Here are my Final Four picks for this year’s college basketball season. I may get some heat by not picking any Cinderellas but, to me, these are the four teams that have the best chance to cut down the nets.
- Kentucky: While the Wildcats are inexperienced, Calipari brings in a loaded freshman class. Twin brothers Andrew and Aaron Harrison are incredibly heralded incoming freshman who are expected to fill up the boxscore this season. UK not only brings in a ton of talent, but also returns virtually everyone from a year ago — most notably Willey Cauley Stein, who has reportedly been making huge strides offensively. Don’t be surprised if the Wildcats are the team singing “One Shining Moment” on the night of April 7th, 2014 in Arlington, Texas.
- Louisville: Kentucky’s interstate rival to the north will also be making an appearance in this year’s Final Four. The Cardinals shouldn’t take much of a drop-off from last season as only Peyton Silva and Gorgui Deng have moved on. Chane Behanan, along with Wayne Blackshear, will be the main contributors for the Cardinals. Look out for last year’s Final Four MVP, Luke Hancock, who can fill it up from just about anywhere on the court. While Louisville doesn’t have as much talent as UK, they do have the toughness and grit to make it to their third consecutive Final Four.
- Duke: Coach K’s Blue Devils will make their first Final Four since the 2010 NCAA Championship team. The reason why? Bonafide superstar in the making, Jabari Parker. The incoming freshman, who went to the same high school as Derrick Rose, has drawn comparisons to LeBron James. Complementing Parker in the frontcourt will be Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood. Duke also has some solid guard play with Quinn Cook leading at point guard, while Andre Dawkins serves as a knockdown three-point specialist. The Cameron Crazies are hopeful that Coach K will be bringing his fifth NCAA Championship back to Durham.
- Michigan State: The Big Ten’s lone representative in the Final Four will be Michigan State. Tom Izzo’s squad is very experienced. MSU’s hopes this season were bolstered when Adreian Payne surprised many in East Lansing when he withdrew his name from the NBA draft in June. Their best player likely will be star sophomore, Gary Harris, although there is some cause for concern after he recently suffered a severe ankle sprain while playing pickup basketball. In the frontcourt, Branden Dawson will be counted on early to be a bigger force than last season. If Dawson can shore up his consistency issues and become the player he was supposed to be coming out of high school, the Spartans will be a team to be on the lookout for. MSU will once again make another Final Four, making it their seventh since 1999!