With the 2015-16 college basketball season just over four months away, we are already looking at preseason rankings and predictions to speculate about who are the true contenders and who is ranked too high.
While the Top-25 usually does a decent job at showing you who will be there at the end of the year, there’s always exceptions. For instance last year’s preseason top-10 had Florida, Texas and North Carolina, which all could be considered massive failures.
So, it’s time to take stock. What teams should you buy or sell heading into the 2015-16 season? These are based on predictions made so far and if I think it’s an overvalue or undervalue of that specific team.
Virginia – Sell
Who is going to score for this team? The loss of Justin Anderson is one of the most important and devastating losses in college basketball. We saw last year when Anderson missed time to injury how stagnant the Cavaliers looked offensively and had to rely on Malcolm Brogdon. They are projected as the No. 3 team in some early rankings and there’s not a chance they finish in the top-10. Another key point to remember is Virginia lost Darion Atkins, ACC Defensive Player of the Year. This team will be what it looked like without Anderson last year, ranked somewhere around No. 20. Don’t count on London Perrantes picking up the scoring load left behind by Anderson.
Texas A&M – Buy
A top-10 recruiting class to go with one of the best three man cores in the SEC? Yeah, this team is going to be ranked all year. They have an electric scorer in Danuel House who teams well with Jalen Jones. Joining the two of them is Alex Caruso, who is one of the most well-rounded players in the country. College basketball analyst Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports has the Aggies at No. 2 in his SEC power rankings and said “I firmly believe that Billy Kennedy has the best 10-man rotation in the SEC. I think Texas A&M is a bonafide Top 25 team.” Buy this team while the stock is still relatively low.
Purdue – Sell
“But, they have Caleb Swanigan! Oh, and there’s A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas!”- Every Purdue backer in the world heading into the season. Guess what everyone, they are all bigs. Who is going to play point guard for Purdue? Who is going to score outside of 10 feet? This team will struggle mightily in a deep Big 10 this year. The Swanigan commitment was nice to keep an in-state player, but he’s not a program changer. They will not be a threat to win the Big 10, behind the likes of Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Maryland and likely Wisconsin. Slide this team in for a No. 7 seed and losing in the first round, I’m selling Purdue harder than any other school.
California – Buy
Can we please all stop saying how you can’t win in March with freshmen? Kentucky did it in 2012 with Anthony Davis and crew. Duke did it last year with Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones. California will be a Final Four threat thanks to their mix of veterans and ridiculously talented freshmen. The Bears should be a Top-10 team most of the year thanks to the returns of Ty Wallace and Jabari Bird. Head coach Cuonzo Martin will be able to spread the floor with those two and Jaylen Brown, while playing Ivan Rabb in the middle. This can be Cal’s year to win the Pac-12 and make a serious run in March.
Wichita State – Sell
As I stated in the opening this is relative to each specific team. People are calling Wichita State title contenders and I am not in that boat. We’ve seen what Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker can do and who they are as players, that’s not changing this year. They will be solid all year, roughly the 12th-16th best team in the country, but they are no title contenders. There won’t be another undefeated season or surprise run to the Final Four. Much like Virginia last year, the ceiling for this team from Day 1 will be Sweet 16. I’ll sell the Shockers and take my stock to a team I trust more.
Michigan – Buy
The Wolverines lose one player from last year. More importantly they get back Caris LeVert, who was predicted to be an All-American last season before he went down with an injury. Also coming back from injury is point guard Derrick Walton, giving the Wolverines a 1-2 punch at point guard with Walton and Spike Albrecht. John Beilein is one of the great coaches out there who doesn’t get enough respect. I’ll take him and this team with another year of experience to make another run to the Final Four and challenge Maryland to win the Big 10.