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Benedetto blog: Picking the Power 5 (plus two)

November 10, 2017 Updated: November 10, 2017 at 5:34 pm
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photo - Michigan State's Miles Bridges (22) dunks on the first play after the tip against Ferris State's Zach Hankins (35) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball exhibition game, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
Michigan State's Miles Bridges (22) dunks on the first play after the tip against Ferris State's Zach Hankins (35) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball exhibition game, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis) 

Let us rejoice. College basketball is back.

Here’s who I like in each of the Power Five conferences plus two more notable leagues.

Power 5

ACC

North Carolina is the defending national champion, but Duke is the easy pick to win the nation’s best hoops league. The rich got richer when Marvin Bagley III decided to expedite his high school graduation to join the Blue Devils and get a jump start on his journey to the NBA. Trevon Duval and Grayson Allen give Coack K a talented backcourt, too.

Bonzie Colson, a preseason pick to win league and national player of the year honors, could team with Matt Farrell and give Notre Dame a legitimate shot at stealing the league title.

Big 12

Until the streak is over, Kansas is the easy pick to win its 14th straight league title. The Jayhawks will go as Devonte' Graham goes. He’s my favorite to be the league’s player of the year as well.

West Virginia looks like KU’s biggest threat.

Big Ten

The league of boring basketball could provide one of the most exciting conference races. Miles Bridges is another national player of the year candidate and is expected to lead the Spartans to the title, but Purdue, Minnesota and Northwestern could make things interesting.

I wouldn't count out Ethan Happ and Wisconsin to finish in the league's top four.

Nebraska will be bad once again.

Pac-12

Arizona has the most talent, but Rawle Alkins’ foot injury and the NCAA investigation loom large. USC is loaded with talent but has its own NCAA concerns. I like Andy Enfeld’s athletic and deep bunch to win the league. Arizona is my pick to do more damage in the tournament if the Wildcats are at full strength at the end of the conference tournament.

Arizona's Allonzo Trier should be the league’s best player.

SEC

John Calipari’s ability to reload with enough talent to negate other team’s experience continues. The Wildcats will replace the likes of De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo with a group of freshman headlined by Quade Green, Hamidou Diallo and Kevin Knox.

Florida’s KeVaughn Allen is the pick for SEC Player of the Year and will keep the Gators right behind UK. Texas A&M could be interesting too.

Plus 2

AAC

As much as it pains me to say this, Wichita State is going to be good, probably really good… possibly Final Four good. Gregg Marshall has practically everyone back for what could be his most talented team. The Shockers play with an edge, and that should lead them to another league title in a more challenging conference.

Cincinnati should pose the biggest challenge to WSU.

I like Shockers guard Landry Shamet to top SMU’s Shake Milton as the league’s best player.  

Big East

Villanova’s domination in the new-look Big East is likely to continue, but the Wildcats have some legitimate competition with Seton Hall and Xavier returning key pieces from last year'd NCAA Tournament teams.

If there’s a team capable of ending the Wildcats run to a fourth straight league title, it’s Seton Hall. Angel Delgado, one of the premier big men in the college game, and Khadeen Carrington is an all-league guard.

Villanova guard Jalen Brunson is my pick for league player of the year, holding off Delgado and Xavier’s Trevon Bluiett.

*Obligatory Creighton mention: the Jays finish fourth in the league behind Khyri Thomas, the most slept on player in college hoops. With health comes a trip to the Sweet 16.*

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