Articles By David Fox

All taxonomy terms: College Football, College Football
Path: /college-football/notable-names-who-will-be-snubbed-college-football-hall-fame
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Tommie Frazier’s long wait for the College Football Hall of Fame ended Tuesday when the former Nebraska quarterback was inducted after his third year on the ballot.

That Frazier, who quarterbacked two national championship teams and finished second for the Heisman in 1995, waited three seasons was a mystery. But Frazier is in this year, along with Florida’s Danny Wuerffel, Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne, Ohio State’s Orlando Pace, Miami’s Vinny Testaverde and nine other players and coaches.

Other accomplished players and coaches will have a much more difficult time reaching Hall of Fame status, if at all.

The College Football Hall of Fame has criteria that will make it tough for a few notable names.

In all caps, the Hall says, “FIRST AND FOREMOST, A PLAYER MUST HAVE RECEIVED FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICA RECOGNITION BY A SELECTOR RECOGNIZED BY THE NCAA AND UTILIZED TO COMPRISE THEIR CONSENSUS ALL-AMERICA TEAMS.”

In most modern cases, this is first-team recognition by the Associated Press, the Football Writers Association of America, the American Football Coaches Association, the Walter Camp Football Foundation and the Sporting News. And this makes sense. To be in the Hall of Fame, at least one service should deem a player to be the best at his position in one season, right?

Maybe not, All-America teams feature only one quarterback. Play in a season with one or two quarterbacks who stand above all others and it’s awfully tough to get that one first-team All-America nod. Players from non-traditional powers will also have a tough time meeting that criteria.

(Arizona State's Pat Tillman, who was not a first-team All-American by the major services, has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. A worthy exception to the rules.)

Coaches have their own requirements — 10 years and 100 games as a head coach with a .600 win percentage. Sure, a Hall of Fame coach should probably win better than 60 percent of his games, but not if he cut his teeth — and eventually won — at tough jobs.

These rules are — putting it kindly — problematic.

Names who will be snubbed in the College Football Hall of Fame

Jason Babin
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not a first-team All-American
Why he should be in: The defensive end is the FBS career leader in tackles for a loss, and he’s second to Terrell Suggs in sacks. But he played at Western Michigan and topped out at second-team All-America honors from The Sporting News in 2003. Not that all mid-major stat sheet-stuffers are worthy of Hall of Fame inclusion, but Babin was a first-round pick who went on to be a two-time Pro Bowler.

Second-tier Big 12 quarterbacks
Why they don’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not first-team All-Americans
Why they should be in: Let’s name the names: Landry Jones, Chase Daniel and Collin Klein. Jones is the career-leading passer for the Big 12 and Oklahoma. Daniel was Heisman finalist who led his team to two Big 12 title games and the brink or the ’07 national championship game. Klein finished with 86 total touchdowns (56 rushing, 30 passing) and went 21-5 his last two seasons. The problem? Contemporaries like Robert Griffin, Andrew Luck, Johnny Manziel for Jones and Klein and Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford for Daniel relegated these quarterbacks to second-team status or lower.

Rich Brooks
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Win percentage
Why he should be in: Go ahead and be underwhelmed by Brooks’ career losing record (45.5 percent) in 290 games as a college coach, but go ask about him in Eugene and Lexington. Without Brooks, there’d be no Mike Bellotti or Chip Kelly at Oregon. In 1994, Brooks led Oregon to its first Rose Bowl since the 1919 season. And at Kentucky, he and Bear Bryant are the only coaches with four consecutive winning seasons.

Reggie Bush
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: “Citizenship”
Why he should be in: The Hall of Fame doesn’t forbid players who received NCAA sanctions to be enshrined, but it does say a player’s “post-football record as a citizen is also weighed.” On the field, Bush would be an easy pick for the Hall of Fame, but it may be tough for a player who had to return his Heisman to crack the College Football Hall of Fame.

Pete Carroll
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Too few seasons
Why he should be in: The criteria states a head coach must work for a minimum of 10 years. Carroll coached nine with seven consecutive top-five finishes, two national titles and five Rose Bowls.

Colin Kaepernick
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not a first-team All-American
Why he should be in: Chris Ault -- who was already in the College Football Hall of Fame as an active coach -- invented the Pistol offense years earlier, but Kaepernick brought it to the masses as a collegian and a pro. He led Nevada to its best season as an FBS program while becoming the only quarterback to pass for 10,000 yards and rush for 4,000 yards in his career.

Case Keenum
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not a first-team All-American
Why he should be in: Passing for 19,217 career yards at the Conference USA level wasn’t enough to make Keenum a first-team All-American among a loaded group of quarterbacks from 2007-11.

Jim Harbaugh and Chip Kelly
Why they don’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Too few games
Why they should be in: The two coaches defined the Pac-12 for the post-Pete Carroll era in divergent ways. Harbaugh’s physical, balanced teams produced two Heisman finalists (Andrew Luck and Toby Gerhart) and the best Stanford season since 1940. Kelly’s Oregon teams were the best at running the no-huddle spread on the way to three conference titles. The NFL came calling for both, meaning Kelly (53 career games) and Harbaugh (50 FBS games, plus 35 at FCS San Diego) don't meet the 10-year or 100-game requirement. Harbaugh, however, is eligible as a player.

Pat Hill and David Carr
Why they don’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Win percentage/not a first-team All-American
Why they should be in: Hill won 58.3 percent of his games at Fresno State, but it’s tough to imagine that program without him. The same could be said for Carr, a Heisman finalist who passed for 4,299 yards in 2001 when it wasn’t commonplace to have numbers like that.

June Jones and Colt Brennan
Why they don’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Win percentage/not a first-team All-American
Why they should be in: June Jones has been as successful as anyone running the Run and Shoot. Along the way, he’s revived two programs in trouble. Jones still holds the record for best single-season turning around, improving Hawaii from 0-12 to 9-4 in his first season there, eight years before taking Hawaii to the Sugar Bowl. Later, he became the first coach to take SMU to a bowl game since NCAA's death penalty. Hawaii's Brennan holds FBS records for touchdown passes in a season (58 in 2006), and career passing yards per game (387.9)

AJ McCarron
Why he might not meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not a first-team All-American
Why he should be in: It’s worth including this active player because it’s conceivable McCarron could be the starting quarterback for three national-title winning teams and never be a first-team All-America quarterback thanks to dynamic contemporaries like Griffin, Manziel and more.
Ed. note: McCarron was named Walter Camp first-team All-American following the 2013 season, making him eligible for the Hall of Fame.

Joe Montana and Tony Rice
Why they don’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not first-team All-Americans
Why he should be in: Yes, Notre Dame players can be snubbed for awards. Rice was a Heisman finalist and a national-championship quarterback who happened to play at the same time as Andre Ware, Troy Aikman and Major Harris. Montana’s pro career, of course, overshadowed the time he finished eighth in the nation in passing in 1978.

Ray Rice
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not a first-team All-American
Why he should be in: Rice’s best season coincided with consensus All-America mentions for Arkansas’s Darren McFadden and UCF’s Kevin Smith. Rice has two of the top four single-season rushing totals in Big East history and his the second-leading rusher in the history of the league with 4,926 yards. He was the top player on the best Rutgers team in program history.

Howard Schnellenberger
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Win percentage
Why he should be in: In his 277-game career, Schnellenberger gets penalized for taking over hopeless college jobs at Miami and Louisville, plus building Florida Atlantic from the ground up. That makes him the architect of three programs. He led Miami to its first national title in 1983 and Louisville to the Fiesta Bowl in 1990. All that time at tough jobs causes him to fall short of the win percentage requirement (51.4 percent). Even if Schnellenberger retired in 1994 before a 5-5-1 season at Oklahoma and a 41-56 run at fledgling FAU, he still would fall short of the 60-percent mark (56.2 percent at Miami and Louisville).

Joe Tiller
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Win percentage
Why he should be in: Tiller brought the spread to the Big Ten and made Purdue relevant along the way. The Boilermakers endured 12 consecutive losing seasons before he was hired and reached the Rose Bowl (albeit with an 8-4 record) by his fourth season). He went to bowl games in 10 of 12 seasons at Purdue, but finished his career with a 57.8 win percentage in Lafayette and at Wyoming. It’s worth noting Tiller’s best quarterback, Drew Brees, also doesn’t meet Hall of Fame criteria by never being a first-team All-America selection.

Michael Turner and Garrett Wolfe
Why they doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not first-team All-Americans
Why he should be in: Wolfe (5,164) and Turner (4,941) are the MAC’s No. 1 and 2 career rushers, but playing for Northern Illinois made it tough to crack All-America teams. Turner was a Sporting News second-team selection in 2003, and Wolfe was an AP third-teamer in 2006.

Pat White
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not a first-team All-American
Why he should be in: Noticing a trend with quarterbacks circa 2006-08? There were a lot of good ones, and White ends up getting squeezed out. He was the most successful West Virginia quarterback since Major Harris, he became the first quarterback to start and win four bowl games, and he holds the record for career rushing yards for a quarterback (4,480).

Teaser:
<p> Notable names who will be snubbed in the College Football Hall of Fame</p>
Post date: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/25-things-know-spring-football
Body:

Depending on your point of view, spring practice is either a respite from the football-free months of winter and a taste of things to come in August. On the other hand, it’s only appealing to the hardcore football fan.

Sure, there’s the same questions every year -- is my team’s defense really good or is the offense really bad, or vice versa. But there’s also plenty of news and notes.

Spring practice has ended for every team across the country. Athlon Sports takes a quick snapshot at the nation, cutting through some of the minutiae for the top 25 things you need to know from spring football.

25 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW FROM SPRING FOOTBALL

Braxton Miller airs it out
Urban Meyer seems intent to prove Braxton Miller can command a two-dimensional offense. The junior quarterback completed 16 of 25 passes for 217 yards with two touchdowns in the spring game for a passing performance that would have been one of his best during the 2012 season. Miller threw more than 25 passes in a game once last season and topped 200 yards four times.

Oregon’s offense is just fine
No Chip Kelly, no Kenjon Barner, but the Oregon offense rolls on. Take it for what it’s worth, but the two offenses in the spring game combined for 802 yards and nine touchdowns with Marcus Mariota going 13 of 15 for 169 yards and two touchdowns in four series against the second-team defense. Beyond Mariota and De’Anthony Thomas, wide receiver Bralon Addison (243 yards, 11 yards per catch in 2012) and running back Byron Marshall (447 yards, 5.1 yards per carry last season looked like potential breakout players for Mark Helfrich’s first season.

ACL injuries claim Michigan’s top linebacker, backup quarterback
Michigan has aspirations to win the Big Ten Legends Division, but the Wolverines may have to do it without their leading tackler and backup quarterback. Jake Ryan (88 tackles, 16 tackles for a loss) and Russell Bellomy both went down with torn ACL since March, putting both of their seasons in doubt. The most decorated defensive player for Michigan last season, Ryan is the bigger loss, though the Wolverines are hopeful he could return by mid-October. Without Bellomy, who threw four interceptions in 21 attempts last season, Michigan may look to incoming freshman Shane Morris to handle backup QB duty.

Jameis Winston’s emergence at Florida State is West Virginia’s gain
The redshirt freshman is looking the part as the starter at the quarterback position, where Florida State has produced more first-round draft picks (EJ Manuel and Christian Ponder) in recent years than All-ACC first-teamers. Winston was 12 of 15 for 205 yards with two touchdowns in the spring game while Jacob Coker went 11 of 19 for 153 yards and a score. Winston’s rise was enough to convince veteran Clint Trickett to transfer to West Virginia, where he’ll compete with Ford Childress and Paul Millard to replace Geno Smith. Trickett was 66 of 106 for 947 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions the last two seasons.

Banged up at South Carolina
South Carolina tried to calm the masses after defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, the top defensive player in college football, missed the end of spring with neck and back pain and a possible concussion. He’s expected back for the fall, and the injuries aren’t out of the ordinary. But Clowney is the presumptive No. 1 overall draft pick in 2014 and a Heisman contender. Meanwhile, starting quarterback Connor Shaw missed the spring to nurse a foot injury sustained in the Outback Bowl. As he did last year, backup Dylan Thompson looked capable of taking over if needed.

Arrest clouds Jeremy Hill’s season at LSU
Running back is traditionally a spot where LSU has plenty of depth. That may be put to the test with leading rusher Jeremy Hill (755 yards, 12 touchdowns) indefinitely suspended. Hill was arrested on charges of simple battery early in the morning April 27 after an altercation in a Baton Rouge bar. The Tigers still return Kenny Hilliard (463 yards, six touchdowns) and Alfred Blue (6.8 yards per carry), but Hill will be missed if his suspension leads into the opener against TCU or longer.

