It’s opening day in college basketball, which means hoops writers across the country are unveiling their Final Four and national championship picks. Not surprisingly, Kentucky was a popular choice.
Nineteen of ESPN’s 31 college basketball writers/personalities picked the Cats to make the Final Four. Ten of them have Kentucky winning the title, more than any other program:
- Paul Biancardi
- Jay Bilas
- Jeff Borzello
- Mike Couzens
- Seth Greenberg
- Andy Kennedy
- Myron Medcalf
- Dave Pasch
- Dan Shulman
- Dick Vitale
Three of CBS Sports’ five college basketball writers picked Kentucky to make the Final Four. Gary Parrish and Jerry Palm picked the Cats to win the title, while Matt Norlander, Kyle Boone, and Chip Patterson went with Kansas.
Experienced contributors are not something John Calipari has usually had at Kentucky. In fact, only once in the previous nine years has the Hall of Fame coach started a season with at least three players who have already averaged at least nine points per game at the Division I level. That season was 2011-12 season. The result was a national championship. And that’s the main reason why I’m super-high on the Wildcats. Yes, they have five-star freshmen just like usual. But the presence of senior Reid Travis, and sophomores Quade Green and PJ Washington, is the reason I’m predicting Calipari to secure his second national title come April. — Gary Parrish (also selected by Jerry Palm)
Gonzaga was the most popular national championship pick at SI.com, but Dan Greene went with the Cats.
Coach K may have brought this year’s most NBA-buzzworthy freshman class to Durham, but what John Calipari has in Lexington is a team that could win it all on this level. It’s a blend of very talented freshmen (three of the consensus top 15, plus two more in the top 35), last year’s very talented freshmen who are now sophomores (most notably forward PJ Washington), and the rare impact veteran (forward Reid Travis, a grad transfer from Stanford and two-time All-Pac-12 first-teamer). It’s the sort of mix that has previously resulted in an undefeated run to the Final Four (in 2015) and a national title (in 2012). That bodes well for the Wildcats’ chances at the latter.
Kentucky was the top vote-getter for national champion in The Athletic’s college basketball poll, with six votes to Kansas’ five, Gonzaga’s four, Duke’s two, and Virginia’s one.
“Under normal circumstances, history tells us the smart play is to stay far, far away from one-and-done teams. This is not normal for Kentucky, which has its share of propulsive freshmen but also has experience — most notably 23-year-old Reid Travis at the four. That’s the sort of combo that results in Final Fours and confetti showers.” — Brian Hamilton
My Final Four picks:
NATIONAL CHAMPION: KENTUCKY
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) November 6, 2018
Katz has the Cats beating Gonzaga in his preseason bracket:
I like it.