College Basketball is always fun to follow. The players and fans really get involved in their season. Let’s look at several conferences this year and preview their players and make some predictions on where they finish within their conference. We will start with the Power 5 conferences then move into the others.
Power 5 Conferences
Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)
The conference was led in the standings in 2017-2018 with Virginia, Duke, Clemson, and North Carolina. However, Virginia and North Carolina were bounced out of the NCAA tourney early and Florida State reached the Elite Eight and Syracuse made it to the Sweet 16. This year appears no different as 8 or 9 teams are likely to get bids for the Big Dance.
- Duke may have lost all five of their starters but they have one of the best recruiting classes in their history. Coming in is R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, Zion Williamson, and Tre Jones who were all in the top 15 recruits in the nation. Joining the fun will be a healthy center Marques Bolden and forward Javin DeLaurier to continue the dominance.
- North Carolina is on the heels of the Blue Devils as they will rely on All-American Luke Maye to lead them. Freshman star from the Orlando area that will cill the wing area is Nassir Little. Others players to get plenty of court time include shooter Kenny Williams and Cameron Johnson. This team will be solid and may have more experience than Duke.
- Virginia was the conference last season and then lost an embarrassing first round contest. The Cavaliers will have Ty Jerome, Kyle Guy, and De’Andre Hunter returning. This team will be one of the elite teams in the country.
- Virginia Tech surprised many in their conference as they defeated Virginia, Duke, and North Carolina last year. Kerry Blackshear and Justin Robinson return from their combined 26 points per game and 28 minutes played per contest.
- Syracuse made a deep run in the NCAA tourney before falling in the Sweet Sixteen. Head coach Jim Boeheim only loses one player from last season. Tyus Battle returns after withdrawing from the NBA draft and he brings back almost 20 points per game. Oshae Brissett and Frank Howard each added 14 points per game. The Orange will look to be improved this year as transfer Elijah Hughes from East Carolina is a speedster on both ends of the floor.
- Florida State has a solid mix of returning players and new recruits for head Coach Leonard Hamilton. Forward Phil Cofer returns for the fifth year of eligibility along with big man Terrance Mann will be a solid nucleus from which to build. Raiquan Gray was a redshirt last year and is likely to make the starting squad.
- Clemson had a hot hand last season and helped head coach Brad Brownell secure a long-term contract. Losing scorer Gabe DeVoe will hurt but Marcquise Reed brings in his 15.8 points per game along with Shelton Mitchell and Elijah Thomas each scoring over 10 points per game.
- NC State hired Kevin Keatts as their head coach and he made some promises to get this team back in shape for glory. There are only three players returning from last year with none of them scoring over 7 points per game. It will be the deep roster of newcomers that will be trying to lift this team out of the doldrums with Devon Daniels C.J. Bryce getting plenty of playing times.
- Notre Dame will be featuring a slew of talented freshman to play alongside T.J. Gibbs. Coach Mike Brey has big man Juwan Durham from UConn and guard Prentiss Hubb who transferred out of Gonzaga.
- Miami lost their primary game-changing players and now they will only have enough talent to play in the bottom third of the conference. Dewan Huell returns with his 11.4 points per game as the leading returning player.
- Louisville has moved on from the Rick Pitino time and hired Chris Mack to lead the Cardinals. It will be a difficult year for them as they lost four starters from last season. Steven Enoch, a transfer from UConn, is likely to lead the team and sophomore Jordan Nwora will supply some long range shooting but the bottom line is this team will struggle.
- Wake Forest had their top three players leave and now head coach Danny Manning is sitting on a hot seat. There are several top recruits coming in with forward Jaylen Hoard being the most highly sought player on the roster.
- Boston College lost their best player as Jerome Robinson left the team for the NBA. Senior guard Jordan Chatman brings back his 12.9 points per game and newcomer Jarius Hamilton is a four-star recruit with plenty of athletic ability and size.
- Georgia Tech will be a disaster for the most part and head coach Josh Pastner will have his work cut out for him and may be on the hot seat at the end of the season. Guard Michael Devoe from Monteverde Academy in Orlando may turn into a difference maker this year.
- Pittsburgh looks weak and returns Jared Wilson-Frame as the only real scorer of the bunch. New head coach Jeff Capel could use his connections in the league to make them relevant sooner than many think.
