The 2012 NCAA Final Four in New Orleans will not contain as many underdog teams as the 2011 Final Four in Houston. The future NBA lockout has forced many talented NCAA players to go back to their teams instead of pursuing the NBA. The result will be one of the best college basketball seasons in recent memory.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Jared Sullinger’s decision to say a Buckeye for another season has Ohio State in a great position to make another deep tournament run. OSU will add four Top 100 prospects to their current base of talent that has lost several key veterans, but the talent level of this team is good enough to get the Buckeyes back to the Final Four. Thad Mata is not my first choice to lead this team, but he has proven to work very well with young talent.
North Carolina Tar Heels
I had the Tar Heels getting back to the Final Four a season early in my picks for the 2011 Final Four. UNC returns possibly the best overall team in 2011 with Tyler Zeller, Harrison Barnes, John Henison, and Kendall Marshall coming back while they have 2 top 15 recruits to add to the mix. North Carolina has been mediocre for the past two seasons, but they are now the overall favorite to win the National Championship.
St. John’s Red Storm
My dark horse team to make the Final Four is St. John’s. Coach Steve Lavin has a top 3 recruiting class coming in including 6 Top 100 recruits! December 1st will be a huge challenge to test whether the Red Storm are ready for greatness as they will play Kentucky. The Red Storm are a 25/1 underdog to win the National Championship, but I have a feeling that the odds will go down as this team takes the court come late 2011.
Kentucky has the best recruiting class for the 2011 season by far. Coach Calipari has done an amazing job throughout his entire career of getting the best recruits after losing much of a talented team the previous season. Kentucky has 3 of the top 7 recruits according to ESPN.com, and 4 of the top 20. The Wildcats will have one of the top starting rotations in all of college basketball just using their recruiting class talent. Recently star forward Terrence Jones decided to stay at Kentucky after averaging 15.7 ppg and 8.8 rebounds per game. The looming NBA lockout helped keep Terrence Jones in school, and may also help Kentucky reach the 2012 Final Four.
With Coach Calipari, you never know how long you will get to keep your Final Four banner hanging in the gymnasium before the NCAA forces you to take it down, but Kentucky will be able to temporarily hang a National Championship Banner in Rupp arena. The Wildcats have unmatched talent and just enough experience to help put them over the top. Teams will have a tough time dealing with forwards Terrence Jones and #1 overall recruit Anthony Davis, a 6’10 power forward. Coach Calipari has enough talent on this team to win the SEC and obtain a #1 seed. The Final Four will be a challenge for the Wildcats, but the regular season shouldn’t contain many challenges for this superior team. The Wildcats will tin the 2011-2012 NCAA Mens Basketball National Championship.