Midseason Crystal Ball for 2010-11 College Basketball Campaign
January 04, 2011
SI.com's Midseason Crystal Ball
SI.com's Seth Davis, Luke Winn and Andy Glockner offer their midseason predictions for the 2010-11 season. To take a glance back at the Preseason Crystal Ball picks, click here.
Final Four (Plus One Dark Horse)
Davis Kansas: The Jayhawks are a bit too undisciplined for my taste (Marcus Morris' recent benching is a prime example), but they still have the best "A" game in the country. Josh Selby is only going to get more comfortable at the point, and Bill Self has a 10-man rotation that gives him lots of options to push buttons and search for the right matchups.
Winn Duke: With or without Kyrie Irving. My Crystal Ball forecasts the freshman point guard being back in the starting lineup by March, though, and serving as the difference in a title-game win over Ohio State.
Glockner Duke: If any team can withstand a season-long injury to a possible No. 1 overall pick, it is this version of the Blue Devils. They are different and not as good without Kyrie Irving, but they're going to roll through the ACC, get a 1 seed in the NCAAs and be very well-positioned for another title run.
Second-Half Surprise Team
Davis North Carolina: People are assuming that this is the same Tar Heels team that was so awful last year, but it's not. There are two or three potential first-round picks on this roster, including much-maligned freshman forward Harrison Barnes, who is going to get steadily better from here on out.
Winn Washington: Three-loss Washington was the best unranked team in America as of New Year's Day, and it wasn't even close. The Huskies will be top 10 by season's end and maybe even top five, if power forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning (who averaged 19.5 points and nine rebounds in this weekend's visit to the Los Angeles schools) continues his recent dominance.
Glockner Marquette: The Golden Eagles are trending the same way they did last season. They have lost a number of tough games against strong opposition and have a killer next month ahead, but the back end of the Big East schedule softens up. Expect another late run to the NCAAs from a team that could win a game or two once there.
Second-Half Flop Team
Davis Northwestern: I'd love to see the Wildcats make the NCAA tournament as much as the next guy (unless the next guy is Stewart Mandel), but with the Big Ten being as strong as it is, there is no reason to believe it will happen. Northwestern's best win was at home over Georgia Tech, and it recently lost at St. John's and Purdue by a combined 29 points.
Winn UConn: The Kemba Walker Show was the highlight of November, and earned its lofty spot in the AP poll, but the Huskies play D like a middle-of-the-pack Big East team, not a title contender. Given where they were picked in the preseason, though, finishing sixth in the league wouldn't be a massive disappointment.
Glockner Louisville: My first instinct was UConn, since Kemba Walker's numbers are starting to fall back to "just" a normal level of elite player, but the Huskies get almost all of their toughest league games at home and their freshmen are coming around as secondary scorers. I'll go with the other "overvalued" Big East team that has only played one game away from home this season and is struggling with injury issues, as well. The relentless depth of the Big East will expose you if you're not at your best.
Mid-Major Tourney Cinderella
Davis Oakland: Don't let the Grizzlies' 9-8 record fool you. They have a future NBA center in 6-foot-11 senior Keith Benson, and their brutal road-dominated nonconference slate included a win at Tennessee and a near-win over Michigan State in Detroit.
Winn Saint Mary's: Omar Samhan may be gone, but the 12-2 Gaels managed to post the best adjusted efficiency margin of any West Coast Conference team in nonleague play, and will battle Gonzaga for an automatic bid. They have an ultraefficient backcourt duo in senior Mickey McConnell (a 46.3 percent long-range shooter) and sophomore Matthew Dellavedova (2.8-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio) that could very well make a repeat appearance in the Sweet 16.
Glockner Cleveland State: The "other" Horizon League team (Butler) is a burgeoning threat to do damage, but the Bulldogs could be joined in mayhem by the Vikings, who plastered 4 seed Wake Forest in 2009 -- their most recent trip to the NCAAs. This is the epitome of a mid-major team at its peak, with loads of experienced returnees and a star guard (described below) who's making everyone else better, too.
National Player of the Year
Jared Sullinger :: Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Davis Jared Sullinger, Ohio State: I whiffed by installing Harrison Barnes as a preseason All-America, but I'll take my second cut and predict a freshman will walk off with POY honors. Besides Sullinger's astounding talent and maturity, he is the best player on what could by March be widely recognized as the best team in the country.
Winn Sullinger: The baby beast has been the best player on the best team in the nation's best conference, putting up 26 and 10 against Florida, 40 and 13 against IUPUI and 30 and 19 against South Carolina. If Sullinger isn't fazed by the Big Ten's formidable front lines -- and there's no reason to suspect that's the case -- then he'll edge out BYU's Jimmer Fredette for the major awards.
