Santa is coming to town, and so is an existential crisis for teams that are already in bubble trouble. Who is the best team in the country? Who’s the best diaper-dandy? We break it all down here with the CBB 1st Quarter Polls!
Now that we’re a little over 25% done with the college basketball season, it’s time to look at the things I got right and the many, many things I got wrong before the season began! Let’s start with my updated top 25 polls:
Top 25 Rankings
1- Purdue Boilermakers
2- Virginia Cavaliers
3- UCONN Huskies
4- Houston Cougars
5- Alabama Crimson Tide
6- Kansas Jayhawks
7- Tennessee Volunteers
8- Duke Blue Devils
9- Arizona Wildcats
10- Texas Longhorns
11- Baylor Bears
12- Arkansas Razorbacks
13- Kentucky Wildcats
14- Mississippi State Bulldogs
15- Gonzaga Bulldogs
16- UCLA Bruins
17- Indiana Hoosiers
18- Auburn Tigers
19- Illinois Fighting Illini
20- Maryland Terrapins
21- Miami Hurricane
22- Virginia Tech Hokies
23- Ohio State Buckeyes
24- Wisconsin Badgers
25- TCU Horned Frogs
Purdue is really good. But they’re always really good, are they not? But just you wait until March, when this team self-destructs for a 25-minute period in the Sweet 16 against a lower seed. As for the rest of the rankings, there are a lot of teams here that I’m not convinced will be top seeds come tourney time, but they’re great stories right now. And notably missing from this list… my preseason national champions! Oof. But fret not, we’ll get into the Tar Heels later in the polls.
Player of the Year Predictions:
1- Zach Edey (Purdue Boilermakers)
2- Jalen Wilson (Kansas Jayhawks)
3- Drew Timme (Gonzaga Bulldogs)
4- Oscar Tshiebwe (Kentucky Wildcats)
5- Jordan Walker (UAB Blazers)
Edey is dominating this season, so he certainly deserves to be leading this race at the moment. But I fully expect him to get passed by multiple players below him, namely Timme & Tshiebwe. It’s the year of the bigs in college basketball!
Coach of the Year Predictions:
1- Dan Hurley (UCONN Huskies)
2- Jon Scheyer (Duke Blue Devils)
3- Matt Painter (Purdue Boilermakers)
4- Kelvin Sampson (Houston Cougars)
5- Tony Bennett (Virginia Cavaliers)
Again, I doubt that Hurley will ultimately win this award, but he has the Huskies rolling right now. If they finish near undefeated, there’s no way anyone takes it from him. I would bet on Painter likely winning with a phenomenal record in a strong conference. Sampson is also a decent bet, with Houston likely to finish with 1 or 2 losses. And look out for Scheyer; the narrative of trying to fill Coach K’s shoes should not be overlooked, especially if he can lead Duke to an ACC title in his first year.
Freshman of the Year Predictions:
1- Kyle Fillipowski (Duke Blue Devils)
2- Gradey Dick (Kansas Jayhawks)
3- Keyante George (Baylor Bears)
I have been more impressed watching Dick, with his athleticism and play-making decisions. But Fillipowski is putting up huge numbers and carrying a Duke team that is dealing with a pretty significant coaching change and a myriad of injuries to other top players.
G- Jordan Walker (UAB Blazers)
G- Adam Flagler (Baylor Bears)
F- Jalen Wilson (Kansas Jayhawks)
F- Drew Timme (Gonzaga Bulldogs)
C- Zach Edey (Purdue Boilermakers)
G- Kerr Kriisa (Arizona Wildcats)
G- Ryan Nembhard (Creighton Blue Jays)
F- Kyle Fillipowski (Duke Blue Devils)
F- Adama Sanogo (UCONN Huskies)
C- Oscar Tshiebae (Kentucky Wildcats)
G- Kihei Clark (Virginia Cavaliers)
G- Gradey Dick (Kansas Jayhawks)
F- Kris Murray (Iowa Hawkeyes)
F- Armando Bacot (North Carolina Tar Heels)
C- Hunter Dickinson (Michigan Wolverines)
Final Four Predictions:
It is nearly impossible to truly predict a Final Four without seeing brackets, never mind at the beginning of the season. So these are the four teams I think will make deep runs in March, and if the stars align and they are all in different regions, this is what the Final Four will look like.
Kansas Jayhawks def Baylor Bears
Kansas has athletic wings, experienced guards and a championship-winning coach. They’ve officially gotten off my shit-list for March Madness teams, and I think they’re poised for another deep run. And for Baylor, I think they’ll be motivated after losing so early in the tournament last year, and with all the talent they have they should find themselves back in the Final Four.
North Carolina Tar Heels def Houston Cougars
That’s right! I’m not giving up on the Heels just yet. They got in as an 8-seed last year and went all the way to the final. I’m not worried about a losing streak in December; call me if they’re under .500 in February.
North Carolina Tar Heels def Kansas Jayhawks
The rematch! But this time, there will be a different outcome. Bacot will be able to punish Kansas down low, and the motivation should be through the roof for them after their epic collapse to this same team a year ago. I don’t feel nearly as confident as I did about UNC a month ago, but I can’t quite ‘em yet!
There you have it! That’s where things stand in my eyes so far this college basketball season. Make sure to come back towards the middle of January to check out my 2nd quarter polls, and make sure to continue to check out all of our great content here at The Circuit!