Are we due for another surprise Final Four team this season? Who best fits that profile?
Rob Dauster: We probably are going to get another Final Four sleeper making a run to Indy this season. It happens nearly every season these days, and the craziest part is that there really isn’t a profile that all of those teams fit. Please, tell me what 2014 UConn, 2014 Kentucky and 2013 Wichita State have in common? I’ll wait.
If I had to pick a team to come out of nowhere and make it that far, I’d probably pick someone like Notre Dame (Jerian Grant going all Shabazz Napier) or Ohio State (they really, really defend). But more than anything, I think ‘we’re due’ for a Final Four with nothing but elite teams. At this point, I think there is a clear-cut top five teams in the country: Kentucky, Wisconsin, Duke, Gonzaga and Arizona, in that order. I’d love to see four of those five playing for the national title come the first weekend in April.
Terrence Payne: A season ago we saw a No. 7 seed beat a No. 8 seed in the national championship, so why wouldn’t we see another surprise Final Four team this March in Indianapolis. Entering the season, we’ve seen a host of teams labeled as darkhorse Final Four teams. Last week, I went with Villanova as my Final Four given the experience it brings back from a 29-win season, overshadowed by early exits in March. While I still believe Villanova can be there in April, I’m also buying stocking VCU early in this season. Treveon Graham is one of the toughest forwards to matchup with. Briante Weber can effect the game in so many ways as he did in his season debut against a good Toledo team on Tuesday. The return of Melvin Johnson has been huge, averaging 22.5 points per game (8-of-19 from three).
Scott Phillips: I picked Wichita State to actually make it back to the Final Four this season, but they’re hardly a surprise at this point after already doing so and then last season’s 35-0 start.
As for the question, I do believe that we could see another surprise Final Four team this season and I’m going to go out on a limb and say Iowa. If we do see a power conference team sneak up on people, I expect them to get beat up a bit in conference play and then figure things out late in the season. With tremendous depth and a lot of veteran leadership and outside shooting, I think Iowa has a chance.
Raphielle Johnson: I’m not sure if we’re “due” another surprise Final Four team, but given the format of the tournament I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened. And I’m going to go off the radar for this one: George Washington. They’ve got an experienced backcourt led by Joe McDonald and Kethan Savage, and forwards Patricio Garino and Kevin Larsen are very good at their respective roles. And I’d keep an eye on freshman Yuta Watanabe, as I think he’s only going to get better as he becomes more comfortable with the way Mike Lonergan and his staff want things done. We’ll learn more about the Colonials Friday night when they take on No. 9 Virginia, but I like the group they have.