We asked a panel of “experts” to weigh in on the upcoming NCAA men’s basketball season. Here’s what they said.
HOWIE LINDSEY, 790 KRD
SURPRISE TEAM: Virginia Tech. I think they will be much tougher than people realize and it wouldn’t shock me if they are a Sweet 16 team this season.
DISAPPOINTING TEAM: North Carolina. They seem to be a preseason Top 10 team with a lot of question marks.
FINAL FOUR: Duke, Florida, West Virginia, Kansas
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Miles Bridges, Michigan State
COACH OF THE YEAR: Bob Huggins, West Virginia
JIM BIERY, Extol Sports Columnist
SURPRISE TEAM: Northwestern. First trip ever last year & majority of team coming back.
MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAM: UK. Top returning scorer just 4.6 PPG.
FINAL FOUR: Arizona, Michigan St, Villanova, Duke
PLAYER OF YEAR: Ethan Happ (Wisconsin) complete game defense & offense
COACH OF YEAR: Tom Izzo. Team is loaded and he is one of top teachers of the game.
ZACH MCCRITE, Extol Sports Columnist
SURPRISE TEAM: I’ll go with the homer pick for me: Indiana. Archie Miller went right to work in recruiting and, by all national accounts, really did well. Combine that with a new energy around Bloomington and why wouldn’t they return to the NCAA Tournament in 2018?
DISAPPOINTING TEAM: Louisville. With Rick Pitino not roaming the sidelines, I can’t imagine the expectations for this season being met. That’s no knock on new head coach David Padgett, it’s just a testament to my respect for Pitino as a coach.
FINAL FOUR: Shot in the dark: Kentucky, Kansas, West Virginia and Florida.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jalen Brunson – Villanova. That’s off the board a little, but his effective field goal percentage was 61.9 last season. That sounds like a number a seven-footer would have. He’s a point guard!
COACH OF THE YEAR: Give me Bill Self. He’ll continue to run the Big 12 and will do it with more ease than in recent seasons.
STEVE KAUFMAN, Extol Sports Writer
First of all, anyone who tries to predict pretty much anything is a fool. So I do not stand behind any of these picks – unless I’m right!
SURPRISE TEAM: Missouri; great freshman class, especially the Porter brothers
DISAPPOINTING TEAMS: Duke, preseason No. 1 – I don’t think they’ll finish No. 1; Louisville, preseason No. 16 – just way too much turmoil, loss of a great coach, replaced by an inexperienced rookie coach, simply unfair to him; Minnesota, preseason No. 15 – not a good year for the Pitino family
FINAL FOUR: Kentucky, North Carolina, Arizona, Florida (or some other four teams)
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Michael Porter Jr., Missouri or Kevin Knox, Kentucky
COACH OF THE YEAR: Mike White, Florida (for no particular reason, except he’s done good things there and I think will continue to do good things); second choice – Archie Miller, Indiana
REX BEYERS, Professional Oddsmaker/SoIN native
SURPRISE TEAM: Penn State
MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAM: Kansas
FINAL FOUR: Xavier, Villanova, West Virginia, Arizona
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jevon Carter, West Virginia
COACH OF THE YEAR: Chris Mack, Xavier
ADAM KLEINERT, Extol Sports Art Director & Sports Fan
SURPRISE TEAM THIS SEASON: Alabama
MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAM: Gulp…Louisville
FINAL FOUR: Duke, Wichita State, Michigan State, Kansas
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Marvin Bagley III, Duke
COACH OF THE YEAR: Gregg Marshall, Wichita State
JEFF NUNN, CardinalSportsZone.com
SURPRISE TEAM: Xavier
DISAPPOINTING TEAM: Villanova
FINAL FOUR: Duke, Michigan State, Arizona, Xavier
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Grayson Allen, Duke
COACH OF THE YEAR: Sean Miller – Arizona