November 5th is the date where the men’s college basketball season starts back up. Today, I chose to look at five teams who I believe will return to the NCAA Tournament after missing out last year.
(There will obviously be many teams that make the Tourney after missing out last year, but these are the teams I am most confident in.)
This might be the boldest claim on this list given how stacked the Big East is year after year. While I think the Big East will continue to be strong, the youth and vulnerability that Villanova has will open the door for other programs to flourish, including Providence.
Last year, they finished 7-11 in the conference and 18-16 overall. They were young though and are only losing Isaiah Jackson and Emmitt Holt from last year’s squad. The latter of whom did not make much of an impact last year suffice it to say.
Alpha Diallo will be entering his senior year and many, including myself, are ready for another big season from him. AJ Reeves and David Duke were top recruits last year and you should expect to hear their name a ton this year. (Maybe even around draft talk)
Luwane Pipkins is also joining the team from UMass and will be a great transfer if he can return to his 2nd year form where he averaged 21 points on 43% shooting.
They will run and gun with some of their talented guards, but can they rebound and defend? The X factor for this team will be Nate Watson. Rebounding and protecting the rim are two things that Providence lacks and Watson will have to step up in both facets to be able to get this Providence team back to the NCAA Tournament.
Harvard was the No. 1 seed heading into the Ivy League tournament, but just didn’t have the juice to take down Miye Oni and Yale. This year will be different.
With Seth Towns (hopefully!) back, Harvard is going to have a dominant scorer next to, now, senior Bryce Aiken. Bryce was the hero on multiple occasions last year and should have an even more impressive final season. If Seth Towns stays healthy, not only will Harvard win the Ivy League, but they could have a real chance of being a true Cinderella team in the NCAA Tournament.
It was a very disappointing season last year for West Virginia given the fact that Sagaba Konate only played 8 games due to injury and Esa Ahmad and Wesley Harris had off the court problems. All of them are now gone including Lamont West who transferred to Missouri State and James Bolden who headed off to Alabama. Now, it’s a young team and they are ready to make some noise in the Big 12 as they did late last year in the Conference Tournament while taking down Oklahoma and Texas Tech.
Derek Culver leads the brass as a stretch big who has a terrific touch around the rim.
He’ll be joined in the front-court by incoming freshman Oscar Tshiebwe (who will also receive much NBA consideration). Sophomores Jordan McCabe and Emmitt Matthews Jr. are expected to make meaningful impacts for this team as well. The team will consist of many names a good amount of fans have not heard of, but they’ll become more notable as the season goes on.
One name that made a name for himself last year and will be returning as one of the leaders is senior Jermaine Haley. Trust that this will be an exciting team to watch all year long.
This is universally one of the most popular picks given the premier recruiting class they are bringing in, led obviously by number one recruit James Wiseman.
Precious Achiuwa, DJ Jeffries, Boogie Ellis, and Lester Quinones join Wiseman as top 100 recruits for this new look Memphis team. Five of the six leading scorers from last year are gone from this team which includes Memphis great Jeremiah Martin. Penny Hardaway has work to do to get these players to gel, but there shouldn’t be a doubt that Memphis will make their way to the Tournament and battle for the American Athletic Conference title with Houston and Cincinnati.
This is the year for Oklahoma State to put it together. Cameron McGriff, Lindy Waters, and Thomas Dziagwa enter their senior seasons with their intentions set on competing for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Lindy and Dziagwa are lethal shooters as they both shot above 42% from deep last season. Lindy did so in spectacular fashion at times.
The X Factor for this team will be Isaac Likekele. Yes, they are going to need Cameron McGriff to step up in a big way as well as Yor Anei, their big, but Isaac has so much talent that he’s about to take hold of. He is elusive in the lane and has great vision. If he can become a dominant creator and greatly improve on his 24% mark from deep than Oklahoma State should have a fantastic season.