Bill Frieder looks ahead to 2017

04/14/2016

Boxed Out 800Coaches and players are on the move!

Let’s face it basketball fans, transfers are as much a part of college basketball as are incoming freshmen. Several good ones are on the move, and several players still have NBA decisions to make. We will make some predictions below, but all of it could change in the next two weeks.

Phoenix Final Four

First off, I am happy to look forward to the first Final Four out west since 1995, and in my part-time home of Phoenix no less. The games will be played at the stadium of the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale (about 15 minutes north of Phoenix) and hosted by my former employer Arizona State. It will be neat to have a championship tip off at 6 p.m. local time and I think the state could have a local team competing there in 2017. Pretty neat timing with this being the 20th anniversary of the only national title from 20 years prior…

Wildcats on the prowl…

Arizona lost a lot, but is ready to reload and make a run at equaling the accomplishment of Lute Olson’s 1997 squad. A top-five recruiting class is on the way, and Sean Miller just needs a little luck to be a part of the Final Four. Two of his past three teams were good enough to win the national title, but they ran into Bo Ryan and an incredible bunch of kids from Wisconsin. I look for Arizona for make its first Final Four since 2001. The return of Allonzo Trier could result in Arizona playing NCAA games in Sacramento, San Jose and then just a short 120-mile bus ride north from Tucson for the Final Four.

…And they aren’t the only ones

So I am calling a Final Four full of Wildcats as Villanova (led by Jalen Brunson), Kentucky and Arizona challenge the Duke Blue Devils. Don’t sleep on Oregon, and if you want a couple of teams that will be loaded mid-majors look for Danny Hurley’s Rhode Island Rams and Randy Bennett’s St. Mary’s Gaels. Both have a lot of talent returning.

However I think Duke wins it all, with Grayson Allen leading the way. Coach K will have this group ready after a gold medal in Rio this summer. Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum are the newcomers to watch. When it is all said and done, Coach K celebrates the 25-year anniversary of his second NCAA title by winning another.

– Bill Frieder

Former Michigan and Arizona State head coach Bill Frieder is an analyst for Westwood One’s coverage of NCAA Basketball. In his weekly blog Boxed Out, Bill scours the box scores to bring you interesting stories from the world of college basketball.

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