We are about 2 weeks into the college basketball season and why it is way too early to make predictions for the NCAA tournament and the Final Four I am going to do that anyways. I'm not necessarily going to guarantee my Final Four picks quite yet but I will give you four teams that you should watch out for right now and come tourney time. I'll try to stick away from just picking the "blue bloods" of college basketball like all the so called experts do. I do have one of those teams on my list as well as a team that has had success before and is trying to return to that and then two up and coming programs who should be taken very seriously.
The first team on this list is one of those blue bloods that seems to be a 1 or 2 seed every year. that team is Kansas. Kansas is one of those teams that will always be good, but it also seems like they fall short of expectations in the tournament. Weather or not they do that this year is up to them but here is why I think they could be a dangerous team this season. Kansas does have one of the best coaches in the country in Bill Self and with the talent he is able to bring in there every year its no wonder they are #3 currently and likely to move up to 1 or 2 next week. Kansas has only really had one test this year and that was against Kentucky, a game in which they won by 4 against a Kentucky team that has struggled early on. One reason Kansas is so good this year is because of their experience. Yes they did lose a lot from last years team but their 5 leading scorers so far this year include 2 Seniors, a Junior and 2 Sophomores. Kansas does however have a talented freshman to go along that experience in Marcus Garrett who is averaging 7.5 ppg so far but leading the team with 7.8 rpg as a 6 foot 5 guard. I'm not sure that its a bad thing that a freshman guard is leading your team in rebounding but the few minutes I have seen him play have shown me that he can be really good come conference play.
The next team that I think people need to watch out for is a team that has been up and coming for the past few years but I think can get to the next level this year, that's Texas A&M. Texas A&M has made a few splashes over the past few years but they look like they are the best they have ever been from what I have seen so far. Texas A&M is sitting at 4-0 with a 23 point win over then #11 West Virginia, and a 17 point win over Oklahoma State who was a tournament team a year ago. Texas A&M for the first time in a few years looks to have depth and have 6 guys averaging at least 9 points per game. A big part of their success early on has been attributed to how well they have shot the ball. Currently they are shooting at 46.8% from behind the arc and 82.7% from the free throw line. It will be hard to keep both of those numbers that high, but if they can keep shooting that well they will surprise some teams this year.
Another team that I think will have a great season is Minnesota. They are currently ranked #14 which I think is appropriate but I haven't heard much about them and I think people are over looking them. Currently at 6-0, Minnesota hasn't really faced a challenge yet. They did beat providence by 12 which is a descent win but the real tests will be coming soon. On Nov 25th (tomorrow from when I am writing this) Minnesota will face #25 Alabama in the Barclays Center Classic, followed by #11 Miami just 4 days later. A win in both of these games would really get people to notice Minnesota and I think they have a great shot of winning the BIG10 if they can get past Michigan State who appears to be the only team better than them at this point.
The final team on this list I wasn't too sold on until I saw them in action last night against Stanford, and that is the Florida Gators. Florida comes in at 4-0 and are coming off of an Elite 8 run last year where everyone remembers the buzzer beater that Chris Chiozza hit against Wisconsin. This year the Gators look to be way better then that team already. Coming into the season everyone was talking about the Gators defense which coach Mike White is known for and while that is still good it has been their offense that everyone is talking about. 4 games in the gators have put up 100+ in three games and are averaging 100.5 ppg. Now I know they haven't played the toughest competition but to put up 100+ in 3 games out of 4 isn't easy against anyone. One big reason for that is the addition of two new transfers, Jalen Hudson from Virginia Tech and Egor Koulechov from Rice. Koulechov has been absolutely lighting it up, averaging 21.5 ppg but is shooting 56% from three including a 5-5 performance last night in which he scored 26. Hudson has been almost as impressive, averaging 18.0 ppg so far this year. The real scary thing to watch out for is the fact that the gators center John Egbunu who averaged 11.5 ppg and 6.5 rbg in 2015-2016 before going down with a knee injury early into last season. It is unclear when he will come back, but the Gators expect him back sometime this seasona and when they do watch out, they Gators could be making another Final Four run.