Revised All-Conference selections:
Best call(s): Villanova won the league! Uhhhh okay so I guess that was one of the easiest predictions possible. While I wasn’t completely on the Ben Bentil bandwagon, I had at least signed up for informational materials and the mailing list (I had him on preseason third-team all-conference). Xavier lived up to and exceeded my expectations, proving that Dee Davis and the lovable Matty Stainbrook weren’t crippling losses. Also, the bottom 2 of the conference was about as easy as picking Nova at the top.
Worst call(s): Georgetown, what the hell? That team is waaay more talented than 8th place in this league, and while I adamantly defend John Thompson III’s job security and ability as a coach, the fact remains that this team vastly underachieved this year. A senior stud PG (Smith-Rivera) along with hyper-talented freshman and sophomore classes should have led to much more than this. Maybe they’ll show up with their backs against the wall after basically taking a month and a half off (lost 9 of 10, only win over the Saint John’s Recreational Basketball Club). Kenpom.com lists the Hoyas as 347th in “luck” (of note: Creighton is 333rd), so perhaps some bounces will go their way in the tournament.
Some interesting matchups right off the bat – Butler and Providence are happily safe from a bad loss as they play each other, but Butler probably needs the victory more. I still have my head in the sand on Seton Hall and think they’re a bit of a pretender, and a near-coin flip game against the Blue Jays in round 1 is a major chance to crack an egg on my head. Xavier-Nova III would be fun, but I have a suspicion that won’t happen.
Who I want to win: I have some home-state bias built into this, but I would love to see the young gun Golden Eagles make a run to the title and get Henry Ellenson to the tournament. He hasn’t shot the deep ball as well as I thought this year, but he’s probably a lottery pick regardless (#8 prospect on DraftExpress.com), and it would be huge for Coach Woj’s program to earn a berth this year.
Who I think will win: Whichever of the Nova/Xavier combo makes the finals. I think one of them loses before the championship (any of Marquette/Seton Hall/Creighton could beat Xavier, same goes for Georgetown/Providence/Butler against Nova), opening the door for the survivor to seize a 1-seed. I’ve got my eye on the top half of the bracket in particular, as I think a desperate Hoyas team has a shot to knock off the Wildcats.
Chance to make a run in the NCAA Tournament: Xavier and Villanova will obviously be positioned very well for this. I promised myself after last year that I would never fall for Villanova’s regular season dominance again, but I find myself being slightly flirty with that great tease once again. They have skilled bigs, lots of shooting, a potential NBA prospect in Brunson, a four-year starter and captain at PG, and – wait, no, I WON’T FALL FOR THIS! I trust Xavier more, with Chris Mack’s sterling tournament resume, elite offensive rebounding, and deep stable of skilled wings. Providence has the two total studs that could carry them on a run, but I think Butler and Seton Hall’s upsides are pretty limited.
How I Think It Will Play Out:
(8) Georgetown defeats (9) DePaul
(7) Marquette defeats (10) St. John’s
(8) Georgetown defeats (1) Villanova – upset alert!
(4) Providence defeats (5) Butler – coin flip
(2) Xavier defeats (7) Marquette
(6) Creighton defeats (3) Seton Hall – PROVE ME WRONG KEVIN WILLARD
(4) Providence defeats (8) Georgetown
(2) Xavier defeats (6) Creighton
(2) Xavier defeats (4) Providence
Xavier swings a 1-seed and goes to the Elite 8, but can’t quite muster a Final Four run (sorry X fans). Villanova loses as a 2-seed in round 2 yet again. Providence gets a 7-seed and narrowly misses pulling a similar upset in the second round. Seton Hall loses in an 8/9 game. Butler pulls a Butler, gets the last at-large bye, and knocks off a 6 seed in the first round just like last year before falling to a tough 3-seed.