NCAA Basketball
2017-2018 Preview

By Demarco Williams

Michigan State Spartans fans could be forgiven for wanting to forget last year as their football team went 3-9 and the basketball team suffered 15 loses, the most the school had endured since 1996. But this year there is much to be happy about in East Lansing. The football team has rebounded and, on the hardwood, the Big Ten's best all-around player Miles Bridges announced that he would be delaying the NBA to return to campus for his sophomore year. The move brings even more stability to a roster that returns three other underrated starters while the news will conjure nothing but uneasiness around the rest of the NCAA - especially come March.

1. Michigan State
We all know the havoc that Bridges can cause on the court (17-point, 8-rebound average), but if you're not sure of the things that five-star frosh Jaren Jackson can do, please check his YouTube clips.

2. Duke
Speaking of sensational newbies, Duke-stud-in-waiting Marvin Bagley III and Grayson Allen will have Blue Devils fans tripping over themselves trying to get tickets to games this year.

3. Arizona
In Allonzo Trier and DeAndre Ayton, the Wildcats may have the West Coast's best in-and-out combo since the popular fast-food chain's Flying Dutchman burger and fries.

4. Kansas
When you mix coach Bill Self's steadiness (20+ wins every year since '04) with guard Devonte' Graham's special skills (13 points, 4 assists per), you have no choice but to consider these Jayhawks a Final Four contender.

5. Kentucky
What's a new NCAA season without the Wildcats having a crazy incoming class (P.J. Washington, Kevin Knox) and the fan base having outrageously high expectations for the tournament?

6. Wichita State
Before a three-point loss to Kentucky in the NCAAs, these Shockers ran off an impressive 16-game winning streak. Everyone is back from that 31-5 squad, meaning we won't be surprised by another long run this coming campaign.

7. Saint Mary's
The team that won 29 games (including victories over VCU and Stanford) returns four starters (we see you, Jock Landale and Calvin Hermanson) and one locker room full of confidence.

8. USC
Don't look now but a fleet of Trojans (Bennie Boatwright, Chimezie Metu) that battled its way to 26 wins last year is ready for all-out war in '17-18.

9. North Carolina
All-everything Joel Berry will miss some time with a broken hand suffered after a video-game tantrum. No jokes. Still, we're betting that when he gets into a groove with freshman Jalek Felton the Tar Heels will mean business.

10. Minnesota
Coach Richard Pitino led these overachieving Gophers to the NCAA tourney a year ahead of schedule. We can only imagine the fun that Nate Mason and Co. will have burrowing through the brackets a second time.

11. West Virginia
The Mountaineers smother you on D like the Waffle House does onions on hash browns. If NABC Defensive Player of the Year Jevon Carter keeps up his stingy ways, West Virginia will taste serious postseason success.

12. Notre Dame
A poor man's Draymond Green, Bonzie Colson (17.8 points and 10 boards per) will do everything short of drive the bus to the team's Sweet Sixteen destination this year.

13. Florida
You probably don't remember that these Gators had a solid run through the tourney. Don't worry. The backcourt of KeVaughn Allen and Chris Chiozza will love reminding you.

14. Villanova
The super-consistent Cats have won 100 games over the past three seasons. It only seems like junior Jalen Brunson (14.7 per) has been playing for Nova for the past 100 years.

15. Louisville
New coach David Padgett is left with the difficult task of cleaning up scandal-ridden Rick Pitino's mess. It's a good thing he's got the polished Quentin Snider and Deng Adel on his roster.

16. Xavier
We've seen Trevon Bluiett do his thing in person. Trust us, his 18.5 points and nearly six boards are even more impressive from section 120 in the Muskateers' rowdy Cintas Center.

17. Gonzaga
Though they have nowhere near the bite of last year's Final Four squad, these Bulldogs still have plenty of bark thanks to forward Johnathan Williams.

18. Cincinnati
We like Jacob Evans' all-around game. We really like Mike Cronin's defensive-minded coaching style. We really, really like Cane Broome's explosiveness.

19. Alabama
There may not ever be a Tide hoops team to take Tuscaloosa's mind off football, but coach Avery Johnson and fab youngster Collin Sexton are sure happy to tackle the task.

20. Georgia Tech
We haven't seen a top 25 yet with these Yellow Jackets on it, but we've had our eyes on Josh Okogie and Ben Lammers long enough to know what a Cinderella looks like.

Nos 21-25:
Baylor, Marquette, Miami, Purdue and Seton Hall.



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