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College Basketball Preview: Player, Conference Rankings and Championship Predictions


College Basketball Preview: Player, Conference Rankings and Championship Predictions

John Strohl

Top Incoming Freshman

5. Collin Sexton, Alabama

Although Sexton has yet to be cleared by the NCAA to play, he still makes the list. Sexton is one of the most explosive players in the country with an amazing passing ability. Sexton plays like Eric Bledsoe or Russell Westbrook, fast, great off the dribble, but needs work on the perimeter shot. Also akin to Westbrook, Sexton plays with a certain ferocity and is known for his trash talking.

4. Trevon Duval, Duke

Like Sexton, Trevon Duval is another very explosive player. Their games are very similar ‒ both are lacking a jump shot and both play above the rim. What puts Duval above Sexton is the fact that he is playing on a far better team than the Crimson Tide

3. Deandre Ayton, Arizona

Ayton has the skill set of a guard but the body of a center. He is a physical specimen that shoots 3s quite well. Last season, Arizona had a stretch big in Lauri Markkanen but physically more imposing and a lot more agile. Porter and Bagley may receive more hype right now, but Ayton could ultimately have the better career in the NBA.

2. Michael Porter Jr., Missouri

Both Bagley and Porter could be first on this list, but Porter has a little more to his game. Porter plays both the 3 and the 4 and can do just about everything on the court. He is similar to Paul George in terms of size and length, in addition to a skillset that includes shooting, passing, and defense.

1. Marvin Bagley, Duke

Bagley edges Porter on the list the same way Duval edged Sexton ‒ Bagley will play on a higher stage every single night. Bagley will be what Duke thought Harry Giles would be last year ‒ an elite scoring presence down low with great rebounding ability. He may not average 20 a night, due to the fact Duke has so many other weapons. One thing is for sure, Bagley will be consistently getting double-doubles and will be a top 3 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.


Top Returning Players


5. Grayson Allen, Duke

Allen is widely regarded as the most hated player in college basketball today, but the kid can play. His sophomore season was stellar, but he had a rough junior season due to injuries and suspensions by way of tripping opposing players mixed in with throwing temper tantrums like a 7-year-old who did not get his way. Allen is the lone veteran on the Blue Devils this year meaning he will have to grow into a leadership role for Duke to excel even more than it would.

4. Jalen Brunson, Villanova

Brunson is a top candidate to win this year’s Wooden Award in his final season at Villanova. Filling the shoes of Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins will be tough, but nothing Brunson cannot handle as he is now the top dog on the Wildcats this year. Brunson excels at shooting from the perimeter but really flourishes when attacking the rim. Look for him to be the best point guard in the nation.

3. Allonzo Trier, Arizona

Although Trier was ineligible to play the first half of last season, his incredible second half earned him a spot at number 3. Trier is a natural scorer but saw nice improvement in rebounding and passing last season. Trier will need to take more of leadership role this year due to Rawle Alkins being out with a foot injury for part of the season.

2. Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame

Colson is not your stereotypical center that is usually stands at about 7 feet tall. Colson stands around 6-foot-6 tall with a tremendous wingspan and still puts up amazing numbers. Last season, Colson finished the season averaging 17.2 points and 10.4 rebounds a game. Colson is good in every facet of the game. Surprisingly, Colson was a real threat from beyond the arc last season shooting 43.8 percent from three. Do not be surprised if you see Colson and the Irish playing in early April.

1. Miles Bridges, Michigan State

Bridges is undoubtedly the best player in the country. To most people’s surprise, Bridges decided to stay in East Lansing for another season making the Spartans one of the top teams in the country. Bridges was one of the few bright spots on the team last year, averaging 16.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks a game.


Top Conferences


3. Big East

Top Tier: Villanova, Butler, Seton Hall, Xavier

Mid: Georgetown, Marquette, Depaul, Providence

Low: St. John’s, Creighton

2. Big Ten

Top Tier: Michigan State, Purdue, Minnesota

Mid: Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Maryland, Iowa, Penn State, Ohio State

Low: Illinois, Nebraska, Rutgers

1. ACC

Top Tier: UNC, Duke, Notre Dame, Louisville, Virginia, Miami

Mid: Syracuse, NC State, Pitt, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Wake Forest

Low: Clemson, Boston College


Final Four and National Championship Prediction


4. Xavier Muskiteers

Xavier will be able to give Villanova a run for their money this season during Big East play. Trevon Bluiett is in the early consideration for national player of the year after deciding to drop out of the NBA draft pool. Xavier is always a threat come tournament time, so it would not be a surprise to see this team in the Final Four with all of the veteran leadership it possesses..

3.) Wichita State Shockers

Wichita State is returning every starter from last year’s team that lost to Kentucky by three points in the round of 32. Landry Shamet is an elite scorer and is a top 20 player in the country and Shaq Morris is force to be reckoned with in the post. It would not be a shock to see the Shockers make a deep run in this tournament. Head coach Gregg Marshall always seems to have his teams prepared for the spotlight.

2. Arizona Wildcats

The Wildcats are an easy favorite to win the Pac 12 this season. That is due to their big 3 ‒ Allonzo Trier, Deandre Ayton, and Rawle Alkins. The only thing keeping the Wildcats from winning it all is a lack of defense. This team is filled with offensive weapons but defense will need to be the focal point to have any tournament success.

1. Michigan State Spartans

With the return of Miles Bridges, Tom Izzo will end up winning his second National Championship ‒ the first coming in 2000. The team holds two future lottery picks in Bridges and freshman Jaren Jackson. The Spartans are complete in all areas. Bridges, Jackson and Nick Ward will be one of the best frontcourts in the nation while Cassius Winston and Josh Langford will run a solid frontcourt.