Our long national nightmare is over. The season finally kicks off tomorrow. The Hoyas are back in our lives for the next 5 or (PLEASE) 6 months and we can all go back to our daily battle between total delusion and crippling cynicism. Ever since going to the Wizards home opener last week, I've been dying for the Hoyas to start and now that the season is set to begin, I have to dish out some predictions for the season.
- I think the Hoyas are going to struggle in non-conference play, at least, more than they have in the past. They're going to miss Otto a lot early on because of how much he could do on the court and the high level at which he did all of those things. They might just beat Oregon Friday night (in fact, I kinda think that they will), but I don't think they get by VCU in Puerto Rico (if they even get by Northeastern) and I think Kansas is going to work them over pretty well in Lawrence. Three losses in non-conference play is hardly catastrophic, but I definitely don't think we're looking at another one-loss non-conference slate.
- After the DePaul game, I think the Hoyas will start slowly in Big East play as well. January has a stocked conference slate, including games against St. John's, Providence, and Seton Hall which feel like tougher outs than in recent years.
- I think they'll close the conference slate very strongly. This feels like a team that can get hot and once they get their rhythm, they're going to be a handful. I think they'll struggle offensively out of the gate and it might even carry over to the conference slate, but once they figure it out, they're going to turn it on in the second half of the conference schedule and close out the year very well.
- I think the Hoyas continue that strong play into the Big East Tournament and win the first one of this new iteration.
- I think the Hoyas finally get over the hump and make the Sweet 16. Somewhere around a 5 seed feels right when all is said and done and I think this will be a veteran team that will figure out how to win games as the season goes on. This will serve them well in the tournament and it carries them into the second weekend.
I'm really excited for this season. I've tempered my expectations a bit for the beginning of the year, but this squad feels like one that could really come into it's own late in the season and be a problem for their opponents in March. I can't wait to see if D'Vauntes breaks out, how Josh Smith rebounds from his UCLA days, what Reggie Cameron brings to the table, how Markel has grown from last season, and just watch Jabril play D again.
What do y'all think? What does this season hold for the Hoyas?