Duke is the unanimous preseason No. 1 team if you ask the media, but what about the coaches? CBS Sports is back with their annual “Candid Coaches” series, and 40% of the coaches polled said they believe Arizona will be the best team in the country this season. Michigan State came in second at 28%, followed by Duke and Kansas tied at 9% and Louisville in fifth with 6%. Wichita State, Villanova, and Kentucky all received votes.
Could this be the year Sean Miller finally gets Arizona past the Elite Eight? Protected by the cloak of anonymity, several coaches said yes.
“One, I think Sean Miller is a hell of a coach,” one coach said. “They return their backcourt, which I think sometimes gets overlooked in terms of the importance of a good backcourt. They obviously sign (DeAndre) Ayton. Ristic is coming back, the big kid that started for them. I think they added the right pieces. I think they were really tough last year. If they consistently shoot the ball from the perimeter I think they’re the best team in the country.”
Coaches loving on Michigan State is no surprise, nor is the hype surrounding Duke after the addition of Bagley; however, one coach who picked Louisville just couldn’t get over how good the Cardinals could have been had Donovan Mitchell returned to school.
“Imagine how good they’d be if Donovan Mitchell returned. They have tremendous length. Defensively, they’re going to be impossible to score on. They have really good experience, so they ‘ll have different ways that will really mess with you. They’ll have some talent on the wing that can score. If they would’ve had Donovan, I think they could’ve … I know they can’t go undefeated, but I think it would’ve a unanimous preseason No. 1. Their strength will be in the pack. I think that it’s very difficult for teams at Kentucky and Louisville to have alphas because the head coaches are so much of that.”
John Calipari is the master of getting players to sacrifice their egos for the betterment of the squad, so if that’s what the guy is trying to say, then yes, I agree.