Typical NCAA Tournament teams like Kentucky, Purdue, and Texas should have bounce back seasons next year and vie for a spot in the Big Dance. Here are five teams that missed out on the NCAA Tournament but should make a splash next season.
After an extremely disappointing the 2012-13 season in which Kentucky missed out on the NCAA Tournament and lost in their opening round NIT game, the tide will certainly turn next season for John Calipari. With six McDonald’s All-Americans entering the fold and the return of Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress, and Kyle Wiltjer, the Wildcats will be absolutely loaded next season. UK will be the number one ranked team in the preseason polls and the favorite to cut down the nets in Arlington. If they get the #1 recruit in the 2013 class, Andrew Wiggins; it will be disgusting how much talent Big Blue Nation will have.
I would be surprised if the Red Storm doesn’t finish in the upper half of the new Big East and makes the NCAA Tournament. Outside of Amir Garrett who announced he would transfer, Steve Lavin gets everybody back next year including sharpshooter D’Angelo Harrison who was suspended late in the season. The Red Storm will also add some needed size inside with the return of God’s Gift Achuiwa who redshirted this past season and JUCO transfer Orlando Sanchez. Harvard transfer Max Hooper provides Lavin with another shooter off the bench as well.
The Boilermakers suffered their first losing season since 2005-2006. With only D.J. Byrd graduating from last year’s team, Matt Painter should have Purdue back in contention for a NCAA Tournament bid. The development of seven-foot A.J. Hammons will be crucial for the Boilermakers to make a leap in what will be another stacked Big Ten season. That could be the only thing holding Purdue back since Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin will all be pre-season Top 25 teams and Iowa should be much improved as well. If there would be a seventh Big Ten team dancing, I’d give Purdue the nod over the Gophers or Illini.
A year ago, Vanderbilt was on my list of programs that were going to take a step back since they were losing their top six players and that is exactly what happened as the Commodores finished with a losing record. With only two upperclassmen on the roster this past season, Kevin Stallings returns everybody and also welcomes in Tulsa transfer Eric McClellan who should make an immediate impact. Expect Vandy to return to the upper half of the SEC standings and back in the NCAA Tournament picture.
The very young Longhorns struggled mightily this past season. Rick Barnes has already lost Sheldon McClellan and Jaylen Bond to transfer and Myck Kabongo could be heading to the NBA. Still, Texas returns eight guys who played at least ten minutes a game this past season and will have the ever important year of maturity and experience under their belt. If Texas doesn’t pull it together next year and make the NCAA Tournament, Barnes might be looking for a new gig.
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)
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