[ad_1]

Check out our first set of predictions in case you missed them.

Here are eight more:

*Wisconsin F Ethan Happ will be a First Team All-American

Losing Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes will hurt. A lot. But if there was any debate over who Wisconsin’s best player was last season, Happ should have squashed it by the end.

He might be the most unique player in the country. At first glance, Happ is an old-fashioned brute. He averaged 20 points and 13 rebounds per 40 minutes last year. He’s never attempted a 3. If you think you see him stray outside of the paint, chances are you’re watching a Frank Kaminsky replay.

But watch him more and you’ll notice other elements of his game. He’s an elite passer out of the post. Happ averaged 2.8 assists, a ton for a college center.  Koenig shot 39 percent from 3 on seven attempts a game last year. Happ made that possible, constantly demanding double teams and finding the open man. He’s an offense unto himself.

Then there’s the defense. Happ averaged 1.8 steals and 1.2 blocks. 6-10, 240-pounders shouldn’t be anywhere near two steals per night. A word to describe his game: sticky. He gets his hands on everything. Rebounds, opposing teams’ passes, you name it. Happ is like a possession receiver in football. If the ball is in his zip code, he’s getting his hands on it.

With Koenig and Hayes gone, Happ should increase his numbers to the point where he can be a First Team All-American. He’ll be a joy to watch.

*Butler’s Kamar Baldwin will make the All-Big East First Team

Baldwin was overlooked coming out of high school, but Butler found itself a gem. The Bulldogs have a guy who can do this on one end and create his own shot on the other.

There’s an argument that Baldwin was the best player on a 4-seed as a freshman. He averaged 10.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists on 50 percent shooting and 37 percent from 3.

He was efficient, but wasn’t a primary option in the offense. He finished fifth on Butler in usage rate (10 percentage points behind Kelan Martin, who used a whopping 30.4 percent of the Bulldogs’ possessions), so averaging double figures is impressive under those conditions. With Andrew Chrabascz, Avery Woodson, Kethan Savage and Tyler Lewis gone, his usage will rise. Expect him to top 15 points per game.

The best thing about Baldwin? His defense is light years ahead of his offense. Foes scored 98.3 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor. No other Bulldog was below 100. That’s a type of mark usually reserved for rim-protecting centers.

Effective perimeter defenders are valuable, but many think it’s hard to build a defense around them. Baldwin isn’t having any of that. In Butler’s two NCAA tournament wins, he hounded Winthrop’s Keon Johnson and Middle Tennessee’s Giddy Potts all night. Here’s how they fared compared to their averages:




Baldwin’s NCAA tournament defense
Player Season PPG Season FG% Points vs. Baldwin FG% vs. Baldwin
Johnson 22.3 43.2 17 36.8
Potts 15.3 48.2 0 0 (0-for-8)

Baldwin is legitimate. More people will notice this year.

*Luke Maye will be North Carolina’s second-leading scorer

Look at UNC’s roster, and this may not even be that bold of a prediction. But given what Maye was last season — a seventh man turned NCAA tournament folk hero — we’ll go with it. Someone besides Joel Berry has to score.

Of course, Maye will be remembered for his March heroics against Kentucky: