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Five Teams to Watch - Part I



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Editor's Note: Don't miss out on College Basketball Winners from John Fisher on VegasInsider.com!

College Basketball Season is about to begin and I couldn't be more excited. I am going to focus on 5 teams that didn't make the NCAA Tournament last year but will this year!

1) Minnesota: This team won the NIT Tourney last year with 25 wins and will be contenders in the tough Big Ten conference. This team will be dangerous. After there first game against Louisville they should go 12-1 before heading to the meat of their conference schedule. The Gophers return four Senior starters led by the backcourt of Andre Hollins and DeAndre Mathieu and twin towers of Maurice Walker and Elliott Eliason both 6'11". They added depth this year with two nice recruits in guard Nate Mason and forward Josh Martin. This team will be a 4/6 seed by Tourney Time. Keep an eye on them.

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2) Arkansas: Another team that went to the NIT. This year they will get 25 victories and will be a threat to win the SEC after Kentucky this year. They have all but one returning starter led by guard Ky Madden. They will also get immediate benefits from two five-star recruits with guard Anton Beard and power forward Trey Thompson. They go 10/11 deep but this time have a better collection of players that will make them a difficult out. This team will be a 5/7 seed this year come tourney time.

3) Utah: This is probably one of the most fundamental sound teams in the nation. They lost in the first round of the NIT last year, but with a returning lineup that is led by Delon Wright, who can be a NBA prospect if he can improve his jump shot, will get this team to 25 wins. What I like most with this club is their new recruit in Top 10 prospect of Brekott Chapman. This lefty can shoot and has great skills inside. He will be a matchup nightmare. Add the toughness in defender Jordan Loveridge and an improved center Dallin Bachynski, this Utes team will be a four-seed come tourney time.

4) Maryland: Now this one is more of a long shot. The Terps failed to make any postseason tournament and with that a major overhaul followed. Three starters Nick Faust, Charles Mitchell, and Seth Allen who combined for over 50% of their offense, left the team and transferred to other schools. What was left was second team All-American forward Dez Wells to figure out how to make things better for Maryland who are newcomers to the Big 10 conference. The three players that left were also the reason why they were not winning. Combined they had more turnovers than assists and there were attitude problems for the rest of the team . Coach Turgeon got three heralded recruits, two of them five-stars. Shooting guards Melo Trimble and Dion Wiley will give the Terps a much needed perimeter game. Look for Maryland to sneak in as an eight-seed this year.

5) SMU: this team was snubbed last year from going to the Dance. HOF Coach Larry Brown did a great job with this unheralded Mustang team. But 27 wins was not enough. They return their great inside-outside combination of guard Nic Moore and power forward Markus Kennedy and an attitude and bitter taste in their mouth to march into the NCAA Tourney. They beefed up their schedule a bit so this should help even if they don't reach the 27-win plateau. They will be a six-seed come tourney time.

  
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