The Road to March Madness

andrew lief

The NCAA Men’s Div. I College Basketball season began on Nov. 8 and started what should be an amazing season.  Many great players returned to school this year, to accompany one of the best first-year classes of all-time, which should provide a lot of entertainment for fans across the country.

Here are my top-10 teams for the 2013-14 season:

No.1 Kentucky Wildcats

Head Coach John Calipari brought in the best recruiting class since the Michigan Wolverines’ “Fab Five” in the early ‘90s.  After last year’s disappointment of not making the NCAA Tournament, this year’s team should be the best in the country if they play up to their potential.  They have a point guard again with Andrew Harrison, and Aaron Harrison and James Young on the wing, who should put up big numbers.  Forward Julius Randle will be a beast on both ends and will be a National Player of the Year candidate all season.

No. 2 Michigan State Spartans

Tom Izzo is the best coach in the entire country and with many returning players, he should be able to lead the Spartans to their seventh Final Four during his tenure. Guard Gary Harris will put up huge numbers and be an All-American and Big 10 player of the year in his second season as long as he can stay healthy. Guard Keith Appling will continue to run the show in an effective manner and center Adreian Payne will be a force down low all season.

No. 3 Duke Blue Devils

The addition of forwards Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood will make the Blue Devils national titile contenders. Third-year point guard Quinn Cook will have total command of the offense in his second year starting.  Tyler Thornton is an essential piece to any winning team because of all the little things he does and Amile Jefferson will do enough down low to make his presence known.

No. 4 Kansas Jayhawks

Andrew Wiggins is the name everyone knows right now because of all the preseason hype about him, but he’s not the only good player the Jayhawks have.  Wayne Selden and Joel Embiid will put up big numbers, which will take a lot of pressure off of Wiggins.  They will win the Big 12 for the 10th straight year because of Embiid, Selden and Wiggins, and the coach who has been the most consistent in the country, Bill Self.

No. 5 Louisville Cardinals

The defending champs got a major break when Russ Smith changed his mind and decided to return to school for his fourth year. Smith, along with future lottery pick Montrezl Harrell and last year’s NCAA Tournament MOP Luke Hancock, will lead the Cardinals to a AAC championship and a shot of repeating.

No. 6 Arizona Wildcats

The Wildcats will be one of the most athletic teams in the country this season with forwards Aaron Gordon and Brandon Ashley to go along with guard Nick Johnson.  Head Coach Sean Miller has put together impressive recruiting classes the past few years, which should make his team the best in the Pac-12.

No. 7 Oklahoma State Cowboys

Point guard Marcus Smart’s decision to return to school was crucial for any success the Cowboys would have this season.  His return allows them to be a Top-10 team, compared to a team that would be on the bubble without him.  Le’Bryan Nash will have to play up to his potential coming out of high school if they want to knock Kansas off their throne.

No. 8 Ohio State Buckeyes 

The best perimeter defender in the country, Aaron Craft, will lead the Buckeyes to a second place finish in the Big 10 in his final year in Columbus.  Craft will win the National Defensive Player of the Year award. Forward LaQuinton Ross will step up and fill the void DeShaun Thomas left.

No. 9 Syracuse Orange

In their first year in the ACC, the Orange should be one of the top teams in the conference.  Tyler Ennis will be a solid replacement for Michael Carter-Williams.  The key to how well they do this season is if one of their three bigs, Baye-Moussa Keita. Dajuan Coleman and Rakeem Christmas can contribute on a consistent basis

No. 10 Michigan Wolverines 

The Wolverines will have a bit of a drop off after losing in the national championship game last year.  The loss of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr. will be difficult to replace.  Glen Robinson III., Nick Stauskas and Mitch McGary will all have solid seasons, but the key to any success will depend on their point guard play.


Player of the Year: Doug McDermott, Creighton

Freshmen of the Year: Jabari Parker, Duke

Coach of the Year: Greg McDermott, Creighton

Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Craft, Ohio State

Final Four: Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State

National Champion: Kentucky


Champion: Louisville

POY: Russ Smith, Louisville


Champion:Duke Blue Devils

POY: Jabari Parker, Duke

Big 12

Champion: Kansas Jayhawks

POY: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State

Big East

Champion: Creighton Blue Jays

POY: Doug McDermott, Creighton

Big Ten

Champion: Michigan State Spartans

POY: Gary Harris, Michigan State


Champion: Arizona Wildcats

POY: Jahii Carson, Arizona State


Champion: Kentucky Wildcats

POY: Julius Randle, Kentucky