10 Teams With An Outside Chance At Making the 2014 NCAA Tournament
Teams With An Outside Chance At Making the Dance
Looking at the best teams in college basketball may be the cool thing to do nowadays, but what about the teams that are less fortunate. What about the teams that have far less talent and are not expected to make the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
Well, those teams are in luck because this article will be looking at 10 teams with an outside chance at making the Big Dance in the 2013-14 season.
There are more than 10 teams with an outside chance of achieving that feat, but these 10 teams are not necessarily expected to make it. I am sure at least one of the teams listed will punch a ticket to the dance.
Many of the teams listed will come from power conferences. The Big Ten features a couple of teams, along with the SEC and Pac-12. All three of those conferences will have plenty of talent. Yes, even the SEC.
The SEC did not get as many teams into the tourney as the Big East last season, but so what. Florida and Kentucky do play in the SEC and both teams are ranked in the top 10 to start the season.
Plus, teams like Tennessee, LSU and Alabama could easily make the NCAA tournament and all three of those teams will have the talent to make a run.
Arizona may be the favorite to win the Pac-12, but this conference is going to be a lot more competitive than some people may think.
Whether the case, these 10 teams have an outside chance at making the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
The Purdue Boilermakers may be my favorite team on this list.
Losing D.J. Byrd hurts, but three players who scored more than him will be returning. That includes Terone Johnson, A.J. Hammons and Ronnie Johnson. All three of them averaged double-digits in points.
With more playing time, Hammons could really get some national attention. He averaged 10.6 points per game, six rebounds per game and two blocks per game as a freshman last season. He only played 23.1 minutes per game on average.
The Boilermakes definitely had a down year last season, but they could be a sleeper in the Big Ten and could sneak into the NCAA tournament.
The Providence Friars return a bunch of talent, but none better than Bryce Cotton. Cotton averaged 19.7 points per game and he will be one of the highest scorers in the nation in the 2013-14 season.
Two other players who averaged 13 or more will be back as well. Providence may be underrated going into the season, but this team could make some noise.
The Big East will look different, but there will still be some very good teams in it. Providence has the talent to be the biggest surprise. The Friars finished with a 19-15 record last year, but should be better.
Ole Miss Rebels
The Ole Miss Rebels snuck into the tournament last year by upsetting the Florida Gators in the SEC tournament championship game.
They will be losing some of their best players, but Marshall Henderson is not one of them. Henderson is one of the best players in the country--in my book--and his 20.1 points per game back that up.
However, Henderson has to get better and his teammates will have to step up. It could be a down year for the Rebels, but Henderson has the ability to keep them in every single game.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Head coach Tubby Smith is gone and the same thing can be said about this team’s frontcourt. The backcourt will be solid, so at least there is that.
Andre and Austin Hollins return and FIU transfer Malik Smith will be joining. All three averaged 10+ points per game last season.
The Golden Gophers could finish near the bottom of the conference standings in the 2013-14 season, but the team does still have a bunch of talent--mostly in the backcourt.
California Golden Bears
California loses its best player in Allen Crabbe. Crabbe averaged 18.4 points per game last season, but he will have a very talented replacement. That is where Jabari Bird comes in.
Bird is not the highest rated recruit in the nation, but he has the talent and opportunity to have an immediate impact. He will play next to Justin Cobbs in the backcourt, who averaged 15.1 points per game last season.
Both will help make up a very underrated backcourt. Bird could be a star in his freshman season and he kind of needs to be.
The Pac-12 is going to be a very competitive conference and I am sure Cal will win some big games. Who knows if the Golden Bears will have enough to make the Big Dance.
Long Beach State 49ers
I love the Long Beach State 49ers. There, I said it.
No, this is not my favorite team, but I admire the fact that they always have a brutal non-conference schedule. This year they will play Arizona and Michigan. Both teams will enter the season by being ranked in the top 10.
The 49ers will also play Kansas State, Washington, Creighton, North Carolina State and Missouri. That’s brutal, especially for a mid-major, but Long Beach State seems to always have a tough schedule.
The 49ers should enter the season by being the favorites in the Big West. However, they could sneak in as an at-large bid if they can win some of their tougher non-conference schedule games. Don’t hold your breath on that one.
SMU Mustangs or Houston Cougars
Okay, so I cheated a bit here. I do not think both of these teams will make the dance, but it is definitely possible. Both get featured in the same slide because of the simple fact that they play in the same conference.
Both will be playing in the American in the 2013-14 season and both will likely not beat out Louisville for the conference title. I am sure the Mustangs and Cougars will also not be as good as Cincinnati, Memphis or Connecticut, but maybe one of them can sneak into the dance.
Houston loses its leading scorer in Joseph Young, but at least TaShawn Thomas and Danuel House will be back. Thomas averaged 16.9 points per game and 9.8 rebounds per game last season and House averaged 12.4 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game.
SMU has a very talented and underrated team and it also has Larry Brown as its head coach.
Maybe both teams will surprise us and make the tourney.
Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois loses its top two leading scorers. Even with those two on the team, the Fighting Illini finished 8-10 in Big Ten play. They still managed to dance, which is all that matters.
The Big Ten will once again be one of the toughest conferences in college hoops and finishing in the top five of the standings seems basically impossible for the Fighting Illini. I guess nothing is impossible, but there are easily five teams with more talent than Illinois this year.
Regardless, Drake transfer Rayvonte Rice will be counted on to have an instant impact. He put up 16.8 points per game and 5.8 rebounds per game in the 2011-12 season. He cannot do it on his own, though, which is where Tracy Abrams comes in.
Abrams is the returning leading scorer and must take his game to the next level.
The Washington Huskies have a very talented team, but C.J. Wilcox and Nigel Williams-Goss could be the two most important players.
Wilcox is the returning leading scorer and will be playing in his senior year. Williams-Goss is a freshman, but he is a five-star recruit and is ranked No. 19 in the 2013 class, according to ESPN. He should also start right away.
Perris Blackwell is another important player and it will be interesting to see how he does while playing in a major conference. Blackwell previously played for San Francisco and averaged 12.7 points per game and 6.1 rebounds per game in the 2011-12 season.
The Huskies are actually a pretty good team on paper, but they have a lot of ifs and they are not expected to finish in the top five of the Pac-12 standings.
Many players from last season’s team are gone, but Jabari Brown and Earnest Ross will be back.
Brown averaged 13.7 points per game and Ross averaged 10.3 points per game. Both will have to lead this team. Tulsa transfer Jordan Clarkson should also play a big role. He averaged 16.5 points per game in the 2011-12 season.
Who knows how many teams will make the tourney from the SEC, but I doubt it will be six. There are five teams in the SEC who could be better than the Tigers this year. However, Missouri is definitely capable of making the NCAA tournament and it is possible for the SEC to get six teams into the dance, but both will remain a mystery until they actually happen.