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Previewing Every Barstool Blogger’s College Hoops Team for the 2017-18 Season

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There’s a couple things readers of this site love. One is sports, two is talking shit and three is talking shit about sports. Well what’s better than getting a little knowledge on where everyone went to school so with college hoops season here you can really ramp up your shit talking?

Let me save you the low hanging fruit by answering honestly. Yes, bloggers actually do graduate from college and attend school. So let’s take a look at the schools your Barstool guys have a history with and might as well start with the guy who would demand to go first anyways.

Michigan (Pres/Mike Grinnell) – There are very few coaches in the game right now better than John Beilein and that will show this year. It’s one of the first times I can remember Michigan having to rely pretty heavily on transfers in order to be successful this year. Yes, they have Mo Wagner and Duncan Robinson returning but it’s going to Charles Matthews and Jaaron Simmons who will have to be keys this year. The Wolverines should be a top-5 team in the Big 10 and in out of the Top-25 throughout the season. The key is going to be how confident is Charles Matthews and can Xavier Simpson step in at the point guard position with Simmons to make up for Derrick Walton.

Wisconsin (Big Cat, Sam’s Army) It’s weird to see Wisconsin being in a ‘rebuilding spot’ but that’s where the Badgers are to a degree this year. They lose Bronson, Hayes and Showalter from a team that was wildly inconsistent and struggled in the regular season. They do have Ethan Happ, who is one of the three best post players in the country, but my question with this team is how much of an impact can Happ have this year. Part of what made him so good was the fact that teams had to worry about outside shooting or Hayes cutting and with Happ being the guy, will there be enough space to see him dominate the paint like he has. There were the reports that he was working on extending his range this offseason, something that he’ll need to do. I’m a big fan of D’Mitrick Trice’s game and think he’ll step into a starting role no problem. Who can play the other wing/four spot though?

Maryland (Nate, Banks, RDT) – This is one of those teams where I think people expect them to take a step back because they don’t have Melo Trimble. That’s simply not going to happen. I like the makeup of this team and really like the duo of Justin Jackson and Kevin Huerter, both of whom have NBA talent, especially Jackson. The Terps will have a more balanced attack offensively and as long as Turg doesn’t get in his own way, the offense will have a better flow to it. Too often last year when these guys were freshmen, they deferred to Trimble, letting him go 1v1 and try to score/draw a foul. Huerter is a guy that can take a jump due to his ability to play a role in the game even if he’s not shooting well. He reminds me of Luke Kennard in that standpoint because he’s an excellent passer and playmaker from the wing.

Fordham (KFC, Super Producer BC, Intern Jack)Similar to every other team these guys cheer for, Fordham will be just below average, win some games they shouldn’t and ultimately not be a contender. That said, Fordham did see an improvement last year as they went 7-11 in the A-10. This is a team that will defend. They were 81st in the country in DRtg last season and Joseph Chartouny led the country with a 5.8 steal percentage. Chartouny was the A-10 Rookie of the Year two seasons ago and is averaging over 11 points, 5 assists and just about 5 rebounds per game during his two seasons with the Rams. He’s good enough to win you games in the A-10 and they could see another win or two to get to .500. Shout out Rose Hill Gym.

Iowa (Trent) – I’ll be honest. I did not expect Iowa to be as competitive as it was last year after losing four starters. This year? They should be an NCAA Tournament team and compete to finish in the top-5 in the Big 10. Yes, they lose Peter Jok who was one of the most underrated players in the country last year, but they have a legit 1-2 punch with Jordan Bohannon and Tyler Cook. There’s also plenty of depth with this team as guys like Dom Uhl, Nicholas Baer, Ahmad Wagner and Brady Ellingson are all back. Iowa played an incredibly fast pace last year and that will stay the same, especially with Bohannon getting another year under his belt. The one key to this year though? Taking care of the ball. They were one of the most turnover prone teams in the country. Get the Casey’s Pizza and Rumplemintz ready, Big Daddy.

Texas-San Antonio (Uncle Chaps) – Meep meep, motherfuckers. So, UTSA wasn’t great last year, but this is a really young roster with just three seniors on the roster and last year they were one of the youngest teams in the country. That means we should see a jump with this team – they finished 14-19 last year. I’d like this team even more if Dante Buford (Oklahoma transfer) was eligible this year instead of next season. They do a great job of limiting offensive rebounds – ranked 11th in the country in defensive rebounding percentage. However, they’ll need to get hot in the C-USA Tournament to make the NCAA’s behind Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee State.

Florida State (Feits) – This is a team that’s simply losing too much talent to stay in the top half of the ACC again. They were pretty loaded last year with Jonathan Isaac, Dwayne Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes. They do bring in MJ Walker, who is a 5-star recruit and return guys like CJ Walker and Terance Mann. You know Leonard Hamilton will still use as much of his bench as possible and likely try to push tempo on both sides of the ball. They’ll run a pseudo-press to try and force turnovers while keeping a guy back to protect the rim.

