The calendar has turned to February, which means there’s about one month left until the madness truly begins! Now it’s time to take a look at the college basketball landscape and predict who will be dancing well into March.
The college basketball season is like a pressure-cooker. It’s essentially a three month sprint to March Madness, where it’s survival of the fittest. We’ve now approached the 3/4 point (roughly), so it’s time to check in and see who’s playing well and who isn’t.
1- Purdue Boilermakers
2- Houston Cougars
3- Alabama Crimson Tide
4- Kansas Jayhawks
5- Arizona Wildcats
6- Texas Longhorns
7- Tennessee Volunteers
8- UCLA Bruins
9- Virginia Cavaliers
10- Iowa State Cyclones
11- Marquette Golden Eagles
12- Baylor Bears
13- Kansas State Wildcats
14- Xavier Musketeers
15- Gonzaga Bulldogs
16- Indiana Hoosiers
17- TCU Horned Frogs
18- St. Mary’s Gaels
19- Miami Hurricane
20- UCONN Huskies
21- Duke Blue Devils
22- NC State Wolfpack
23- Illinois Fighting Illini
24- Providence Friars
25- San Diego State Aztecs
I will never believe in a team with Purdue written on the front of it, but it’s hard to deny them #1 in the rankings. I think Houston is better, but the Big Ten is still an elite basketball conference, plus Edey has been the best player in the country.
A sneaky team to watch here is Iowa State; they struggled in the 2010’s when they had a bunch of stars and sky-high expectations, but this 2023 team is staying under the radar and making me think they could make a deep run in March.
And where is North Carolina you may ask? That’s an excellent question. I have no idea what happened to the Tar Heels this season, and I’m not sure Hubert Davis does either. Which is a problem.
National Player of the Year Race
1- Zach Edey (Purdue Boilermakers)
2- Jalen Wilson (Kansas Jayhawks)
3- Drew Timme (Gonzaga Bulldogs)
4- Marcus Sasser (Houston Cougars)
5- Trayce Jackson-Davis (Indiana Hoosiers)
Edey is the *pardon the inbound pun* slam dunk choice here. Wilson & Timme have been great, but Edey is dominating on the best team in the country. There’s no debate or doubt here.
National Freshman of the Year Race
1- Brandon Miller (Alabama Crimson Tide)
2- Gradey Dick (Kansas Jayhawks)
3- Kyle Filipowski (Duke Blue Devils)
This race is getting pretty interesting. Milleris leading an Alabama team with Final Four aspirations, while Dickey is fitting in nicely as a second or third option on a Jayhawks squad looking to repeat. I think Miller wins out, but if Dick continues to elevate his play when it matters most, he may just steal this one.
National Coach of the Year Race
1- Matt Painter (Purdue Boilermakers)
2- Kelvin Sampson (Houston Cougars)
3- TJ Otzelberger (Iowa State Cyclones)
You’ll never convince me Painter is a good coach, but someone has to win this award. And I actually think Houston has looked less dominant than I expected, so I guess give it to Painter. But I’m rooting for the Big Otzel.
1st Team All-America
G- Marcus Sasser (Houston Cougars)
G- Brandon Miller (Alabama Crimson Tide)
F- Jalen Wilson (Kansas Jayhawks)
F- Drew Timme (Gonzaga)
C- Zach Edey (Purdue Boilermakers)
2nd Team All-America
G- Antoine Davis (Detroit Mercy Titans)
G- Jordan Walker (UAB Blazers)
F- Trayce Jackson-Davis (Indiana Hoosiers)
F- Azuolas Tubelis (Arizona Wildcats)
C- Oscar Tshiebwe (Kentucky Wildcats)
3rd Team All-America
G- Max Abmas (Oral Roberts Golden Eagles)
G- Kris Murray (Iowa Hawkeyes)
F- Emoji Bates (Eastern Michigan Eagles)
F- Armando Bacot (North Carolina Tar Heels)
C- Adama Sanogo (UCONN Huskies)
Final Four Predictions
Houston Cougars def Gonzaga Bulldogs
I still believe that the Cougars are the team of destiny this year, with the Final Four being in Houston. And with Gonzaga, I think that the basketball gods have a sick sense of humor and will grace this version of the Dawgs with a Final Four berth, despite being vastly inferior to their last two teams. In a fun battle of mid-majors, give me the Cougars in a nail-biter.
Arizona Wildcats def Alabama Crimson Tide
These are two teams I did not have on my Final Four bingo card in the preseason. I thought Alabama would be good but not great, and I thought losing Koloko and Mathurin would be too much for Arizona to overcome. But here we are! I think this matchup will come down to the backcourts, and I like the experience of Arizona over the raw, young talent of Alabama.
Houston Cougars def Arizona Wildcats
Team of destiny! Since being virtually forced off of my UNC pick, I’ve been firm on picking the Cougars. Would I like for them to beat their lesser opponents in a more soul-crushing fashion? Sure. But in the end, I think Sasser and Sampson will fulfill the prophecy and win the title.
There you have it! Make sure to check back in after Selection Sunday when I fill out my brackets! You’ll want to see what I go with, since last year I nailed the Kansas pick. And check out all of our other great content while you’re here!