5 non-NCAA Tournament teams likely to dance next year

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SMU had their bubble burst and just missed out on the 2014 NCAA Tournament.  That won’t be the case next season as the Mustangs return a ton of talent and should get to the Big Dance.  Here are five teams that didn’t earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament this season but should be dancing next year.

Here are five NCAA Tournament teams likely to regress next season.

SMU
Despite a 23-9 overall and 12-6 conference record, the Mustangs were ultimately the 69th team in the 68-team NCAA Tournament and missed out on the Big Dance. Larry Brown returns seven of his eight top scorers and also brings in one of the top recruits in the country in Emmanuel Mudiay. With Louisville heading to the ACC and UConn, Cincinnati, and Memphis all losing key seniors; my early favorite in the American next season is SMU. They won’t need to be sweating anything out on Selection Sunday in 2015 and will certainly play with a huge chip on their collective shoulder next season.

Illinois
2013-14 was a transition season for John Groce but the young Illini team played well down the stretch winning four of their final five regular season games including three victories against teams who made the tourney. Illinois only loses two players, who weren’t major contributors anyway, so plenty of talent returns. With the young guys having another year of experience under their belt and the additions of transfers Aaron Cosby (Seton Hall), Ahmad Starks (Oregon State), and Darius Paul (Western Michigan), and top 50 recruit LeRon Black, they have top 25 potential.

Georgia
Despite finishing 12-6 in the SEC, the Dawgs missed out on the tourney because of a poor RPI and strength of schedule.  With their top five scorers returning and all but one of their rotation players back in the mix, Mark Fox should lead Georgia to the NCAA Tournament next season.  You also have to consider how mediocre the SEC is after big dogs Kentucky and Florida.  Somebody needs to be the third best team in that conference and it is likely to be the Bulldogs.

UNLV
It has already been announced Bryce Dejean-Jones is transferring but it could actually be addition by subtraction. Dave Rice has a capable replacement arriving in top-20 recruit Rashad Vaughn who headlines a top ten recruiting class in the country. They also could have San Francisco transfer Cody Doolin in the mix to upgrade their point guard play. Khem Birch and Roscoe Smith might be the best rebounding frontcourt in college basketball next season and UNLV should once again be major players in the Mountain West Conference.

Utah
The Utes were a major surprise this past season as they finished with a five-hundred conference mark. They return all five starters including all-around stud combo guard Delon Wright who was vastly underrated on the national stage. Utah should top their 21 win total from this season and a return to the NCAA Tournament appears imminent.

Other Teams Considered: West Virginia, Maryland, Arkansas, Georgetown

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, 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 Milwaukee 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), and finished with the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft (nearly a three-peat.) You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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