What will the 2012-13 college basketball season bring? Here are ten questions to be answered in college basketball this season.
The Hoosiers haven’t been a national favorite since Bob Knight was head coach. The IU fanbase has gone through many down years, bad hires, and NCAA sanctions, but head coach Tom Crean has the Hoosiers poised for a championship run this year. They have a national player of the year candidate in Cody Zeller, a good supporting cast around him and the No. 1 ranking in just about every preseason poll in the country.
2. Can Coach Calipari do it again?
Last season, Kentucky’s head coach, John Calipari, molded a group of mostly freshmen into NCAA Champions. Now, it certainly didn’t hurt that one of the freshmen was shot-blocking machine Anthony Davis, who made it near impossibly to drive into the lane on the Kentucky defense. But it was an outstanding coaching job nonetheless.
The big question for Calipari now, is if last season was just right place, right time, right bracket, or if he has set the new championship mold for college basketball.
Last season, while working as a college basketball analyst for ESPN, legendary coach Bob Knight refused to call Kentucky by its name, simply referring to them when he had to as the “team from the SEC.” This year, Knight has been scheduled to work SEC games on Thursday nights on ESPN, and though he will not do Kentucky home games, he will call a few games when they are on the road. It will be interesting to see if Knight finally caves, or decides to call them the “visitors” or the “road team,” or the “team in blue.”
4. Can NC State win the ACC?
Since the 2002-03 season, either Duke or North Carolina have won at least a share of the ACC regular season title. With North Carolina in rebuilding mode and Duke losing Austin Rivers to the NBA Draft, NC State may have the best chance any one has had in years of ending this streak.
Well, a lot of times last year when Sullinger was hurt, the Buckeyes looked better without him. There were also times when they struggled to put away downright mediocre teams like South Carolina. Without a back to the basket player, the Buckeyes will have to rely more on point guard Aaron Craft’s playmaking skills, Deshaun Thomas’ mid-range game and overall team play.
6. Is the A-10 becoming a basketball powerhouse?
The Atlantic 10 is a conference that gets largely ignored in the national conversation despite being a multi-bid conference for many years in a row now. Maybe the lack of attention is due to Xavier being the only team out of the conference to advance into the second weekend, but the A-10 can no longer be ignored. VCU and Butler joined the conference this year, and both bring to the table recent Final Four appearances to go along with Xavier’s almost perennial Sweet Sixteen appearances.
Temple has also been very good in the A-10 (though they leave for the Big East next season) under coach Fran Dunphy, making the tournament the past five seasons, and figure to be a contender for the conference crown. But another team from Philadelphia, Saint Joseph’s, has been picked to actually win the conference. On paper, there are five teams that are used to, or are projected to be, playing in the NCAA tournament. The A-10 is definitely poised to make a lot of noise in 2012-13.
7. Who will be the next breakout star?
Seemingly every year, a player people have never heard of will emerge as a National Player of the Year candidate and show the ability to carry his team deep into the NCAA tournament. In the past it has been guys like Adam Morrison with Gonzaga, or Stephen Curry with Davidson. Last season, Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan and Creighton’s Doug McDermott emerged from obscurity. Who will come out of nowhere this season?
8. Will basketball be revived in the Pac-12?
The Pac-12 was dangerously close to being a one-bid conference last year, as California received the only at-large bid—and it was in the opening play-in round! Powerhouses like UCLA and Arizona had disappointing years, and great programs out west came out of the West Coast or Mountain West conferences. UCLA and Arizona should be back considering their top-rated recruiting classes, but will any other teams in the conference step up?
Last year, Ohio made a Sweet Sixteen run and teams like Murray State and Creighton came close to getting past the first weekend. So what mid-major can bust everyone’s brackets this season? Interestingly enough, these three teams return a lot of the main cast from last season, but here’s a team that might be overlooked: the Drexel Dragons. Drexel went 27-6 last year before losing the CAA tournament final to VCU, who are no longer in the conference to dash their tourney hopes.
10. How will Syracuse and Pitt do in their last year in the Big East?
This will be the final year in the Big East for Syracuse and Pittsburgh as they both join ACC next season. Pitt is coming off of a disappointing year, wining just five conference games after winning the Big East the previous season. Coach Jamie Dixon has had a lot of success at Pitt, but school officials and boosters will certainly want to have positive momentum heading into the ACC and there will be a lot of pressure on Dixon to turn it around.
Syracuse is coming off of a year where they only lost one conference game, easily winning the Big East title. Syracuse has been in the Big East since its inception, and they would love to leave it as champions.
Aaron May is a staff writer and videographer for Sports Spectrum. This column was published in the All-Basketball, October 2012 DigiMag.