The college basketball season is creeping up on us quickly. With less than four weeks to go until the college basketball season begins, NBC Sports gathered their college basketball analysts to predict the 2018-19 National Champion, Final Four, Player of the Year, All-American Teams, and more.
Two of the four experts picked Kentucky to make the Final Four, while all four picked Kansas to make the Final Four and three of the four picked Kansas to win the National Championship.
Gonzaga received three picks to get to the Final Four, including one as National Champions, while Duke and Virginia each received two picks to make the Final Four.
Three of the four analysts picked Kentucky to win the SEC Championship, while one picked Tennessee. One expert picked PJ Washington and John Calipari to win SEC Player of the Year and SEC Coach of the Year, respectively.
As for the All-American teams, the experts pegged PJ Washington to Fourth Team All-American while giving Honorable Mentions to Ashton Hagans and Reid Travis. It’s hard to believe that Kentucky could be preseason No. 1 in a number of polls but not have a single First, Second, or Third Team All-American.
NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster writes:
Picking a player from Kentucky for this is difficult, as the Wildcats have a handful of options, a ton of depth and no real clarity on what their starting lineup and rotation will be. But after the week he had in the Bahamas, Washington is a pretty good bet to be Kentucky’s best player this season.
The analysis is sound and makes sense, but I don’t think this is going to be another platoon situation like the 2014-15 season. When it comes down to it, Coach Cal is going to play the best players the most minutes.
And I have a hard time believing there are nine big men better than PJ Washington and Reid Travis, as Dauster suggests according to these All-American teams.
I think Kentucky is a little underrated in both of these exercises, but I’m sure the Cats won’t waste a second proving them wrong. November 6th can’t come soon enough.
You can read the experts’ picks here. And the All-American predictions here.
Elsewhere, Rivals’ Eric Bossi made his Final Four picks, and he included Kentucky in his early prediction:
I’m probably looking forward to watching this Kentucky team as much as any in the Calipari era because they’ll have some experience to go along with their usual supply of one-and-done type talent. Cal’s best teams have featured big-time talent with some (relatively speaking) seasoned veterans and while this team doesn’t have an Anthony Davis on it, guys like P.J. Washington and Stanford transfer Reid Travis can help to lead the Cats.
They have size, they have length, they have depth and they surely have plenty of athleticism. Freshman Tyler Herro is being counted on to make shots but the emergence of another dead-eye shooter would make Calipari much more comfortable with his team’s outlook.
Bossi also has Kansas and Duke making it, meaning Kentucky would face a pair of Final Four teams before the month of January ends. The opener against Duke is what gets all of the attention, but the Big 12/SEC Challenge in Rupp Arena against the Jayhawks will go a long way in getting one of those teams a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Kentucky clearly has 1-seed potential, but with a challenging schedule, getting that seed is anything but a given. Kentucky probably needs to win at least one of the big games vs. Duke and Kansas to ensure they get one come Selection Sunday.