2018 was certainly an entertaining year in college basketball. Let’s predict what 2019 has in store.

1. Kentucky, not Tennessee, wins the SEC

Yes, Tennessee is the better team right now, despite Kentucky’s impressive back-to-back wins over North Carolina and Louisville. But the Wildcats are coming. John Calipari seems to have figured out how to fit the puzzle pieces together, which was always the issue. Not talent.

2. Virginia wins the national championship

If it’s possible for an 11-0 team to fly under the radar, Virginia has done just that. The Hoos have the star power and structure to do so. What better way to avenge last year’s 16-1 upset than winning it all?

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3. The Pac-12 sends two teams to the NCAA tournament, and one will play in the First Four

The Pac-12 doesn’t have a school in the KenPom top 35 as of this writing. Oregon and Arizona State are your most likely candidates.

4. On the flip side, the ACC sends at least nine schools to the dance

Possibly 10. The ACC currently has nine schools in the KenPom top 50, four of which are in the top 10. The league is as loaded as ever.

5. A 15-seed will beat a 2-seed

We won’t see UMBC over Virginia again, but it’ll be close. There are some really talented players at schools that don’t get much regular season love.


6. Kevin Keatts wins Coach of the Year honors

North Carolina State is 12-1 in Keatts’ second year. The Wolfpack isn’t going to keep up that kind of win percentage in the ACC, but if it can finish above .500 in the league, they’ll earn a solid NCAA tournament seed. And the Wolfpack doesn’t have a star player who stands out.

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7. Nevada loses one regular season game

The Wolf Pack is undefeated going into conference play and have no obvious challenge in the Mountain West. But someone will trip them up along the way.

8. Villanova still wins the Big East despite early struggles

Talk to us when the Wildcats don’t run through the Big East. Marquette has looked really good in the nonconference, but Villanova’s league dominance since the new Big East formed is too much to ignore.

9. Syracuse barely squeaks into the NCAA tournament, but wins at least two games once there

Maybe this isn’t so bold, considering the past few seasons. The Orange don’t look like a team that can win two tournament games. But they have a knack for grinding out wins in March.

10. Ethan Happ will make at least one 3-pointer

Let’s get crazy! Happ has attempted three of them this season and has one make in his college career. Perhaps he’ll let one fly in a game the Badgers are up big.

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11. Zion Williamson wins the Naismith Award

But it’ll be very close. Happ and Dedric Lawson will get serious consideration. But Williamson will be the biggest name on one of the best teams, and he’ll have the numbers to back up the buzz.

12. Tre Jones will become so well-known for being underrated that he’ll eventually be properly rated

Jones is awesome. It’s already a popular talking point to suggest that he doesn’t get mentioned enough considering Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish. And that’s true right now.

But people will be talking about him plenty by the time February rolls around. There’s no real way to measure this, but keep it in mind when consuming college hoops coverage.

13. Markus Howard has at least two 40-point games in Big East play

He already has a 40-point half. Nobody can score in bunches quite like Howard.

14. Two ACC schools will earn NCAA tournament 1-seeds

Duke, Virginia, North Carolina and Virginia Tech are all candidates. Three is a stretch, but one feels too low.

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15. Ja Morant, known by college hoops diehards, will become a mainstream name in the NCAA tournament

The Murray State guard is averaging 23 points, 9.3 assists and seven rebounds. If the Racers make it to the dance, he could become an overnight superstar.

16. Kansas wins the Big 12 by multiple games

The Jayhawks haven’t looked great lately, and the Big 12 has a bunch of solid teams. But there’s no school that will seriously contend with Bill Self’s crew.

17. Northwestern will be a First Four team

The Wildcats’ losses are excusable: they’ve fallen to Indiana, Oklahoma, Michigan and Fresno State. They’ll pick up a few nice Big Ten wins and head to Dayton.

18. Kentucky will beat Kansas on their Jan. 26 showdown

Kansas has gotten the better of Kentucky each of the past three years, but look for the surging Wildcats to end that streak in a few weeks.