Player of the Year– Luke Maye from North Carolina
Best Defensive Player– De’Andre Hunter out of Virginia
Most Underrated Player– Justin Robinson, Virginia Tech
Newcome of the Year– R.J. Barrett from Duke
Big 12 Conference
It is getting a bit redundant for the Jayhawks to continue to win but it is a source of pride in Lawrence. This year there may be a wide distinction between the first and second place teams.
- Kansas– The Jayhawks have won 24 consecutive conference titles and are likely to add another this year. Kansas got better when center Udoka Azubuike withdrew from the NBA draft. He brings back seven rebounds and 13 points per game. Silvio De Sousa will have experience and the ton of quality recruits and transfers is phenomenal. The Lawson brothers, Dedric and K.J., will be difference makes for coach Bill Self along with Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes off the bench.
- Kansas State– Coach Bruce Weber is excited and hopes to surpass his nemesis at Kansas. The Wildcats return guard Barry Brown and his 15.9 points per game and 16 points from forward Dean Wade. KSU must beat the good teams this year to succeed.
- West Virginia– Coach Bob Huggins has lost his best two players and now some things are uncertain for the Mountaineers. Sagaba Konate is back with his 10.8 points per game as is Esa Ahmad with 10.2 ppg. Recruit Emmitt Mathews Jr. is a four-star signing that initially was headed to UConn will be on the floor. This team isn’t likely to win the conference but should easily get an invite to the Big Dance.
- TCU– The Horned Frogs have a corps of players returning with experience for head coach Jamie Dixon. Desmond Bane and Jaylen Fisher each had 12 points per game and will leave little room for the recruits to get much time.
- Iowa State– The Cyclones were good for several seasons and then their coach Fred Hoiberg left for the NBA and it became the last place finish. Lindell Wigginton, a sophomore, is back with his 16.7 points per game and Cameron Lard averaged 12.6 last year. Head coach Steve Prohm has the talent to work with and will land squarely in the middle of the conference standings.
- Texas– Shake Smart has been the coach for the Longhorns for three years and he has developed a 50-50 record. Fans are wanting an uptick in winning games and some fans are warming the seat. However, Texas returns four players that averaged in double figures last year with guard Andrew Jones leading the way with 13.5 points per game. Texas landed a former Louisville commit in four-star Courtney Ramey from Webster Grove, Mo.
- Texas Tech– The Red Raiders fought Kansas all season in 2017-18 for the title but came up short. They lost their star Zach Smith to the NBA and now must fill the void he left behind. Jarrett Culver is called on to lead the offense as he brings back 11.2 points per game. Graduate student from South Dakota, Matt Mooney will give this team a lift.
- Baylor– The fortunes for head coach Scott Drew rest in two transfer players as Mario Kegler, from Mississippi State and Makai Mason out of Yale, will lead the Bears. This team will be undersized and not get many wins in 2018-2019. Look for the coaching seat to get warm at Baylor.
- Oklahoma– Things are trending downward for the Sooners as their one season with Trae Young was fun and exciting while it lasted. Now, head coach Lon Kruger must put pieces together for this season. Christian James and Brady Manek are back with some experience on the floor. This team falls close to the bottom of the conference.
- Oklahoma State– There was a reason Brad Underwood left this team two seasons ago and that was the talent was getting dry. Now coach Mike Boynton will look for help. Cameron McGriff returns for his junior season and will get a chance to make it his team. Michael Weather, a transfer player from Maine, is going to be good and helpful all year.
Player of the Year– Dedric Lawson, Kansas
Best Defensive Player– Sagaba Konate, West Virginia
Most Underrated Player– Desmond Bane, TCU
Newcomer of the Year– Dedric Lawson, Kansas Jayhawks
Big Ten Conference
The Big Ten is predictable to a point this year but mainstays like Wisconsin and Ohio State are slipping down from previous years. The upstart athletic program in Nebraska may fare far better than many predict. The bottom is the same with Minnesota, Illinois, and Rutgers.
- Michigan State– When people talk about coaches in the Big Ten, Tom Izzo is the one everyone mentions first. Nick Ward returns after dropping out of the NBA draft and he brings with him just over 12 points per game. Xavier Tillman returns for his sophomore season but the main focus will be on freshman Marcus Bingham. He has all of the tools and relies on his leaping ability and 3-point shooting. A second freshman to get playing time is Thomas Kithier along with Robert Morris transfer Braden Burke.
