5 College Basketball Teams That Will Surprise This Year
Five That Will Surprise in College Hoops in 2012-2013
Every year "cinderella" comes out of nowhere in college basketball and surprises us all. The Butlers, Murray States of the word can give any of the big boys a scare in a one off scenario like the NCAA tournament. To get there though they'll need to impress during the regular season. I've got five sleepers you'll want to watch this basketball season.
Whether these teams aren't getting respect thanks to a loss of talented seniors, a poor overall season last year or a bevy of transfers, my teams are mostly under the radar. However, they have one common denominator among them all. Great coaches. Perhaps in no other sport does coaching make as big an impact then in college basketball. Of course, recruiting is the first step but it isn't always about getting the five star guys. You have to go to the JUCO ranks or grab the late bloomers and then you need to develop them. When your team is on the floor you need to manage them accordingly and put them in the best situations to succeed given their skill set.
Another huge factor in choosing my list was the expected parody among conferences this season. Not one looks like it will have a foothold on being the best and that opens up a number of possibilities. One is the at-large pool will get a lot bigger. You more than likely won't see the Big East grab 9 to 11 bids like we've seen in year's past. Other conferences, even power conferences, will be able to get there 7th or 8th best team in March Madness.
#5- Oklahoma State Sooners (Big 12)
Travis Ford's tenure at Oklahoma State has not been very good. We were told his high tempo offense that he employed at UMass would translate over to the Cowboys and take the Big 12 by storm. This should be the year it finally becomes a reality. OSU is very young, they only lost guard Keiton Page to graduation and bring back a nice core of J-P Olukemi, Markel Brown and former McDonald's All American Le'Bryan Nash. Nash is a great scorer from the wing. He was injured last year but should be back to 100%. Now you add guard Marcus Smart. We know he can score but can he take over point guard duties?
#4- Stanford Cardinal (Pac 12)
Johnny Dawkins team finally got to the postseason last year although the NIT wasn't exactly their goal. While they lose two starters in the front court in Josh Owens and Andrew Zimmerman, they still have one of the best young back courts in the country with Chasson Randle and Aaron Bright. I expect wing Anthony Brown to take more of the scoring load over this year. He was very efficient even with limited opportunities last season. Also, it will be a huge help for the Cardinal that the Pac 12 should be much better this year. Last year, the overall lack of depth in the conference really sunk their chances.
#3- Marquette Golden Eagles (Big East)
Do Buzz Williams teams always overachieve? It sure seems so and I expect that to happen this year once again. He loses Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom to the NBA but will have plenty of scoring. Both Vander Blue and Todd Mayo can fill it up in bunches and he gains major depth up front with Chris Otule returning from injury. Before he went down last year, Otule looked like he was becoming on the best post players in the Big East. His loss forced Davonte Gardner into a starting role when he is clearly more of a reserve. Arizona State transfer Trent Lockett is eligible immediately and should add some scoring punch. I do know one thing for certain, Marquette will be fun to watch once again.
#2- Minnesota Golden Gophers (Big Ten)
Last year, Minnesota was one of the most disappointing teams in the country. Having future NBA first round pick Trevor Mbawke go down in an early season tournament didn't help. It looked like the Gophers played scared until a late run in the Big Ten season. This year teaming Mbawke with Rodney Williams immediately gives the Gophers one of the most athletic front courts in the country. They need to get someone to take the reigns at point guard and not give them back. Perhaps one of the Hollins guys, either Austin or Andre will do just that.
#1- Missouri Tigers (SEC)
I'm still stunned Norfolk State was able to take down mighty Missouri in March's NCAA tournament. Frank Haith was blessed with tremendous talent last year and he didn't screw it up for the most part. While he did lose three senior starters, the Tigers depth is still strong. They add UConn transfer Alex Oriakhi and Oregon transfer Jabari Brown to their starting lineup. Lawrence Bowers is back from his knee injury and Flip Pressey will take back the controls at point guard. Pressey was already considered one of the fastest rising point guards in the country and now he'll have more weapons to work with. I'll be interested to see if Haith slows down the pace a bit now that he has a more traditional lineup to utilize.
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