At NCAA basketball level each team has a problem, albeit small, to solve. Or can be a player whose eventual development can mark the difference between a good and a great season. So let’s see what or who can be the x factor for some of the best teams for next season.
Louisville : My choice for preseason number one, this expert group will certainly be one of the best defenses of America, so it’s on offense that we must look for improvements that would make the Cardinals almost perfect. While both Russ Smith and Peyton Siva surely can improve from three point, one of Hancock and Blackshear must emerge in attack as a small forward, so as to prevent the opponents to focus only on the two guards, creating better spacing which would also benefit Dieng and Behanan. All this talk are obviously useless if there will be a series of injuries like last year…..
Kentucky : BBN tend to forget the great role played last year by the various Miller, Lamb and Jones, who were the perfect complement to Anthony Davis, MKG and Teague. This year, the only two “veterans” of the team are Kyle Wiltjer and Ryan Harrow, that no matter how good can not be compared to returnees of last season. If we add to this that the new wave of freshman seem altogether a level lower than the excellence of last year, is not it obvious that the Wildcats are one of the teams to beat. Calipari over the years has perfected its ability to reinvent a team of young boys starting from scratch and then beat Kentucky will still be hard for anyone, but the only NCAA title he won when he had some reliable veteran. I do not know if Harrow and Wiltjer will be able to have a similar impact to these veterans, but I am convinced that the title hopes for the Wildcats will be based mainly on them.
Baylor : Coach Drew will have one of the best backcourt in the entire NCAA next season, with various types of playmakers, shooters and defenders; without Quincy Miller, we could expect three guards lineup with Deuce Bello (and maybe freshman Leon Rose) fully able to defend most of the opponent small forwards.
In the frontcourt who will step up? My guess is that Gathers and Jefferson are the combination best suited to complement their guards, and i think that during the season Drew will have to agree with me, especially if Austin will be unable to fight in the paint during conference play. The seven footer has loads of talent but is really pencil thin and needs plenty of hard work to bulk up, while Gathers could have less talent but is physically ready to dominate in the paint.