College basketball preview: Duke primed, Villanova could repeat
Published 12:08 pm Saturday, October 29, 2016
By The Associated Press
The 2015-16 college basketball season ended in the most dramatic way possible, with Villanova’s Kris Jenkins confidently pulling up for a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give the Wildcats their second national championship.
Now it’s time for the encore.
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And, based on the talented teams and players across the country, this season has a chance of being just as good.
Here are some of the marquee teams, players and games to look for from the 2016-17 season:
Duke. Another stellar recruiting class by Coach K has the Blue Devils primed for a second title run in three years.
Kansas. The Jayhawks lost a lot from last year’s team, but may actually be better this year. Watch out for freshman Josh Jackson.
Villanova. Defending national champs lost little and have player of the year candidate Josh Hart back.
Kentucky. See if you’ve heard this one before: Coach Cal has another collection of long, athletic, highly-touted recruits on his roster.
Oregon. The Ducks were a No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed a year ago and return nearly everyone, including do-everything Dillon Brooks.
Grayson Allen, Duke. The latest Blue Devil people love to hate has lots of game and should be in the running for national player of the year.
Hart, Villanova. Arguably the nation’s best all-around player.
Brooks, Oregon. He’ll likely have to miss a few games due to offseason foot surgery, but proved last year that there’s little he can’t do.
Monte Morris, Iowa State. Previously a setup man, he’ll have a chance to shine after deciding to return to Ames.
Melo Trimble, Maryland. The junior gets his shot at the being the man in College Park and the results could be spectacular.
Jackson, Kansas. The 6-foot-8 swingman has been predicted to have more impact on the Jayhawks than Andrew Wiggins. That’s high praise.
Markelle Fultz. Washington. Arguably the most decorated recruit in program history, can score or dish.
De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky. Supremely athletic, can shoot, pass, plays hard. The Wildcats are in good hands.
Lonzo Ball, UCLA. Playmaker who can shoot from deep was a big get for coach Steve Alford.
Dennis Smith Jr., North Carolina State. Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried called him the “best guard in the country. Period.” He may be right.
Miles Bridges, Michigan State. The athletic 6-7 forward could be the best player in coach Tim Izzo’s two decades in East Lansing. Considering the list of players he’s coaching, that’s saying something.
BEST NON-CONFERENCE GAMES
Michigan State vs. Arizona, Nov. 11 in Honolulu. Not a bad opener for the college basketball season at all.
Kansas vs. Duke, Nov. 15 in New York. The Champions Classic has some of the most anticipated non-conference games every year and this one is no different.
Kansas at Kentucky, Jan. 28. Blue bloods facing off right smack in the middle of the conference season.
North Carolina vs. Kentucky, Dec. 17 in Las Vegas. Blue bloods in Sin City.
Louisville vs. Indiana, Dec. 31 in Indianapolis. Great way to ring out the old year.
Jamie Dixon, TCU. Left Pittsburgh in hopes of revitalizing his alma mater.
Tubby Smith, Memphis. Has a chance to become the first coach to take six teams to the NCAA Tournament after stops in Tulsa, Georgia, Kentucky Minnesota and Texas Tech.
Marvin Menzies, UNLV. Hoping to bring the success he had at New Mexico State to bright lights of Vegas.
Brad Underwood, Oklahoma State. Looking to get the Cowboys back on track after winning 89 games in three seasons at Stephen F. Austin.
Chris Beard, Texas Tech. Spent one season at UALR, about a minute at UNLV, now back in Lubbock, where he worked 10 years as an assistant under Bob and Pat Knight.
Nigel Williams-Goss, Jonathan Williams and Jordan Mathews, Gonzaga. Coach Mark Few brought in a trio that could help take the Zags on a deep March run. Williams-Goss, formerly of Washington, has All-America potential.
Austin Nichols, Virginia. Former Memphis forward can score, rebound and be an anchor for the Cavaliers’ defense.
Shannon Evans, Arizona State. He followed Bobby Hurley from Buffalo and gives the Sun Devils’ a potent backcourt alongside Tra Holder.
Marcus Foster, Creighton. Former Kansas State guard has the potential to team with Mo Watson Jr. in one of the nation’s top backcourts.
Andrew White, Syracuse. Graduate transfer from Nebraska gives Jim Boeheim a veteran who can score and rebound.