By Jordan Butler
Now that the Super Bowl is behind us, just like every year, the world of sports is in a transition phase as far as what “season” it is. I can officially go on record and declare it “basketball season.” Indiana is a basketball state and right now in the sports world, there’s not much going on besides regular season basketball. I imagine everyone is looking forward to March Madness! This year in college basketball, as the tournament approaches, there really is no clear favorite to win the national championship because most conferences are up in the air at this point. Knowing this, I went around asking a few of my sports guru friends for their opinions on who is their early pick to win the national championship and, as expected, I received mixed responses.
Well, when you have a question about basketball, who better to go talk to about it than Clint Johnson? Everybody at Grace knows that Clint-dawg is probably the most loyal Duke fan of all time. Clint states, “My head says it is probably going to be Syracuse or Kansas, depending on whether or not KU’s Joel Embiid can stay healthy, but I want Duke to win the national championship.” Embiid will most definitely be a key factor in KU’s post-season success because he’s being looked at as the possible top pick into the NBA in this year’s draft which is coming up in June.
The most interesting pick came from Andrew Pepe, who stated: “Watch out for Iowa State. They could be a dark horse in the tournament this year. Go ahead and laugh at me now, but just wait and see.”
Andrew Weidman is picking Arizona to win it all this year. According to the AP Top 25 Poll, Arizona is currently the #2 ranked team in the country.
When talking with Tre Fowler, he answered: “The Florida Gators. They have four senior starters, and they have three straight Elite Eight appearances.” Fowler makes a good point: Having seasoned and experienced players who have been there before can be an advantage for Florida.
Seth Miller said: “I’d say Kentucky, not because they’re my team, but because we haven’t seen their best play yet.” I cannot say I am surprised by Miller’s answer because, like he said, Kentucky is his favorite team.
I also had a great conversation with Jacob Vickers, who stated: “I think Syracuse. I think they are the most complete team. Syracuse is good down low, they have good guard play, game-changing players with C.J. Fair and Tyler Ennis, and they are deep off the bench. Jim Boeheim is a great coach and they seem to find ways to win even when they aren’t on their game. Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins get all the hype, but Ennis might be the best freshman out there. He’s made all the plays when it’s mattered most. I like Parker and Wiggins’ talent, but Ennis has the leadership quality.” Syracuse may very well have the best defensive scheme in college basketball with the zone defense they run. The Orange will most definitely be tough to beat come tournament time. Syracuse and Wichita State are the only two teams left undefeated this year in college basketball.
As a fan of The Ohio State University, it’s been an up and down season for my Buckeyes, and it’s not what I expected going into this year. Normally, I would pick the Buckeyes to win it, but unfortunately, they do not have what it takes to make it to the national championship this year. This year, Syracuse is my pick to win it all. I am loyal to the Big Ten so I would love to see a Big Ten team pull it out. The Big Ten team with the best chance to do so will probably be Michigan State, but I still think Syracuse will be this year’s national champion. This will be another great year for college basketball!