College Hoops Mailbag: Mid-Major Draft Prospects, Best Teams In Each Conference, & More

We're getting closer and closer to the start of the conference season in college basketball, and while there haven't been many quality games this week, there have been a few upsets (Wofford!) and close calls - generating plenty of questions for teams around the country. We're going to be posting these every Friday throughout the course of the season to try and help answer those questions. Hit me up on Twitter or Facebook if you want to join the conversation! Now, let's get into it:

The SEC is certainly having their best year in some time and I think they'll end up sending seven or eight teams into the tournament. Kentucky, Texas A&M, Alabama, and Florida are all locks and top five seeds. I've been impressed with Missouri without Michael Porter Jr. despite my negative take on them in the preseason, and I think they'll get in along with Arkansas and Tennessee

So that's seven with the wild card in the conference being Auburn. They're 10-1 but haven't really played anyone yet, and while they look like a bubble team, we aren't exactly sure. If they can get to .500 in conference play, they'll be in.

Discussed the SEC above, so let's get into the other conferences.

ACC - Duke, Miami, North Carolina
The ACC isn't as good at the top as we all thought at the start of the season. We know Duke is legit, Miami is still undefeated (though it's against a lackluster schedule), and even though UNC lost to Wofford, they're better than other teams like Virginia, Louisville, and Notre Dame.

Big Ten - Michigan State, Purdue, Maryland
The first two are easy, but after them, the Big Ten is terrible. I'm going with Maryland as No. 3 because I think they have the most talent of the remaining teams - and Minnesota has proven to be so incredibly overrated.

Big 12 - Oklahoma, Kansas, West Virginia
I'm not predicting that Oklahoma is going to end KU's 13-year streak at the top of the Big 12, but the way Trae Young is playing, they're the best in a conference full of really good teams.

AAC - Wichita State, Cincinnati, SMU
These are the three it has been since the preseason and will continue to be all year. Wichita State will get even better when Markis McDuffie, last year's leading scorer, returns in a week or two.

Pac-12 - Arizona State, Arizona, Oregon
The Pac-12 is a little topsy-turvy. Arizona State has clearly been the best so far this season, though I don't think they'll win the conference because of their defensive issues. Arizona is turning it around, yet something is keeping me from fulling buying in. And Oregon is the best of the mediocre teams in the next tier.

What’s the ceiling and the floor for Chris Mullin and the Johnnies? Secondly, is he on the hot seat if they don’t make the tourney or come close? - @Ppuro31

First off, Mullin is not on the hot seat no matter what. He took over an absolute dumpster fire and has improved the program from eight wins his first year to 14 last year and a 10-2 mark currently. It will take at least two or three more losing seasons before they start talking about firing him.

As for this year's team, I like them a lot. Their sophomore backcourt of Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett are one of the best in the country and could play for anyone. If St. John's gets hot from the perimeter, I could see them making a Sweet 16 run. However, they could just as easily finish with a first-round exit in the NIT. 

I expect them to finish fifth in the Big East behind Villanova, Xavier, Seton Hall, and Creighton, and if that happens, they'll make the NCAA Tournament no problem. A tourney bid will become a question if they finish sixth or seventh.

NEXT READ: Rauf Report: Teams You Can Trust, Best Conference In The Country & More Takeaways From The Week Of College Basketball

The only mid-major guy I see being a first-round lock right now is UNLV center Brandon McCoy, who could work his way into the back end of the lottery. He's a smooth, athletic seven-footer with an NBA body (255 pounds) how is an excellent rebounder, though he needs some polishing. 

Missouri State's Alize Johnson and UT-Arlington's Kevin Hervey are also guys who could sneak into the back end of the first round, but I'd bet on them being early second-round picks at the moment. Hervey's teammate, Erick Neal, may also play his way into the second round.

Outside of them, St. Bonaventure's Jaylen Adams, Boise State's Chandler Hutchinson, and Gonzaga's Johnathan Williams are also guys that you can count on to be picked in the second round.

Hall is the 6-foot-9, 232-pound junior big man for Alabama who is having a pretty productive season for the Tide, averaging 11.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. He's athletic, strong, and has a long 7-foot-2 wingspan, but that's really the end of his strengths. He has all the physical tools but is still incredibly raw. Hall will be better off waiting until next year to declare because if he leaves this year, it doesn't look like he'll be anything more than one of the last picks in the second round - if he gets drafted at all.

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If it doesn't happen next season (2018-19), it will happen the year after (2019-20). Men's college basketball is the only level of the sport that plays with halves instead of quarters. The NCAA instituted quarters in women's basketball a couple of years ago as an experiment with the plan for the men's game to follow suit if there were no major problems with it (which there haven't been - shocking, I know). So it'll happen sooner rather than later.

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