It's been a chaotic week of college basketball. In less than seven days of play, we've had an overtime classic, a 37-point masterclass, and jaw-dropping upsets. It's heartburn for coaches, but heaven for hoops fans.
While we're still a long ways from March, it's never too early to prognosticate on how this year's drama will unfold. Here are four bold predictions that just might be right this season.
Gonzaga got better
There wasn't a ton of new information we learned about #1 Gonzaga in a comfortable twelve-point home win over #8 Texas. Championship game embarrassment against Baylor aside, last year's WCC champs had an unprecedented 2020 campaign, steamrolling all challengers en route to an undefeated regular season. The 2021 group seemed to pick up where they left off last Saturday.
There have been some questions about the Zags this offseason. With Jalen Suggs and Corey Kispert departing for the NBA last summer, it was fair to wonder how the Bulldogs planned to replace the production of two lottery picks. Enter seven-foot unicorn Chet Holmgren, a big man with elite shot-blocking and shooting ability, along with talented Iowa State transfer Rasir Bolton at guard. Despite Holmgren's lackluster two-point outing vs. Texas, he still has a good chance of emerging as the nation's top freshman standout.
While the new additions should keep Gonzaga highly competitive, their ceiling has been raised by the improvement of their returning players, most notably Drew Timme. The junior big man was already in contention to win the Wooden Award, but his career-high 37 points against a powerless Longhorns interior defense solidifies his place as the favorite to take home the honor. Timme, along with other returnees Andrew Nembhard and Anton Watson, give Gonzaga a mix of core stars and new recruits that not even last year's unit possessed. While going undefeated again is an unrealistic expectation (especially with a showdown against #2 UCLA looming), it's certainly no stretch to call this the most talented roster Mark Few has ever coached.
Syracuse will contend for the ACC title
Ever since Syracuse left the Big East for the ACC eight years ago, the Orange have been good, but far from great. Typically sneaking into the tournament rather than winning their beast of a conference, Jim Boeheim's team could make history this season, namely from long-distance.
Buddy Boeheim, one of the elite shooters in all of college basketball, should be as good as last year, if not better. The Orange's other starting guard, Joseph Girard III, has looked much better from long range with an absurd 100