This season, I wanted to do a Bracketology, but at this point that seems premature. Who knows who will win the one-bid league tournaments? So I decided to focus on seed lines 1-6.
This will be a collaborative effort as I’m joining Bill Riccette of Dynasty Sports Empire - a blog that focuses on all sports from a fantasy perspective and will henceforth be referred to as “DSE.” Bill is a huge college hoops, so we decided we’d get together for a semi-regular feature throughout the season.
Bill and I will go through what we think will be lines 1-6 in the NCAA Tournament. We’ll update this once a month or so until January, then twice a month, then hopefully once a week in February (at least that’s the plan). Bill and I came up with our lines completely independent of each other and will provide comments on each two-line grouping. You’ll figure it out…
1 – Indiana, Louisville, Kentucky, Ohio State
2 – Kansas, Michigan, NC State, Syracuse
Indiana returns all five starters, including Player of the Year candidate Cody Zeller. They also have one of the best recruiting classes, including Yogi Ferrell, who I think will make an instant impact for the Hoosiers. Louisville is no pushover, themselves. Even with Kyle Kuric gone, they return Peyton Siva, Chane Behanan and Gorgui Dieng. And watch out for Wayne Blackshear. Kentucky is brand new, but they are full of stud recruits, including #1 recruit Nerlens Noel. The Ohio State-Kansas game on Dec. 22 could very well decide a #1 seed. Michigan and NC State meet Nov. 27 in what will be great game. Syracuse lost Waiters and Joseph, but never count out Jim Boeheim.
1 – Louisville, Indiana, Ohio State, Kansas
2 – Missouri, Syracuse, Kentucky, North Carolina
Indiana was 64th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency last year. And my top overall seed – Louisville – was 103rd in Adjusted Offense, so there are holes at the top. I see two Big Ten teams on the 1-line because I see the B1G as the best league this year. I know we’ve heard that song before, but I believe it more this year than last. My positioning of Missouri and Kentucky indicates that I am in the minority when I say Kentucky isn’t going to be a shoo-in to be good. Last year’s team had many freshmen, yes, but they got big contributions from sophomore Doron Lamb and senior Darius Miller. Where’s that coming from this year? North Carolina wins a somewhat down ACC.
3-Duke, North Carolina, UCLA, Florida
4-Arizona, Memphis, Michigan State, Missouri
For the first time in a long time, neither Duke nor UNC are favored in the ACC. But by no means are they out of the race. Tobacco Road is just now much more exciting with the return of NC State to the national stage. Four starters return for Duke, including Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry. And after a redshirt year, Marshall Plumlee finally gets a chance to shine. Reggie Bullock is the only returning starter for UNC, but with future stars James Michael McAdoo, and Marcus Paige, plus Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald returning from injury, Roy Williams has a strong chance at a third straight Elite Eight, as well as returning to the Final Four. I’m also very excited to see Missouri in their first year in the SEC. Look forward to Kentucky-Missouri.
3 – Gonzaga, Arizona, NC State, Michigan State
4 – Michigan, Pittsburgh, UNLV, Kansas State
Gonzaga may have its best team ever – saying something considering their many tournament appearances and deep runs. Arizona will win the Pac-12 despite being overshadowed now by UCLA’s top-notch recruiting class. The Cats are deep and big now – snagging three big men in recruiting this season. I’m lower on Michigan than most. I’m just not crazy about John Beilein’s style being a National Title-winning one. They may be seeded higher than the 4-line, but I don’t see a deep advance into March. Pittsburgh will be the surprise of the Big East, but it won’t surprise me. I’ll take Jamie Dixon’s track record vs. his 2011-12 results, which included an injury to key player Travon Woodall. With the right draw, UNLV is an Elite 8 team. Kansas State isn’t getting nearly enough love for a good team with a nice nucleus returning.
5-Creighton, UNLV, Baylor, San Diego State
6-Gonzaga, Notre Dame, Florida State, Wisconsin
Doug McDermott is back in Omaha, and that immediately makes Creighton a national player after getting to the Round of 32 in last season’s NCAA Tournament. Also back is the big man, Gregory Echenique. The Mountain West is loaded again, with UNLV and San Diego State both in line for great years, yet again. UNLV nailed a top-10 recruit in Anthony Bennett, as well as UCONN transfer Roscoe Smith. They also return Mike Moser, who averaged a double-double last season and is the conference’s leading rebounder among returnees. SDSU returns four starters from a 26-win season, including two of the top three returning scorers in the Mountain West, Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley. And if you’re a fan of defense, Florida State is just the team for you. FSU was fifth in opponent’s shooting percentage in 2011-2012.
5 – VCU, Florida, Duke, UCLA
6 – Creighton, Oklahoma State, San Diego State, Notre Dame
I think VCU wins a major-conference-level strong A-10 and, therefore, gets a nice seed. I’m not sold on Florida or Duke for the same reason but different reasons. Confused yet? I don’t like the point guard situation in either place. For Florida, it’s because Kenny Boynton is a shoot-first player who doesn’t make his teammates better. Sure, he’ll get hot and win some games, but a senior who thinks he’s NBA-quality and hasn’t made it yet is bound to prove that he is – by chucking up shots. I don’t like Duke’s point situation because of inexperience. Who’s it gonna be running the show for Coach K’s group? Creighton is a nice story, and Doug McDermott is a likely first-team All-America, but they don’t play any defense in Omaha. Oklahoma State will have a one-year resurgence behing super-soph LeBryan Nash and freshman Marcus Smart. San Diego State was over-seeded last year, and their tourney showing proved it. The Irish will be solid as per usual but far from elite.