Before we get too far into the season, I wanted to take the chance to share some of my hot takes. Although many will disagree with my picks, I have listed who I believe will win the highest honors in college basketball, with a short description explaining the madness behind my thought process. See my predictions below:
First Team All-Americans:
Guard, Grayson Allen, Senior, Duke
Guard, Trevon Blueitt, Senior, Xavier
Guard/Forward, Miles Bridges, Sophomore, Michigan State
Forward, Bonzie Colson, Senior, Notre Dame
Forward, Michael Porter Jr. Freshman Missouri
Just missing the cut: Jalen Brunson, Villanova; Allonzo Trier, Arizona; Ethan Happ, Wisconsin.
The pick here I know will receive the most noise is Trevon Blueitt. I will start by saying that I believe this Xavier team is going to be severely overlooked. Coming off an Elite 8 appearance and returning key players Blueitt, JP Macura, and Quentin Goodin, the Musketeers are a dangerous team. Chris Mack is an excellent coach with tournament experience. Look for Xavier to make a deep run again this year and Blueitt to lead the charge.
I chose Grayson Allen over Jalen Brunson based on the fact that Allen will be in his second year of being a key player for Duke. Brunson played a secondary role to Josh Hart last year and will have to adjust to being the star of his team. I think Allen will edge him in the end.
Other than these two picks, I believe no further explanation is needed. Bridges, Colson, and Porter should all be stars on each of their respective teams.
Naismith College POTY:
Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame
In each of the past four years, a senior has taken home player of the year honors. I have no reason to believe that won’t be the case again this year. I debated between Bonzie Colson and Miles Bridges to win this award, however in the end I settled on Colson.
Colson is the star of a very talented Notre Dame team. He is the center piece of Mike Brey’s offensive scheme and does not have anyone else really competing on with him on his team. Although Bridges is the best player on his team, teammate Jaren Jackson Jr. has an equally high ceiling and could very well steal the spotlight.
Colson averaged 17.8 points-per-game, 10.1 rebounds-per-game, and shot 43.3 percent from three-point range last year. Barring injury, he has the potential to have an even stronger season this year. Notre Dame is also a dark horse to win the ACC and make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
Final Four picks:
Nova is a lock to make the NCAA tournament and, if they play how they usually do in the regular season, will probably end up with a 1 or 2 seed. This team returns several key players from last year’s squad, including Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, and Donte DiVincenzo. Last year they were knocked off in the Round of 32 by a hot Wisconsin team. Historically, Villanova has had trouble making it past the first weekend. I think this year Jay Wright keeps them on track and they bounce back.
I learned a long time ago that it is never wise to bet against Tom Izzo in March. Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson are two future lottery picks that can drive this team deep in March. Michigan State is one of the favorites to win the National Championship. An early loss to Duke should not make anyone think less of this young team. They will end up putting things together and make the eighth Final Four appearance under Tom Izzo.
It is hard to not choose a team that is so chalk-full of future NBA players. Current mock drafts have all five of these starters going in the first round. With that kind of talent, you simply can’t have a prediction that doesn’t involve Duke going deep. The combination of young talent from the likes of Marvin Bagley and Gary Trent Jr. will supplement the senior leadership of Grayson Allen and give the Blue Devils a good shot at winning it all.
Chris Mack is a coach who lives for March. In his eight seasons at Xavier, he has pushed his teams to four sweet sixteen appearances, with an Elite 8 appearance last year. This year returns nearly all of the key players of that team and adds more talent around it. I love the potential this Xavier team has and believe they will surprise many people with another deep run.
Sleepers: Notre Dame, Miami (FL), Florida
Something tells me this Michigan State team will put things together and get it done. Tom Izzo is excellent in March and the one-two combo of Bridges and Jackson is as good as any duo in NCAA basketball. When this team puts things together they will be virtually impossible to stop. Big expectations for the Spartans.
Most Outstanding Player (NCAA Tournament):
This is a no-brainer. If Michigan State does win a championship, Miles Bridges will be the reason. He is a budding star with a very high ceiling. It will be fun to continue watching him as the season progresses.