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Since we're all chiming in on next year, here's my thoughts:
ACC Champ: UNC
Rationale: I don't see them losing anybody but Ellington, and I think Green will be an upgrade over him when it's all said and done...Hansborough will get some help inside with some top recruits, and Lawson should continue to develop nicely. Plus, I don't see Duke challenging them given the lack of a dominant post presence.
Other Contenders: Duke
Big 12 Champ: Kansas
Rationale: The Big 12 will be down next year...Texas and Kansas State will not be nearly as good as they were this year...Kansas should return Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich, two studs who can take over games...Kansas also has a huge recruiting class coming in
Other Contenders: Baylor
Pac 10 Champ: Arizona
Rationale: The Pac 10 should be really interesting next year with stars such as the Lopez brothers, OJ Mayo, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, and Darren Collison being replaced by studs like DeRozan, Jennings, and Holiday...Now the question is, who is going to have the best supporting cast...I'm going to go with Arizona...Brandon Jennings and Chase Buddinger should be an awesome tandem.
Other Contenders: UCLA, USC
SEC Champ: Florida
Rationale: While I think that the SEC will continue to grow more competive with the devolpment of teams like Vandy, Florida, and Kentucky, I still think the SEC will be down. Kentucky should be competive with Patrick Patterson, and to a lesser extent, so will Vandy with AJ Oglivy...Tennessee should be pretty solid with Ramar Smith and Chism returning, but I think Florida will make a big leap with all that talent and take the SEC
Other Contenders: Tennessee, Kentucky, Vandy
Big 10 Champ: Ohio State
Rationale: While Wisconsin took advantage of a weak Big 10 this year, I don't see that repeating...Ohio State will return Koufos, and by adding BJ Mullens to the mix, I don't see any Big 10 stopping that dominant frontcourt.
Other Contenders: Wisconsin, Purdue, Michigan State
Big East Champ: Marquette
Rationale: This has been by far the most difficult conference to pick a champ for...Louisville loses a lot of solid players, but has a great incoming class...Georgetown is in the same boat...Villanova and Syracuse should be much better as their young teams develop...Pittsburgh should be solid as usual...UConn and West Virginia might be hurt be the losses of Thabeet and Alexander respectively...However, I think the cream of the crop of the Big East will be Marquette...They return Dominic James and Jerel McNeal, and their young big men should develop nicely...However, Pittsburgh, Villanova, and Syracuse will all be formidable roadblocks...IMO, this will be the best conference next year
Big East is definitely tough to predict next year. I know the most about 'Nova, and I'd love to think that we're going to be a great team next year and though I do think we'll be one of the better teams in the Big East next year and much better than we were this past season I don't think we're going to win it. We've got no recruits coming in for this year and are pretty much hoping for guys to develop heading into next season. If Scottie Reynolds doesn't go, we do have the entire team back which is definitely helpful. On the plus side I think you're going to see a lot of progress from the two big recruits from last season, Fisher and Stokes. Fisher is incredibly talented and could be a great guard, he's got to watch turnovers and if he can convert on some more drives he has great offensive potential as well, he takes a lot of tough layups and floaters that he gets over much bigger defenders but doesn't always convert. Stokes seemed to get a lot more comfortable towards the end of the season shooting the ball and even getting to the free throw line some, he could end up developing into a solid scorer to compliment Scottie as he adjusts to the college game some. Antonio Pena could make some significant strides as well as an athletic big who has some nice post moves, if we can go to him during games that would help a lot especially because it would open things up on the perimeter for two very good outside shooters in Reynolds and Stokes. Seems like Jay learned how to play with Scottie towards the end of the season with a good mix of having him on the ball and off the ball a little in a way he was comfortable as opposed to looking very uncomfortable early in the season. Our big downside is we just don't have any very good athletes. Some solid guys on the team but when playing far more athletic teams like Kansas in the Sweet 16 and a team like Louisville in conference play (even the LSU game) we really struggle converting inside. Teams like that can put pressure on our guards to drive, but we can't convert inside and end up taking contested shots outside or heavily contested shots inside by teams that are just a lot bigger and more athletic. Beyond the young players development Scottie as a veteran presence is great, he seemed to play with a calm beyond his years in the tourney and is really a leader. Dante Cunningham is a solid rebounder for us inside and Shane Clark and Dwayne Anderson are good on the wing but none of the three are anything like some of the guys they'll match up with in conference play, they're just not on the same level athletically or even skill wise really. Hopefully the chemistry we'll have with having the entire team back and the talent of the young players developing (Reynolds, Stokes, Fisher, and Pena are going to be the big ones next year IMO with Anderson playing a big role as a gel guy and Cunningham playing a significant role along with Clark probably off the bench and Reggie Redding getting some decent bench minutes too along with Cassiem Drummond as a big body but not much else though I'd love to see him develop some) but I think our inability of athletic players will give us some trouble over the course of the season and I don't see us being good enough to win the Big East. I'd love to be wrong, but realistically I don't see it happening. We could make some noise in the tournament similar to this year though, we generally are solid in the tourney.
Also, apparently Malcolm Grant was given permission to try and transfer, he was a great player in the wins over Pitt and LSU and definitely a fan favorite here. Great offensive player he just didn't get minutes behind other guards, mainly because he was a big liability on D. I wish him the best and am disappointed to see him go, Jay really didn't handle the situation with him very well. It will be interesting to see where he ends up (hopefully SHU doesn't steal him from us I'd hate to see him potentially become a star at my girlfriends school).