Florida putting together a puzzle
For a team that returns only four defensive starters, the Gators don’t have much to worry about on defense. Will Muschamp spent most of the spring figuring out where to play his top players on defense. Spring drills ended with Dominique Easley at tackle (he started at end last season), Dante Fowler at the “buck” end/linebacker position, Ronald Powell at strongside linebacker (his natural position is “buck”) and Jaylen Watkins at safety (he started last year at corner). Meanwhile, cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy spent time on offense to boost a lackluster wide receiver position.

Penn State will start from scratch at quarterback
Steven Bench, who threw a total of eight passes last season, elected to transfer after the spring, meaning Penn State will have no experienced quarterbacks vying for the job in spring. Junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson appeared to take the lead in the race during the spring, but he’ll be joined in the fall by freshman Christian Hackenberg, the No. 13 prospect in the Athlon Consensus 100.

Dominique Brown at tailback for Louisville
The former quarterback is preparing for his first full season at running back after missing all of last year with an injury. Brown rushed for 79 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries in the spring game, adding six catches for 30 yards. His emergence will be key for a run game that field to produce 100 yards in a game after the season-ending injury to Senorise Perry.

Oklahoma State’s competition goes on
A year ago, Mike Gundy named then-freshman Wes Lunt his starting quarterback during the spring. This decision won’t be quite so easy. Gundy first said Clint Chelf was his frontrunner but then backtracked to say J.W. Walsh and Lunt were neck-and-neck-and-neck. Doesn’t seem like he could go wrong with any, but it will be interesting to see if there are any bruised egos come Aug. 31.

Oregon State still choosing
Like Oklahoma State, Oregon State has multiple qualified quarterbacks who won games last season. Neither Sean Mannion nor Cody Vaz won the job in the spring, meaning Mike Riley will wait until fall to choose between his veteran QBs.

Not so fast on Oklahoma’s Blake Bell and USC’s Max Wittek
Two quarterbacks who saw spot duty at national powers aren't assured of starting in 2013. Athlon Sports still thinks Bell is a player on the rise for 2013, but Bob Stoops isn’t saying as much. He’s the most experience quarterback on the roster, but almost all of that is running in short-yardage situations. Sophomore Kendal Thompson and redshirt freshman Trevor Knight gave him competition in the spring for Oklahoma’s first quarterback battle since 2007. At USC, Wittek went down for a week with a knee injury opening the door for Cody Kessler and freshman Max Browne, one of the top quarterbacks in the class of 2013.

Pachall returns to TCU
Gary Patterson has been guarded in his comments about Casey Pachall’s return to TCU after leaving the team after four games to deal with substance abuse. Pachall is the odds-on favorite, but Trevone Boykin, who went 3-6 as a starter against nine bowl teams, can’t be ignored. How Pachall fits into the offense in his return will be a storyline worth watching as TCU hopes to contend for a Big 12 title.

Texas linebackers get a makeover
The Longhorns’ run defense was a mess last season, allowing 200 yards or more five times and giving up 4.6 yards per carry. Spring indicated there may be some help with a new-look linebacker corps. Jordan Hicks, who was injured for most of the season, will return healthy along two promising sophomores, Dalton Santos and Peter Jinkens.

Virginia Tech still limping on offense
The Hokies were in the bottom four of the ACC in passing, scoring offense and total offense, but Virginia Tech didn’t have its usual performance in the run game, either. Virginia Tech’s 3.7 yards per carry was its worst since 2007, and the returning cast might not have a lot of hope to improve. Michael Holmes is facing a felony charge after a fight in Blacksburg two weeks ago, and Tony Gregory missed the spring with a rib injury. The pair were among the Hokies’ top four rushers, but failed to top 300 yards.

Arizona loses top receiver
The Wildcats are starting over in the passing game, first with Matt Scott exhausting his eligibility and now with a torn ACL for wide receiver Austin Hill. The junior was as second-team All-Pac-12 performer with 81 catches for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns. The injury leaves David Richards (29 catches, 264 yards, three touchdowns) as the top returning wide receiver.

Rushel Shell bolts from Pittsburgh
It wouldn’t be a Pittsburgh offseason without a little bit of turmoil. As the Panthers moving into the ACC, they’ll do so without a rising star at running back. Expected to take over for Ray Graham, Rushel Shell transferred to UCLA. Shell was one of Pittsburgh’s top recruits in the 2012 class, rushing for 641 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman. Isaac Bennett and Malcolm Crockett, who combined for 191 yards and 41 carries last season, will take over ball-carrying duties.

Wisconsin’s David Gilbert calls it quits
Recurring foot injuries caused Wisconsin defensive end David Gilbert to end his career before spring practice. After recording 9.5 tackles for a loss and five sacks last season, Gilbert was expected to anchor the Badgers’ pass rush in coach Gary Andersen’s first season.

Georgia’s defense is going to be OK
With a handful of injuries and suspensions, Georgia ranked 12th in the SEC in rush defense and sixth in total defense despite two first-round picks in the front seven and seven overall draft picks on the defense. With early enrollee Tray Matthews and safety Josh Harvey-Clemons shining in spring practice, Georgia hopes for better results with less name recognition.

Johnny Manziel played actual football during the spring and did OK
The defending Heisman winner worked to trademark his nickname, spent some time on vacation, got courtside seats for NBA games and had a love-hate relationship with Twitter. He also played actual football, passing for 303 yards and three touchdowns in his spring game against the second-team defense.

James Franklin’s job is in jeopardy at Missouri
As a sophomore, Missouri quarterback James Franklin looked ready to step into a the Tigers’ quarterback lineage of Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert. After an injury-plagued junior season and a lackluster spring practice, Franklin may have trouble hanging onto his job as a senior. Redshirt freshman Maty Mauk impressed during the spring as the Tigers have had a changing of the guard of sorts on offense with longtime Gary Pinkel assistant David Yost leaving for Washington State.

Notre Dame finds replacement for Manti Te’o
The early returns on Jarrett Grace replacing Te’o at middle linebacker were positive, though no one expects the junior from Cincinnati to duplicate Te’o’s season. He’ll have the advantage of playing behind Louis Nix III and Stephon Tuitt. Despite an uneventful spring game, George Atkinson III impressed during spring practice, now that he could be Notre Dame’s primary back.

Boise State’s Joe Southwick continues to improve
Southwick didn’t throw an interception in Boise State’s final four games, all wins, after throwing seven picks in the first nine. In his second spring as the starter, Southwick completed 79 percent of his passes in team drills, for what that’s worth. The senior also showed more willingness to run after rushing for 121 yards last season.

Stanford’s Josh Nunes retires after freak injury
Nunes, who was beat out by Kevin Hogan for the quarterback job at midseason, ended his career after a painful weight room injury resulting in a torn right pectoral muscle. His departure will cut into Stanford’s depth at quarterback beyond Hogan.

Nick Saban is unhappy
Alabama has won back-to-back national titles and is likely the No. 1 team in the preseason. So, of course, Nick Saban is a little cranky on his tour of Alabama alumni groups, saying: “They all want me to make a comparison between this year’s team and last year’s team and the team before that and the team before that. I wasn’t happy with any of those teams at this point. If I was happy with them, we wouldn't have summer conditioning, we would not have fall camp, we wouldn't have 30 practices to get ready for our first game against Virginia Tech. We'd just pack it in and say, 'All right, let's go to Atlanta and play the game.' We're not there yet."


Related College Football Content

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Ranking the SEC Quarterbacks for 2013

Teaser:
<p> Spring practice has ended, here are all the key injuries, personnel decisions and storylines</p>
Post date: Thursday, May 2, 2013 - 13:00
Path: /college-basketball/revised-college-basketball-early-top-25-2013-14
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The NBA’s early entry draft deadline has come and gone, creating enough movement to make us re-evaluate our early rankings for 2013-14.

Chief among them, we re-visited Oklahoma State after the Cowboys returned point guard Marcus Smart. Originally, we did not rank Oklahoma State under the assumption Smart, projected to be a top-three pick, would leave for the draft. His return makes Oklahoma State the early Big 12 favorite.

We also bumped Louisville up one spot to No. 2, giving the Bluegrass State the top two teams heading into the season. Russ Smith elected to return to school, boosting Louisville’s chances of repeating. As long as Kentucky doesn’t stand in the way.

A handful of key moves could still impact the rankings for 2013-14, chief among them an announcement by freshman Andrew Wiggins. The top prospect in the 2013 class is considering Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina.

Tarik Black, who announced his intention to transfer from Memphis, has become a highly coveted commodity despite meager output last season (8.1 points, 4.8 rebounds). But teams like Duke, Kansas, Ohio State, Oregon and others badly need a big man.

And aside from transfers, most of the rosters are set for 2013-14. Here’s how things shake out right.

REVISED COLLEGE BASKETBALL EARLY TOP 25 FOR 2013-14

1. KENTUCKY

Key players gone: Archie Goodwin, Julius Mays, Nerlens Noel

Top returners: Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress, Kyle Wiltjer

New faces: Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Julius Randle, James Young (all freshmen)
The loss to Robert Morris in the NIT is a distant memory for Kentucky, mainly because most of the key players for 2013-14 didn’t play in the game. The Wildcats will be back in national title contention thanks to a recruiting class that includes six of the top 15 prospects in the 247Sports Composite Rankings. If Kentucky lands top-ranked recruit Andrew Wiggins, Kentucky would have four of the top five prospects. Even if last season went awry, John Calipari has proven he can win a title with freshmen of this caliber.

2. LOUISVILLE
Key players gone: Gorgui Dieng, Peyton Siva

Top returners: Chane Behanan, Wayne Blackshear, Luke Hancock, Montrezl Harrell, Russ Smith, Kevin Ware
New faces: Anton Gill (Hargrave Military Academy), Chris Jones (junior college), Terry Rozier (Hargrave)

Smith’s father said after the Cardinals’ title that his son would head to the NBA Draft, but Smith instead returned to school for more development. His return gives Louisville an even better opportunity to defend its title (Athlon had Louisville ranked third in its first swipe at 2013-14). With Siva gone, the junior college transfer Jones takes over the point, and now Gill and Rozier give the Cards an enviable rotation in the backcourt. The returning cast of Hancock and Harrell were at their best late in the season, and Behanan had one of his best games of the year in the title game.

3. MICHIGAN STATE
Key players gone: Derrick Nix

Top returners: Keith Appling, Branden Dawson, Gary Harris, Adreian Payne, Denzel Valentine, Travis Trice

Nix is the only one of the top seven scorers gone from a team that went 27-9. Harris considered the draft, but the smooth-shooting guard returned after averaging 12.9 points per game and 45.6 shooting from the field. Payne took his decision down to the wire, but his return gives Tom Izzo a veteran team with Final Four potential.

4. DUKE

Key players gone: Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee

Top returners: Quinn Cook, Andre Dawkins, Amile Jefferson, Marshall Plumlee, Rasheed Sulaimon, Tyler Thornton

New faces: Rodney Hood (Mississippi State transfer), Matt Jones (freshman), Semi Ojeleye (freshman), Jabari Parker (freshman)

The losses of Curry, Kelly and Plumlee are huge, but this is Duke. Sulaimon is the top returner. He stood out on the defensive end last season and proved he could carry the scoring load. Cook was a pleasant surprise at point guard for a team that spent most of the season in the top three. Of the newcomers, Parker could fill Kelly’s versatility and Jones could fill Curry’s role as a shooter. Dawkins, who averaged better than eight points per game in each of his last two seasons, returns after he sat out in 2012-13.

5. ARIZONA
Key players gone: Solomon Hill, Grant Jerrett, Mark Lyons, Keith Parrom

Top returners: Brandon Ashley, Nick Johnson, Kaleb Tarczewski

New faces: Aaron Gordon (freshman), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (freshman), T.J. McConnell (Duquesne transfer)
Arizona will miss Hill’s leadership and Lyons’ scoring, but Sean Miller can restock a roster. The Wildcats got a major boost for the upcoming season when they landed McDonald’s All-American power forward Aaron Gordon. Hopes are high for Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell to become a floor general at point guard. Jerrett, who averaged 5.2 points per game and 3.6 rebounds, made a surprising decision to leave for the draft

6. FLORIDA

Key players gone: Kenny Boynton, Erik Murphy, Mike Rosario

Top returners: Casey Prather, Scottie Wilbekin, Will Yeguette, Patric Young

New faces: Dorian Finney-Smith (Virginia Tech transfer), Damontre Harris (South Carolina transfer), Kasey Hill (freshman), Chris Walker (freshman)
The Gators’ season looks a bit better with Young electing to return to school, but he still needs to become a more dominant player befitting his size. Wilbekin and Yeguette, who anchored the Gators’ in the defensive end, also return. Much will depend on the newcomers. Hill is one of the top point guard recruits to come to Florida under Billy Donovan. Finney-Smith, a McDonald’s All-American in 2011, was one of the top freshmen in the ACC at Virginia Tech, averaging 6.3 points and seven rebounds. With Chris Walker, Florida will have one of the top front lines in the country.

