What a great exercise it was in getting our experts here at ESPN to put together a fantasy draft for the upcoming college basketball season! If only it were that easy. I guess the closest thing to that we’ve seen recently was Kentucky’s national championship team a year ago.
You can vote on who you think picked the best team here. Here's how I think they did:
Like any fantasy draft, the first pick is a huge plus, and Joe Lunardi certainly took advantage of his position by taking Cody Zeller. Zeller is arguably the best player in the country -- and is an oh-so-valuable center, which gives Lunardi a strong edge in his frontcourt. To give you an idea, the next center taken was an unproven freshman in Nerlens Noel.
Myron Medcalf’s team has incredible defensive cohesion and may be the most complete team when thinking about both ends of the court. Aaron Craft (Ohio State) and Kenny Boynton (Florida) are exceptional defensively and Jeff Withey is a premier shot-blocker. With Rick Pitino pulling the strings, this is not a team that would be easy to score on and, when you throw in Doug McDermott’s ability to carry a team scoring-wise, this team has the potential to be special.
I liked how Eamonn Brennan and Fran Fraschilla took some chances that could pay off in the long run. Isaiah Canaan (Murray State) and C.J. McCollum (Lehigh) showed how dynamic they can be last season. Can they do it again now that they have a target on their backs? Deshaun Thomas (Ohio State), James Michael McAdoo (North Carolina) and Phil Pressey (Missouri) tasted success last season, but now they are “the man” on their respective teams. How will that affect them? Lastly, Jarnell Stokes (Tennessee) is a beast, but Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA) is not eligible yet, and Noel may be limited offensively.
What stood out to me was the appropriateness of the coaches taken by each expert. Tom Izzo heads a perennial championship-contending team at Michigan State and has the most proven roster to work with. Pitino is masterful in getting the most out of his guys, especially on the defensive end, and has some real playmakers on both sides of the ball. Mike Krzyzewski is unbelievable at bringing together a mix of playing styles (see his two Olympic gold medals) and has highly talented but unproven players. And John Calipari is great at working with young talent and putting guys in positions to be effective, which is a must for Fran’s roster.
Overall, I would rank the teams as (1) Lunardi, (2) Medcalf, (3) Brennan and (4) Fraschilla. Lunardi’s team separates itself with its mix of skill and grit. Tony Mitchell may be the best player nobody has heard of, Trey Burke is a playmaker who can distribute the ball, and Zeller is probably the national player of the year. I love dimensions as a coach. Florida State’s Michael Snaer might be the toughest, most competitive player in the country, Duke’s Mason Plumlee -- the best of the Plumlees -- will be a great glue guy on this team. Oh, and Butler’s Rotnei Clarke can make shots the minute he crosses half court.
On Election Night, one thing is clear: Joe Lunardi has gone from bracketologist to fantasy guru!