Susquehanna (Smitty) The River Hawks (still weird to see them called that) lose an All-American guard in Steven Weidlich, who was a baller averaged 22 and 5. They also lost 3 other starters, which means you can expect them to take a step back in terms of competing on the national level like they have been. They’ll still compete within the Landmark Conference since they return their big, Ryan Traub, who averaged 17 and 7. They’ll still be good but going to take more time to figure things out.

Ursinus (Jordie) – Yeah, this is your D3 portion of the blog. Deal with it. Ursinus will be an interesting team to watch this year (if you care to watch D3 ball or live in the area) because of the way they play offense. They want to spread you out, especially with Zach Quattro, who led the conference last year in 3-point percentage despite playing the four spot. They’ll also look to spread you out with Eric Williams, who should make over 300 threes for his career. If you want to keep a name on a kid who could possibly make the Duncan Robinson jump down the road, watch for Ryan McTamney, who was a first-team All-Philly Catholic player last year. Those guys typically don’t go to D3. Either way, this team does not need an enforcer.

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Emory (Kmarko) – This is one of the better D3 teams in the country year after year. They are coming off another trip to the NCAA Tournament, making it 5 seasons in a row of playing in March. They do return their leading scorer in Adam Gigax, who averaged over 18 a game last year. The one thing they did have last year was depth, as they had 11 guys average over 8 minutes a game. Three of those guys are now gone, including the second-leading scorer, which is shockingly not this guy.

Harvard (Riggs, Francis) – Get to know the name Bryce Aiken, who was the leading scorer for this team as a freshman last year. He’s one of the best mid-major players in the country with the ability to play at either guard spot. He shot about 35% from the 3-point line last year and does a good job of taking care of the ball. Harvard should be the favorite to win the Ivy League this year, even with losing Siyani Chambers. I continue to be amazed in the way Amaker is recruiting at Harvard. He’s bringing in athletes and players that we usually don’t see in the Ivy League.

UNC (Caleb) – Been quite a couple of years for North Carolina and they’ll compete yet again thanks to Joel Berry. However, this will be an incredibly different UNC team than we’ve ever seen under Roy Williams. The staple of UNC teams include plenty of depth at the post spot to grab offensive rebounds and create free points. They don’t have that this year. The Tar Heels will have to run a small-ball lineup with Luke Maye, Cam Johnson and Theo Pinson running the wing/stretch spots. Luckily with Berry back UNC can push the tempo since Roy trusts his senior point guard to know when to drop into a secondary transition or not. The key is going to be Berry shooting the ball well off the bounce instead of catch-and-shoot. Mark these guys down for a top-5 finish in the ACC again.

Penn State (Rone) – Can Saquon Barkley play basketball? I feel like he’d be able to grab some minutes playing on the wing here. Penn State started to become more competitive last year than we’ve seen in quite some time. Pat Chambers did the smart thing and recruit the hell out of Philadelphia, getting four guys from Roman Catholic, all of whom are now sophomores and led by Tony Carr. The Nittany Lions had zero seniors on the roster last year, though they did lose their fourth leading scorer, who became a grad transfer and left for South Florida. If Shep Garner can get back to who he was to end his sophomore year along with Carr becoming more efficient, there’s an outside chance these guys make the NCAA Tournament, but this feels like an NIT team. Can we get a diss track about the Big 10?

Northwestern (WhiteSoxDave) – Probably the most-well known journalist to graduate from Northwestern, WhiteSoxDave will join Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the stands for a top-25 team. This is a team that returns a huge core from the group that massively exceeded expectations last year and finally got Northwestern to a NCAA Tournament. Bryant McIntosh is the leader of the group as he should be an All-Big 10 performer. What this team will do is defend the hell out of you as they ranked 32nd in the country in DRtg last year. I had them at No. 23 in my preseason top-25 and they should be a top-4 Big 10 team this year with McIntosh making an All-Big 10 team.

Siena (Clem) – It breaks my heart to give Clem bad news simply because he’s the most lovable, nicest dude in the world. But, Siena is going to stink. I mean they may be Ereck Flowers bad. They lose leading scorer Marquis Wright, second leading scorer Javion Oguneymi, fourth leading scorer Lavon Long and a double-double guy in Brett Bisping. That’s a lot to make up for, especially with how inconsistent Siena was during the regular season last year. Despite those up-and-downs, they were a few missed shots away from making the NCAA Tournament, when they fell to Iona in the MAAC title game. Luckily for the Saints this year they do have Nico Clareth who can go get buckets. Just remember the good times Clemmy. Onions. Double order.

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Red Sox (Carrabis) –  Not a college basketball team nor a baseball team that’s still in the playoffs.

The Troops (PFT) – A real gritty team, one that brings their lunch box to work every day. A bunch of grinders that fight for the win. A real scrappy bunch.