7. OKLAHOMA STATE

Key players gone: Philip Jurick

Top returners: Markel Brown, Michael Cobbins, Phil Forte, Kamari Murphy, Le’Bryan Nash, Marcus Smart

New faces: Stevie Clark, Detrick Mostella (freshmen)
Smart’s return was a shocker. It also may be the first threat to Kansas’ dominance in the Big 12 in a few years. The Cowboys return four scorers who averaged double figures last season and went 13-5 in the Big 12 before running into under-seeded Oregon in the NCAA Tournament.

8. OHIO STATE

Key players gone: Deshaun Thomas, Evan Ravenel

Top returners: Aaron Craft, LaQuinton Ross, Shannon Scott, Lenzelle Smith Jr., Sam Thompson, Amir Williams

New faces: Marc Loving, Kameron Williams (freshmen)
Much of Ohio State’s season will depend on how the Buckeyes’ replace Thomas’ prolific scoring. LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith Jr. started to show they were capable of carrying the load near the end of the season, but they need to be ready for bigger roles.

9. NORTH CAROLINA
Key players gone: Reggie Bullock, Dexter Strickland

Top returners: P.J. Hairston, James Michael McAdoo, Leslie McDonald, Marcus Paige

New faces: Nate Britt, Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks (freshmen)
James Michael McAdoo and P.J. Hairston both elected to return to school after North Carolina struggled to live up to expectations last season. The Tar Heels didn’t find their groove until going to a four-guard lineup so it will be interesting to see how incoming freshman big men Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks impact the rotation.

10. MICHIGAN

Key players gone: Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr.

Top returners: Spike Albrecht, Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III, Nik Stauskas

New faces: Zak Irvin (freshman)
Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. didn’t shock anyone by going to the draft. Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III returned for their sophomore seasons to give the Wolverines a chance on building on last season, though a return to the Final four may be tough. The pressure will be on McGary to prove he carry his tournament momentum into a full season.

Related: Grading the new coaches for 2013-14

11. SYRACUSE

Key players gone: Michael Carter-Williams, James Southerland, Brandon Triche

Top returners: Rakeem Christmas, Trevor Cooney, C.J. Fair, Jerami Grant, Baye Keita

New faces: Tyler Ennis, Ron Patterson, Tyler Roberson (freshmen)
Replacing the starting backcourt of Carter-Williams and Triche will be challenging as the Orange move to the ACC. Syracuse is counting on incoming point guard Ennis and shooting guard Patterson, who signed with Indiana before going to prep school, to take those roles. Fair is the only returning player who averaged more than 5.1 points last season.

12. WICHITA STATE

Key players gone: Malcolm Armstead, Carl Hall, Demetric Williams

Top returners: Ron Baker, Tekele Cotton, Cleanthony Early, Fred VanVleet, Jake White

New faces: D.J. Bowles (freshman), Kadeem Coleby (Louisiana-Lafayette transfer), Earl Watson (junior college), Evan Wessel (redshirt)
The Shockers will miss Armstead and Hall from the Final Four run, but don’t forget Wichita State played most of the season without the redshirt freshman Baker. With Early, Baker and Cotton, there’s enough returning to win the Missouri Valley this season. The Shockers should fill their void with two players who redshirted last season -- 6-foot-9 Louisiana-Lafayette transfer Coleby and local 6-5 guard Wessel.

13. VCU

Key players gone: Darius Theus, Troy Daniels

Top returners: Rob Brandenburg, Treveon Graham, Juvonte Reddic, Melvin Thomas, Briante Weber

New faces: Jordan Burgess (redshirt)
Five of the top seven players return to VCU, including three who averaged double-figure scoring. Theus’ 2.4 steals per game will be missed in the defensive end, but there’s a lot to like about a VCU team that went 12-5 in its first season in the Atlantic 10.

14. WISCONSIN

Key players gone: Jared Beggren, Mike Bruesewitz, Ryan Evans

Top returners: Ben Brust, Sam Dekker, Josh Gasser, Traevon Jackson

Players come and go, but Wisconsin is pretty much automatic to contend in the Big Ten and reach the NCAA Tournament under Bo Ryan. In 2013-14, the Badgers return one of the Big Ten’s most underrated freshmen in Sam Dekker plus a healthy Josh Gasser.

15. TENNESSEE

Key players gone: Kenny Hall, Skyler McBee

Top returners: Trae Golden, Jeronne Maymon, Jordan McRae, Josh Richardson, Jarnell Stokes

New faces: Robert Hubbs (freshman)
The Volunteers came together late in the season, but it wasn’t enough to get in the NCAA Tournament. With the core of Golden, McRae and Stokes, plus a healthy Maymon, this should be the year for Cuonzo Martin. Stokes considered the draft but elected to return to school.

16. MARQUETTE

Key players gone: Juan Anderson, Vander Blue, Junior Cadougan, Trent Lockett
Top returners: Davante Gardner, Chris Otule, Jamil Wilson

New faces: Deonte Burton (freshman), JaJuan Johnson (freshman), Jameel McKay (junior college), Duane Wilson (freshman)

Vander Blue’s departure hurts and knocks Marquette out of the preseason top 10. Gardner (11.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg) and Jamil Wilson (9.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg) still give Buzz Williams veterans to work with in 2013-14. In addition to the returners, Marquette may have a new point guard (Wilson) and two major freshmen in Johnson and Burton.

17. CONNECTICUT

Key players gone: None

Top returners: Ryan Boatright, Omar Calhoun, DeAndre Daniels, Niels Giffey, Shabazz Napier, Tyler Olander

At 20-10 overall and 10-8 in the Big East, Connecticut had the look of an NCAA Tournament team despite the postseason ban. With nearly everyone returning after Napier’s decision to return to school, the Huskies should be able to realize that goal.

18. MEMPHIS
Key players gone: Tarik Black, D.J. Stephens, Adonis Thomas

Top returners: Chris Crawford, Shaq Goodwin, Joe Jackson, Geron Johnson

New faces: Markel Crawford, Kuron Iverson, Nick King, Austin Nichols, RaShawn Powell (all freshmen)
After winning a Tournament game, going 16-0 in Conference USA and adding another top recruiting class, Memphis has the most momentum it’s had under Josh Pastner. Now, the Tigers head to the American Athletic Conference.

19. GONZAGA
Key players gone: Elias Harris, Guy Landry-Edi, Kelly Olynyk

Top returning players: Gary Bell Jr, Sam Dower, Przemek Karnowski, Kevin Pangos, David Stockton

New faces: Gerald Coleman (Providence transfer), Angel Nunez (Louisville transfer)
The front line takes a hit without Olynyk and Harris, but Mark Few’s backcourt should be solid.

Related: Winners and losers from the NBA Draft early entry deadline

20. COLORADO

Key players gone:
Sabatino Chen
, Andre Roberson
Top returners: Askia Booker, Spencer Dinwiddie, Xavier Johnson, Josh Scott, Andre Roberson

Led by Dinwiddie and Booker, Colorado’s roster returns mostly intact after the program’s second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. The Buffaloes struggled down the stretch, but a handful of freshmen played key minutes. This should be Colorado’s breakout season under Tad Boyle if the Buffs can find away to replace Roberson's prowess on the glass.

21. NEW MEXICO
Key players gone: Tony Snell, Demetrius Walker
Top returning players: Cameron Bairstow, Alex Kirk, Hugh Greenwood, Kendall Williams

New faces: Cullen Neal (freshman)
Craig Neal was promoted to coach a 29-6 team that returns virtually intact. The Lobos may be the preseason pick to win the Mountain West, but that Tournament loss to Harvard will be tough to forget.

22. INDIANA

Key players gone: Remy Abell, Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford, Cody Zeller

Top returning players: Yogi Ferrell, Will Sheehey

New faces: Luke Fischer, Stanford Robinson, Noah Vonleh, Troy Williams (all freshmen)
Indiana can’t help but take a step back with all those losses, but the Hoosiers have recruited well enough to stay in the mix in the Big Ten. The pressure will be on the point guard Ferrell.

23. UCLA

Key players gone: Shabazz Muhammad, Larry Drew II

Top returners: Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson, David Wear, Travis Wear

New faces: Zach LaVine (freshman)
Steve Alford is set up nicely in his first season at UCLA with Adams and Anderson returning.

24. KANSAS

Key players gone: Elijah Johnson, Ben McLemore, Travis Releford, Jeff Withey, Kevin Young

Top returning players: Perry Ellis, Naadir Tharpe

New faces: Joel Embiid (freshman), Conner Frankamp (freshman), Brannen Green (freshman), Landen Lucas (redshirt), Wayne Selden (freshman)
Kansas loses its starting five, but it’s risky to bet against the Jayhawks in the Big 12. They’ll find a way.

25. SAINT LOUIS
Key players gone: Kwamain Mitchell, Cody Ellis

Top returners: Dwayne Evans, Jordair Jett, Rob Loe, Mike McCall

Jim Crews has the job full-time and a chance to repeat in the Atlantic 10. Replacing Kwamain Mitchell’s 30 minutes per game will be tough.

Also considered: Alabama, Baylor, Cal, Creighton, Harvard, Iowa, Notre Dame, Virginia, Villanova

Teaser:
<p> NBA Draft's Early Entry Deadline shuffles teams in our look at next season</p>
Post date: Monday, April 29, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-basketball/grading-notable-new-college-basketball-coaches-2013-14
Body:

Coaching turnover in college basketball appears to be as tame as ever.

With 39 coaching changes so far, the 2013-14 coaching carousel is poised to be the most inactive since in four years. In each of the last three seasons, at least 50 Division I programs changed coaches.

Only six Division I programs have yet to select a coach, but they’re all jobs in the low-major conferences. Now that Rutgers hired Eddie Jordan to replace Mike Rice, fired due to a player mistreatment scandal, all the big jobs have been filled.

Given that one of college basketball’s best destinations, UCLA, replaced its coach, the lack of major dominoes falling is somewhat of a surprise. The Bruins hired Steve Alford from New Mexico, and the Lobos responded by promoting a longtime assistant.

The Lobos weren’t alone in giving a coach one of his first Division I gigs. Minnesota, New Mexico, Northwestern, Rutgers and USC hired men with a combined three seasons of Division I head coaching experience.

Here’s a look at how the major jobs fared in the coaching carousel and a look at key hires in the mid-major and low-major ranks. Hires are graded not necessarily on the quality of the coach but how Athlon believes he will perform to the expectations of his program.

MINNESOTA
New coach: Richard Pitino, FIU
Old coach: Tubby Smith, fired; hired at Texas Tech
Minnesota took a bit of a risk in hiring a coach with only one season of Sun Belt head coaching experience. But this isn’t any normal 30-year-old coach. Pitino, of course, is the son of Louisville’s Rick Pitino and has worked on staffs with his father and one of his dad’s star pupils in Billy Donovan. The younger Pitino’s lone season at FIU wasn’t too shabby, either. In the first season after the Isiah Thomas debacle, Pitino went 18-14 overall and 11-9 in the Sun Belt for FIU’s first winning season in the league since 1999-2000. Pitino will also be the youngest coach in a league with a median age of 46.5 at the start of practice.
Grade: A-minus

NEW MEXICO
New coach: Craig Neal, promoted from associate head coach
Old coach: Steve Alford, hired at UCLA
Neal has tried to get head coaching jobs before at Colorado State and his alma mater Georgia Tech, but the best fit turned out to be in Albuquerque. Neal has worked with Alford every step of the way in rebuilding New Mexico into a perennial NCAA Tournament team. Neal's promotion keeps together a core of Alex Kirk and Kendall Williams, which will make New Mexico a Mountain West favorite in his first season. Neal backfilled his assistant position by hiring Lamont Smith from Washington, who previously served as an assistant at Arizona State. Neal is considered a good Xs and Os coach, but it’s a mystery how this career assistant will fare as a head coach.
Grade: B-plus

NORTHWESTERN
New coach:
Chris Collins, Duke associate head coach
Old coach: Bill Carmody, fired
Like Minnesota, Northwestern opted for a young coach with a good pedigree for its basketball program. Collins, who will be 39 when the season starts, will be the second-youngest coach in the Big Ten to Richard Pitino. A former Chicago-area high school basketball star, Collins is a longtime Mike Krzyzewski assistant and the son of Doug Collins, who has spent four stints as an NBA head coach. Former Krzyzewski assistants have been a mixed bag from Mike Brey, Tommy Amaker, Jeff Capel, Johnny Dawkins and Quin Snyder. That said, hopes are high Collins can be the coach to get Northwestern to its first NCAA Tournament in school history.
Grade: B-plus

