Introducing #NBCtheLeague

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If you’re like the most of us, your fantasy football team eliminated itself from the playoffs three weeks ago.

So with just a few hours left until the start of college hoops season, the writers here at College Basketball Talk decided to test their fantasy wits and put bragging rights on the line the fir first annual #NBCtheLeague. Thanks to the support staff at FCBLZone.com, we got a league set up, had a live draft and are ready to mismanage and overreact.

Over the course of the season, we’ll update you with league standings, and you can follow along by using the #NBCtheLeague hashtag.

With the season starting tomorrow, let’s take a look at the squads and decide who had the best draft.


H to the Tom Izzo
Manager: Dan Martin (@DanielJMartin_)

This team isn’t necessarily built around major BCS stars, but it’s made to score points. Mike Moser, DeAndre Kane, Tim Frazier, and Cleveland Melvin are all able to get points, assists, and rebounds and should be the foundation of this championship team. But the key isn’t Kane, Frazier, Moser, or Melvin, it’s the youngsters. Archie Goodwin should lead Kentucky in scoring, while I expect Ben McLemore to break out in his first year on the court with Kansas. Kyle Anderson has the ability to both score and pass and will be helped along if Shabazz Muhammad is ruled eligible. Anchoring all of it are three solid bigs down low: Gorgui Dieng, C.J. Aiken, and Richard Howell.

G DeAndre Kane  (Marshall, Sr.)
G Tim Frazier (Penn State, Sr.)
G Ben McLemore (Kansas, Fy.)
G Archie Goodwin (Kentucky, Fy.)
G/F Kyle Anderson (UCLA, Fy.)
F Mike Moser (UNLV, Jr.)
F Cleveland Melvin (DePaul, Jr.)
F/C Richard Howell (North Carolina State, Sr.)
F/C C.J. Aiken (St. Joseph’s, Jr.)
C Gorgui Dieng (Louisville, Jr.)


Cool Hand Lutes
Manager: Raphielle Johnson (@RaphielleJ)

I’ll take my forwards and put them up against any other group in this league. Period. First there’s Tony Mitchell, a guy who averaged a double-double last season and is expected to be a lottery pick in the next draft should he go pro. Scoring? Washington State’s Brock Motum, the reigning Pac-12 scoring champ, can handle that while Arizona’s Solomon Hill is a versatile three who will help across the board stats-wise. Jamelle Hagins is one of the best players in the CAA, and I’m on the Steven Adams bandwagon in regards to him impact at Pittsburgh. In the backcourt I’ve got one of the nation’s best passers in Phil Pressey, one of the more electrifying floor generals around in Chaz Williams and two very good scorers in Chase Tapley and D’Angelo Harrison. With Harrison running the point for a young St. John’s team, look for him to have a greater impact as a sophomore. Lastly I took Dominic Artis, who will run the point for Oregon and could be a Pac-12 All-Rookie Team member when it’s all said and done. Rob and anyone else can guarantee whatever they want, the Cool Hand Lutes will just go out and let the numbers do the talking.

G Chaz Williams (Massachusetts, Jr.)
G Chase Tapley (San Diego State, Sr.)
G Phil Pressey (Missouri, Jr.)
G D’Angelo Harrison (St. Johns, Soph.)
G Dominic Artis (Oregon, Fy.)
F Brock Motum (Washington State, Sr.)
F Solomon Hill (Arizona, Sr.)
F Jamelle Hagins (Delaware, Sr.)
F Tony Mitchell N(orth Texas, Soph.)
F/C Steven Adams (Pittsburgh, Fy.)


T-Pain University Auto-Tuners
Manager: Terrence Payne (@Terrence_Payne)

After attempting to sabotage the draft according Troy and Rob, The T. Pain University Auto-Tuners decided to take Cody Zeller with the third pick overall because the third one is the charm (right Luke and Tyler?). Good experience inside and out should be big for the Auto-Tuners. Michael Snaer, Rodney McGruder  and Vincent Council  led the backcourt, while Patric Young, C.J. Leslie, Elias Harris, and Mouphtaou Yarou will add balance contributions and should hold their own on the glass. The Auto-Tuners stick in the Big 12 for the two freshmen selections. Marcus Smart should see more minutes since Brian Williams is done for the season. Cameron Ridley? Because I felt like it.

