Soft 16: Press Virginia Mountaineers

Last season, Villanova ended West Virginia’s championship hopes and Jevon Carter’s 100th season as a basketball player in the Sweet 16. I think this is the third time I have written about a team that got knocked out by VU in this Soft 16 series. They were kinda good, I guess. Any time I see Bob Huggins lose, it makes me sad, except when they lost to Kentucky (suck it). I am excited to see this team play again. I want them to upset Kansas despite the referees clearly fixing the game. I want them to press the hell out of everyone and cause 30 turnovers per. Above all, I just want college basketball back. And college basketball is back when WVU is back. Let’s take a look at the 2018-2019 West Virginia Mountaineers.

Head Coach: Bob Huggins

Key Returners: Sagaba Konate, Esa Ahmad, Lamont West, James Bolden

Key Additions: Jermaine Haley and Andrew Gordon (JUCO), Derek Culver, Jordan McCabe

Key Losses: Jevon Carter, Daxter Miles

Key Games: @Kansas State, @TCU, Kansas, @Tennessee, @Kansas, Kansas State, TCU

I freaking love Bob Huggins. Ole Huggy Bear just makes me happy. I really have never heard someone say anything negative about him. He created a whole new brand for WVU, Press Virginia. That is so beautiful. I also will never get over how he wears a jumpsuit instead of a suit. Comfort over everything, unless you are trying to bring the ball up the court against him. There will be a little problem with setting the press this year though. He lost two main pieces to that defense. Daxter Miles is in the G-League and I think Jevon Carter retired and is living off social security. He does, however, get to keep his top rebounder and top returning scorer, Sagaba Konate. To make up for the lost shooting, Huggins still has James Bolden, who shot 41% last year from 3. Press Virginia starts off the season very slowly. They don’t play a ranked team until conference play. This may actually be good for them to get some confidence and chemistry after losing such big players.

Prediction: 23-6. I think they will win their matchup with Tennessee in the Big 12/ SEC challenge. Lucky for them, they don’t have to lose to Kentucky in the regular season again (suck it, again). The slow start could come back to bite them though. It could cause some of the younger guys to struggle in the first part of conference play. I want WVU to win the Big 12, but I can’t see anyone dethroning Kansas. Press Virginia takes second in both the Regular Season and Tournament. As for the NCAA Tournament, I like Huggy Bear to take these guys to the second weekend and make it to at least the Sweet 16.

Soft 16: Virginia Cavaliers

Last Year: 31-3, 1st in the ACC, first team ever to lose to a #16 seed as a #1 seed (LOL)

Key Returners: Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, De’Andre Hunter

Key Losses: Devon Hall, Nigel Johnson, Isaiah Wilkins (all graduated)

Key Additions: Francisco Caffaro (4-star), Kody Stattmann (3-star), Kihei Clark (3-star), Braxton Key (may not be eligible, Alabama transfer)

Key Games: They have a very weak non-conference schedule, All ACC games will be key

Coach: Tony Bennett

Virginia was the 2nd best team in basketball last season.  You do not go 17-1 in the ACC by being bad.  Virginia and Tony Bennett always do the same thing, they have an amazing defense, like they will this year, but they always hit a bump in the road in the NCAA tournament.  Virginia constantly has low scoring games and they have to struggle to hit a three, which is why they lost to UMBC last season.  And in a way, it’s probably what they will do again this season.

Predicition: Virginia kills the regular season, due to their cupcake non-conference schedule, with the hardest game being @ South Carolina.  They finish 3rd in the ACC and will make it to the 2nd weekend in the NCAA but lose in the Sweet 16.

Soft 16: North Carolina Tar Heels

Last Year: 26-11, 3rd in ACC, lost to Texas A&M in the Round of 32

Key Returners: Luke Maye (this guy is like 40 now), Cam Johnson, Kenny Williams

Key Losses: Joel Berry, Theo Pinson (graduation)

Key Additions: Nassir Little, Coby White, Rechon Black

Coach: Roy Williams

Key Games: @Texas, vs Kentucky, vs Gonzaga, both Duke games, all ACC games

North Carolina is a team that has flown under the radar, well as much as North Carolina can.  UNC lost it’s leaders in Berry and Pinson so they will have to rely heavily on their freshmen Little and White.  Little is an absolute stud and will be a top 5 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.  He can control the game so easily, but he will need to be able to click in Roy’s system.  Maye is the returning leader and seems to be playing the role Grayson Allen did for Duke for so many years.  The key for this team will be how Cam Johnson and Kenny Williams play and if they can play consistently.  Johnson was injured last season and he can have a huge impact from the field.  Williams was shooting 40% from three last season, so if they can continue that, they’ll be set.

Prediction: UNC will probably lose more than it is used to.  Right now, I don’t see them beating Kentucky, Gonzaga or Duke.  Texas will be a major test because Shaka has that team ready to go and it being at Texas, scares me for the Tar Heels.  UNC will not win the ACC, but I do believe they make it to the Elite 8 and lose to either Kentucky or Tennessee.