Glockner Sullinger: If you assume the POY will go to a big-numbers guy on an elite team, this is a pretty good pick, as he'll have those qualifications and also currently leads Ken Pomeroy's kPOY standings for the nation's most valuable player in a tempo-free analysis. My initial pick from November -- Kyle Singler -- is still reasonable, but Sullinger's been the better player so far.
National Freshman of the Year
Terrence Jones :: AP
Davis Jared Sullinger, Ohio State: Obviously if I think Sullinger will be POY, he'll also be FOY. So let me also give a nod to the runner-up, Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight, who is the Wildcats' leading scorer and has looked increasingly comfortable running the offense.
Winn Sullinger: Sullinger's numbers are too good to ignore, but the most versatile frosh has been Kentucky's Terrence Jones, a 6-foot-8 hybrid forward who's averaging 17.7 points and 9.2 rebounds. He was branded as a recruiting diva after taking his decommitment drama between Washington and UK down to the wire in May, but he's emerged as one of the top five NBA prospects in all of college hoops.
Glockner Terrence Jones, Kentucky: Obviously, if Sullinger's my POY pick, he's also the best freshman, but if the award has to go to someone else, it's pretty clearly Jones, who has thrived as an undersized 4 in the smaller, Enes Kanter-less Wildcats attack. Jones currently ranks a close second to Sullinger in KenPom's POY standings, with both surprisingly well ahead of UConn's Kemba Walker (as is Wisconsin's Jon Leuer).
Unknown Player Who'll Blow Up In March
Andrew Goudelock :: Jake Drake/Icon SMI
Davis Andrew Goudelock, College of Charleston: The 6-foot-2 senior guard is the nation's eighth-leading scorer at a Curry-esque 24.1 points per game. He has also shown he can score in bunches against power-conference teams like Maryland (27), North Carolina (28), Clemson (21) and Tennessee (31).
Winn Keith Clanton, Central Florida: As I pointed out in a pre-Christmas version of the Power Rankings, his numbers stack up against any of the nation's elite big men -- and that includes Sullinger, JaJuan Johnson, Jon Leuer and the Morris twins. If the Knights make a strong run through Conference USA, where they've emerged ahead of Memphis as the new favorite, Clanton should get some All-America consideration.
Glockner Norris Cole, Cleveland State: If the Vikings do make the NCAAs, Cole will be the primary reason. He's blowing away his career bests in practically every offensive category, including points, rebounds, assists, steals, FG percentage, FT percentage, three-point percentage and points per shot, even with no increase in minutes. He's also currently ninth in the nation in offensive efficiency for high usage players (those who use more than 28 percent of a team's possessions).
Coach On The Hottest Seat
Pat Knight :: AP
Davis Ed DeChellis, Penn State: DeChellis is in his eighth season, and the Nittany Lions have finished dead last in the Big Ten in three of the last six years. Even if they don't finish last this season (my money's on Iowa), they'll be pretty close.
Winn Sidney Lowe, N.C. State: His Wolfpack have been held back due to an injury to star Tracy Smith, and their losses are all to respectable teams (Georgetown, Wisconsin, Syracuse and Arizona). But unless State rallies quickly and picks up a few high-profile ACC wins, it's not going to make the NCAA tournament ... and it'll be time for Sid, who didn't make the dance in any of his previous four years, either, to go.
Glockner Pat Knight, Texas Tech: He simply isn't getting it done in Lubbock. The Red Raiders are currently 7-7 overall, with just one win over a team in Pomeroy's top 200. This comes after going a combined 7-25 in the Big 12 the past two seasons.
Davis At least two Division I coaches will be fired before the regular season is done, and at least one starter on a ranked team will be briefly suspended right before the tournament for breaking NCAA rules. Just a couple signs of the times.
Winn That Baylor will be one of the nation's most dangerous teams heading into the NCAA tournament. The Bears looked dreadful in the Diamond Head Classic over Christmas, losing to Washington State and Florida State, and they've yet to really click on offense since star LaceDarius Dunn returned from his suspension. But Baylor's long, athletic 2-3 zone is still among the nation's best defenses at controlling the paint; sophomore point guard A.J. Walton will be more seasoned after a few months at the helm; and junior forward Quincy Acy is a budding star. If they hit their groove, they could get back to the Elite Eight.
Glockner For the first time since 2005, we'll get a national championship game featuring the two teams many think are the best in the nation. Hopefully, Duke-Ohio State will equal the drama of Illinois-North Carolina.
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