G Michael Snaer (Florida State, Sr.)
G Rodney McGruder (Kansas State, Sr.)
G Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State, Fy.)
G Vincent Council (Providence, Sr.)
F Elias Harris (Gonzaga, Jr.)
F C.J. Leslie (North Carolina State, Jr.)
F/C Patric Young (Florida, Jr.)
F/C Mouphtaou Yarou (Villanova, Sr.)
F/C Cody Zeller (Indiana, Soph.)
C Cameron Ridley (Texas, Fy.)


Cal Tech One-and-Dones
Manager: David Harten (@David_Harten)

If I’m going to build a team, no one player is going to fill a role, every player will be able to rebound, pass, defend and score, in that order. Though it doesn’t hurt to have scorers, which is why I base my team around a guy who can fill it up, but can do everything, in Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum. I also added scoring with the unheralded Frank Gaines of IPFW (or Fort Wayne, if you’re into the new pronunciation). Having a volume shooter like Florida’s Kenny Boynton doesn’t hurt. Rebounding is the what separates good teams from great in some aspects, so I nabbed Illinois State’s Jackie Carmichael and Chane Behanan of Louisville. Nerlens Noel was my pick at center. Call it a hunch that Calipari will work his magic. Maybe.

You need distributors and Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant was the best on the board at just over five assists per game. I was amazed that a first-round pick like Deshaun Thomas from Ohio State was still on the board when I got him midway through the draft, but hey, look who I’m drafting against? (Lookin’ at you, Dauster). Allen Crabbe is one of the best-kept national secrets out of California and should be a first team all-Pac 12 pick this season. LeBryan Nash can give coach Travis Ford and Oklahoma State fans fits with his inconsistent play, but this season, he’ll have some help and should be a breakout player in the Big 12.

G C.J. McCollum (Lehigh, Sr.)
G Frank Gaines (IPFW, Sr.)
G Kenny Boynton (Florida, Sr.)
G/F Allen Crabbe (California, Jr.)
G/F Jerian Grant (Notre Dame, Soph.)
G/F LeBryan Nash (Oklahoma State, Soph.)
F Jackie Carmichael (Illinois State, Sr.)
F Deshaun Thomas (Ohio State, Jr.)
F Chane Behanan (Louisville, Soph.)
F/C Nerlens Noel (Kentucky, Fy.)


Mythical Frontcourt Jesus
Manger: Rob Dauster (@RobDauster)

These fools had no clue what they were doing. This is a fantasy team. My first two picks were Nate Wolters and Lorenzo Brown, two stud guards that will put up big assist number while also scoring their fair share of points and helping out on the glass. Up front, I picked up Andre Roberson in the third round, a rebounding machine who will shoulder a much bigger offensive load this season. I snagged Jarnell Stokes and Brandon Davies, two guys that are listed as both forwards and centers, to man the middle while using my mandatory freshman spot on Alex Poythress, the Kentucky Wildcat that I think will end up being their most productive player. On my bench, I gambled on breakout seasons from Michael Carter-Williams and James Michael-McAdoo while stashing Shabazz Napier and Fordham’s Chris Gaston. They might as well give me the title now.

G Nate Wolters (South Dakota State, Sr.)
G Lorenzo Brown North Carolina State (Jr.)
G Shabazz Napier Connecticut (Jr.)
G Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse, Soph)
G/F Andre Roberson (Colorado, Jr.)
F Chris Gaston (Fordham, Sr.)
F James McAdoo (North Carolina, Soph.)
F Alex Poythress (Kentucky, Fr.)
F/C Jarnell Stokes (Tennessee, Soph.)
F/C Brandon Davies (BYU, Jr.)


Western University Dolphins
Manager: Troy Machir (@TroyMachir)

It’s very simple. The rest of these chumps drafted players as if they were making a dream team. Problem is, we’re drafting player based on pure statistics. So sure, go ahead and laugh at me for drafting the likes of Colt Ryan, Anthony Ireland, Augustine Rubit, Keith Rendleman and Mike Muscala. I’ll be the one laughing when my ragtag bunch of mid-major all-stars are stuffing the stat sheets like Josh Smith at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

But I didn’t shun the BCS-conference stars all together.  Not when my team name pays homage to the single greatest recruiting class in the history of cinematic college basketball (Blue Chips, 1994). It only made sense that I take a flier on the most high-profile recruit in the country, Shabazz Muhammad.

