No. 10: These Are The 5 Seeds
For our final 10 Bold Predictions, we will slowly unveil our Preseason Field of 65, starting with the four teams we have on the five line. We will release the final, complete bracket on October 12 for our final Bold Prediction.
For now, though, here is our Bold Prediction No. 10 - a breakdown of the four teams that will be on the five line in our Preseason bracket:
The Zags should fly through the WCC with no more than a couple of losses, and will have plenty of chances to boost their RPI with an impressive OOC schedule (at St. Joseph’s, at UConn, vs. Washington State, vs. Tennessee). Gonzaga is strong in the backcourt with Pargo, Downs, and Pendergraft, has the conference’s best player in Heytvelt, an up-and-comer in Bouldin, and a nasty recruiting class. If the Zags keep gym clothes (and gym clothes) only in their gym bags this season, a deep NCAA run is a near-certainty.
This pick is part D.J. Augustin and part an indictment on the conference they play in. Even without Kevin Durant, Texas returns a ton of talent and one of the top three point guards in the country in the sophomore Augustin. The speedy backcourt of Augustin and A.J. Abrams will be tough for any team to handle, and they should lead Texas to a second place finish in the ultra-weak Big XII.
Who’s the third best team in the SEC? We think it’s Arkansas, a team that earned the most debatable dance card of anyone last season when they somehow made it to the SEC final and nabbed a 12 seed despite 14 losses and a 7-9 conference record. The core from that team is back, led by super sophomore Patrick Beverly, who averaged 14 points a game a year ago. New coach John Pelphrey has to find a point guard from a host of halfway decent candidates, and if he does so, the Razorbacks will win the SEC West and be a top-5 seed.
The Valley is down this season, but that may actually be good news for favorite Southern Illinois. They are by far the MVC’s most talented team, led by senior Randal Falker, who is the early favorite for conference POY. A 3-4 loss Valley season and a reputation as a dangerous tourney team (see last year’s Sweet 16 run) will earn the Salukis a top-5 seed. Among mid-majors, Southern Illinois is second only to Gonzaga in terms of sleeper upside, and again will be a tough out for whoever they play in the second round of the NCAA tourney.