The postponements and cancelations are finally starting to dip. The peak in disruptions may have been reached.
If that’s the case, then it’s time for 16 fearless predictions in mid-January to get you through to the NCAA tournament.
1. Not one team will be forced to sit a player or miss a game in the conference tournament or NCAA tournament due to COVID-19. Maybe this is WISHFUL thinking, but the Omicron surge hit the sport at the best possible time, thus saving the back end of the regular season and postseason.
2. Auburn will be a No. 1 seed in the East. Baylor will get a No. 1 seed in the South. The Big Ten champ will get a No. 1 seed in the Midwest. And the West No. 1 will be chosen among Gonzaga (WCC) or the Pac-12’s UCLA or Arizona.
3. The same player won’t win each player of the year awards. Men’s college basketball isn’t the same as college football with the Heisman dominating the postseason honors. There are at least five major men’s college basketball player of the year awards: the Naismith, Wooden, Robertson, Rupp and Associated Press.
The options are at least five deep: Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis, Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, Auburn’s Jabari Smith, Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn and Kansas’ Ochai Agbaji are all worthy. And the candidacies of Baylor’s James Akinjo, Ohio State’s EJ Liddell, Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis, Iowa’s Keegan Murray, Arizona’s Bennedict Mathurin, Duke’s Paolo Banchero and Wendell Moore Jr., Gonzaga’s Drew Timme and UCLA’s Johnny Juzang are still being formed.