Popular Preseason College Basketball Predictions That Look Foolish Now
Predictions are like opinions. Everyone's got them, and a lot of us have ones that no one else agrees with.
But when they go horribly wrong, no one really cares that your predictions were wrong. Sure, your friends might joke about it a bit, but that's it.
It's different when those predictions reach mass-appeal level, and when they're made by those of us in the media who are called on to be experts in the sports we cover.
More than halfway through the 2013-14 college basketball season, there are a few pretty significant preseason predictions that are looking foolish right now. Those who made them would probably like that to be forgotten, but that's not possible in the Internet age.
But just in case you hadn't stumbled upon them yourself back before the year began, here's a look at some of the doozies that haven't come close to happening.
Kentucky Will Go 40-0
Nowadays, to predict that any team in college basketball could go undefeated is foolish. It hasn't happened since 1976, and even though there are still two teams (Syracuse is 21-0 and Wichita State is 23-0) with perfect records, it's just not going to happen.
They're both going to lose.
But some Kentucky fans took it much farther this year, thinking that John Calipari's latest crop of uber-freshmen were good enough to be the first 40-win team in NCAA history. T-shirts were made, but they went the way of the "Denver Broncos Super Bowl XLVIII Champs" route after the Wildcats lost for the first time this season...in their third game.
Someone even created a Facebook page to chronicle the "pursuit of perfection," and nearly 5,700 people have liked it. The page is still being updated, despite that pursuit being over.
Andrew Wiggins Will Be the No. 1 Pick in the 2014 NBA Draft
The hype machine was set to plaid when it came to Andrew Wiggins, the overwhelming No. 1 high school prospect entering the 2013-14 season.
It was so bad that it was believed several NBA teams would do whatever they could to tank the current pro campaign so they could improve their chance of landing Wiggins in the 2014 NBA draft.
And while Wiggins is having a great season for a freshman, he's no longer a shoo-in to be a first-team All-American, as seemingly everyone predicted back in October. He's also not the consensus choice for the No. 1 overall pick in June, falling behind Kansas teammate Joel Embiid (among others) on most draft boards.
Even the Tanking For Wiggins website has broken ranks, providing a "patch" of sorts to its masthead.
Florida's Roster Situation Will Cause It to Struggle
Sports Illustrated's college basketball experts made many predictions before the 2013-14 season started, and a lot of them have either come true or are still up for grabs.
None of the group's Final Four picks seem bad at this point, but when it came to picking a "flop" team for the season, both Seth Davis and Luke Winn picked Florida.
As in Florida, the No. 3-ranked team that's 19-2 overall and 8-0 in the SEC entering Tuesday's game against Missouri.
Their reasoning was solid, though. With players suspended to start the season, it wasn't a stretch to think the Gators would struggle. But other than a six-point loss at Wisconsin and a one-point setback at Connecticut, Florida has been awesome.
And now that Chris Walker is set to return Tuesday and Scottie Wilbekin is back and fully healthy, it's going to be pretty difficult for the Gators to flop.
North Carolina's Player Suspsensions Won't Matter
On the same day in October that North Carolina coach Roy Williams told media who cover the ACC that P.J. Hairston's suspension length would be determined by the NCAA, those same media members made their preseason predictions.
And picked the Tar Heels to finish third in the league, despite not having any idea when Carolina's best player would return. One of the 54 voters even selected UNC to win the ACC.
Hairston and Leslie McDonald were suspended for their involvement in the use of rental cars, an impermissible benefit. McDonald was reinstated by the NCAA after nine games, while Hairston never returned and has since joined the NBA's D-League.
Carolina is 14-7 overall and 4-4 in the ACC entering Tuesday's visit from Maryland. The Heels have some impressive wins, including over Kentucky, Louisville and Michigan State, but they also have losses to Belmont, UAB and Wake Forest.
The New Hand-Check Rule Will Kill Game Flow
When the NCAA made the announcement during the offseason it was putting the dreaded "point of emphasis" designation on hand-checking by defenders, the reactions (or, rather overreactions) were ominous.
Coaches ranted and raved about how much the newly enforced rule would muck up games, with Kansas' Bill Self promising "broken games" early in the season.
Many schools brought in officials for preseason practices and intrasquad games so players could get used to getting whistled for any and every piece of contact made against a ball-handler.
And while there were some foul-heavy games at the very outset of the season—a Nov. 9 game between Niagara and Seton Hall that didn't go to overtime featured 73 fouls and 102 free-throw attempts—teams, coaches and players have adapted to the situation.
According to statsheet.com, scoring is up 8.5 points per game (142.78, up from 134.28) from last season, an increase of 6.3 percent. And while free throws are up even more, nearly 15 percent, and fouls are up 9.6 percent, the games haven't been nearly as sluggish as predicted.
The ACC Would Become the New Big East
The addition of Notre Dame, Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the Atlantic Coast Conference not only spelled the end of the ultra-tough Big East Conference (at least as we remember it), it also was supposed to mean the ACC would become that much better.
But numbers don't lie. Or, in the case of college hoops, conference RPI doesn't lie.
According to CBS Sports' noted RPI expert, Jerry Palm, the ACC's standing has actually worsened among all Division I conferences in 2013-14.
Palm has the ACC's rating at 0.5711, fifth best among the 32 conferences. In 2012-13, it was fourth best, albeit with a lower (0.5613) rating.
And while Syracuse and Pitt have been great additions, most of the rest of the league hasn't followed suit.
Arkansas Would Win More Than One Road Game
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson has picked up the dubious moniker of "Homecourt Mike," a nickname pushed hard by Yahoo! Sports columnist Pat Forde, for Anderson's great ability to win at home but almost nonexistent success on the road.
The Razorbacks were 18-1 at Bud Walton Arena in 2012-13, but 2-12 everywhere else. They had only one road win, at Auburn, which went 9-23.
But the SEC media was convinced things would be better for Homecourt Mike and the Razorbacks this year, as they were picked to finish fifth in the conference. The fifth-place team last season went 11-7, meaning Arkansas would win at least three league road games.
Arkansas will finish the first half of the league schedule on Wednesday, at home against Alabama. It's currently 2-6 in the SEC, and 0-4 on the road.