I like my team.

G Anthony Ireland (Loyola Marymount, Jr.)
G Trey Burke (Michigan, Soph.)
G Pierre Jackson (Baylor, Sr.)
G/F Shabazz Muhammed (UCLA, Fy)
G/F Keith Rendleman (UNC-Wilmington, Sr.)
G/F Colt Ryan (Evansville, Sr.)
F Anthony Bennett (UNLV, Fy.)
F/C Mason Plumlee (Duke, Sr.)
F/C Augustine Rubit (South Alabama, Jr.)
F/C Mike Muscala (Bucknell, Sr.)


Charlottesville Tech Anthropomorphized Varmints

Manager: Eric Angevine (@STFhoops)

I had the draft’s first pick, and I used it on Doug McDermott without hesitation. The league is based on points, rebounds, blocks, assists and steals, and McDermott can do all of those things. After that, I was able to snag SDSU’s Jamaal Franklin and Unfrozen Caveman Point Guard Matt Dellavedova for my backcourt. This league requires a freshman to start in every game, and the other guys had already snagged the likes of Nerlens and Kyle, so I felt I’d better grab Rasheed Sulaimon, who should figure prominently in the guard mix at Duke, especially with Seth Curry battling injury. I also have Peyton Siva and Delaware’s Devon Saddler riding the pine, ready to go. In the middle, I took a big chance that Trevor Mbakwe will stay healthy and out of trouble, but was able to back him up with Jeff Withey as my final selection, so I’m feeling OK either way. The rest of my frontcourt is big and nasty, just the way I like it, with Marshawn Powell backed up by Jack Cooley and his Notre Dame buzzcut. Just wait until these other jokers get a load of the Anthropomorphic Varmints mascot, and our truly bloodcurdling fight song.

G Matthew Dellavedova (St. Marys, Jr.)
G Jamaal Franklin (San Diego State, Jr.)
G Devon Saddler (Delaware, Jr.)
G Rasheed Sulaimon (Duke, Fr.)
G Peyton Siva (Louisville, Sr.)
F Doug McDermott (Creighton, Jr.)
F Jack Cooley (Notre Dame, Sr.)
F Marshawn Powell (Arkansas, Sr.)
F-C Trevor Mbakwe (Minnesota, Sr.)
C Jeff Withey (Kansas, Sr.)

You can follow the action (See: trash talk) with the Twitter hashtag #NBCtheLeague

Xavier loses Kaiser Gates to a knee procedure

Xavier head coach Chris Mack directs his team against Wake Forest in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Winston-Salem, N.C., Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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Xavier announced on Friday that Kaiser Gates underwent a surgical procedure on his left knee and will be out for about a month.

“Kaiser had a scope procedure to remove small particles of cartilage in his left knee,” said Xavier Associate Head Athletic Trainer David Fluker. “We are optimistic that he can be back on the court in four weeks.”

Gates is a 6-foot-8 sophomore that played just 10 minutes per game last season. But with the Musketeers losing a handful of key front court pieces in the offseason, Gates was one of the guys expected to play a bigger role this year. We are currently less than four weeks removed from the start of the season, which means it’s likely that Gates will miss some time.

North Carolina’s Theo Pinson out indefinitely with fractured foot

Theo Pinson
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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North Carolina wing Theo Pinson fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot and will be out indefinitely.

The injury occurred in a practice this week. There is no timetable for his return.

“I’m so disappointed for Theo,” head coach Roy Williams said. “Number one, he’s ben playing well and he does so many positive things for our team. Theo’s our energy guy, he defends, he’s our best passer, a threat on the offensive boards, he can play four different positions, and he gives our team personality.”

“Hopefully we can get him back before the end of the season.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award watch list announced

DES MOINES, IA - MARCH 19:  Thomas Bryant #31 of the Indiana Hoosiers celebrates defeating Kentucky Wildcats 73 to 67 during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena on March 19, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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The 20 candidates for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award watch list were announced on Friday morning.

The award is given to the best center in college basketball. In 2016, Jakob Poeltl won it.