RUTGERS
New coach: Eddie Jordan, Los Angeles Lakers assistant
Old coach: Mike Rice, fired
Could Rutgers upgrade its coach despite the scandal that cost Mike Rice and athletic director Tim Pernetti their jobs? That seems possible after Rice went 44-51 in three seasons in Piscataway. Former NBA coaches don’t always pan out on the college level, but Jordan has familiarity with Rutgers in particular. Jordan played on Rutgers’ Final Four team in 1976 and coached in the college ranks last in 1992, but that was a different era. His NBA background should help him on the recruiting trail, and his Princeton offense should work at the college level. Jordan likely will guide the transition into the Big Ten for a program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2004 and hasn’t reached the NCAA Tournament since 1991.
Grade: B-minus

USC
New coach: Andy Enfield, Florida Gulf Coast
Old coach: Kevin O’Neill/Bob Cantu (interim), fired
How much the college basketball world laugh at USC if the Trojans hired Enfield any time before March 22? A Sweet 16 run changed everything for Enfield and USC. For the Trojans, this move brought in the hot name and a style that would seem to thrive in Los Angeles, but he has only two years of head coaching experience at the Atlantic Sun level. Bumping Enfield’s grade here were the hires of assistants Tony Bland (San Diego State) and Jason Hart (Pepperdine) who know the terrain out West.
Grade: C-plus

UCLA
New coach: Steve Alford, New Mexico
Old coach: Ben Howland, fired
In theory, UCLA should have its pick of a handful of coaches and it picked the one whose most recent performance was a loss to 14th-seeded Harvard in the NCAA Tournament. Alford won three NCAA Tournament games at New Mexico and Iowa where Howland won 15 at UCLA. Is Alford a better coach that Howland? That’s a tough debate. But Alford is a better fit for UCLA now. Alford recruited Kendall Williams and Tony Snell out of Southern Calfornia, an area where AAU coaches soured on Howland in his latter years.
Grade: C

TEXAS TECH
New coach: Tubby Smith, Minnesota
Old coach: Billy Gillispie/Chris Walker (interim), fired
Smith is the second coach with a national title (joining Bob Knight) and second former Kentucky coach (joining Billy Gillispie) to be hired at Texas Tech since 2001. With the exception of one Sweet 16 under Knight in 2005, this strategy hasn’t worked all that well for the Red Raiders. Smith is a fine coach, but is he a great fit for a program that needs a dose of energy to turn the program around? Smith, 61, will be the oldest coach in the Big 12.
Grade: D

OTHER HIRES ATHLON LIKES

BUFFALO
New coach: Bobby Hurley, Rhode Island associate head coach
The former Duke point guard has been the top assistant for his brother Danny at turnaround jobs at Wagner and Rhode Island.

CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
New coach: Reggie Theus, Los Angeles D-Fenders (NBA Development League)
Journeyman college and NBA coach went 25-9 in his last college appearance in 2006-07 at New Mexico State.

FLORIDA GULF COAST
New coach: Joe Dooley, Kansas assistant
Dooley went 57-52 at East Carolina from 1995-99 before spending the last decade on Bill Self’s staff at Kansas.

FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL
New coach: Anthony Evans, Norfolk State
Evans led Norfolk State to a 29-3 record in the MEAC the last two seasons and defeated No. 2 seed Missouri in the NCAA Tournament in 2012.

HOFSTRA
New coach: Joe Mihalich, Niagara
The MAAC’s all-time wins leader (265-203 in 15 years at Niagara) gets a change of scenery at Hofstra.

OLD DOMINION
New coach: Jeff Jones, American
Old Dominion moves into Conference USA with a coach who has 357 career wins at Virginia and American.

SAINT LOUIS
New coach: Jim Crews, promoted from interim coach
After the passing of Rick Majerus, Crews did a great job holding the program together with a regular season and tournament title in the Atlantic 10. Now, the former Evansville and Army coach as the job for the long term.

SIENA
New coach: Jimmy Patsos, Loyola (Md.)
Siena won 77 games and made three NCAA Tournaments in Fran McCaffery’s final three seasons before falling apart under Mitch Buonaguro. A longtime Gary Williams assistant at Maryland, Patsos won 47 games in the last two seasons at Loyola. The two coaches who preceded him won 48 games total in seven seasons.

SOUTH ALABAMA
New coach: Matthew Graves, Butler assistant
A Butler player and assistant, Graves is making his first foray outside of the state of Indiana in his career.

TEXAS STATE
New coach: Danny Kaspar, Stephen F. Austin
At Stephen F. Austin since 2000-01, Kaspar is more than ready for a step up to the Sun Belt. The Lumberjacks averaged 23 wins a season in his final six years at SFA.

UMKC
New coach: Kareem Richardson, Louisville assistant
Richard joins a long list of Pitino assistants to take head coaching jobs in recent seasons including Enfield, Richard Pitino, Steve Masiello (Manhattan), Marvin Menzies (New Mexico State), Kevin Willard (Seton Hall). Not to mention Billy Donovan and Mick Cronin.

Teaser:
<p> As the coaching carousel comes to a close, we grade new faces at UCLA, USC, Minnesota and more</p>
Post date: Friday, April 26, 2013 - 11:15
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-winners-and-losers-draft-early-entry-deadline
Body:

The NCAA’s early entry draft deadline, moved up to April 16, functioned more like a suggestion rather than any sort of rule this season.

A handful of underclassmen announced their intentions on the NBA Draft before the NCAA’s April 16 deadline, but the real point of no return for many is the NBA’s deadline of April 28. The NCAA mark says an underclassman who has not signed with an agent must remove his name from consideration before April 16 if they want to return to school.

The April 28 date is established by the NBA, meaning an undecided underclassman in reality has an extra 12 days to make the call provided he doesn’t sign with an agent.

The rule was put into place to protect coaches who, in theory, wouldn’t have to save a scholarship for several weeks while a star player mulled the NBA Draft.

In practice, many coaches are doing just that. Here’s our look at the winners and losers for the NBA Draft deadline and everyone in between as the clock ticks down to April 28.

EARLY ENTRY WINNERS

Oklahoma State
Cowboys coach Travis Ford was perhaps the biggest winner in the early entry deadline. He returned not only a potential top-five pick but also the point guard who helped Oklahoma State to its best season under Ford. Marcus Smart, who was in a neck-and-neck battle with Ben McLemore for national freshman of the year, elected to return to school, according to a report Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski. Oklahoma State also returns Le’Bryan Nash, making the Cowboys a possible favorite in the Big 12.

Florida
The Gators held onto freshman Patric Young, who will give Florida one of the best froncourts in the country with freshman center Chris Walker and Virginia Tech transfer Dorian Finney-Smith. After three consecutive Elite Eight appearances, the Gators should open next season as a top-10 team.

Kentucky
No matter what happened with the NBA Draft deadline, Kentucky would be a winner going into next season thanks to a signing class that includes six McDonald’s All-Americans. The return of Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress at least ensure there will be veterans -- relatively speaking -- in this group. ESPN’s Chad Ford ranked both as top-25 prospects.

UCLA
Shabazz Muhammad went to the NBA Draft as expected, but Kyle Anderson will return. The stat sheet stuffer who averaged 9.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.3 steals last season will give Steve Alford a leg up in his first season in Westwood. With the drama surrounding Ben Howland’s job status and Shabazz Muhammad’s eligibility and age gone, it will be interesting to see how Anderson and rising sophomore Jordan Adams fare in 2013-14.

Memphis
Perhaps it’s tough to call a team a winner that lost Adonis Thomas to the draft an Tarik Black and Antonio Barton to transfers, but Memphis did keep its scoring and assist leader, Joe Jackson, on campus. He’ll be a key veteran on a team bringing in a highly touted five-man signing class.

Cincinnati
Sean Kilpatrick may not have been in demand in the NBA Draft had he left, but that doesn’t mean anything for Cincinnati’s prospects. Instead, the Bearcats return the fifth-leading scorer in the Big East last season. Kilpatrick will be the key returnee to backcourt that loses Cashmere Wright and JaQuon Parker.

Arizona State
The Sun Devils have star power for the first time since James Harden left. Jahii Carson, the Pac-12 co-freshman of the year, submitted his name for evaluation, but didn’t see enough to leave Arizona State. He’ll make Arizona State an NCAA Tournament contender after the Sun Devils played in the NIT last season.

IN LIMBO

Michigan
Trey Burke surprised no one by declaring for the NBA Draft this week. Now John Beilein is waiting to see how much the rest of his roster will change. Tim Hardaway Jr., Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary are all considering a jump. Robinson and McGary have been projected near the end of the lottery or lower.

North Carolina
Reggie Bullock announced Tuesday he would head to the NBA Draft,leaving North Carolina to wait out a decision by James Michael McAdoo. P.J. Hairston told the Greensboro News & Record he plans to return to school. If McAdoo, a potential late first-round pick, returns, North Carolina will have three of its top four scorers back on the roster.

Creighton
Gregory Echinique and Grant Gibbs exhausted their eligibility, but Creighton will start from square one in the Big East if Doug McDermott leaves early. McDermott has been projected in the late first round or early second round.

Teams on Andrew Wiggins’ list
The 247Sports composite No. 1 prospect will wait out draft decisions before picking his school. The small forward could be a transformative player wherever he goes. If he picks Florida State, he’ll make the Seminoles a potential top-25 team. If he picks Kansas, he’ll ease the loss of all five starters. If he picks North Carolina, he’ll strengthen the Heels’ case as an ACC contender. If he picks Kentucky, he’ll add to the embarrassment of riches for the preseason No. 1 team.

Baylor
The Bears didn’t have the Big 12 title-contending season expected of them, but they did end up winning the NIT. Will Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson return to school to atone for Baylor’s struggles in 2012-13? Projections are divided for both.

Miami
The senior-laden Hurricanes are already in a rebuilding mode of sorts with seniors Kenny Kadji, Durand Scott, Reggie Johnson and Julian Gable gone, but it remains unclear if they’ll do so without their best player. Shane Larkin is still seeking feedback on whether to return for his junior season. DraftExpress projected him as a first-round pick while ESPN’s Chad Ford did not.

Michigan State
Few teams could change their preseason ranking as much as Michigan State could based on the decisions of Adreian Payne and Gary Harris. With Payne and Harris, Michigan State is a preseason top-three team. Without them, Michigan State could still be pretty good with Branden Dawson and Keith Appling, but perhaps not a national title contender.

Colorado
If Andre Roberson opts for the NBA Draft, he will be one of the only players leaving from the Buffaloes roster. Colorado could contend for a Pac-12 title if Roberson, who has led the Buffs to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, comes back to school.

Tennessee
Jordan McRae already announced he would return for his senior season. If Jarnell Stokes returns, the Volunteers could be virtually intact from last year. With Jeronne Maymon back from the knee injury that sidelined him all of last season, Tennessee could be a Tournament team in 2013-14 if Stokes returns.

EARLY ENTRY LOSERS

Indiana
Losing Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo was not a surprise, though Zeller could have returned for more seasoning after a lackluster NCAA Tournament. One of the other departures -- Remy Abell via transfer -- leaves Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey as the only regulars returning to the Hoosiers.

Marquette
Marquette looked like a potential top-10 team with Vander Blue, but the Golden Eagles’ leading scorer elected to leave even though he’s not projected as a first-round pick. Marquette absorbed the losses of Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom last season, can the Eagles take another big loss.

Louisville
Russ Smith’s father says his son will leave for the draft, though the Cardinals’ guard may not be a first-round draft pick. Louisville may be a top-five team without Smith thanks to new arrivals in the backcourt, but he was the Cards’ leading scorer on the way to the title.

Mountain West
The dismantling of the Mountain West began when none of its five teams in the NCAA Tournament reached the second weekend. Now, San Diego State loses Jamaal Franklin, UNLV loses Anthony Bennett and New Mexico loses Tony Snell early to the draft. Meanwhile, Colorado State loses six seniors.

Georgetown
Otto Porter waited until April 16 to announce his decision, but his leap to the NBA Draft erases the Hoyas’ hopes of being a top-15 team. Georgetown will look to rebuild around Markel Starks, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and a healthy Greg Whittington.

Texas
The Longhorns lost to the draft a player who gave them only 11 games last season, but Myck Kabongo still led Texas in scoring. The question is how bad could it get without him. Texas was 2-8 in the Big 12 before Kabongo was eligible this season, compared to 6-3 in the Big 12 with him. Texas has little in the way of top recruits joining the program.

