10 Non-NCAA Tournament teams ready to make a splash next season



College basketball fans whose team didn’t make the NCAA Tournament are probably already looking ahead to the 2012-2013 season.  Typical tourney teams like UCLA, Arizona, Butler, Villanova, and Maryland should have bounce back seasons next year and vie for a spot in the Big Dance.  Here are ten non-tourney programs to watch out for next season.

‘Zona missed a golden opportunity by losing in the Pac-12 Championship Game and as a result, having their bubble burst.  Sean Miller has done a phenomenal job on the recruiting trail and will bring in the best crop of freshmen in the entire country next season.  The ‘Cats will get a needed boost inside with addition of Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley, and Grant Jarrett as well as another scoring on the wing in Gabe York.  Though they lose three valuable seniors and Josiah Turner’s future in Tuscon appears to be in jeopardy, Miller still returns a nice core of Solomon Hill, Nick Johnson, Jordin Mayes, Angelo Chol, and Kevin Parrom who will return from injury.

After making back-to-back trips to the National Championship Game, Butler failed to make the NCAA Tournament as they struggled to replace the leadership of Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack.  Brad Stevens has the luxury of returning all of his rotation from this past season except for defensive stopper Ronald Nored.  They also add a top 100 recruit in shooting guard Kellen Dunham who will provide a sorely needed perimeter threat.  Of course if Stevens is somehow pried away from Butler this off-season, it might be a different story.

In his second season at Iowa, Fran McCaffery took the Hawkeyes from a 4-14 Big Ten record to 8-10 this past year.  They will lose two starters in Matt Gatens and Bryce Cartwright, but return a solid core and bring in talented freshman center Adam Woodbury and point guard Mike Gesell who should make immediate contributions.  Josh Oglesby and Aaron White were solid as freshmen and should only get better next season.  If Melsahn Basabe can bounce back from a somewhat disappointing sophomore season, Iowa should make another leap next season and find themselves in the NCAA Tournament picture.

As expected, the Terps took a step back under first-year head coach Mark Turgeon.  With only two seniors on the roster and Pe’Shon Howard returning from an injury that cost him more than half of the season, Maryland returns a lot of fire power next season including the ACC’s leading scorer Terrell Stoglin and 7-1 Alex Len who should only get better with time.  Add in a quality recruiting class that will provide some needed depth across the roster, and Turgeon should have Maryland dancing once again in 2013.

With no scholarship seniors on their roster, the Friars return everybody next season.  Ed Cooley also adds a pair of Top 25 guards as part of his 2012 class in Ricardo Ledo and Kris Dunn as well as Arizona transfer, power forward Sidiki Johnson who was a top 100 recruit last season.  Providence will have a ton depth including a future stud in sophomore-to-be LaDontae Henton and the Big East’s leading assist man, point guard Vincent Council.  It will be interesting to see how Cooley handles keeping everyone happy with playing time, but if he can do that and get this team to make a better commitment on the defensive end, the Friars could be next year’s South Florida in the Big East.

Despite having no seniors on their roster, St. Joe’s nearly made the NCAA Tournament.  That bodes extremely well for them heading into next season as they should compete for the Atlantic 10 title.  They will return a pair of potential pros in scoring point guard Carl Jones and versatile forward C.J. Aiken.  Add in three point assassin Langston Galloway and post players Halil Kanacevic and Ronald Roberts, Jr. and the Hawks will be a dangerous team next season.

Cuonzo Martin did a remarkable job in his first year with the Vols, leading them to a second place finish in the SEC.  Everybody will return except for Cammeron Tatum and Renaldo Woolridge which serves as an advantage for a deep team.  Tennessee will boast one of the most physical frontcourts in the nation with Jeronne Maymon and Jarnell Stokes.  Trae Golden has developed into a solid floor general and with the Vols’ toughness and ability to out-work their opponents, they should return to the tourney in 2013.

Ben Howland will remain head coach of the Bruins who should be heading upwards out west.  UCLA already adds one of the top recruits in the country, 6-9 Kyle Anderson who can play a point forward type role along with athletic wing Jordan Adams.  If Shabazz Muhammed, one of the top recruits in the 2012 class who remains undecided about his college decision chooses UCLA, you can without a doubt book the Bruins as not only a tourney team, but a likely contender for the Pac-12 title. UNC transfer Larry Drew will add some stability at the point.  With the Wear twins and Joshua Smith inside, the Bruins should vastly improve next season, especially if Smith makes a commitment to getting into better shape this summer.

Finishing dead last and winning just one game in the weak Pac-12, USC endured their worst season in nearly a century which could end up costing head coach Kevin O’Neill his job.  Injuries certainly factored into that as Jio Fontan and Curtis Washington missed the entire season while DeWayne Dedmon and Aaron Fuller were also sidelined for a significant time.  Assuming those players are back healthy, the Trojans should be vastly improved with addition of Wake Forest transfers Ari Stewart and JT Terrell, UC-Irving transfer Eric Wise, and the return of every rotation player from this past season.

A young ‘Nova team suffered through growing pains this past season as they posted their worst Big East record since the 1992-93 season.  The good news for Jay Wright is that everybody returns assuming point guard Maalik Wayns doesn’t make a stupid decision and declare for the NBA Draft.  The ‘Cats also bring in a pair of top 100 recruits that should help them return to the upper half of the Big East.






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 on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

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