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College Basketball Preview Part 3 – The NCAA Tournament Field

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United States Sports Academy doctoral teaching assistant Ben Billman predicts the Duke Blue Devils will win the NCAA Tournament this season. Photo: Twitter

This is the third and final installment of the college basketball preview. Part one examined the mid-major schools. Part two broke down the major conferences. In this installment, let’s take a look at the 68 teams that should be in the NCAA tournament in a conference-by-conference breakdown. Finally, a prediction will be made on who will advance to the Final Four and which team will ultimately win the national championship. The teams in bold in the conference breakdown are predicted to win their respective conference tournaments while the other teams listed should receive at-large bids to the NCAA tournament.

America East – Vermont

American – Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston

Atlantic 10 – Dayton, Rhode Island, VCU, Davidson

ACC – Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, Louisville, Miami, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Florida State, Notre Dame

Atlantic Sun – Florida Gulf Coast

Big 12 – Kansas, Texas, Iowa State, West Virginia, Oklahoma

Big East – Villanova, Xavier, Butler, Creighton

Big Sky – Weber State

Big South – Winthrop

Big Ten – Wisconsin, Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue, Maryland, Ohio State, Michigan

Big West – UC Irvine

Colonial – UNC Wilmington

Conference USA – UAB

Horizon – Valparaiso

Ivy – Princeton

MAAC – Monmouth

MAC – Akron

MEAC – South Carolina State

Missouri Valley – Wichita State

Mountain West – San Diego State

Northeast – Wagner

Ohio Valley – Belmont

Pac 12 – Oregon, Arizona, UCLA, California, Colorado, Washington

Patriot – Lehigh

SEC – Kentucky, Mississippi State, Auburn, Florida, Texas A&M

Southern – Chattanooga

Southland – Texas A&M-CC

SWAC – Texas Southern

Summit – Fort Wayne

Sun Belt – UT Arlington

West Coast – Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s

WAC – Grand Canyon

The following teams will advance to the final four in Glendale, Arizona.

Duke – The Blue Devils have a nice blend of experience to go along with a dynamite freshmen class. Coach K is looking for his 6th national title this season.

Kentucky – There isn’t much talent returning from last season, but Coach Calipari brings in a star-studded freshmen class full of one-and-done players.

Oregon – Dillon Brooks leads an experienced Ducks team who was one game away from the final four last season. They have an even deeper team this season.

Kansas – Coach Self has the most talented freshman in America in Josh Jackson. A nice core returns from a team that lost to Villanova in the Elite Eight a season ago.

Finally, the team cutting down the nets as national champion on April 3rd will be…

Duke's Grayson Allen returns from last season's Blue Devils' team that reached the Sweet 16.  Photo: USA Today Sports
Duke’s Grayson Allen returns from last season’s Blue Devils’ team that reached the Sweet 16. Photo: USA Today Sports

Duke – Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard, Amile Jefferson, and Matt Jones all averaged double figures a season ago and return for this season. The Blue Devils also have the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation. Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Frank Jackson, and Marques Bolden will all play significant roles in their first (and potentially only) season in Durham. Chase Jeter and Javin DeLaurier will both be called on to fill small roles and add depth. The team begins the season at No. 1 in almost every national poll, and it is very possible they never leave that spot.

Feel free to reply or email me directly with your predictions in what should be another great season in college basketball.

By Ben Billman

Ben Billman is currently a doctoral teaching assistant at the United States Sports Academy. He lives in Mobile, Ala. with his wife Jennifer and son Derrick. He is originally from Indiana, and therefore has a deep love for the game of basketball. Reach him at bbillman@ussa.edu

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