SEC teams not named Kentucky, Florida or Tennessee
Georgia was a one-man show with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope last season, and he’s gone to the Draft. So is Arkansas point guard B.J. Young. But the most puzzling decision was that of Missouri point guard Phil Pressey, who inconsistent all of last season. Anyone hoping for an SEC rebound may have to wait a bit longer.

Teaser:
<p> The NCAA's draft deadline has passed, but the NBA deadline still has teams in limbo</p>
Post date: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-basketball/early-college-basketball-top-25-2013-14
Body:

The Bluegrass State could be on its way to becoming the basketball version of Alabama.

The football championship hasn’t left the state of Alabama four years, with the Crimson Tide winning the BCS in 2009, 2011 and 2012 and Auburn winning in 2010.

After Kentucky and Louisville won the last two basketball titles, the state could grab a third in a row, but which could keep the streak going? Despite a season that ended in the NIT, Kentucky grabs the top spot in our first look at 2013-14 thanks to one of the highest rated recruiting classes of all time. Louisville loses Peyton Siva, Russ Smith and Gorgui Dieng, but the backcourt could be restocked by newcomers to keep the Cardinals near the top.

Most decisions for the NBA Draft have been made, meaning rosters have taken shape for the most part. One key recruit remains on the table, though, with Andrew Wiggins deciding among Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina. The addition of the forward from Huntington Prep could strengthen title bids for Kentucky and North Carolina while keeping Florida State and Kansas in the mix for conference titles.

Note: College players can enter their names into draft consideration and retain eligibility until April 16. The NBA's early entry deadline is April 28.

Related: Tracking all conference changes for 2013-14

EARLY COLLEGE BASKETBALL TOP 25 FOR 2013-14

1. KENTUCKY
Key players gone: Archie Goodwin, Julius Mays, Nerlens Noel
Top returners: Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress, Kyle Wiltjer
New faces: Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Julius Randle, James Young
Buzz: The loss to Robert Morris in the NIT is a distant memory for Kentucky, mainly because most of the key players for 2013-14 didn’t play in the game. The Wildcats will be back in national title contention thanks to a recruiting class that includes six of the top 15 prospects in the 247Sports Composite Rankings. If Kentucky lands top-ranked recruit Andrew Wiggins, Kentucky would have four of the top five prospects. Even if last season went awry, John Calipari has proven he can win a title with freshmen of this caliber.

2. MICHIGAN STATE
Key players gone: Derrick Nix
Top returners: Keith Appling, Branden Dawson, Gary Harris, Adreian Payne, Denzel Valentine, Travis Trice
Buzz: Michigan State is waiting for Payne and Harris to finalize decisions on the NBA Draft, but if they return, the Spartans will be a national title contender. Nix would be the only one of the top seven scorers gone from a team that went 27-9. Payne and Harris are NBA-type talents, the only question is when they choose to go.

3. LOUISVILLE
Key players gone: Gorgui Dieng, Peyton Siva, Russ Smith
Top returners: Chane Behanan, Wayne Blackshear, Luke Hancock, Montrezl Harrell, Kevin Ware
New faces: Anton Gill, Chris Jones, Terry Rozier
Buzz: Replacing the starting backcourt of Siva and Smith will be difficult, but Jones is a big-time junior college recruit who could step into the point guard spot. From Hagrave Military Academy, Gill and Rozier, who didn’t qualify academically for the 2012 class, boost the backcourt. The returning cast of Hancock and Harrell were at their best late in the season, and Behanan had one of his best games of the year in the title game.

4. DUKE
Key players gone: Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee
Top returners: Quinn Cook, Andre Dawkins, Amile Jefferson, Marshall Plumlee, Rasheed Sulaimon, Tyler Thornton
New faces: Matt Jones, Semi Ojeleye, Jabari Parker
Buzz: The losses of Curry, Kelly and Plumlee are huge, but this is Duke. Sulaimon is the top returner. He stood out on the defensive end last season and proved he could carry the scoring load. Cook was a pleasant surprise at point guard for a team that spent most of the season in the top three. Of the newcomers, Parker could fill Kelly’s versatility and Jones could fill Curry’s role as a shooter. Dawkins, who averaged better than eight points per game in each of his last two seasons, returns after he sat out in 2012-13.

5. ARIZONA
Key players gone: Solomon Hill, Mark Lyons, Keith Parrom
Top returners: Brandon Ashley, Nick Johnson, Kaleb Tarczewski
New faces: Aaron Gordon, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, T.J. McConnell
Buzz: Arizona will miss Hill’s leadership and Lyons’ scoring, but Sean Miller can restock a roster. The Wildcats got a major boost for the upcoming season when they landed McDonald’s All-American power forward Aaron Gordon. Hopes are high for Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell to become a floor general at point guard.

6. FLORIDA
Key players gone: Kenny Boynton, Erik Murphy, Mike Rosario
Top returners: Casey Prather, Scottie Wilbekin, Will Yeguette, Patric Young
New faces: Dorian Finney-Smith, Damontre Harris, Kasey Hill, Chris Walker
Buzz: The Gators’ season looks a bit better with Young electing to return to school, but he still needs to become a more dominant player befitting his size. Wilbekin and Yeguette, who anchored the Gators’ in the defensive end, also return. Much will depend on the newcomers. Hill is one of the top point guard recruits to come to Florida under Billy Donovan. Finney-Smith, a McDonald’s All-American in 2011, was one of the top freshmen in the ACC at Virginia Tech, averaging 6.3 points and seven rebounds. With Chris Walker, Florida will have one of the top front lines in the country.

7. MARQUETTE
Key players gone: Junior Cadougan, Trent Lockett
Top returners: Vander Blue, Davante Gardner, Chris Otule, Jamil Wilson
New faces: Deonte Burton, JaJuan Johnson, Jameel McKay, Duane Wilson
Buzz: Marquette returns the top three scorers on a team that reached the Elite Eight and captured a share of the Big East regular season title. Vander Blue played some of his best basketball of the season in the NCAA Tournament. In addition to the returners, Marquette may have a new point guard (Wilson) and two major freshmen in Johnson and Burton.

8. OHIO STATE
Key players gone: Deshaun Thomas, Evan Ravenel
Top returners: Aaron Craft, LaQuinton Ross, Shannon Scott, Lenzelle Smith Jr., Sam Thompson, Amir Williams
New faces: Marc Loving, Kameron Williams
Buzz: Much of Ohio State’s season will depend on how the Buckeyes’ replace Thomas’ prolific scoring. LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith Jr. started to show they were capable of carrying the load near the end of the season, but they need to be ready for bigger roles.

9. NORTH CAROLINA
Key players gone: Dexter Strickland
Top returners: Reggie Bullock, P.J. Hairston, James Michael McAdoo, Leslie McDonald, Marcus Paige
New faces: Nate Britt, Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks
Buzz: James Michael McAdoo, Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston have yet to announce their NBA Draft intentions, but if all three return, North Carolina should return to the top of the ACC. The Tar Heels didn’t find their groove until going to a four-guard lineup so it will be interesting to see how incoming freshman big men Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks impact the rotation.

10. MICHIGAN
Key players gone: Trey Burke
Top returners: Tim Hardaway Jr., Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III, Nik Stauskas
New faces: Zak Irvin
Buzz: Michigan is going to have trouble getting back to the national championship game without Trey Burke. Most of the optimism around the Wolverines for 2013-14 revolves around Tim Hardaway Jr., Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III returning to school. If two or three of them opt for the NBA Draft, Michigan may be a fringe top-25 team.

11. SYRACUSE
Key players gone: Michael Carter-Williams, James Southerland, Brandon Triche
Top returners: Rakeem Christmas, Trevor Cooney, C.J. Fair, Jerami Grant, Baye Keita
New faces: Tyler Ennis, Ron Patterson, Tyler Roberson
Buzz: Replacing the starting backcourt of Carter-Williams and Triche will be challenging as the Orange move to the ACC. Syracuse is counting on incoming point guard Ennis and shooting guard Patterson, who signed with Indiana before going to prep school, to take those roles. Fair is the only returning player who averaged more than 5.1 points last season.

12. COLORADO
Key players gone: Sabatino Chen
Top returners: Askia Booker, Spencer Dinwiddie, Xavier Johnson, Josh Scott, Andre Roberson
Buzz: Led by Roberson and Dinwiddie, Colorado’s roster returns virtually intact after the program’s second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. The Buffaloes struggled down the stretch, but a handful of freshmen played key minutes. This should be Colorado’s breakout season under Tad Boyle.

13. WICHITA STATE
Key players gone: Malcolm Armstead, Carl Hall, Demetric Williams
Top returners: Ron Baker, Tekele Cotton, Cleanthony Early, Fred VanVleet, Jake White
New faces: Kadeem Coleby, Earl Watson, Evan Wessel
Buzz: The Shockers will miss Armstead and Hall from the Final Four run, but don’t forget Wichita State played most of the season without the redshirt freshman Baker. With Early, Baker and Cotton, there’s enough returning to win the Missouri Valley this season. The Shockers should fill their void with two players who redshirted last season -- 6-foot-9 Louisiana-Lafayette transfer Coleby and local 6-5 guard Wessel.

14. VCU
Key players gone: Darius Theus, Troy Daniels
Top returners: Rob Brandenburg, Treveon Graham, Juvonte Reddic, Melvin Thomas, Briante Weber
New faces: Jordan Burgess
Buzz: Five of the top seven players return to VCU, including three who averaged double-figure scoring. Theus’ 2.4 steals per game will be missed in the defensive end, but there’s a lot to like about a VCU team that went 12-5 in its first season in the Atlantic 10.

15. WISCONSIN
Key players gone: Jared Beggren, Mike Bruesewitz, Ryan Evans
Top returners: Ben Brust, Sam Dekker, Josh Gasser, Traevon Jackson
Buzz: Players come and go, but Wisconsin is pretty much automatic to contend in the Big Ten and reach the NCAA Tournament under Bo Ryan. In 2013-14, the Badgers return one of the Big Ten’s most underrated freshmen in Sam Dekker plus a healthy Josh Gasser.

16. TENNESSEE
Key players gone: Kenny Hall, Skyler McBee
Top returners: Trae Golden, Jeronne Maymon, Jordan McRae, Josh Richardson, Jarnell Stokes
New faces: Robert Hubbs
Buzz: The Volunteers came together late in the season, but it wasn’t enough to get in the NCAA Tournament. With the core of Golden, McRae and Stokes, plus a healthy Maymon, this should be the year for Cuonzo Martin.

17. MEMPHIS
Key players gone: Tarik Black, D.J. Stephens, Adonis Thomas
Top returners: Chris Crawford, Shaq Goodwin, Joe Jackson, Geron Johnson
New faces: Kuron Iverson, Nick King, Austin Nichols
Buzz: After winning a Tournament game, going 16-0 in Conference USA and adding another top recruiting class, Memphis has the most momentum it’s had under Josh Pastner. Now, the Tigers head to the American Athletic Conference.

18. CONNECTICUT
Key players gone: None
Top returners: Ryan Boatright, Omar Calhoun, DeAndre Daniels, Niels Giffey, Shabazz Napier, Tyler Olander
Buzz: At 20-10 overall and 10-8 in the Big East, Connecticut had the look of an NCAA Tournament team despite the postseason ban. With nearly everyone returning, the Huskies should be able to realize that goal.

19. NEW MEXICO
Key players gone: Tony Snell
Top returning players: Cameron Bairstow, Alex Kirk, Hugh Greenwood, Demetrius Walker, Kendall Williams
Buzz: Craig Neal was promoted to coach a 29-6 team that returns virtually intact. The Lobos may be the preseason pick to win the Mountain West, but that Tournament loss to Harvard will be tough to forget.

20. INDIANA
Key players gone: Remy Abell, Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford, Cody Zeller
Top returning players: Yogi Ferrell, Will Sheehey
New faces: Noah Vonleh, Troy Williams
Buzz: Indiana can’t help but take a step back with all those losses, but the Hoosiers have recruited well enough to stay in the mix in the Big Ten. The pressure will be on the point guard Ferrell.

21. GONZAGA
Key players gone: Elias Harris, Guy Landry-Edi, Kelly Olynyk
Top returning players: Gary Bell Jr, Sam Dower, Przemek Karnowski, Kevin Pangos, David Stockton
New faces: Gerald Coleman, Angel Nunez
Buzz: The front line takes a major hit without Olynyk and Harris, but Mark Few’s backcourt should be solid.

22. UCLA
Key players gone: Shabazz Muhammad, Larry Drew II
Top returners: Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson, David Wear, Travis Wear
New faces: Zach LaVine, Allerik Freeman
Buzz: Steve Alford is set up nicely in his first season at UCLA with Adams and Anderson returning.