- Indiana– Archie Miller entered last year as the head coach and immediately set out to make defense a top priority for the Hoosiers. The big news for all fans in the state is the recruitment of in-state five-star payer Romeo Langford. He can deliver the goods for Indiana. Freshman Jerome Hunter will likely start on opening day.
- Michigan– In 2018-2019, the Wolverines will turn to 7’1″ center Joe Teske to take control of the inside game. He will be backed up by freshman recruit Colin Castleton from Daytona Beach. Guard Charles Mathews leads the team in scoring among players returning. The problem for Michigan is replacing 3,499 points that left after last season.
- Maryland– Head coach Mark Turgeon will look to replace his top scorer from last year. He may look for his top recruit, Jaylen Smith, to become the top star in the program. He has the ability to take over a contest. Sophomore Bruno Fernando is back as he led the squad in rebounds and is the second leading scorer from this returning. Anthony Cowan Jr. scored 15.8 minutes last year and played over 37 minutes per game will become the team leader.
- Nebraska-The fortunes of the Cornhuskers are bright as James Palmer Jr. and Isaac Copeland Jr. each decided to return for their season year. Together they bring back just over 30 points per game along with ten boards. Isaiah Roby had some NBA interest but return to the team and was the leading rebounder on the team and an inside presence.
- Purdue– Guard Carsen Edwards led the Boilermakers last season with over 18 points per game. He is quick and athletic and will be the main focus for head coach Matt Painter. Eric Hunter, a prized recruit, is a lefty that was a prolific scorer in high school. He will likely fill a guard spot.
- Ohio State– The Buckeyes were the surprise team in the conference with wins over several of the top teams. Head coach Chris Holtmann will face the season without Keita Bates-Diop who is in the NBA. C.J. Jackson and Kaleb Wesson return as the top scorers returning from last season and recruit Keyshawn Woods will get every chance to play.
- Wisconsin– The Badgers have been near the top of the conference for a long time but now they are a bit depleted and will have to prove their worth. The good news is senior Ian Happ backed out of the draft and his 18.9 points per game is back. Guard Brad Davison will run the show while senior Khalil Iverson is an all-around type player on both ends of the floor.
- Iowa– Four players return for coach Fran McCaffery that scored in double digits last season. Luke Garza and Tyler cook were rebound leaders but Jordan Bohannon is the player to watch. He is a 3-point specialist that will break several records before his graduation. Connor McCaffery, the son of the coach, is ready after being a redshirt freshman last year.
- Penn State– The main focus for this team will be to find some offense. Big man Lamar Stevens averaged just over 15 is the leading scorer that is back along with Mike Watkins with 12 points but a major rebounder with almost nine per game.
- Northwestern- Head coach Chris Collins may be feeling a bit of a squeeze from the fan base as this team lost some luster last year. Post man Derrick Pardon returns with his 11.3 ppg and 7.1 rebounds per contest along with forward Vic Law who averaged 12 points per game and 5.8 rebounds. Recruit Ryan Greer will get some guard time in this season but the surprise might be a graduate transfer, Ryan Taylor. He led the Missouri Valley in scoring while at Evansville and has plenty of experience.
- Illinois– The Illini has been mired in mediocrity for a very long time. Head coach Brad Underwood begins his second season with several key players no longer on the roster. Transfer De La Rosa, a seven-footer, averaged 11 points and 7 rebounds last year at Kent State is in the middle. Freshman Anthony Higgs is a big man that was once committed to Ole Miss and now is on the Illini roster and Kipper Nichols returns with a ten point average last year.
- Minnesota– There was some thought to moving this team up a notch but Illinois was given the benefit of the doubt. Coach Richard Pitino may see his seat get hot if the Gophers hit bottom. Jordan Murphy and Amir Coffey combined for just over 30 points last year and Murphy was a beast on the boards with 11.3 per game.
- Rutgers– It appears to be set this year as the Scarlet Knights have finished last in the league the past four years. This is the year of Shaq for Rutgers as 7-foot Shaquille Doorson returns and newcomer Shaq Carter comes in from Eastern Florida State. Geo Baker is the lone returning player that scored in double digits last year. A top recruit, Ron Harper Jr. is the son of former NBA play Ron Harper and Montez Mathis is a top guard recruit who will get plenty of playing time.
