My hand-picked Final Four
Published 4:20 pm Tuesday, December 11, 2018
It’s December and NCAA basketball is in full swing. There have already been a multitude of momentous things taking place throughout this young college basketball season. Two times already, we’ve seen the number one team in the country fall. It began with the Duke falling to Gonzaga, then Tennessee taking down Gonzaga. Each of those three teams, along with Kansas, remain in the top 4, but is that where they will finish?
It’s hard to look ahead to March and know who’s going to be dancing in the NCAA tournament, especially the Final Four. However, we can take a look at the body of work that each team has produced so far and make plenty of guesses on their final landing place in the NCAA tournament. Depending on the bracket and Regional setup for each team will depend on their opponents. But, if I could hand-pick my final four as it stands right now, this is who I would have.
#1 – Kansas: Behind the veteran leadership of head coach Bill Self, the Jayhawks once again find themselves at the top of the NCAA AP Top 25 men’s basketball rankings. Kansas has consistently been one of the nation’s top college basketball programs for many years, and this year is no different. With veteran leadership, and talent to match, The Jayhawks are in prime position to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
#2 – Duke: After dismantling Kentucky in the season opener, the Duke Blue Devils ascended to number one in the NCAA AP Top 25 Poll. After climbing to the top spot, the Blue Devils ran into a tough Gonzaga team and fell. With the nation’s number one recruiting class and a legendary coach in Mike Krzyzewski, you can never count Duke out. Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish have proven to be quite the trio. If they can continue to develop throughout the season, the sky’s the limit for the Blue Devils.
#3 – Tennessee: As the surprise of the season so far, the Tennessee Volunteers have proven they have the depth and strength to play with anyone in the country. After falling to Kansas in overtime, Tennessee seems to have learned a few vital lessons early in the season. With a proven coach like Rick Barnes, and the reigning SEC Player of the Year in Grant Williams, the volunteers seemed poised to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament. After taking down number one ranked Gonzaga, Tennessee looks to shake off an early ousting from last year’s NCAA tournament and prove they have what it takes to compete with the best teams in the country.
#4 – Gonzaga: With players like Rui Hachimura and Robert Clarke, Gonzaga doesn’t lack anything in Talent. With a veteran coach like Mark Few and the talent to compliment that, Gonzaga has already seen their fair share of success this season. Although the season is Young, Gonzaga defeated Duke when they were ranked number one after meeting Kentucky. After climbing the rankings all the way to the top, Gonzaga’s lone blemish came by way of a 76 – 73 loss to Tennessee. But much like veteran teams of the past, Mark Few’s Bulldogs will continue to develop throughout the season.
The two most common factors among these four teams are their depth and coaching. Mike Krzyzewski, Mark Few, Rick Barnes and Bill Self will all be Hall of Fame coaches. Each team also possesses the capability to get crucial minutes from their benches. Of the four, Tennessee seems to possess the least amount of talent. Kansas has shown flashes of inconsistency on the defensive interior. Duke, although talented, has a multitude of young and inexperienced players. Gonzaga feels like the most complete team in the country to me but has been bitten by the injury bug. However, I feel that each one of these teams could reach the Final Four, as well as the National Championship game.
If I could hand pick my Final Four, it would be these four teams as it stands right now.