23. KANSAS
Key players gone: Elijah Johnson, Ben McLemore, Travis Releford, Jeff Withey, Kevin Young
Top returning players: Perry Ellis, Naadir Tharpe
New faces: Conner Frankamp, Brannen Green, Wayne Selden
Buzz: Kansas loses its starting five, but it’s risky to bet against the Jayhawks in the Big 12. They’ll find a way.

24. SAINT LOUIS
Key players gone: Kwamain Mitchell, Cody Ellis
Top returners: Dwayne Evans, Jordair Jett, Rob Loe, Mike McCall
Buzz: Jim Crews has the job full-time and a chance to repeat in the Atlantic 10. Replacing Kwamain Mitchell’s 30 minutes per game will be tough.

25. NOTRE DAME
Key players gone: Jack Cooley, Scott Martin, Garrick Sherman
Top returners: Eric Atkins, Cameron Biedscheid, Pat Connaughton, Jerian Grant
New faces: Demetrius Jackson
Buzz: Notre Dame is one of the most consistent programs in the country. Even without Jack Cooley, the Irish have enough back to be a top-25 team.

Also considered:
Alabama, Cal, Georgetown, Harvard, Iowa, Maryland, Virginia, Villanova

Teaser:
<p> Could freshman class at Kentucky return Wildcats to No. 1?</p>
Post date: Monday, April 15, 2013 - 10:00
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Legacies are made in March. Or in this case, unmade.

For all the accomplishments for coaches, players and teams through the 2012-13 season, so much of the perception and reputations are built on the stage of the NCAA Tournament.

Through the 2012-13 season, we watched Indiana return to No. 1 status. We watched Gonzaga reach No. 1 for the first time in school history. And we watched the Mountain West compete at the highest level.

But the story of the season won’t be complete without mentioning the final images of the season -- Indiana’s struggling to score on Syracuse, Gonzaga’s getting burned by a three-point shot against Wichita State, and the conspicuous absence of any Mountain West team in the second week of the Tournament.

By Monday night, 67 teams finished the NCAA Tournament on the losing end, but here are those who especially may want to hide their heads during the offseason.

Related: 2013 NCAA Tournament winners

2013 NCAA TOURNAMENT LOSERS

Tom Crean, Indiana
The job Tom Crean has done to resuscitate Indiana is admirable. His sideline demeanor, though, is not. The master of the blow-by handshake breezed by Jim Boeheim after the loss to Syracuse after a woeful offensive performance in the Sweet 16. Arguing about the decorum of a handshake can be tiresome, but Crean’s habit of speeding through the handshake line after losses, taking his time to to arrive at postgame press conferences and sparring with an opposing assistant threatens to make the IU coach unlikeable to anyone outside of Bloomington.

Cody Zeller, Indiana
The preseason player of the year and potential NBA lottery pick looked like he needed a little more seasoning in the Hoosiers’ loss to Syracuse. Zeller looked lost against the Syracuse zone and had more shots blocked (five) than he had field goals (three) against the Orange.

Administrators
March was not a good month to be an administrator in college athletics. Away from the NCAA Tournament, Rutgers fired its athletic director after video of Mike Rice’s mistreatment of players was aired on ESPN. The Pac-12 coordinator of officials resigned after an “inappropriate joke” about targeting Arizona coach Sean Miller. At the Tournament, NCAA president Mark Emmert sparred with reporters at his Final Four press conference. And too many games featured questionable officiating in the final minutes, most recently the held ball the prevented Wichita State from taking a final shot against Louisville in the Final Four.

Gonzaga
This was supposed to be Mark Few’s best chance to reach his first Final Four. Instead, he never made it out of the first weekend and was lucky to avoid being the first coach of a No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed. The best team in school history lost to Wichita State in the round of 32, which doesn’t seem quite so bad after the Shockers defeated Ohio State in the Elite Eight and gave Louisville trouble in the Final Four. Still, the loss has given Gonzaga its third consecutive loss in the round of 32.

The Mountain West
This was a banner season for the Mountain West with the league sending five teams to the NCAA Tournament. For the Tournament, though, the league went home with a participant trophy. No MWC team reached the second weekend, but what’s more startling is the list of teams that eliminated the league’s team from the tournament: No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast, No. 14 Harvard, No. 13 La Salle and No. 12 Cal. Only Colorado State could leave the tournament holding its head up high, and the eighth-seeded Rams lost in the round of 32 to Louisville.

Georgetown and Pittsburgh’s luck
Georgetown and Pittsburgh are going to be criticized for their tendency to exit the NCAA Tournament early, but let’s consider for a second that both teams have run into the hot hand in the postseason. That's especiall true for the Hoyas. Georgetown lost to Florida Gulf Coast in 2013, NC State in 2012, Final Four-bound VCU in 2011 and Stephen Curry-led Davidson in 2008. Only the 2010 loss to 14th-seeded Ohio in the first round is truly egregious in this string of early exits. The same could be said for Pittsburgh, which last lost to Wichita State (a Final Four team) and Butler (a national runner-up) in two of the last three tournaments.

The Big 12
The league wasn’t at its best this season, but the Big 12 did not distinguish itself in the Tournament. The last team standing -- No. 1 seed Kansas -- coughed up a 14-point lead in the final 6:51 of regulation before losing in overtime to Michigan. Even if Oregon was not a typical No. 12 seed and La Salle ended up in the Sweet 16, Oklahoma State and Kansas State still lost to double-digit seeds. Meanwhile, Oklahoma was a no-show against the same San Diego State team that lost by 10 to Florida Gulf Coast. But, hey, at least Baylor won the NIT.

Marshall Henderson
The 2013 NCAA Tournament probably marked the end of Marshall Henderson being a compelling college basketball villain to just a villain. Henderson flipped off the entire arena on his way to the locker room after he said fans in Kansas City taunted him. He was photographed spending some time on the town in K.C. after the upset of Wisconsin, and he’s fond of using the word “HOES” on Twitter. After leading Ole Miss to its best season in more than a decade, Henderson apologized to Rebels fans.

Missouri
The Tigers were a top-10 team at one point this season. Seems crazy, doesn’t it? Missouri went 11-7 in a lackluster SEC and then lost by 12 to Colorado State in the round of 64.  Frank Haith may be having regular season success with Mizzou, but this loss comes a year after the Tigers lost to No. 15 seed Norfolk State.

The UCLA-Minnesota game
The round of 64 game between UCLA and Minnesota turned out to be more like a December bowl game than playoff game as the Bruins and Gophers fired Ben Howland and Tubby Smith, respectively, before the following Monday.

NC State
A Sweet 16 appearance in 2012 raised expectations for Mark Gottfried’s second team in Raleigh, expectations the Wolfpack never matched. After limping through an 11-7 season in the ACC, NC State lost 76-72 to Temple in the round of 64, and no one was really shocked. A team stocked with pro potential, NC State lost three of its final five games.

Low-majors not named Florida Gulf Coast
The talking heads, Athlon included, pinpointed all their favorite mid-major and low-major upset picks when the brackets were released, and almost none of the trendy picks panned out. Right after the Selection Show, you were more likely to hear pundits talking about Belmont, Bucknell and South Dakota State than Florida Gulf Coast or Harvard. Belmont, Bucknell and South Dakota State all lost their round of 64 games by double figures.

Teaser:
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Post date: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 - 08:25
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Only one true winner will be happy at the end of the NCAA Tournament, so the cliche goes.

That much may be true. All but one locker room at the end of the tournament will have its share of sad faces and tears.

We disagree that only one winner will be left standing after the championship game, though. Coaches, players, schools and entire conferences are among the winners in the NCAA Tournament, whether it’s reaching an important milestone, scoring a major victory, improving NBA draft stock or building momentum into next season.

Here are our picks of who -- besides the national champion -- had reason to smile at the end of the NCAA tournament.

Related: 2013 NCAA Tournament losers

2013 NCAA TOURNAMENT WINNERS

Rick Pitino, Louisville
To recap The Week of Pitino:
• On Monday night, he won his second national title.
• On Monday morning, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
• On Saturday morning, a horse he owns, Goldencents, won the Santa Anita Derby to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.
• On Wednesday, his son Richard Pitino was hired at Minnesota.
This week of professional and personal achievement would have been tough to fathom in 2009 during the depths of the Karen Sypher scandal. Not that Pitino need media validation, but columnists are noting that he’s basically a nicer guy than he was several years ago, too.
 

 

Mitch McGary, Michigan
Three weeks ago, would anyone have picked McGary as the transformative player for Michigan, much less the entire NCAA Tournament? In Michigan’s pre-game notes before the Tournament, one of the first mentions of McGary notes that he was twice the Big Ten’s freshman of the week. Three weeks later, we wondered if McGary could have a triple-double in a Final Four game (he finished with 10 points, 12 rebounds and six assists against Syracuse).

Wichita State
Just as the Missouri Valley’s top program, Creighton, leaves for the Big East, the league has a new frontrunner. Wichita State has been consistent for several seasons, but the Final Four appearance should change perception. The biggest victory, though, may be the Shockers keeping Gregg Marshall, though he was not a serious candidate for major-conference openings this season. Wichita State lost five seniors from a team that won the MVC last season and still reached the Final Four with an identity based on physical defense and rebounding.

Florida Gulf Coast
Two wins will be the greatest advertisement in school history for the little-known school in Fort Myers. Few basketball fans even knew of the existence of FGCU, but after a week everyone knew of its coach, his wife, his prior career, the nickname Dunk City, the personalities of Sherwood Brown and Brett Comer, the Eagles’ style of play and the school’s location on the beach. Florida Gulf Coast may never reach the Sweet 16 again, but administrators have to be thrilled about the wave of applications they’re about to receive.

Andy Enfield, USC
The Florida Gulf Coast coach gets his own note here for taking advantage of his week in the spotlight to take the USC job. It may be a stretch for the Trojans to hire a coach from the Atlantic Sun with no West Coast recruiting connections, but for Enfield to multiply his salary by 10, it’s a no-brainer.

Buzz Williams, Marquette
Williams has progressed from quirky personality to underrated coach to simply a one of the best coaches in the country. With Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom gone, this was not one of his better teams, but Marquette reached the Elite Eight for the first time since Dwyane Wade led the way to the Final Four. Marquette was fortunate when Davidson collapsed in the round of 64, but from there the Eagles defeated Brad Stevens-led Butler and a 29-7 Miami team.

Josh Pastner, Memphis
The Tigers’ coach finally has a big win under his belt at Memphis. Saint Mary’s was a No. 11 seed that had played in the First Four two days earlier, but Pastner finally got his first tourney win in four seasons as the Tigers’ head coach. If Matthew Dellavedova hits that three-pointer to win the game, it would have been an awfully long offseason for the Memphis coach.

Ole Miss
Marshall Henderson can be a handful, but Andy Kennedy and the Rebels owe him a free lunch (once his eligibility expires, of course). The nation’s most divisive player led Ole Miss to an SEC Tournament title for its first NCAA appearance since 2002 and an upset of fifth-seeded Wisconsin for its first NCAA win since 2001. The run likely saved the job of Kennedy, who had taken Ole Miss to the NIT in five of his first six seasons in Oxford.

La Salle
The Explorers won two national titles in the ‘50s with Tom Gola and won 80 games from 1987-90 with Lionel Simmons, but other than that, La Salle hasn’t been very relevant. John Giannini’s long rebuilding project at La Salle, though, culminated with a trip to the Sweet 16 before a loss to Wichita State.

Iowa State
This was not a shining tournament for the Big 12, but Iowa State has reason to celebrate. Iowa State won a tournament game for the second consecutive season and gave a top team fits in the round of 32. Iowa State lost 87-71 to eventual national champion Kentucky in 2012, but kept it close early in the second half. This year, Ohio State needed Aaron Craft’s late three-pointer to put away the seventh-seeded Cyclones. And better yet, Fred Hoiberg agreed to a 10-year, $20 million contract to remain The Mayor.

Harvard
With only one season in the rotation in 2012-13, next season was supposed to be the year for Harvard to make a move. Instead, the Crimson upset third-seeded New Mexico 68-62 in the round of 64. Next season, Harvard will be the “it” team in the Ivy League, same as Cornell was before its run to the Sweet 16 in 2010.

Steve Alford, UCLA
How can a coach of a team that lost to a No. 14 seed still be a winner? Landing at UCLA, for starters.

Teaser:
<p> The Week of Pitino, the rising stock of McGary and more highlighted this year's March Madness</p>
Post date: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 - 08:20
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That was ... fun.
Louisville’s 82-76 win over Michigan was simply one of the best national title games in several years. Stars Trey Burke and Peyton Siva played at a high level with Burke hitting deep three-pointers and Siva stuffing the stat sheet. Spike Albrecht and Luke Hancock were unexpected heroes. A lack of offense has been an ongoing theme this season, but the title game was the highest scoring championship game since 2009. Hard to believe this was the same game Connecticut and Butler played two years ago.

