I can’t be the only one in the dumps about no basketball game this weekend – thank goodness for Matt Elam’s ability to keep things interesting. With a few more days before the start of SEC season, we have a pretty good picture for what the league might look like. But not a clear enough one to bet the house on, so instead let’s make some potentially reckless predictions – based mostly in reality.
1.) By the end of the season, Andrew Harrison will have worked his way back in to the lottery discussion. We have seen this with every Cal point guard save John Wall – it takes a while to learn to lead a team on the college level. Brandon Knight missed a lot of clutch shots in the regular season before putting it together in time for the final four run, Teague looked lost a majority of the season, and neither had the tools that Andrew appears to have. He’s already looking better,
2.) Dominique Hawkins will be the teams MVP. He won’t have the most minutes, points, assists or really any on court statistic. But he very well may have the most impact on the team throughout the year. We have already seen how his energy affects his team mates, and Cal has mentioned a number of times that he wants to get everyone working as hard as Hawkins. Hawkins may not show up on the stat sheet, but he is clearly Cal’s example for hard work. This team will dominate if they take on Hawkins attitude.
3.) By the SEC tournament, a one seed will be in play for Kentucky. It will be far from locked up, but with the Big Tenners beating each other up (Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin), the ACC having one wildcard team (UNC) and two good teams (Duke and Syracuse), and the Big 12 being littered with teams between Kentucky and a top 4 spot (OK State, Baylor, Kansas, Iowa State) Kentucky has a pretty easy road to a one seed. Louisville and Florida will be our only marquee wins, but assuming we can avoid any embarrassing losses, the Wildcats will control their destiny.
4.) Kentucky will sweep Florida. Originally I wasn’t as sold on this one, I thought there was a chance they would split. But with the first game coming halfway through Feb – and at Rupp – Kentucky will be gelling enough to tackle the Gators. And by the time they get to the final regular season game, Kentucky will be firing on all cylinders. I would be surprised if UK sweeps the SEC – too many road games, potential for foul trouble and Marshall Henderson’s – but their losses won’t come against the Gators.
5.) WCS will have more hair colors than Louisville will top 25 wins. If you count the original, the streak, the blonde, that’s three already. Louisville only has 4 more chances to beat a ranked team in the regular season (Memphis twice, UConn twice). So unless someone else steps up in that conference, this meaningless yet funny stat will probably hold true.
5B.) Kentucky will have more twins on their roster than IU will have top 25 wins.
6.) By the end of the year, Calipari will have more national respect than ever before… but he won’t win SEC CotY. This team has already made huge strides, and the early losses showed national observers that sometimes it’s not as easy as just ‘rolling the balls out’ for even the most talented of teams. The narrative on Cal is already shifting – people are finally beginning to realize how hard it is to have an entirely new team every year and still compete on the highest levels. If Kentucky reaches its potential, the non-biased will finally start giving Cal his due for being a great coach as well as a great recruiter. But for some reason Kevin Stallings will win SEC CotY once again.
Add your predictions below!