College basketball is back!: Preview of top five teams going into 2018-19 season

This is the best time of the year in the sports world. The MLB World Series just came to a close. college football, the NBA and the NFL are in full swing. and college basketball just wrapped up an action-packed first week.

As per The Associated Press’s Top 25 Poll, here are how college basketball’s top five teams fared after their first week of the regular season.

 

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Kansas head coach, Bill Self, talking to freshman guard, Devon Dotson during their matchup against 10th-ranked Michigan State at the 2018 Champions Classic

No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks

Entering this season, the Kansas Jayhawks sit atop the polls as the best team in college basketball.

Behind freshman guards, Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson. junior center, Udoka Azubuike; and Memphis-transfers, K.J. and Dedric Lawson, Kansas is poised to be one of the most entertaining two-way teams this season.

Playing against a backcourt headlined by Grimes and Dotson will be frustrating for teams, as they will struggle to score against head coach Bill Self’s defensive coaching style. Along with their toughness, look for Grimes and Dotson to thrive in the open court with their elite athleticism as well. there should be no shortage of steals and easy baskets from these two. The Impact of the Lawson brothers, former Memphis standouts, should be undeniable as well. and with Azubuike anchoring down the middle and cleaning the glass, Kansas is looking poised to make waves this season and enter the NCAA Tournament seeded first yet again.

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No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats

The new-look Kentucky Wildcats are looking to prove their worth this season.

Highlighting the Wildcats’ recruiting class this year are forwards Keldon Johnson and EJ Montgomery. Look for Johnson to lead the Cats’ offensive charge this season with his craftiness and many scoring tools he has in his bag. Montgomery’s ability to stretch the floor and knock down outside jumpers should open up the lane for Johnson’s and his own scoring opportunities, too.

With another five-star recruit in Immanuel Quickley, Stanford-transfer Reid Travis and returner PJ Washington, Kentucky looks absolutely lethal offensively. Look for head coach John Calipari to run up the score against unsuspecting defenses this year.

Fueled by a supercharged offense, the Wildcats could do colossal damage this year.

 

No. 3 Gonzaga Bulldogs

Gonzaga, unlike the Dukes and Kentuckys of the world, is not the top destination for top ranked high school seniors. In fact, they only have one freshman that cracked last year’s ESPN Top 100, Serbian Filip Petrusev.

However, Gonzaga’s roster highlights several, seasoned upperclassmen who are no strangers to March Madness. Leading the charge for Gonzaga is Rui Hachimura, the first Japanese native to ever play in the NCAA Tournament. Equipped with a relentless motor, strong frame and a knack for finishing in the lane, Hachimura will be a tough Dog to slow down this season. look for him to break out and improve his numbers from last year. Along with Hachimura, key starters Zach Norvell Jr. and Josh Perkins highlight the Zags’ balanced, veteran lineup.

The Zags are insanely deep. Paired with the fact that they haven’t missed a tournament appearance since 1999, count on head coach, Mark Few, to lead Hachimura and friends into a strong tourney campaign

 

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One of the most iconic moments in college basketball history: Duke’s Christian Laettner celebrating after sinking a game-winner against Kentucky in 1992 to send Duke to the Final Four. Photo credit: Associated Press

No. 4 Duke Blue Devils

Here it is. The moment we’ve all been waiting for. The ever-controversial, perennially hated Duke Blue Devils, are boasting a roster that features last year’s top three players in high school basketball.

Highlighting Duke’s roster is a three-headed monster known as RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish. Barrett and Reddish are gifted scorers, both possessing elite length and scoring instinct. Look for Barrett to find his shot at will in the lane with Reddish filling it up from deep with an NBA-ready 3-point jumper.

Along with Barrett and Reddish, Zion completes the trifecta with his otherworldly athleticism. At 6 feet, 7 inches and 285 pounds with a 40-inch vertical, Zion is looking like a once-in-a-generation athlete. Look for Zion to bulldoze defenders and absolutely wreak havoc in the open court.

Led by head coach, Mike Krzyzewski, the Blue Devils are the clear favorites to win it all this year.

 

No. 5 Virginia Cavaliers

The Virginia Cavaliers are ranked fifth by The Associated Press going into this season and rightfully so.

Like the Zags, the Cavaliers are stacked with seasoned returning players. Highlighting their roster is junior duo Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome and sophomore De’Andre Hunter.

The trio of Guy, Jerome and Hunter might be the best shooting backcourt in college basketball, as all three pose a threat from beyond the arc. Also, the addition of Alabama-transfer Braxton Key is perfect for Virginia, as he can thrive attacking the rim with a spaced-out offense.

Behind head coach Tony Bennett, look for Virginia’s defense to be in tip-top shape as it always is. As usual, teams like Duke should have a tough time running up the score against the Cavaliers. and paired with an offense that should prove deadly this year, Virginia will make a clear case for making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

 

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