November 6, 2015 Louisville, KY. (Analyzed Sports)
2015-16 College Basketball Favorites and Sleepers
Last year, we saw a perfect 38-0 Kentucky Wildcat team get upset to an experienced Wisconsin Badger squad in the Final Four. A Duke team driven by 3 freshmen in Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, and Justice Winslow was crowned national champions. This was the first time since 2010. However, this year there is no clear favorite like there was last year. Quality teams fill up the top 25 with potential sleeper teams lurking under the radar.
North Carolina: If I had to pick one team that I think has the best chance to be cutting the nets in April, it would be the Tar Heels. They are led by preseason all-American senior guard Marcus Paige. Even though he is out 3-4 weeks due to injury, he will still be pivotal to UNC’s success. The Tar Heels return ALOT of experience; returning players include guards Nate Britt and Joel Berry II, and forwards Kennedy Meeks, Justin Jackson, Theo Pinson, and Bryce Johnson.
Kentucky: The Wildcats lost 7 players to the NBA draft, but with some key returning players and another strong recruiting class, the team from Lexington is poised for another run come March. Forwards Marcus Lee and Alex Poythress and guard Tyler Ulis return. Highly touted recruits including Skal Labissiere, Isaiah Briscoe, Charles Matthews, and Jamal Murray will also impact heavily. The only concern I have for Calipari’s team is lack of quality depth in the frontcourt.
Kansas: The Jayhawks return three major keys players: Senior PF Perry Ellis and the junior backcourt of Wayne Selden Jr. and Frank Mason III. Other returners are Brannen Greene, Devonte Graham, Landen Lucas, and Jamari Traylor. Entering Lawrence is a pair of top 10 recruits: forwards Braxton Bragg and Cheick Diallo. Look for another freshman named Lagerald Vick to maybe help out in the backcourt.
Wichita St: How is this a sleeper team? Even with the return of the decorated seniors Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet, the nation continues to overlook the Shockers. With tremendous leadership and the return of some role players like Evan Wessel and Shaquille Morris, Wichita will be dangerous once again in March. Look for transfer guard Connor Frankamp to also make an impact.
California: This is my top sleeper team. The returning leadership of three guards in Tyrone Wallace, Jabari Bird, and Jordan Matthews (all scored over 10 points a game last year) mixed with a talented top 10 freshman frontcourt of Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb will have top Pac 12 teams and even top national teams sweating come January. Just give this team some time to develop chemistry.
LSU: The arrival of highly touted freshmen Ben Simmons and Antonio Blakeney have aroused a lot of hype in Baton Rouge. Combining with returners Josh Gray, Keith Hornsby, Jalyn Patterson, and Tim Quarterman, the freshmen look to lead LSU against UK for the SEC title. The only question I have for the Tigers are experience and frontcourt depth issues.
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