NCAA Basketball Roundtable: Addressing Major Questions and Predictions

NCAA basketball is back and conference play is in full swing, and we’ve already seen a bevy of headlines take the college basketball by storm. Whether it be James Wiseman and Memphis, Auburn and their winning streak, the revolving door at #1, or any other storyline, there’s been a lot to keep track of. With college football season wrapping up, the boys decided to sit down and try to answer some of the major questions early in the basketball season heading into the stretch run. 

Conference play has just started, what is your best guess at the Final Four right now?

Nathaniel Lapoint: Kansas, Ohio State, Butler, and Auburn

Cal Christoforo: Duke, Kansas, Auburn, Ohio State

Andrew Degeorge: Kansas, Baylor, Auburn, Oregon

Aidan Thomas: Louisville, Auburn, Butler, Texas Tech

Name your Top-5 mid-majors, ranked by potential to make a deep run in March

Lapoint: Dayton, UCSB, Yale, Northern Iowa, Furman

Christoforo: Gonzaga, Liberty, Dayton, San Diego State, VCU

Degeorge: San Diego State, Wichita State, Dayton, St. Mary’s, Liberty

Thomas: Gonzaga, Dayton, Liberty, Furman, Northern Iowa

Which Top-10 team do you trust the least? 

Lapoint: Gonzaga

Christoforo: Baylor

Degeorge: Ohio State

Thomas: Oregon

Preseason #9 UNC is down to less than a 1% chance of making the NCAA tournament. Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Who is the biggest surprise and the biggest disappointment of the season so far?

Lapoint: The biggest surprise has been the Big-East leading Butler squad, ranked #5 in the nation and on a 6-game winning streak. Their one loss was a one point road loss to #2 Baylor; they’ve been impressive all year long and I believe they have Final Four potential. 

The biggest disappointment has been Kentucky. A team that looked to lock down the #1 spot in the nation has since lost three times, twice at home, and twice to unranked teams as well. Many speculated the Wildcats would be unbeaten heading into SEC play, but they have not looked the part yet. 

Christoforo: For me, the biggest surprise has been San Diego State. They’ve finished fourth, fifth, and sixth in their past three seasons in the Mountain West. Last year, they finished 21-13. This year, they’re unbeaten and #7 in the nation. They’ve also showed up for their big games, beating #25 Creighton by 30 points, and going on the road to beat a Utah squad -who beat Kentucky – by 28 points. 

The biggest disappointment, meanwhile, has been UNC. Roy Williams has an outstanding freshman in Cole Anthony and more blue chip talent than most schools could dream of, but he’s 8-8 on the year after being ranked #9 in the preseason AP Poll. 

Degeorge: Baylor basketball has been a huge surprise to this point in the season. Ranked #2 in the most recent poll, the Bears have been on fire. After an early season loss to Washington, Baylor has not stopped winning, with wins over 3 top-15 teams, including a road victory at Kansas. I could absolutely see this team being one of the last standing in a few months.

I’ll agree with Cal here and go with UNC for the biggest disappointment. I don’t think you can fall from a preseason top-10 team with one of the top freshman players in the country and a legendary coach to unranked without being labeled a major disappointment. 

Thomas: I think the biggest surprise has been Auburn. I know they finished last year hot, but ultimately, the Tigers lost a lot of contributors, and I don’t think anyone expected to stay undefeated this long. Their recent 22-point win over Georgia legitimized them in my eyes, and I absolutely expect a deep run from this team. 

I’ll piggy-back off Cal and Andrew and take UNC as my most disappointing team. When my beloved Irish lost to the Tar Heels in the season opener, I thought it was a competitive loss to a top-10 team. However, since then, UNC has gone 7-8 and their chances of making the NCAA tournament are under 1%. It would be only the second time under Roy Williams they’ve failed to go dancing, and that has to qualify for the biggest disappointment of the year. 

And finally, pick your conference champions:

Lapoint: 

SEC: Kentucky

ACC: Virginia 

Pac 12: Oregon 

Big 10: Ohio state 

Big East: Butler 

Big 12: Kansas

Christoforo:

SEC: Auburn 

ACC: Duke

Pac 12: Colorado 

Big 10: Michigan 

Big East: Villanova 

Big 12: Kansas

Degeorge:

SEC: Auburn

ACC: Duke

Pac 12: Oregon

Big 10: Michigan State

Big East: Villanova

Big 12: Kansas

Thomas:

SEC: Florida

ACC: Florida State

Pac 12: Colorado

Big 10: Maryland

Big East: Villanova

Big 12 : West Virginia

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