MVP: Luke Hancock
Hancock matched Michigan big shot for big shot in the first half on the way to 22 points. If you’re keeping track, that’s two 20-point games for Hancock in the Final Four. Off the bench. From a George Mason transfer.

Could also be an MVP: Peyton Siva
Siva turned in a relentless all-around performance, especially in the second half. The senior point guard finished with 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals.

Unsung hero: Chane Behanan
Behanan wasn’t one of Louisville’s top players for most of this run, but he could have been the best player on the floor in the title game as he dominated the glass with 13 rebounds, including five on the offensive end. Behanan added 15 points.

Turning point: The block that wasn’t a block
Michigan was still in striking distance at the 5:01 mark when the Cardinals led 67-64. Peyton Siva bolted down the court on a fast break when Trey Burke went for the block on the layup. Replays appeared to indicate Burke got only the ball, but officials called a personal foul. Siva hit both free throws, Gorgui Dieng hit a pair of shots for a 6-1 Louisville run.

Where’d that come from? Albrecht’s treys
With Trey Burke on the bench with two fouls, Michigan freshman Spike Albrecht was the best player in the first half, quite a feat considering he averaged 1.8 points per game entering Monday night. Albrecht, whose only other scholarship offer came from Appalachian State, scored 17 points on 6 of 7 shooting in the first half. It wasn’t to last, though, as his matchup with Peyton Siva in the second half did not go so well.

Where’d he go? Russ Smith
Russ Smith’s run of 20-point games in the Tournament came to an abrupt end with an awful championship game in the offensive end. After five games as Dr. Jekyll, Smith’s Mr. Hyde game showed up Monday. Smith finished 3 of 16 from the field and 1 of 6 from three-point range.

What was that? Michigan late to foul
Michigan narrowed the lead from 10 points to four in the final minute but inexplicably waited eight seconds to foul into the 30 second mark. Trey Burke was playing with four fouls, but Michigan wasted valuable time to attempt a comeback down the stretch.

History: Pitino’s second title
Louisville coach Rick Pitino became the first coach to win a national title at two schools with his Louisville title joining the 1996 championship at Kentucky.

Teaser:
<p> The Cardinals defeat Wolverines in thrilling title game for first championship since '86</p>
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Shortly before CBS cut to Trey Burke receiving the Naismith Award as the top player in the country, the Michigan point guard wasn’t even the best point guard on his own team in first half of the title game.

With Burke on the bench with two fouls, seldom-used freshman Spike Albrecht stole the show in one of the most thrilling halves in a title game in recent years.

Albrecht, whose only other scholarship offer came from Appalachian State, scored 17 points in the first half for the Wolverines as Michigan took a 38-37 lead.

After averaging 1.8 points per game this season, Albrecht was suddenly the most dangerous player on the floor in the title game, hitting six of his seven shots from the field.

 

Teaser:
<p> Video: Michigan freshman Spike Albrecht lights up Louisville</p>
Post date: Monday, April 8, 2013 - 22:41
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Despite the wild ride of the Final Four, the national championship game feels like a heavyweight bout.

On Saturday, Louisville walk-on Tim Henderson and Michigan’s little-used freshman Caris LeVert combined for 14 points. In a national semifinal.

Call it a hunch, but we expect the national title to be decided by more familiar names.

The title game may have those kinds of surprises, but the championship game will be a fitting time for the best to be at their best. Louisville and Michigan bring us powerhouse programs, All-America-caliber guards, a breakout freshman and a pair of the most accomplished coaches in the game.

On one bench, Rick Pitino is looking to become the first coach to win a basketball title at two schools. On the other, John Beilein is seeking to reach the top of a mountain he’s been climbing for nearly four decades. While Pitino coached at Providence and Kentucky and then the NBA, Beilein has taken a rare path where he’s never been an assistant coach, progressing from high school to junior college to NAIA to Division II and now to the brink of a national championship.

On the court, Russ Smith and Trey Burke have been two of the most prolific guards in the country, though stealing the show has been freshman Mitch McGary, who has turned a pedestrian regular season into a postseason run that could make him an NBA lottery pick.

And yet for all the success for both programs, they’re looking to add to their basketball trophy case for the first time since the 1980s. Louisville is seeking its first title since 1986 while Michigan is seeking its first title since 1989.

Related: Amazing Stats from the semifinals

No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 4 Michigan
Time: 9:23 p.m. Eastern
TV: CBS
Announcers: Jim Nantz,
Clark Kellogg, Steve Kerr
Line: Louisville by 4

Louisville projected starters
G Peyton Siva (6-0/185, Sr.)
G Russ Smith (6-1/165, Jr.)
G/F Wayne Blackshear (6-5/230, So.)
F Chane Behanan (6-6/250, So.)
C Gorgui Dieng (6-11/245, Jr.)
Michigan projected starters
G Trey Burke (6-0/190, So.)
G Nik Stauskas (6-6/190, Fr.)
G Tim Hardaway Jr. (6-6/205, Jr.)
F Glenn Robinson III (6-6/210, Fr.)
F Mitch McGary (6-10/250, Fr.)

Related: The top 15 teams that never won the title

Louisville will win the national title if…
Someone other than Russ Smith is scoring big. Smith is averaging 25 points per game in the tournament, but how Michigan defends the Louisville guard and his supporting cast will be intriguing. The Wolverines have been able to frustrate Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams, Florida’s Erik Murphy and South Dakota State’s Nate Wolters. If Michigan is able to contain Smith -- something no one else in this tournament has been able to do -- the Cardinals need secondary scoring from Peyton Siva, Luke Hancock or Gorgui Dieng.

Michigan will win the national title if…
The Wolverines withstand Louisville’s big run. The Cardinals seem to do it in every game. They find a time when everything is clicking on both ends of the floor -- they’re forcing turnovers, Russ Smith is hitting shots, the rest of the team his hitting three-pointers. Louisville can go on a 10-0 run in a hurry. It’s going to happen against Michigan, the question is if a team starting three freshmen can respond.

Related: Ranking the top 15 players in the Final Four

FIVE BIG STORYLINES

Strength vs. strength
A major topic for this game is going to be the offense vs. defense showdown with Michigan leading Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted offensive rankings and Louisville leading the adjusted defensive rankings. Let’s pause for a minute to remember Louisville can score enough to keep up with Michigan (thanks, in part, to defense creating scoring opportunities). The Cardinals are shooting 53 percent in the tournament and have averaged 79 points per game. The strength vs. strength matchup could just as well be in the offensive end of the court for both teams.

Who blinks in the turnover battle?
The Michigan offense vs. Louisville defense storyline really comes down to the turnover margin. The Wolverines turn the ball over on 14.2 percent of their possessions, the best rate in the country this season. The Cardinals force turnovers on 26.7 percent of possessions, the second-best rate in the country. And who is first in that category? VCU, a team Michigan defeated 78-53 in the round of 32. It’s worth noting that Louisville has forced fewer turnovers in each round of the tournament from North Carolina A&T (27), Colorado State (20), Oregon and Duke (12 each) and Wichita State (11).

Mitch McGary’s emergence
If Michigan wins the championship, McGary would be the leading candidate to be the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Who wins the tourney’s MVP award? Guys like Anthony Davis, Kemba Walker, Emeka Okafor and Carmelo Anthony in the last 10 years. Seriously, look at the list, and keep in mind McGary wasn’t even on the Big Ten’s All-Freshman team.

The Louisville bench
With 34 combined points, Luke Hancock, Montrezl Harrell and Tim Henderson surged in the second half to help the Cardinals pull away from Wichita State on Saturday. Do they have another game like that in them? Recent games say yes. The Louisville bench has contributed at least 20 point sin six consecutive games going back to 41 points from reserves against Syracuse in the Big East final.

Will Trey Burke bounce back?
Trey Burke scored 23 points in the second half and overtime against Kansas in the Sweet 16, but he’s scored only 46 points in the other four and a half tournament games. His four assists against Syracuse was his fewest since March 14. Michigan has proven to be more than its National Player of the Year candidate, but it’s tough to see the Wolverines winning a title without Burke playing a bigger role.

Related: How the Final Four teams were built

ATHLON SPORTS STAFF ROUNDTABLE

Who is the key player for the game?

David Fox: Gorgui Dieng
Michigan is vulnerable in the paint, though less so with the breakout play of Mitch McGary. In any event, Louisville needs more out of its center than what it got Saturday against Wichita State. Dieng attempted one shot from the floor and had one rebound against the Shockers. Granted, Wichita State had a physical front line, and Rick Pitino said Dieng was tentative in blocking shots due to the shortened bench. Dieng should have a more beneficial matchup against Michigan.
Prediction: Louisville 74-71

Braden Gall: Gorgui Dieng
The best defensive team in the nation faces the best offensive team in the nation and the most important player might be the best post defender in the game. Gorgui Dieng was limited by foul issues against Wichita State and Wolverines freshman post man Mitch McGary continues to be downright obnoxious for opposing defenses. McGary has been unreal in all phases of the game this tournament and will be a tough match-up for Dieng in terms of foot speed and quickness. If Dieng can play under control, stay out of foul trouble and neutralize the paint, the veteran Cardinals team and coaching staff will win the day.
Prediction: Louisville 78-72

Mitch Light: Tim Hardaway Jr.
The Wolverines will obviously need to shoot the ball well to beat Louisville. After hitting a combined 8 of 12 from three-point range in Michigan’s first two NCAA games, Hardaway is only 5 of 18 from the arc in the last three. He will have to be more productive on Monday night. And he will need to help Trey Burke and the rest of the guards handle Louisville’s pressure. He won’t be a primary ball-handler, but he must contribute.
Prediction: Michigan 77-73

Mark Ross: Luke Hancock
A co-captain alongside senior guard Peyton Siva, Hancock has been one of the leaders of this Louisville team all season. And while Siva and junior Russ Smith get the majority of the minutes and attention out of the Cardinals' backcourt, don't overlook or downplay Hancock's presence and contributions. The junior swingman was instrumental in Saturday's win over Wichita State, scoring 20 points off of the benc. He hit three of his five attempts from beyond the arc and, more importantly, was five of seven from the free-throw line. Hancock also chipped in 10 points against Duke in the Midwest Regional final and his scoring off of the bench could be a huge factor on Monday night against Michigan. Also, at 6-6, Hancock has enough size to be able to help out on the perimeter against the likes of Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Nik Stauskas or on the wing if he gets matched up against Glenn Robinson III.
Prediction: Louisville 77-66

Teaser:
<p> Both the Cardinals and Wolverines are seeking their first national titles since the 1980s</p>
Post date: Monday, April 8, 2013 - 08:30
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For two athletic programs that are among the most successful in the country, the 2013 national title game will end droughts for both.

Louisville is playing in the national championship game for the first time since winning the title in 1986, a span that has included three Final Four appearances that came up empty. Meanwhile, Michigan is playing in its first title game since the end of the Fab Five era in 1993.

The Cardinals and Wolverines were among the top teams in the country for most of the regular season, but the route to Monday night has been full of surprises. Take a look at all-conference teams. Sure, Russ Smith and Trey Burke are there, but Mitch McGary? Luke Hancock? Tim Henderson?

The regionals were uneventful last week, but the national semifinal games delivered in drama thanks to the names listed above.

Here’s a look at the key numbers from the Final Four going into Monday’s championship game.

13.5. Points per game for Luke Hancock, Montrezl Harrell and Tim Henderson as of Friday
Though he was named a team captain before the season began, Hancock started the season in a shooting funk, making 4 of 29 three-pointers in the first four games and 9 of 41 in the first eight. Before a 20-point breakout against Syracuse in the Big East final, Harrell was an afterthought. The walk-on Henderson had made four three-pointers in 63 minutes all season. And then this happened...

34. Bench points for Louisville against Wichita State
Led by Hancock, the Cardinals’ bench may never pay for a meal in Louisville again. Louisville’s starting five went 10 of 33, and minus Russ Smith, the other four went 4 of 16. Enter the Louisville bench. Hancock’s 20 points and 3-of-5 performance from three-point range made him the hero of Louisville’s 72-68 win over Wichita State. And keep in mind, this isn’t the first time or first program where Hancock has been the tournament star. For George Mason in 2011, Hancock scored 18 points and a game-winning three with 21 seconds left to defeat ninth-seeded Villanova in the first round of the NCAA Tournament that year. Beyond Hancock on Saturday, the walk-on Henderson hit back-to-back threes in the second half, and Harrell went 4-for-4 from the field for eight points. And this doesn’t count Stephan Van Treese, who played key minutes and set screens when Gorgui Dieng sat with foul trouble. Not a bad performance for a bench that was down a man due to the Kevin Ware injury.

