Before the start of the 2008-2009 college basketball season I published my Final Four predictions and was an incredible 3/4. I predicted Michigan State, UCONN, North Carolina, and unfortunately Marquette. I also had picked UNC to win it all. I can’t expect to repeat my performance, but I will try. Here are my early 2010 Final Four picks:
Michigan State Spartans: The 2009-2010 Michigan State Spartans are loaded with talent. The National Championship Game runner-up Spartans will return 5 of their top 6 scorers, and have the best and deepest back court in the nation, including Big 10 Player of the Year Kalin Lucas, Durrell Summers, Chris Allen, and Korie Lucious. This season will be a defining one for senior forward Raymar Morgan as he will be relied on as a leader and needs to increase his rebounding and inside scoring numbers to make up for the loss of Goran Suton. The Spartans are adding two freshman centers in Derrick Nix and Garrick Sherman. Nix is a 275 pound, 6’9 rebounding beast who should be able to contribute a big body right away for the Spartans. 2010 will be another fantastic season for the Spartans, and another Final Four appearance.
Kansas Jayhawks: There isn’t a Final Four prediction for 2010 that does not include the Kansas Jayhawks, and although I nearly had Villanova instead of Kansas in this article, I could not disrespect Kansas like that and underestimate their chances in 2010. Jayhawk stars Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins both decided against entering the NBA Draft to take their run at a 2010 National Championship. The Jayhawks are returning their top 13 scorers, and if it wasn’t for having to face the runner-up Spartans, they may have made a Championship appearance. The Jayhawks will have a fantastic season and will be there when the Final Four teams are set.
Kentucky Wildcats: The Kentucky Wildcats are quickly becoming one of the best teams to watch out for in 2010, starting with the hiring of John Calipari. Even if 2008-2009 star Jodie Meeks keeps his name in the NBA Draft, I would still have the Wildcats as one of my Final Four teams for 2010. After landing top 2009 recruit John Wall and having Patrick Patterson withdraw his name from the NBA Draft, the Wildcats have everyone in Kentucky excited if they weren’t already for the ’09-’10 season. The Wildcats have the pieces in place for a very exciting season and a run towards the 2010 Final Four.
Illinois Fighting Illini: This young Fighting Illini team may not peak until the 2010-2011 season, but I like them to surprise everyone similar to the MSU Spartans run last season. Illinois has a dangerous mix of size and speed. Mike Tisdale (7’1, 235) and Mike Davis (6’9, 210) will enter their junior season as two of the best big men in the Big 10 conference. Davis averaged 11 points and 8 rebounds a game while Tisdale added 10 points and 4 rebounds a game. Guard Demetri McCamey led the team in scoring with 11.5 ppg and was sorely missed in the Fighting Illini’s first round tournament loss in 2009. It might seem like a reach for Illinois, but don’t underestimate Bruce Webber and this rising Fighting Illini squad.
2009 National Champions: Michigan State Spartans
Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans will get the job done in Indianapolis with a much stronger basketball team and against a weaker opponent. No team in 2009-2010 will be as strong as the ’08-’09 UNC team, and none will be tough enough to give the Spartans a tournament exit.