Way Too Early Final Four
I'm not sure if all the redshirts for the season have been handed out, and considering I had 15 teams that made the cut as serious contenders for this list (the largest number I've ever been forced to look at), that might be a big deal that may have impacted the final selections. But since the odds are I'll be too hyped up on NFL playoffs and the accompanying beverages, chances are i won't be in any condition to conduct the analysis later today. Therefore, in alphabetical order, the Way Too Early Final Four for Season 71...
Emory (phalla, No. 4 preseason, 26-8 last season, Final Four) -- Perhaps the hottest team in Rupp right now, phalla's crew has played in five of the last six Final Four's (the exception was "only" an Elite Eight) and three of the last five national title games, winning twice. Senior Chester Zaitlin is the likely star on this lineup, which features nine seniors and juniors.
Hardin-Simmons (sublightd, No. 11, 29-2, NT Round 2) -- Strong athleticism and defense for sublightd, who is certainly no stranger to the Final Four. Junior Otis Neal could be poised for a breakout season in Abilene, but the most remarkable thing about the HS lineup from my vantage point is that there doesn't appear to be any real letup among the first 11. Getting to the bench does not look like it makes much difference going at HS this year.
North Carolina Wesleyan (nastynick60, No. 2, 17-13, PIT Round 2) -- NCW hasn't won 20 games since Season 65, but that ought to change this season. Nine seniors and juniors on the roster, but everyone will be trying to come up with an answer to Melvin Riddles, who averaged 18+ points per game and earned All-American status as a sophomore.
Piedmont (bunkerbuster, No. 21, 20-13, PIT Champion) -- After 95 wins in three seasons, Piedmont dropped down to 20 wins last year, but captured a PIT title while playing basically as a junior college (all sophomores and freshmen on the roster). There still won't be any seniors on the roster, so get used to seeing this crew around. Ronald Griffin averaged better than 10 points per contest last year as Piedmont made a strong postseason run through the PIT.
Also considered -- Cal Tech, Colorado, Johnson & Wales, Lynchburg, Susquehanna, Texas Lutheran, Trinity, Ursinus, US Merchant Marines, Vassar, Wooster.