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Alas, a new season is beginning. I can finally start to hear the squeak of the court, the clank of the rim, and voice of Dick Vitale.
After a long, long summer in which the NBA was the only basketball making headlines, it’s finally time for the college season to start.
Last year ended with a magical NCAA Tournament, one in which the little guy finally started to make a difference in the big picture. Teams like Cornell and St. Mary’s all made a big impact, while no mid-major team came close to what Butler accomplished.
Losing by two in the national title was definitely a disappointing game, but the experience will be one Butler fans and basketball fans will never forget. Butler’s run last year was incredible to watch. The way they played as a team last year was second to none, and was very fun to watch.
However, this is a new season. Duke looks to defend a title, while every other team in the country looks to take the throne away from them.
It is definitely going to be another awesome year of college hoops. Here’s my predictions for who will end up on top of each conference come March.
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The Owls of Temple lead the way for the Atlantic 10 as they go for their third straight A-10 title.
This year they will by Conference Preseason First Team selection Lavoy Allen and Second Team selection Juan Fernandez.
They’re ranked No.22 in the preseason polls and will look to improve on that with their tough early schedule. The Owls open up with Seton Hall before traveling to California, Georgetown, and Villanova all in their out of conference schedule.
They will show early whether or not they are for real this season, but will also learn a lot about their team after these tough non-conference games.
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I have to go with the returning champions.
Duke returns star players like Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith to go along with the new guard, Kyrie Irving. Highly touted in high school, Irving will look to be a key part in this Duke team as they look to go for their second straight title.
However, the key on this team will be the play of the Plumlee brothers. With the loss of Brian Zoubek in the middle, they will have to step up big time in the Blue Devils plan to make another trip to the Final Four and then the championship.
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While I don’t think that Kansas State has taken over as the alpha dog of this conference, they are definitely the team to beat this season.
Jacob Pullen is a star in this league and will continue to be as long as he’s a K-State. I don’t see any team being capable of traveling to Kansas State and knocking them off. Being great at home, then, is obviously a very good trait to have.
As for their in-state rival, Kansas is still lurking and will be better than advertised once Josh Selby is cleared by the NCAA. I still think this is Kansas State’s conference to lose, though.
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Last season, people doubted Jim Boeheim after he lost three starters from a Sweet 16 team. This year, I won’t make the same mistake.
Yes, the Orange lost starters from last year, but they have a team capable of winning their second straight Big East title.
Scoop Jardine, Brandon Triche, Rick Jackson, and Kris Joseph all return from last year’s team and will be the leaders on this team and will be the deciding factor in whether or not the Orange can repeat last year’s success.
However, with the new frontline, Kris Joseph will be the one with the biggest role to fill. Along with freshman Fab Melo, he’ll be taking on a big role of moving this team to the top of the Big East.
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Last year’s Final Four team is primed to make it there again and definitely has the talent to do so.
The Spartans return three of their four leading scorers from last season, including the leading scorer in guard Kalin Lucas. Lucas is coming off of an injury that knocked him out of the tournament, but is ready to be 100% this season and improve on last season’s perforamance.
The tough out of conference schedule will get the Spartans ready for what will be the best conference in America this season. The Big Ten is very strong, but the Spartans are the early favorites to win it.
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Washington is picked to win the Pac 10 by almost everyone I’ve seen so far this year and for good reason. They return stars Isaiah Thomas and Justin Holliday.
They start their season off on a strong note in the Maui Invitational, in which we will learn how good Washington is and how good they can become. They’re the best team in the Pac 10 as of now, but need to continue to grow if they plan to make any noise in the post-season.
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Last year ended in disappointment in the first round loss, but this year’s Gator team returns a lot of talent that will translate to success on the court.
Having Kenny Boyton and Erving Walker in the back court will be one of the best duos in the country to go along with Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus in the front-court.
The experience on this team will be more developed and more mature than any other team in this conference. There are a lot of teams with athletic players that can jump out of the gym, but this Gator team can play with anyone in the country and will prove that.
Florida should be on their way to an SEC Championship and a good seed heading into the tournament come March.
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I know I said I would give the winners of every conference, but I can’t leave out the mid-majors after the way they played in the tournament last year.
Butler still leads the way, despite the loss of Gordon Hayward. Players like Shelvin Mack, Matt Howard, and Ronald Nored give this team a solid core moving forward.
And, while last year’s run will be hard to ever top by another mid-major team, they are good enough to win a couple of games in this year’s tournament.