By Ron Jumper
In the midst of football season, there is that sport with a round bouncing ball that you throw into a basket from time to time with the winner being the team that does it more. Yeah, basketball. That one, you got it. Well, I don’t know about you but I’m ready for some hoops. In particular, I love college basketball season. From the heavyweights to the mid-majors, I follow it all with pleasure. Before the season kicks off though, I have to make impossible predictions about the upcoming season and hope you forget about them after the season (unless they all come true, in that case, I’ll be sure to remind you).
I will be giving you a regular Jumpology article, which is my version of Bracketology. If you’re not following, my last name is Jumper (see above). Ahh, now it all makes sense…
I’ll be picking the entire 65-team field, from the 31 automatic bids to the 34 at-large teams.
** = Conference Champion
These were the teams I thought really stood out from top to bottom, as I’m not quite as high on Purdue and Villanova as everyone else seems to be. Granted, I have them as 2 seeds so it isn’t like I’m down on them or anything. I see Purdue losing 4 games or so in Big Ten play, bumping them down to a 2 seed. With Villanova, I’m concerned with the lack of size even though I love the guards.
The Yellow Jackets are likely to be this year’s version of Wake Forest, being a team that wasn’t very good the year before but due to an influx of young talent, as well as an abundance of size, the team drastically improves. For once, I’m higher on Notre Dame than the pre-season magazines. That has never happened before, none the less I like transfers Ben Hansbrough and Scott Martin.
Some probably don’t even have Ole Miss in the dance, but I love the potential of this group. Chris Warren is my favorite point guard in the country, as he flew under the radar as an undersized guard out of Florida but has proven the critics wrong that he can be a dynamic playmaker.
Sometimes, it isn’t so much about the returning starters but the type of program in place. When I look at Pitt, I don’t see the same talent as last year but I also don’t see them falling off the face of the earth either. Head coach Jamie Dixon will have this team playing great defense and winning the rebound battle on most nights. It won’t be pretty, but they will still win games. Trust me.
Gonzaga lost everything except for Matt Bouldin and they have 9 new faces on the roster this season. They should still win the WCC, but asking them to be the giant slayers they usually are may be a tall order. Wake Forest is going to be a little better then some think, they still have size and talent. If Ishmael Smith can handle the point guard duties, this team can be pretty solid.
Tulsa finally gets over the hump, not just for the Golden Hurricane, but for the rest of Conference USA as a whole. It has been Memphis and everyone else for awhile now, but Tulsa earns the conference a well deserved at-large bid. Watch Tulsa’s Jerome Jordan, as you may hear this 7-footer’s name called in the lottery.
Long Beach State**
Mount St. Mary’s**
Sam Houston State**
Oral Roberts** Play-In Game
Jackson State** Play-In Game