I recently received some good news: My throat has healed. I’m looking forward to calling games this season, and I can’t wait for the season to start.
I decided to look at my super six teams that didn’t dance last season. I feel like their fans have more reason to be enthusiastic. I believe these six can make it into the field of 68 after falling out last year. (Teams listed with last season’s record.)
Wes Miller’s team added excellent transfers. Landers Nolley II from Memphis, David DeJulius from Michigan, John Newman III from Clemson and Rob Phinisee from Indiana are all on the roster and should provide experience and leadership. The Bearcats will have some early tests, including Arizona and Xavier. This squad is making noise.
Florida State (17-14)
The Seminoles have their fewest wins in seven years. Florida State made the Sweet 16 in three straight NCAA tournaments before falling last year. (No tournament in the hardest hit by the COVID-19 year of 2020). The transition process helped as former Houston guards Caleb Mills and Darin Green Jr. of Central Florida went to Tallahassee, and Jaylan Gainey was from Brown and Cam’Ron Fletcher was from Kentucky. There’s a lot of excitement around diaper dandy Matthew Cleveland, a two-time high school All-American.
Texas A&M (27-13)
The Aggies deserved an NCAA bid last season. Instead, Buzz Williams led his team to the NIT finals. Williams brought in several transfers. Along with Julius Marble II from Michigan State and Dexter Dennis from Wichita State. Dennis was AAC Defensive Player of the Year last season. Williams has relied on transfers before, bringing in Henry Coleman III from Duke and Tyrece Radford from Virginia Tech. The SEC is loaded, but Texas A&M should be in the tournament picture.
Saint John (17-15)
The Red Storm last won an NCAA tournament game in 2015. Mike Anderson is optimistic as Posh Alexander leads the returning talent. Joel Soriano has improved and is in good shape, so he can put up a double-double every night. With Julian Champagne gone, DePaul transfer David Jones is expected to carry the scoring load. Illinois transfer Andre Curbelo hopes to return to the form he showed as a freshman. Kolby King and AJ Storr are freshmen who could contribute. The team gained experience on a summer trip to the Dominican Republic.
The Musketeers won the 2022 NIT and hope to build on that momentum. Sean Miller is back on the collegiate sideline, and that should provide excitement. Xavier has size up front with Zach Freemantle and former Iowa player Jack Nunge. There are veteran guards in Adam Kunkel and Colby Jones who provide experience. The addition of UTEP transfer Souley Boum will be a positive; He was second-team All-Conference USA last season.
The Ducks don’t play a true nonconference road game, which helps. Will Richardson, N’Faly Dante and Quincy Guerrier provide veteran leadership. Dana Altman brought in Keeshawn Barthelemy from Colorado and Jermaine Couisnard from South Carolina. I’m rooting for the Ducks to get back to the NCAA tournament.
The 18th annual Dick Vitale Gala, benefiting the V Foundation, will be held on May 5, 2023, at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota, Florida. For more information visit dickvitaleonline.com.