Here are the 20 players on the watch list:

Moses Kingsley, Arkansas
Eric Mika, BYU
Justin Patton, Creighton
Marques Bolden, Duke
Zena Edosomwan, Harvard
Thomas Bryant, Indiana
Bam Adebayo, Kentucky
Tim Kempton, Lehigh
Omer Yurtseven, NC State
Chris Boucher, Oregon
Isaac Haas, Purdue
Pascal Chukwu, Syracuse
Jarrett Allen, Texas
Tyler Davis, Texas A&M
Thomas Welsh, UCLA
Kennedy Meeks, North Carolina
Luke Kornet, Vanderbilt
Mo Alie-Cox, VCU
Josh Hawkinson, Washington State
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin

Southland Conference Preview: Does Stephen F. Austin sustain success without Underwood, Walkup?

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AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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Beginning in September and running up through November 11th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2016-2017 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the Southland Conference.

Things are going to look different in the Southland this season now that Stephen F. Austin has lost so many familiar faces. The three-time defending champion Lumberjacks lost head coach Brad Underwood to Oklahoma State and two-time Southland Player of the Year Thomas Walkup exhausted his eligibility as Stephen F. Austin tries to stay atop the conference with some new faces.

New head coach Kyle Keller is now in charge at Stephen F. Austin after a successful stint as an assistant coach with Texas A&M. Keller likely won’t match Underwood’s insane 53-1 Southland record with the Lumberjacks but he has plenty of talent and winning culture in place. The Lumberjacks have won a NCAA tournament game in two of the last three seasons as they return junior Ty Charles and sophomore T.J. Holyfield. Newcomers could be the key to the season or Stephen F. Austin as Keller brought in some talented transfers and junior college prospects.

Sam Houston State is once again knocking on the door as they return the top five scorers from last season. Senior forward Aurimas Majauskas and senior guard Dakarai Henderson both averaged 14.2 points per game last season as both players were All-Southland second-team selections. The return of talented point guard Paul Baxter, who missed last season with injury, could give the Bearkats six capable starters.

Coming off of a CBI appearance, Houston Baptist returns a lot of upperclass talent as they’re led by senior forward Colter Lasher. If center Josh Ibarra can return from injury and graduate transfer Atif Russell makes an impact from Pepperdine then the Huskies could be one of the Southland’s deeper teams. Texas A&M Corpus-Christi returns Player of the Year candidate Rashawn Thomas as forward as the senior will need help from a lot of new pieces. Seven seniors are gone from last season, but the Islanders are hoping guards Joe Kilgore and Ehab Amin can step up.

McNeese State has to improve its defense and rebounding but the Cowboys return a potent offense. Five of the top six scorers are back including senior guard Jamaya Burr and sophomores Jarren Greenwood and James Harvey and McNeese State should be one of the better perimeter shooting teams in the Southland. A young team who could be one to watch, Abilene Christian returns super sophomore guard Jaylen Franklin to lead the charge. The Wildcats only have one senior and need sophomores like Hayden Howell and Jaren Lewis to step up.

Things should be intriguing at Northwestern State as high-scoring guard Zeek Woodley is back but star senior point guard Jalan West is out once again with a torn ACL. Woodley is good for over 20 points a game but he’ll need more help this season. Senior guard Sabri Thompson was strong during a preseason trip to Canada. Head coach Jay Ladner returns seven of the top nine scorers for Southeastern Louisiana as the Lions should have plenty of scoring. Guard Joshua Filmore logged plenty of minutes last season while Southern Miss transfer Davon Hayes could provide another rotation piece.

Incarnate Word got hit hard by transfers this offseason as Jontell Walker and Derail Green left for other programs. Junior guard Shawn Johnson showed some promise late in the season and should be asked to lead. New Orleans returns three double-figure scorers in guard Christavious Gill, forward Erik Thomas and guard Nate Frye. The Privateers can make a jump if they  improve their perimeter shooting and get five new players involved.

After being banned from the postseason for a low APR, Central Arkansas is hoping for a better season. Junior Jordan Howard can pour in points and Derreck Brooks is a quality second piece. The Bears have to improve defensively after an abysmal 2015-16. Lamar is hoping that head coach Tic Price can get them back on track as leading scorer Nick Garth is back. The Cardinals will rely a lot on new pieces this season as they hit the junior college ranks hard for college-ready players. New coach Richie Riley takes over at Nicholls State as he signed five players this spring. Senior guard Ja’Dante Fry is back along with senior center Liam Thomas, the Southland’s leader in blocks last season.

