BY Josh Fendrick > Sophomore > Broadcast Journalism > University of Maryland
Without further ado, it’s time to unveil our college basketball preview. With more than 300 Division I basketball teams, it would be hard to preview them all. Instead, we’ll preview the conferences that matter: ACC, Big East, Big Twelve, Big Ten, Pac-10 and SEC. Does anyone remember the last time the national champion did not come from one of the aforementioned six conferences? (Hint: it was a long time ago, although Butler came damn close in 2010.) We’ll provide a pick for conference champion, a pick for conference runner-up, and a quick breakdown that tells you why.
THE ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE
The Pick: Duke Blue Devils
The Runner-Up: Virginia Tech Hokies
Conference Skinny: It pains me to pick Duke (if you’re confused, take a look where I go to school), but the Blue Devils might be better than they were last year. Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith are both back, and they will be joined this year by stud freshman point guard Kyrie Irving, who has the chance to be the next superstar point guard at a program that has had many of them.
THE BIG EAST
The Pick: Syracuse Orange
The Runner-Up: Pittsburgh Panthers
Conference Skinny: Picking Syracuse might be based more on what this team can do if they play as well as some are predicting. The Orange have some sick athletes that can slash and get to the basket. What excites me most about the Orange? Their new 7-foot, 270-pound forward/center Fabricio de Melo. Centers as big as Fabricio are hard to find in NCAA basketball, and Jim Boeheim is lucky enough to have one that can dominate the paint.
THE BIG TWELVE
The Pick: Kansas State Wildcats
The Runner-Up: Baylor Bears
Conference Skinny: Jacob Pullen averaged nearly 20 points a game last season and will look to build on that as a senior. Also, the Wildcats play in an arena nicknamed the Octagon of Doom. Who could ever pick against that? Look for Pullen and forward Curtis Kelly to do some serious damage in the Big Twelve.
THE BIG TEN
The Pick: Michigan State Spartans
The Runner-Up: Ohio State Buckeyes
Conference Skinny: Purdue is the popular pick to win the conference, but I’m not a believer in the Boilermakers after two straight Sweet 16 exits in the NCAA tournament. Tom Izzo is back at State after it was rumored he might be going to the NBA. Once Kalin Lucas returns to full health after tearing an Achilles, the Spartans will be poised for another deep tourney run.
The Pick: Washington Huskies
The Runner-Up: UCLA Bruins
Conference Skinny: No brainer here (which probably means that another Pac-10 team will shock us all and take the title). The Huskies are deep and balanced. Their best player is guard Isaiah Thomas. When he’s not filling up the score sheet, he’ll be able to dump it down low to senior forwards Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Justin Holiday, or junior Darnell Grant.
THE SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE
The Pick: Florida Gators
The Runner-Up: Kentucky Wildcats
Conference Skinny: Florida loses Dan Werner from last year’s squad but they return four starters, all of whom averaged more than 10 points a game last season. Patric Young and Cody Larson are two freshmen big men that could make their presence felt.
Josh Fendrick is a broadcaster for WMUCsports.com. He has covered a variety of sports at Maryland, including men’s and women’s soccer and men’s basketball. Josh is also an intern at WTOP in Washington, where he covers the Wizards, Capitals and Nationals. A New Jersey native, Josh roots for both the Giants and the Mets.
Image courtesy of ning.com.