The Circuit’s 2021-22 College Basketball 2nd Quarter Polls
As we hit the halfway point of January, college basketball has hit the halfway point off the 2021-22 season. So, it’s time to give out my 2nd quarter polls and see where things stand! Getty Images/ Circuit Artwork 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 halfway point (roughly), so it’s time to check in and see who’s playing well and who isn’t. Top 25 Polls Getty Images 1- Baylor Bears 2- Gonzaga Bulldogs 3- UCLA Bruins 4- Duke Blue Devils 5- Auburn Tigers 6- USC Trojans 7- Arizona Wildcats 8- Purdue Boilermakers 9- Kansas Jayhawks 10- LSU Tigers 11- Michigan State Spartans 12- Houston Cougars 13- Texas Tech Red Raiders 14- Iowa State Cyclones 15- Ohio State Buckeyes 16- Villanova Wildcats 17- Wisconsin Badgers 18- Kentucky Wildcats 19- Texas Longhorns 20- Seton Hall Pirates 21- Tennessee Volunteers 22- Alabama Crimson Tide 23- Loyola-Chicago Ramblers 24- Illinois Fighting Illini 25- Xavier Musketeers Kudos to Baylor. I really thought they would take a big step back this season after losing nearly all their key players from last year, but they haven’t skipped a beat. I still like Duke and Gonzaga a lot, and I still don’t like Purdue. The biggest riser in these rankings has got to be Auburn; the Tigers are absolutely rolling and could be legitimate contenders in March. Player of the Year Predictions: Getty Images 1- Drew Timme (Gonzaga Bulldogs) 2- Jabari Smith (Auburn Tigers) 3- Johnny Davis (Wisconsin Badgers) Smith and Davis are new additions to this list, and Smith is closing the gap fast. If things continue the way they did this last quarter, I see the Auburn freshman running away with this award. But for now, Drew Timme is hanging on. Freshman of the Year Predictions: SI.com 1- Jabari Smith (Auburn Tigers) 2- Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga Bulldogs) 3- Paolo Banchero (Duke Blue Devils) Given that I have Smith #2 for player of the year, it’s a no-brainer that he is the freshman of the year. I am shocked Holmgren isn’t running away with this award, but this is more of a testament to how well Smith has played than how Holmgren has disappointed. Coach of the Year Predictions: Getty Images 1- Scott Drew (Baylor Bears) 2- Andy Enfield (USC Trojans) 3- Tommy Lloyd (Arizona Wildcats) Drew has really impressed me this year. Baylor lost nearly every player from the national championship squad, and they might be even better now. This is also the culmination of three straight seasons of Baylor kicking everyone’s ass, so he deserves this award. All-America Predictions 1st Team: Getty Images G- Johnny Davis (Wisconsin Badgers) G- Ochai Agbaji (Kansas Jayhawks) F- Jabari Smith (Auburn Tigers) F- Drew Timme (Gonzaga Bulldogs) C- Kofi Cockburn (Illinois Fighting Illini) 2nd Team: Getty Images G- Collin Gillespie (Villanova Wildcats) G- Marcus Sasser (Houston Cougars) F- Keegan Murray (Iowa Hawkeyes) F- Paolo Banchero (Duke Blue Devils) C- Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga Bulldogs) 3rd Team: Getty Images G- Max Abmas (Oral Roberts) G- James Akinjo (Baylor Bears) F- EJ Liddell (Ohio State Buckeyes) F- Trevion Williams (Purdue Boilermakers) C- Oscar Tshiebwe (Kentucky Wildcats) Final Four Predictions: It is nearly impossible to truly predict a Final Four without seeing brackets, nevermind 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. Gonzaga Bulldogs def Villanova Wildcats I love this Bulldogs team. I still think they were the best team in the country last year, and I think Timme and coach Few are on a mission for redemption. Villanova is a dark horse with Gillespie at the point, but give the Zags fairly easily in this contest. Duke Blue Devils def Auburn Tigers Duke is on a mission this season to win one for Coach K, and Paolo Banchero is one of the best players in the nation. Auburn is really impressing me, and Smith might be the best player in the country. I like Duke here, but in a nail-biter. Gonzaga Bulldogs def Duke Blue Devils Getty Images I do believe in destiny, and it is had to bet against coach K in his final season. But Timme and Holmgren are such a dominant duo that I can't see them losing in the national championship game for the third time in six seasons. There you have it! That’s where things stand in my eyes so far this college basketball season. Make sure to come back in a few weeks to check out my 2nd quarter polls, and make sure to continue to check out all of our great content here at The Circuit!