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Preseason: Early look at Top Line

Dave2015The 2017-18 college hoops season kicks off Friday, November 10 with some interesting match-ups, including West Virginia and Texas AM (Germany), Iowa State vs. Missouri, and UCLA vs. Georgia Tech (in China – and yeah, we’re not sure why, either).  Which means it’s time to start gearing up for another journey toward Selection Sunday.

Quick Detour: Regarding recent allegations of payments, bribes, and other misgivings related to the sometimes-sketchy underworld of high-end recruiting, you can find a plethora of information and opinions at a host of sports outlets.  Read to your heart’s content or ache.  The question moving forward is how quickly the NCAA reacts to the these issues (if at all).  Could Louisville be banned from the tourney before it begins?  What if additional coaches/players are named during the season?  Until we know those answers, and/or until we see how the NCAA responds, we’ll just have to keep dribbling with our eyes open.

Back to the court: There are some familiar names in contention for No. 1 seeds in our  upcoming preseason bracket.  Here’s how I have the top four slots as of today (in order of how they would appear on the Seed List):

Arizona (West Region) – The Wildcats earned top billing over the summer and I have yet to change my mind.  Allonzo Trier returns, headlining a team that is both rich in talent and depth.  They also add DeAndre Ayton, among others, to complete one of the nation’s top recruiting classes.

Duke (East Region) – When Marvin Bagley, III arrived, any doubts about the Blue Devils’ early Seed List spot vanished.  The only question was whether they would land here or as the top overall seed.  Duke will be as talented as anyone.  Production off the bench – and questions about Grayson Allen’s leadership – are two of the x-factors.

Michigan State (South) – Miles Bridges returned to school.  Tom Izzo is still coaching.  The Spartans added top-fight recruiting talent, and oh, by the way, MSU returns four of their top five scorers.  That adds up to what should be an exceptional season for fans in East Lansing.

Kansas (Midwest) – Could they Jayhawks have the nation’s best backcourt? We’ll find out. Returning Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk is a good start.  They also bring back Lagerald Vick and add Malik Newman.  KU will be favored to win yet another Big 12 title, which keeps them front and center for another No. 1 seed.

Close calls: Re-loaded Kentucky and Villanova are next in line.  UK will be supremely gifted, but young.  Nova returns Jalen Brunson and adds Omari Spellman.  Louisville previously occupied the No. 6 spot (on the seed list), but given that Brian Bowen is out (at least for now), and Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino is no longer on the sideline, there are enough questions to drop the Cardinals a few spots.  Meanwhile, Florida, Wichita State, and defending champ North Carolina are lurking.  More to come.


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