Player of the Year– Jalen Smith, Maryland
Best Defensive Player– Josh Reaves from Penn State
Most Underrated Player– Cassius Winston. Michigan State
Newcomer of the Year– Jalen Smith, Maryland
- Oregon– Kenny Wooten returns and he is a prolific shot blocker. The Ducks will be using their defense to win games as head coach Dana Altman loves the three-quarter court traps among other things. A few top recruits such as Louis King and Bol Bol will guide them far in 2018-2019.
- Washington– Every starter is back for the Huskies with center Noah Dickerson leading the offense and Matisse Thybulle as a shutdown defender. Jalen Nowell brings returns after averaging 16 points per game.
- UCLA– Steve Alford may be on a warm seat this season. The best news for the program was that Kris Wilkes (13.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg.) and Jaylen Hands (9.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg) opted out of the NBA draft.
- USC– The Trojans lost some firepower from last year but return forward Bennie Boatwright and his 6.4 boards per contest. Top recruits Elijah Weaver and Kevin Porter should ease any concerns to USC fans.
- Arizona State– Several key players are gone from last year and head coach Bobby Hurley will be looking at some highly regarded newcomers such as Lugentz Dort and Taeshon Cherry along with transfers Tra Holder and Kodi Justice to make up for any deficiencies.
- Oregon State– Tres Tinkle and Stephen Thompson Jr. return and bring along some great numbers as they combined for 10 rebounds and 33 points last year.
- Arizona– Head coach Sean Miller lost all five starters and was crushed by the media last year on some scandals. Transfers abound for the Wildcats as Chase Jeter comes from Duke, Ryan Luther is from Pitt, Samford transfer Justin Coleman is in the program, and the top recruit Brandon Williams will likely be the starters.
- Colorado– The Buffaloes will lean exclusively on McKinley Wright IV as he brings back five assists, five rebounds and over 15 points per game. Freshman Jakub Dombek and Evan Battey will need to slide into large roles for coach Tad Boyle.
- Stanford– This is a team on the slide as they lost their best player, Reid Travis, to a transfer to Kentucky. It could mean the bottom of the conference for the Cardinals.
- Utah– Sedrick Barefield is a streaky shooter but is expected to average 20 points per game. Donnie Tillman is expected to be healthy for his sophomore season. There are 11 newcomers to this team.
- Washington State– Robert Franks is a big scorer but the rest of the team will struggle.
- California– This situation for the Bears is very bad. They lost a lot of offense but failed to replace it.
Player of the Year– Kris Wilkes, UCLA
Best Defensive Player– Matisse Thybulle, Washington
Most Underrated Player– Payton Pritchard, Oregon
Newcome of the Year– Bol Bol, Oregon
Southeastern Conference (SEC)
- Kentucky- This may not be John Calipari’s best team but it is really good now that graduate student Reid Travis in on board. Add to the mix PJ Washington, Quade Green, and Nick Richards and it oozes with success. EJ Montgomery may be the best freshman in the nation.
- Tennessee– The Volunteers are going to be fun to watch with plenty of talent as Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield lead for head coach Rick Barnes.
- Auburn– Bruce Pearl always finds a gem to aid his squad. Returnees Daniel Purifoy and Austin Wiley are back along with VCU transfer Samir Doughty and a JC transfer J’Von McCormick to lead the Tigers.
- Mississippi State– Guard Quinndary Weatherspoon returns with his 14.4 points per game and 6 boards along with Eric Holman and Nick Weatherspoon adding another ten points.
- LSU– Tremont Waters is the offense for the Tigers with his 15.9 points per game. A couple of big recruits have been added to the roster with Naz Reid and Emmitt Williams expected to contribute.
- Florida– The Gators have talent but need to come out of their slump from last season. KeVaughn Allen needs to improve but will have recruits Chris Chiozza and Andrew Nembhard to help increase his game.
- Vanderbilt– Post player Yanni Wetzell and Matt Ryan are good shooters and will lead the office and two top recruits and two transfer students will keep this team from falling to the bottom.
- Missouri– One Porter is gone but Jontay Porter returns after being spurned in the draft. Sophomore Jeremiah Tilmon will need to step it up and a resurgence from Kevin Puryear is sorely needed.
- Alabama– Donta Hall and John Petty return with their 10 points per game and newcomer Tevin Mack, from Texas, has tons of ability that will play well for the Crimson Tide,
- Texas A&M– TJ Starks and Admon Gilder are the go-to guys in College Station but there isn’t much scoring punch in town.
