Pull out your foam finger, paint your face and rehearse your best taunts because college basketball is back. This yearís boast some of the best freshmen talent.
Before one ball is blocked, passed or dunked these are my predictions to make it to the tournament as well as potentially win it all.
5. Kansas Jayhawks
Lose five starters. No problem. The Jayhawks signed the 2013 top college prospect Andrew Wiggins and placed themselves in position to be a Final Four contender again.† The 6-foot-8 Wiggins is an unbelievable athlete and a real game-changer for KU. Coach Bill Self has put together his best recruiting class ever, including Wayne Selden, center Joel Embiid, and shooters Conner Frankamp and Brennan Greene. Sophomore Perry Ellis and point guard Naadir Tharpe must provide leadership. But Self wasnít done, he also added Memphis transfer Tarik Black. Kansas will be favored to win the Big 12 for a 10th consecutive season.
4. Louisville Cardinals
Louisville looks good and they are returning starters ó but returning to the big dance is hard. The Cardinals will miss the leadership of Peyton Siva, but Coach Rick Pitino is bringing in two point guards, including junior college transfer Chris Jones. There wonít be any need for slow sad songs in the Derby city. Pitinoís cabinet isnít bare and he will compete. Whether he has what it takes to repeat remains to be seen.
3. Michigan State Spartans
Most of college basketballís elite teams are used to having to reload each year. This Spartans team is the exception. Give Coach Tom Izzo four returning starters,† along with one of the nationís best backcourts in Gary Harris and Keith Appling and this team is ready to compete. Izzoís usual grind-it-out style will serve this team well.
2. Duke Blue Devils
Always formidable, the Blue Devils are poised to field their most athletic team in more than a decade. With an abundance of versatile players, they possess one of the nationís more dynamic rosters. Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood and heralded freshman Jabari Parker should thrive in an up-tempo style offense. If they can compensate for the dearth of traditional big men, Krzyzewski could claim his fifth national title in April. The Blue Devils get the nod over the Spartans not just because theyíre loaded with talent, but because coach K owns Izzo in head-to-head matchups (6-1).
1. Kentucky Wildcats
The big news is the ďSensational SixĒ recruiting class, led by twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison, Julius Randle and Dakari Johnson. Sophomores Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein will give the Wildcats the leadership and experience they were missing last season. Donít feel bad for head coach John Calipari he has a cabinet full of talent.
The picks are in and Iím not calling my shot, but I feel pretty good. This is the year that I donít tear up my brackets. This is the year Iím right about these being the teams that cut down the nets.
(Editorís note: The above selections reflect the opinion of the reporter and not the Paraglide newspaper)