The best and brightest of 2015-16
The ‘Elite 8’ teams
1 North Carolina
A healthy Marcus Paige will make all the difference, which is good for Roy Williams and the Tar Heels. They need to make hay while the sun shines with NCAA sanctions over the school’s widespread academic fraud looming.
Once again, we’re looking at the Wildcats and wondering how quickly their youth will click. With Haitian forward Skal Labissiere cleared by the NCAA last week, it will happen sooner rather than later.
Boasting the Big Ten’s best player, top freshman recruit and plenty of depth, the Terrapins should continue their rise.
Yes, Justin Anderson is gone. But coach Tony Bennett’s system is solid and his defense is going to be a nightmare for opponents again this year.
Bill Self’s 11-year Big 12 title streak is not ending this year with Frank Mason, Perry Ellis and presumably freshman big man Cheick Diallo — whose eligibility is still pending — in the fold.
6 Wichita State
Last chance to watch the dynamic senior backcourt duo of Fred Van Vleet and Ron Baker destroy defenses. Should be fun.
7 Iowa State
OK, so the Cyclones did not win the NCAA tournament, as I predicted back in March. Their early exit will only add fuel to the fire, even without The Mayor, former coach Fred Hoiberg, who left for the Chicago Bulls job.
8 Michigan State
Three starters from a Final Four squad return along with plenty of depth and athleticism. Don’t count Tom Izzo out.