Like some kind of moron, I have not written nearly as many College Basketball pieces as I wanted to this year. I am a North Carolina fan and the complete fucking destruction of their season almost got me out of it this year. What a horrible decision that would have been. This has been one of the best regular seasons in college basketball in the last decade.
That is evident by the fact that for the first time all season, we have a unanimous number 1 team in the AP Poll. Kansas garnered all 64 first place votes in Week 18 of the season. For what it’s worth, they also got all 32 first place votes in the Coach’s Poll.
Since an opening night loss to Duke, which they probably should have own, the Jayhawks are 26-2 and are one of the most complete teams in all of college basketball.
They have two members of the Wooden Award Late Season Watch List in Udoka Azubuike and Devon Dotson. Both of those guys have been fucking ridiculous this season, especially when it mattered the most.
In one of the games of the season, Kansas traveled to Waco, Texas to take on the number 1 ranked Baylor Bears and Azubuike refused to leave Waco with a loss. He was un-fucking-believable! In playing 36 minutes Azubuike put up the following line:
23 Points 11-13 FG 19 Rebounds 3 Blocks
He was a fucking animal and Kansas waltzed out with a huge win propelling the Jayhawks to the top of the polls.
If you have a big guy putting up numbers like that, you don’t need much else to win games. Well when you add in what Devon Dotson is doing it makes this team look like the obvious choice for number 1.
He is averaging 18/4/4 on the season, plus 2 steals per game. He is a do it all PG and he works perfectly in tandem with Azubuike. Bill Self has this team rolling into March and they are definitely one of the favorites heading into the tourney.
Along with Kansas, there are quite a few teams who will be at the top of the favorites list heading into the tournament. Looking at the rankings, there are legitimately 15 teams who could win it all without it being a complete surprise. I’ll give that list later in the blog, but for now there are 5 other teams who join Kansas as the cream of the crop.
There is no point in calling Gonzaga a mid-major anymore. They are just a power fucking program. Mark Few is brilliant and there is nobody better in the entire country at recruiting internationally.
They are led by their Serbian Sophomore Filip Petrusev. He is averaging a cool 18 PPG on 57% shooting to go with 8 rebounds per game. He was great in their latest game against their rival St. Mary’s putting up 27, 6, and 3 in a 10 point victory.
To go along with Petrusev, Gonzaga has 5 other players averaging double figures and a 6th player averaging just under 10 PPG at 9.6. They have talent, experience, and a great coach. Those are three of the most important factors when it comes to winning in March. Few finally reached a title game a few years back, but is this the year he finally wins one?
Dayton can be described in two words. Obi Toppin! Toppin is right in the middle of the NPOY conversation and for good reason. He is averaging 20/8/2/1/1. He leads his team in three of those categories, but of course, Dayton is more than just Toppin. Jalen Crutcher has been great averaging 15 points and 5 assists per night. Anthony Grant is coaching his way to a HUGE payday and possibly a National Championship.
This year may be John Calipari’s best job as an actual coach, not just a recruiter. Every year it seems like Kentucky gets to 30-35 wins on talent alone. Well this year Kentucky is not and never was considered the most talented team in the country, but Cal has them right where they always are: At the top of the SEC and in the top 10 nationally.
Ashton Hagans is one of my favorite players to watch in the country and he is the type of PG who can will your team to a championship. The pieces are there and Cal has these pieces gelling like he’s never done before. Hagans controls the court and it allows Immanuel Quickley, Tyrese Maxey, and Nick Richards to go to work. It is a perfect recipe that has this team as a favorite to win it all, even after that horrible loss to Evansville.
The last team mentioned here is a bit a of a surprise considering they weren’t even ranked to start the season. They were supposed to finish in the 5-7 range in the ACC and here they are now ranked 7th in the country. Devin Vassell has been huge for the Seminoles this year averaging 13 and 5, leading the team in both. Honestly though, Trent Forrest is the motor for this team. He stuffs the stat sheet and he is just all over the place. He is averaging 12 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals per game. I mean what else can you ask for out of your PG. He does it all.
They are coming off a tough loss to Clemson, but it was absolutely a game they could have won and it’s not really indicative of how this team will look going forward. Leonard Hamilton has done another incredible job and he has the Seminoles in great position to get on the 2 line this year.
In Tier Order, here are all of the teams who can win it all without it being a surprise.
Florida State Seminoles
Seton Hall Pirates
Duke Blue Devils
Michigan State Spartans
San Diego State Aztecs
Ohio State Buckeyes