As NCAA men’s basketball teams around the country report for practice, fan excitement is building for another entertaining season. The 2012-13 college basketball season brings with it a long list of plots and subplots. How these story lines play out will determine the complexion of the year.
The following are four important things college basketball fans should be on the lookout for:
Are the Indiana Hoosiers the team most people think they are?
On Oct. 17, 2012, a collection of NCAA coaches released its top 25 rankings. Indiana topped that list, and for good reason. Taking the helm of the Hoosiers after coaching at Marquette, Tom Crean has seemingly turned the once-sluggish program back around. Indiana was a force in the Big Ten last year while lasting a couple rounds in the NCAA tournament, then eventually losing to the ultimate champion Kentucky.
The outlook this year is even brighter for the Hoosiers, who are fueled by one of the country’s top players in 7-foot senior forward Cody Zellar. With solid returners like Zellar, and bright freshman like Yogi Ferrell, the expectations are sky-high for Indiana for the first time in a long while.
Can John Calipari re-load his national champion Kentucky Wildcats?
With a band of young players, one of them being All-American center Anthony Davis, Calipari led his team to a dominating year and a national championship last season. Calipari’s knack for utilizing promising young talent will have to come in handy once again this season as the Wildcats saw early departures from top talent in Davis, Terrence Jones, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Doron Lamb, Marquis Teague.
The new crop of Wildcats will have to step up. This corps includes Nerlens Noel, Archie Goodwin, Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Pythress, all of who are projected to make an impact. While Kentucky’s more experienced players will lend a hand, the Wildcats’ fate rests on the shoulders of these young pups.
The new kids on the block (and how UCLA is left waiting)
Teams that can get instant contributions from their freshmen no doubt have a leg up on the competition. A lot is riding on how some of this year’s most highly touted freshmen fare this season. Media reports peg the following as some of the most promising freshmen:
- Nerlens Noel (Kentucky)
- Archie Goodwin (Kentucky)
- Anthony Bennett (UNLV)
- Ben McLemore (Kansas)
- Yogi Ferrell (Indiana)
- Gary Harris (Michigan State)
- Steven Adams (Pittsburgh)
- Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA)
- Kyle Anderson (UCLA)
A major wrinkle in this storyline comes with the fact that Muhammad and Anderson have not yet been cleared by the NCAA to play for UCLA. The organization is probing whether the duo violated terms of amateurism before joining UCLA. The outcome could alter UCLA’s season drastically.
Changes on its way for Big East, already here for many others
One of the country’s premier conferences will be subject to a shake-up, which takes affect next season. Syracuse and Pittsburgh are moving out of the Big East conference and joining up with an already-stacked ACC. Memphis and Temple will take the place of those teams in the Big East. This gives Syracuse and Pitt one last effort to do what they have done so many other times, vie for a Big East title.
With that big change on the horizon, this year will see 20 teams in different conferences. That is the most conference maneuvering college basketball has ever seen and it should greatly affect the landscape of NCAA basketball as a whole.