita State. It will be all power conference teams this year.

Now, it’s rapid-fire time.

6.  Florida Gulf-Coast won’t make the NCAA Tournament this year.

Find a new Cinderella.

7.  Northern Illinois

The team won’t break the record for least points in a half, like they did last year when they scored four in the first half versus Eastern Michigan.

8.  Either Baylor or Oklahoma State will make a serious run at the Final Four.

The Big 12 could end up with two Final Four teams.

Here are the big predictions − my All-American team and Naismith Player of the Year winner predictions, as well as my four Final Four picks and National Champion pick. I’m also making a close-to-home prediction.

9. No Illinois team will make the NCAA tournament.

Northwestern is taking big steps forward, but won’t be able to contend this year. They had a chance last year, but couldn’t put together any resume worthy of consideration. Illinois had a good team last year, and ended up almost taking down the two-seed in their bracket, Miami. They got worse this year, losing star guard Brandon Paul, and they won’t be able to replace his production. Bradley and Southern Illinois both made Sweet 16 runs early in the 2000s, but have done absolutely nothing recently. There is no hope for Illinois college basketball, unless someone on Illinois becomes a superstar.

10. My All-American team:

Guard: Sophomore Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
Guard: Sophomore Gary Harris, Michigan State
Forward: Freshman Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
Forward: Senior Doug McDermott, Creighton
Center: Freshman Julius Randle, Kentucky

One sleeper to make this team is Arizona’s rookie sensation Aaron Gordon, who I was trying to get into the list above McDermott. For Naismith Player of the Year, many people are picking Andrew Wiggins. I’m taking Marcus Smart. He’s had a year in the college game, and now is poised to make a run at a championship and a POY award.

11.  Final Four picks:

Kentucky, Kansas, Duke and Oklahoma State. These four teams all have legitimate chances, and I don’t see enough funny stuff happening to knock these teams off.

Finally, my pick to win it all this year: the Kentucky Wildcats. They have the greatest recruiting class ever, and barring injuries, have the best team by a long shot. Between Randle, twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison and Dakari Johnson, this team has enough talent to at least keep it close against a team like the Phoneix Suns or Sacramento Kings, and I think they could beat them. There’s no reason to think they can’t go all the way, as coach John Calipari said they could, and I predict they will be your 2014 NCAA Champions.

So, I hope that I’m right, and if not, I’m no expert anyway. I’ll take heat, too, if I end up being completely wrong. Don’t be afraid to find me and tell me to stop predicting sports; I’ve been told to before.

David Ridderhoff
David Ridderhoff is a junior Radio/TV broadcast major. He is the sports editor for The Flyer. He is also the general manager of Lewis’ radio station, WLRA. As an avid sports fan, he also collects hats and jerseys from a variety of sports teams.

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