It’s nearly college basketball season, and with that comes college basketball media’s favorite thing to do — make useless predictions that absolutely nobody will remember in five months. Ohio State’s exhibition with Indianapolis is in 10 days, and their first official game against Akron is in 19 days. How far will the Buckeyes advance this season after last year’s premature exit from the NCAA Tournament? Maybe today’s piece will answer that question, maybe it won’t. It depends who you ask.
Today, we’re making our well-thought out, extremely educated Final Four predictions. Keep in mind that the AP Poll we got this week means absolutely nothing, injuries happen, and college basketball is unpredictable as hell. We’re going to give it a shot anyway.
Last week, Connor and Justin looked at Ohio State’s 2022 recruiting class and predicted which player would have the best career. Connor went with the human tank Brice Sensabaugh and Justin chose future Buckeye point guard Bruce Thornton. With 61% of the vote, Thornton was the winning choice, while 35% of the vote went to Sensabaugh and the remaining 4% was the “other” selection.
A rare win for Justin, who still has some serious ground to make up.
After 24 weeks:
(There has been one tie)
As stated earlier, we’re making our Final Four picks this week, and as unbiased, capital-J journalists, we’re removing our scarlet shades for this one. We will only include them if we truly think the Buckeyes will make it to New Orleans. So enough chit chat, here’s our pre-season Final Four predictions.
AP Rank: 3
KenPom Rank: 3
Kansas returns four starters from last year’s team that went 21-9, finished second in the always-competitive Big 12 conference, and earned a 3-seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Jayhawks’ four returning starters (Jalen Wilson, Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack, and Christian Braun) combined for 49 points per game last season, and will look to improve on those numbers with an additional year of experience.
Who is the fifth, starter, you may ask? That would be none other than three-time All-PAC-12 selection Remy Martin, who averaged 14.9 points per game during his four seasons at Arizona State. Martin scored 19+ points per game each of the last two seasons, and could wind up being an All-American for the Jayhawks.
I think this Kansas offense is going to be historically great and a ton of fun to watch.
AP Rank: 2
KenPom Rank: 7
We all saw what UCLA did last season. After finishing fourth in the PAC-12 and barely sneaking into the NCAA Tournament as an 11-seed play-in team, the Bruins went on an unbelievable run all the way to the Final Four, and nearly knocked off Gonzaga at the end.
UCLA returns all five starters from last year’s Final Four team, plus they’ve added five-star small forward Peyton Watson (No. 11 player in the country) and defensive stopper Myles Johnson from Rutgers. Both Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez chose to return to school rather than leave and seize momentum from the NCAA Tournament in the NBA Draft. Jules Bernard, a 10.3 PPG scorer last season, may wind up coming off the bench to make room for Watson.
UCLA is deep, the PAC-12 is not. The Bruins’ real season starts in March.
3) Texas Tech
AP Rank: NR
KenPom Rank: 12
You didn’t think I was going to go straight blue bloods here, did you?
While the Big 12 champion will likely be located in Lawrence or Waco, Texas Tech quietly re-tooled and will look to improve on last season’s 18-11 record. The Red Raiders advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season as a 6-seed, but were defeated by Arkansas, 68-66.
Texas Tech returns double-digit scorers Terrence Shannon (12.9 PPG) and Kevin McCullar (10.4 PPG), who should improve with more experience. Marcus Santos-Silva — their 250-pound anchor in the paint —also returns, plus an all-star transfer who Ohio State fans are very familiar with, Kevin O’Banor (formerly of Oral Roberts).
All of Texas Tech’s starters are at least 6-foot-6, and their length should cause problems for a lot of teams. They’ll be very fun to watch, and someone you should keep an eye on.
AP Rank: 7
KenPom Rank: 6
Purdue returns their top eight — yes, eight — scorers from last season’s team that finished 18-10 and in fourth place in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers were then upset by 13-seed North Texas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, which would have gotten much more attention had Ohio State not lost to 15-seed Oral Roberts earlier the same day.
44.5% of Purdue’s scoring came from freshmen last season, which should scare the bejeezus out of the Big Ten this season, considering all four freshmen (Jaden Ivey, Zach Edey, Mason Gillis, and Brandon Newman) are all back. This doesn’t even take into account senior center Trevion Williams (15.5 PPG, 9.1 REB), who nearly averaged a double-double last season and is one of the most underrated players in the nation. He deserves far more recognition on a national scale than he actually gets.
Purdue hasn’t made it to the Final Four in 41 years. I think this is the season that changes.
AP Rank: 1
KenPom Rank: 1
I know, I know. “Gonzaga can’t win a national championship they always choke” ... well I am not picking them to win a national championship, I am picking them to make the Final Four, which they have proven they can do.
They return one of the top players in the sport in Drew Timme, they have one of the top recruiting classes in the country, and they are extremely well coached. One of the things you have to look at for a team to make a deep run in the tournament is guard play (i.e. Baylor and Gonzaga last season) and the Zags are back with incredible guard depth. Andrew Nembhard is their starting point guard while Iowa State transfer Rasir Bolton will step into the starting lineup as well.
Add freshman phenoms Chet Holmgren and Hunter Sallis into the fold and I love this team.
AP Rank: 3
KenPom Rank: 3
Kansas is anther team that went from questionable to great after some transfers came in and Ochai Agbaji and Jalen Wilson announced that they would be returning. The Jayhawks return four starters in Agbaji, Wilson, Christian Braun and David McCormick and the only new guy to the starting lineup will be Remy Martin, one of the best guards in the country who is coming in from Arizona State.
As long as Martin gels with the returning starters and the Jayhawks depth steps up, which it should, this is no doubt a Final Four-caliber team.
AP Rank: 5
KenPom Rank: 14
I know what you are thinking: “Two Big 12 teams? The audacity.” But indeed, I have two Big 12 teams in the Final Four, and Texas is back as the second one.
Texas is a team full of transfers, so chemistry might be tough going early, but Marcus Carr, Dylan Disu and Timmy Allen are all super talented. Courtney Ramey is UT’s lone returning starter, but at 42% on the season last year, he was one of the best shooters in the country.
Not to mention Chris Beard is their new coach and he is one of the best in the business.
AP Rank: 6
KenPom Rank: 2
I know. I hate to do it. But the Wolverines are very good and that is impossible to deny. They check all of my boxes for a Final Four team. I don’t think their depth is as strong as some other teams in contention, so staying healthy will be key for them, but as long as they do that, their starting five is as good as any in the country.
Hunter Dickinson is a top player in all of college basketball; Eli Brooks is the solid, reliable player you need running the offense; Caleb Houstan is an immediate star and De’Vante Jones can score with the best of them. And Juwan Howard can coach... whether we like it or not.
Whose Final Four seems more reasonable?
This poll is closed
Kansas, UCLA, Texas Tech, Purdue (Connor’s)
Gonzaga, Kansas, Texas, Michigan (Justin’s)