MORE: 2016-17 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

PRESEASON SOUTHLAND PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Rashawn Thomas, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

The reigning Southland Defensive Player of the Year was also top five in the league in scoring and rebounding a year ago as the 6-foot-8 senior averaged 16.6 points and a conference-leading 8.1 rebounds per game. Thomas also shot 55 percent from the floor and averaged 2.3 blocks per game as he’s one of the best all-around mid-major players in the country. On a team replacing a lot of experienced players, Thomas could put up huge numbers for the Islanders.


  • Zeek Woodley, Northwestern State: Putting up 22.2 points per game the last two seasons, the 6-foot-2 senior has a serious chance at 2,000 career points.
  • Jaylen Franklin, Abilene Christian: The 6-foot-2 guard is reigning Southland Freshman of the Year after averaging 16.2 points, 3.8 rebounds in his first season.
  • Jordan Howard, Central Arkansas: A bright spot for Central Arkansas, the 5-foot-11 junior put up 20.2 points per game while shooting 42 percent from three-point range.
  • Aurimas Majauskas, Sam Houston State: The 6-foot-7 senior shot 54 percent from the floor while averaging 14.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game last season.



  1. Stephen F. Austin
  2. Sam Houston State
  3. Houston Baptist
  4. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
  5. McNeese State
  6. Abilene Christian
  7. Northwestern State
  8. Southeastern Louisiana
  9. Incarnate Word
  10. New Orleans
  11. Central Arkansas
  12. Lamar
  13. Nicholls State

College Hoops Contender Series: Villanova takes their shot at going back-to-back

HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04:  Daniel Ochefu #23 of the Villanova Wildcats and Ryan Arcidiacono #15 hoist the trophy after the Villanova Wildcats defeat the North Carolina Tar Heels 77-74 to win the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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Who are the favorites to win a national title? Who can legitimately be called a contender? Who has the pieces to make a run to the Final Four? We’ll break that all down for you over the next three weeks in our Contender Series.

Last week, we gave you our Final Four sleepers talked about six different Final Four contenders that are just flawed enough that we can’t call them contenders.

There is a pretty clear-cut delineation between the five best teams, the five clear national title challengers, and the rest of the country this season.

This week, we will be taking a deeper dive into all five of those teams, breaking down why they can win a national title and why they won’t win a national title.

MORE: 2016-17 Season Preview Coverage |Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

Villanova head coach Jay Wright celebrates as he cuts down the net after the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game against North Carolina, Monday, April 4, 2016, in Houston. Villanova won 77-74. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Villanova head coach Jay Wright (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)


WHY THEY CAN WIN: Because they bring back the majority of the roster from a team that stormed through the Big East for a third straight season and went on to win the national title.

Josh Hart, an NBCSports.com preseason first-team all-american, is back. Kris Jenkins, the guy that his the national title-winning three six months ago, is back. Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges and Phil Booth all return, while Eric Paschall is eligible after sitting out last season as a transfer.

When you put all that together, what you have is a veteran team that has done nothing other than experience winning at an unbelievable level – the seniors on this team are 97-13 in three years with a 48-6 record in the Big East while winning three outright regular season titles, a Big East tournament title and a national title.

Put another way, the Wildcats return better than 70 percent of the scoring and rebounding from last year’s national title team, putting them in the best position to repeat as national champions since Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer all decided to return to Florida and make a run at winning back-to-back titles in 2006-07.

And if the Wildcats can make that happen, it will be a direct result of the versatility that Jay Wright will have on display.

With Daniel Ochefu graduating and Omari Spellman being ruled ineligible, Villanova is going to play a lot of small-ball this season. I wouldn’t be surprised – in fact, I hope it’s the case – if we see Villanova use a Golden State-esque ‘Death Lineup’, where Jenkins plays as their “center” with Hart, Bridges and Paschall on the floor with him. That team would be able to play so many different styles defensively while creating mismatches all over the offensive end of the floor.

For that to work, Hart would have to be a more consistent perimeter shooter while Bridges would need to take a major step forward in his offensive development. We would also need to see Darryl Reynolds prove that he can handle playing 25-30 minutes as the lone big man on the floor for an entire season, something he did adequately in a three-game sample last year.

So there are some things that head coach Jay Wright will have to spend the preseason working out.

But there’s no reason to believe he won’t be able to get that done.

And there’s no reason to believe that Villanova won’t be getting right back to their winning ways.