Illinois (Carl/Chief) – I want Illinois to be good, I really do. They are one of those programs that just shouldn’t stink and with Brad Underwood there, that shouldn’t happen. Underwood is a top-20 coach America and even better than that when it comes to working with guards. Staples of Underwood teams include guards that can push the tempo and get buckets and a big that can grab offensive rebounds. He has the latter covered in Leron Black and possibly has the former covered in either Te’Jon Lucas, Mark Alstork or Mark Smith. They aren’t going to make the NCAA Tournament this year, but they’ll see a massive jump in competing. This is an NIT team and next year should compete for the NCAA Tournament. We’ve seen Underwood have quick turnarounds and I expect the same here at Illinois.

West Virginia (Pat McAfee/Heartland Office) – I don’t care if some of the Heartland guys didn’t go to West Virginia, they are West Virginia guys. It’s also a good time to be one as the Mountaineers were the No. 15 team in my preseason poll and would have been higher if not for Esa Ahmad getting suspended for half the year. We all know what to expect with West Virginia this year. A lot of pressing. A lot of turnovers and a lot of Javon Carter pissing other guards off by getting up in their shorts and irritating them at all times. That’s the key. Javon Carter coming back and turning himself into an All-American type player, especially if he shoots the ball the way he did last year. The key to a team like West Virginia is having a guy who can bail them out on offense. This should be a second weekend team.

Shanghai Sharks (Donnie) – Feed Jimmer.

Storm Troopers (Robbie Fox) – Beat Darth Vader. 

Rutgers (Tex) – I know it’s crazy, but I think Steve Pikiell can turn Rutgers into a NCAA Tournament team at some point. That’s not going to happen this year, but he’s that good of a coach and can recruit the Jersey area a little bit better than Eddie Jordan. He already has a massive talent in Corey Sanders, but this program is still in rebuild mode. Pikiell took over a terrible situation and while he went 3-15 in the Big 10 last year, there is signs of improvement.

UMass (Coley/Pat/Hank)  – What a weird offseason for ZooMass. Originally Pat Kelsey was named the head coach and just never showed up for his press conference. I thought that was going to be one of the 5 best hires this offseason, simply because I think Kelsey can coach his ass off. They went with Matt McCall from Chattanooga and he’s absolutely hit the ground running in terms of recruiting. This is going to be a really young team with only two seniors and one of them is grad transfer Jaylen Brantley from Maryland. Expect this team to play a much slower pace than what we saw under Derek Kellogg with them looking to attack the paint more.

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Kentucky (Reags/Tyler) – It’s weird to say a sentence like this, but this is the youngest team in Kentucky history. They have 11 scholarship players and 8 are freshmen with the remaining 3 being sophomores. There’s no experience on this team, which is seen as a negative come NCAA Tournament time. The real question here is can they get consistent shooting from someone besides Jemarl Baker? What this team will be able to do is defend the hell out of everyone. They have a bunch of dudes between 6’7″ and 6’10” with ridiculous length to where they can switch everything. It’s a staple in Cal’s defensive schemes and it will be even more obvious this year. If this team can find another consistent shooter, they’ll have a legit shot at a Final Four. If they can’t, then it feels like a Sweet 16 team.

Syracuse (Hubbs) – I feel for Hubbs this year as he won’t be able to write about how Syracuse is going to be a force in the ACC only to get massively let down. This year just expect the worst and be excited for a reasonable outcome. This isn’t a good team. They are going to struggle to score the ball yet again and still don’t have that point guard that you can rely on. More importantly they still can’t rebound to save their lives and the bottom of the zone can get exposed like it did last year with passes over the top. That said, they have some great players coming in next year, so this down time will be short lived.

Drexel (JJ) – Drexel has stunk the last three years. They need the senior group, led by Sammy Mojica, to be really good this year in order for them to sniff the top half of the CAA. Mojica put up decent numbers last year in Zach Spiker’s first year at Drexel, but needs to shoot better than 31% from the 3-point line. If you want a good mid-major name to watch, Kurk Lee was on the CAA All-Rookie team last year after breaking Drexel’s scoring and assist record as a freshman.

Army (Capt. Cons) – There are two things that will be a guarantee with Army this year. They will get up and down the court (ranked 28th in the country in tempo) and will shoot a ton of threes. They had a 3PA/FGA percentage of 42.7, which was the 38th most in the country. They like to pass the ball up the floor and look to kick it to the open man. They play a true space offense as they rack up assists. The problem though is taking care of the ball. They ranked 301st in the country in turnover percentage and often play too out of control to take advantage of their shooting.

Arizona State (Greenie) – Bobby Hurley is a lunatic and I mean that as a compliment. I love watching him coach, especially when he loses his shit on the sidelines. Hurley is starting to get his guys to Arizona State as he has two top-100 recruits coming in along with a 6’10” junior college transfer. He also gets former four-star and Ohio State recruit Mickey Mitchell, who will be eligible in the second half of the year. It is going to be incredibly important that they make the jump to the NIT this year and win a couple marquee games. They have senior leaders in Tra Holder and Shannon Evans to go with this young talent, so there’s no reason for a losing season. The key has to be a defensive improvement. They ranked 257th in the country last season, by far the worst in Hurley’s four years as a head coach.