- Arkansas– After Daniel Gafford, the team has no scoring to count on. Freshman recruit Reggie Chaney and Keyshawn Embery will get floor time right away for the Razorbacks.
- Georgia– This is a rebuild job for new head coach Tom Crean. He will dip into the transfer ranks but they are going anywhere for a few years.
- South Carolina– Remember when Frank Martin had a good team? It wasn’t that long ago as he now must for players to complement Chris Silva.
- Ole Miss– New head coach Kermit Davis can count on big man Bruce Stevens and guar Terence Davis to lead by example but wins aren’t coming.
Player of the Year– Reid Travis, Kentucky
Best Defensive Player– Herbert Jones, Alabama
Most Underrated Player– Terence Davis. Ole Miss
Newcomer of the Year– Reid Travis
America East Conference
- Stony Brook-
- New Hampshire-
American Athletic Conference
- Wichita State
- East Carolina
- South Florida
Atlantic 10 Conference
- Saint Louis
- Saint Joseph’s
- George Mason
- Rhode Island
- St Bonaventure
- George Washington
Atlantic Sun Conference
- North Florida-
- Florida Gulf Coast-
- Kennesaw State-
- North Alabama
Big East Conference
- St. John’s
Big Sky Conference
- Weber State
- Eastern Washington
- Portland State
- Northern Colorado
- Idaho State
- Montana State
- Southern Utah
- Sacramento State
- Northern Arizona
Big South Conference
- Charleston Southern
- High Point
- UNC Asheville
- USC Upstate
Big West Conference
- UC Irvine
- Cal State Fullerton
- Long Beach State
- UC Davis
- Cal Poly
- UC Riverside
- Cal State Northridge
Colonial Athletic Association
- College of Charleston
- William and Mary
- UNC Wilmington
- James Madison
- Western Kentucky
- Old Dominion
- North Texas
- Middle Tennessee
- Southern Miss
- Louisiana Tech
- Florida Atlantic
- Wright State
- Northern Kentucky
- Green Bay
- Cleveland State
- Youngstown State
Metro Atlantic Conference
- Saint Peter’s
Mid-American Conference (MAC)
- Bowling Green
- Kent State
- Eastern Michigan
- Ball State
- Western Michigan
- Central Michigan
- Northern Illinois
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
- NC Central
- Savannah State
- North Carolina AT&T
- Norfolk State
- Morgan State
- South Carolina State
- Coppin State
- Florida A&M
- Delaware State
Missouri Valley Conference
- Southern Illinois
- Illinois State
- Northern Iowa
- Indiana State
- Missouri State
Mountain West Conference
- San Diego State
- New Mexico
- Colorado State
- Fresno State
- Boise State
- Utah State
- Air Force
- San Jose State
- St. Francis-PA
- LIU Brooklyn
- Fairleigh Dickinson
- Robert Morris
- Central Connecticut
- St. Francis-Brooklyn
- Sacred Heart
- Mount St. Peter’s
Ohio Valley Conference
- Murray State
- Jacksonville State
- Austin Peay
- Tennessee Tech
- Eastern Kentucky
- Eastern Illinois
- UT Martin
- Tennessee State
- SE Missouri State
- Morehead State
- SIU Edwardsville
- Boston University
- Holy Cross
- UNC Greensboro
- Western Carolina
- The Citadel
- Stephen F. Austin
- Sam Houston State
- SE Louisiana
- Abilene Christian
- New Orleans
- McNeese State
- Central Arkansas
- Houston Baptist
- Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
- Northwestern State
- Incarnate Word
- South Dakota State
- South Dakota
- Fort Wayne
- North Dakota State
- North Dakota
- Oral Roberts
- Western Illinois
Sun Belt Conference
- Georgia State
- Georgia Southern
- South Alabama
- Appalachian State
- Texas State
- UT Arlington
- Coastal Carolina
- Arkansas State
- Little Rock
- Texas Southern
- Grambling State
- Prairie View A&M
- Arkansas- Pine Bluff
- Alcorn State
- Alabama State
- Jackson State
- Mississippi Valley State
- Alabama A&M
Western Athletic Conference (WAC)
- New Mexico State
- Grand Canyon
- Utah Valley
- UT Rio Grande Valley
- Cal State Bakersfield
- Chicago State
- California Baptist
West Coast Conference (WCC)
- Saint Mary’s
- San Francisco
- San Diego
- Loyola Marymount
- Santa Clara