After all, no one on this roster has ever lost more than five games in a season at Villanova. They don’t know what losing is.

MORE: All-Americans | Impact Transfers | Expert Picks | Trending Programs

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26:  Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats dunks the ball in the first half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Josh Hart of the Villanova Wildcats (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

WHY THEY WON’T WIN: The way I see it, there are three reasons to be concerned about this Villanova team.

The first is the point guard spot. Losing Ryan Arcidiacono is a major blow, one that many fans may not truly appreciate. Arch was a starter from Day 1 for the Wildcats, spending the last four seasons as an extension of Jay Wright on the floor. It’s not a coincidence that Arch’s arrival coincided with the resurgence of Villanova as a nationally relevant program that could win conference championships and national titles. Wright and Arch had such a strong relationship that teammates jokingly referred to them as father and son. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to refer to the last four years as the ‘Arch Era’.

That’s how important he was to this program.

Now, Jalen Brunson is good. I’m not saying that he isn’t. He does have some of the same length and athleticism question marks that Arch had, and there are valid concerns about his ability to consistently make plays against elite defenders because of it, but there shouldn’t be any doubting his basketball savvy, his intelligence on the floor or his ability to lead. One NBA scout told me this summer that Brunson is as intelligent of a prospect, in terms of basketball IQ, as he’s ever evaluated. He should be fine, but going from being a secondary point guard as a freshman to the only point guard on the roster of a national title contender as a sophomore is a major leap to make.

I’m also concerned about whether or not Villanova took advantage of the lack of talent in the college game last season. The 2015-16 season was a weird year. Stars weren’t clustered at programs around the country. The nation’s elite freshmen were spread out at programs like LSU, Cal, Mississippi State and Marquette, and that’s before you consider the fact that the class just wasn’t all that good. The question we had about the Wildcats entering the year was whether or not they would be able to beat teams that were chock-full of elite, NBA-caliber talent, and they didn’t necessarily prove that wrong during their run to the title.

The reason Coach K went from avoiding one-and-done prospects to trying to rebuild his roster every year with elite freshmen is that, in basketball, the team with the best players is going to win the majority of the time. Talent matters more in this sport than just about any other, and when you compare Villanova’s roster to, say, Duke or Kentucky or Kansas, it’s pretty obvious which team has more talent.

That said, I’ll admit I’m picking nits when discussing the issue of Villanova’s talent and, to a point, their point guard question marks.

Villanova's Phil Booth interviews teammate Mikal Bridges (25) in the locker room before a practice session for the NCAA Final Four college basketball tournament Thursday, March 31, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

But there is one major issue with Villanova, and I think even the most rabid Wildcat fan will agree with me: Their front court.

Like Arch, I don’t think the value that Daniel Ochefu provided this team can be shown in a box score. His size allowed him to defend opposing bigs in the post and act as a rim protector when Villanova’s perimeter defenders pressured or gambled for steals. His ability to score on the block kept defenses honest and allowed him to work as a pressure release for the Villanova guards; 1-on-1 on the block, and Ochefu was probably going to draw a foul or get two points.

Villanova probably didn’t have that guy heading into the season, and they certainly don’t now that Omari Spellman is being forced to redshirt.

That leaves Darryl Reynolds, who is something of an enigma. He’s spent the last three seasons being little more than a guy that spelled Ochefu or played when he had fouls. But in three games where Ochefu was injured last season, Reynolds was good, averaging 9.0 points and 10.6 boards. I don’t know that he’ll ever be the low-post presence that Ochefu was, but if guys like Josh Hart, Mikal Bridges and Eric Paschall take a step forward in their development on the offensive end, Villanova may not need him to be.

PREDICTION: With all due respect to Xavier, a team that has the talent to be a top ten team and make a Final Four, I don’t think there’s any doubt that Villanova is the heavy-favorite to win the Big East for the fourth straight season.

The Wildcats will be a consensus preseason top five team, and there will be rankings where they end up as high as No. 2 in the country. It’s almost as if Villanova is playing with house money this season. They shed their early-exit demons with last year’s national title, they got Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins back for another season and they have a team that is good enough to get to a Final Four and make a run at being the first team to repeat in a decade.

I hope Villanova fans can appreciate what they’re going to be able to watch this season.

A ride like this doesn’t happen all that often.