2. Double-doubles for Mitch McGary during the regular season
How much of a breakout has Mitch McGary been in the NCAA Tournament? Consider that he had two double-doubles during the regular season against Eastern Michigan and Penn State. He wasn’t even on the Big Ten’s All-Freshman team. And now...

3. Double-doubles for McGary during the NCAA Tournament
McGary has a legitimate chance to be the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. His performance against Syracuse may have been his best of the tournament. He scored 10 points and added 12 rebounds and four blocked shots.

10 of 21. Field goals McGary was responsible for against Syracuse
Perhaps belaboring the point in McGary, the most impressive aspect of his game was his passing out of the high post. McGary finished with six assists -- after having 18 all season before Saturday. Between four baskets and six assists, McGary contributed to 10 of Michigan’s 21 field goals. In comparison, point guard Trey Burke contributed to five.

71.7. Collective winning percentage of coaches John Beilein faced on the way to the title game
Beilein hasn’t taken the easiest path to his first Final Four and now his first title game, especially in terms of the coaches he’s faced to get to Monday night. The coaches he’s faced to get here have won a combined 71.7 percent of the games in their career. This includes: South Dakota State’s Scott Nagy (121-131), VCU’s Shaka Smart (111-37), Kansas’ Bill Self (507-164), Florida’s Billy Donovan (450-186) and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim (920-314). Altogether, that’s 10 Final Fours and four national championships. And now Beilein will face Rick Pitino (661-235, 73.8 career win percentage), who is about to be selected for the Basketball Hall of Fame. By comparison, Pitino’s coaching opponents on the way to the title game have won a combined 66 percent of their games.

26:21. Time without a turnover for Wichita State against Louisville
Louisville’s opponents had 47 turnovers in the first weekend of the tournament, then 24 in the second weekend. Wichita State, though, had the most sure-handed offense against Louisville in the tournament -- at least for a stretch. The Shockers went 26 minutes and 21 seconds of game time without a turnover against Louisville, during which Wichita State built a 12-point lead. That lead eroded to a two-point deficit by the 6:43 mark when the turnover-free streak ended, but things got worse...

7. Turnovers in the following 6:43 for Wichita State
Wichita State made up for lost time in the turnover department in the final seven minutes. After not committing a turnover for more than 26 minutes, the Shockers coughed up the ball three times in a minute and seven in the final six minutes and 43 seconds. Louisville ended up with a 17-10 edge in points off turnovers.

1.13. Michigan’s points per possession
The numbers are deflated a bit in the NCAA Tournament, but Michigan remains one of the most efficient teams in the offensive end. The Wolverines average 1.13 points per possession, good for No. 3 in the country after Gonzaga and Indiana.

0.847. Louisville’s points allowed per possession
Louisville will match Michigan’s offensive prowess with one of the best defensive teams this season. The Cardinals allow 0.847 points per possession, ranking third in the country after Stephen F. Austin and Florida.

33.6. Combined shooting percentage for Trey Burke and Peyton Siva in the NCAA Tournament
Outside of his second-half explosion and game-tying three-pointer against Kansas, Michigan point guard Trey Burke has been quiet in the Tournament, at least in terms of efficiency. He bottomed out with one field goal on nine attempts against Syracuse. He’s shooting 32.4 percent from the field in the Tournament so far (23 of 71). And Burke isn't alone. Though Russ Smith is Louisville’s best offensive threat, Cardinals point guard Peyton Siva hasn’t had the smoothest ride in the tourney. He shot 1 of 9 against Wichita State. He’s shooting 35.6 percent from the field in the tournament (16 of 45). These are two point guards who shot better than 40 percent from the field for the season, making just better than a third of their shots (33.6) in the NCAA Tournament.

Teaser:
<p> Breakout performances from Mitch McGary and Luke Hancock carry Michigan and Louisville to title game</p>
Post date: Monday, April 8, 2013 - 07:25
Path: /college-basketball/final-four-preview-michigan-vs-syracuse
Body:

Michigan and Syracuse arrive at the Final Four both as No. 4 seeds, both as teams that rebounded from late-season struggles.

The path has been similar since about February, but not necessarily in the long term. Despite no Final Fours since the 2003 national title, Syracuse is the well-established basketball program here. The Orange lost four of the top six scorers from last year’s team and still had players like Michael Carter-Williams, C.J. Fair and James Southerland ready to take their place. Michigan has had its share of players take key roles, but they’re fresh faces -- Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas.

Where Syracuse has three McDonald’s All-Americans, Michigan’s best player -- and perhaps the best player in the country -- was a three-star recruit in Trey Burke. And where Syracuse is a player on the national stage each season, Michigan has needed decades to overcome NCAA sanctions from the Fab Five era. Syracuse has waited a decade to be back at the Final Four, but Michigan has waited twice as long.

On Saturday, they’ll fight for the same prize to reach the national title game.

Final Four Preview: Louisville vs. Wichita State

No. 4 Michigan vs. No. 4 Syracuse
Time: 8:49 p.m. Eastern
TV: CBS
Announcers: Jim Nantz,
Clark Kellogg, Steve Kerr
Line: Michigan by 2
Michigan projected starters
G Trey Burke (6-0/190, So.)
G Nik Stauskas (6-6/190, Fr.)
G Tim Hardaway Jr. (6-6/205, Jr.)
F Glenn Robinson III (6-6/210, Fr.)
F Mitch McGary (6-10/250, Fr.)
Syracuse projected starters
G Michael Carter-Williams (6-6/185, So.)
G Brandon Triche (6-4/210, Sr.)
F C.J. Fair (6-8/215, Jr.)
F James Southerland (6-8/215, Sr.)
F Rakeem Christmas (6-9/242, So.)

Michigan will win the national title if…
The Wolverines shoot the ball well from the perimeter. This Michigan team doesn’t rely on the 3-point shot as much as previous John Beilein-coached teams — only 29.8 percent of its points come from beyond the arc — but Michigan’s guards will need to hit open shots against Syracuse’s zone defense on Saturday and against Louisville (assuming the Cards beat Wichita State) on Monday.

Michigan will lose to Syracuse on Saturday if…
Trey Burke gets off to another slow start and Mitch McGary doesn’t play well. The Wolverines have survived some subpar performances from Burke, but they will need him to be strong throughout against surging Syracuse. McGary, the freshman big man, could be a key part of the offense as it looks for gaps in the Orange zone.

Related: Ranking the top 15 players in the Final Four

Syracuse will win the national title if…
Its zone defense continues to baffle. Through four NCAA Tournament games, Syracuse’s four opponents have combined to shoot 29 percent from the field and 15 percent from 3-point range. The Orange are also averaging 6.3 blocks and 11 steals per game. This team can get away with playing just average on offense if it continues to defend the way it has the past two weekends.

Syracuse will lose to Michigan on Saturday if…
They allow the Wolverines’ shooters to get comfortable. Michigan, unlike many teams Syracuse has faced recently, has decent size on the perimeter. Trey Burke is only 6-foot, but Tim Hardaway Jr. and Nick Stauskas are both 6-6 — and that should help them get quality shots against the length of the Syracuse defenders.

Related: How the Final Four teams were built

ATHLON SPORTS STAFF ROUNDTABLE

Who is the key player for the game?

David Fox: Nik Stauskas
Zone teams are susceptible to the 3-point shot, but Syracuse is allowing opponents to convert only 28.2 percent of their shots from long range. That hasn’t stopped teams from trying as Syracuse allows 21.6 treys per game. Stauskas can get hot from 3-point range, as he did with a 6-for-6 performance against Florida. If shots open up for him on the big stage, will the freshman be ready?
Prediction: Michigan 66-62

Braden Gall: Michael Carter-Williams
The breakdown of this game is fairly simple. If the Wolverines hit outside shots against the Cuse zone, Michigan will win. If not, the Orange will set-up a fourth meeting with the Redbirds on Monday night. Tim Hardaway and Trey Burke lead what is the nation's top offensive team but the Orange's zone defense is polished, long and impossible to penetrate. Look for the developing superstar point guard Michael Carter-Williams to be the difference maker by continuing his efficient play. Jim Boeheim's career record against John Beilein will move to 10-0 in Atlanta.
Prediction: Syracuse 65-60

Mitch Light: Mitch McGary
McGary has been one of the best players in the NCAA Tournament. If he continues to play well, Michigan has a legitimate chance to win it all. He will be especially key against Syracuse because he gives Michigan a big and active body around the basket. McGary has averaged 17.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in four NCAA Tournament games. The Wolverines will need to shoot well to beat Syracuse, but they will also have to get some production in the pain. McGary can give them that production.
Prediction: Michigan 73-67

Mark Ross: Mitch McGary
The freshman has saved his best basketball for the end, as he's come just two rebounds shy of posting four straight double-doubles in the NCAA Tournament. His best two games of the season came against VCU (21 pts, 14 rbs) and Kansas (25,14) and he's shooting better than 73 percent from the field in the Tournament. At 6-10, he's taller than anyone on Syracuse's roster other than Baye Keita, who is a reserve and plays limited minutes. As good as Syracuse has been defensively, the Orange have been out-rebounded over their last three games. If McGary can continue his stellar play, his size and ability to score inside could help guards Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Nik Stauskas find more open spots in Syracuse's vaunted 2-3 zone.
Prediction: Michigan 68-63

Nathan Rush: Glenn Robinson III
Big Dog's boy, Glenn Robinson III, will have to bring his A-game (or, better yet, his NBA-game) in order for Michigan to outlast Syracuse's suffocating 2-3 zone. GR3's point production has gone down in each round of the Tourney, from 21 to 14 to 13 to 6. That trend has to reverse in order for the Maize-and-Blue to advance to the final Monday of March Madness (er, April Madness).
Prediction: Michigan 75-73
 

Teaser:
<p> How each team can win and key players for the Wolverines and Orange</p>
Post date: Friday, April 5, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-basketball/final-four-preview-louisville-vs-wichita-state
Body:

Louisville and Wichita State endured gut-checks in the form of three-game losing streaks earlier this season. Until the Final Four, that’s one of the few things the Cardinals and Shockers have had in common.

Louisville lost to Syracuse, Villanova and Georgetown from Jan. 19-26, putting the Cardinals’ national championship bona fides in doubt. Wichita State lost to Indiana State, Northern Iowa and Southern Illinois from jan. 29-Feb. 5, putting the Shockers’ tournament hopes in question at the time.

To give his team a boost, Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall name-dropped to Louisville for inspiration.

“When we didn't win 'em, it's interesting now that we're facing Louisville, because I pointed to Louisville,” Marshall said. “I pointed to Kansas. Great teams with great coaches that also suffered that type of blip, if you will, in their run to a marvelous season.”

Louisville lost only once since then -- to Notre Dame on the road in five overtimes -- and appears to be the national championship favorite. Wichita State recovered, too, but really hit its stride when it defeated Pittsburgh, Gonzaga, La Salle and Ohio State to reach the Final Four.

So here’s Marshall at his first Final Four after being a head coach continuously since 1998. He has the lowest-seeded team standing. His roster is littered with transfers, mutli-year projects and unearthed recruits. He faces Louisville, which is led by a national championship coach who is making his seventh Final Four appearance with his third school.

“There's a lot of great coaches out there a lot better than me who have never been there,” Pitino said. “It's very difficult to get to a Final Four because along the way, you may need a little luck, along the way you may need a shot at the buzzer or a free throw.”

Final Four Preview: Michigan vs. Syracuse

No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 9 Wichita State
Time: 6:09 p.m. Eastern
TV: CBS
Announcers: Jim Nantz,
Clark Kellogg, Steve Kerr
Line: Louisville by 10 1/2

Louisville projected starters
G Peyton Siva (6-0/185, Sr.)
G Russ Smith (6-1/165, Jr.)
G/F Wayne Blackshear (6-5/230, So.)
F Chane Behanan (6-6/250, So.)
C Gorgui Dieng (6-11/245, Jr.)
Wichita State projected starters
G Malcolm Armstead (6-0/205, Sr.)
G Ron Baker (6-3/218, RFr.)
G Tekele Cotton (6-2/202, So.)
F Cleanthony Early (6-8/215, Jr.)
F Carl Hall (6-8/238, Sr.)

Louisville will win the national title if…
The Cardinals can maintain their current level of play. Louisville entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed and has looked the part so far. The Cards were dominant in all four wins, controlling the game with their pressure defense and speed in transition. Rick Pitino’s club enters the Final Four as the overwhelming favorite to win it all.

Louisville will lose to Wichita State on Saturday if…
The Cardinals have trouble shooting the ball from the perimeter and their big men are hit with foul trouble. About the only thing Louisville does not do well is shoot the ball with consistency from the 3-point line. The nightmare scenario for the Cards is a 1-for-14 performance from the arc combined with two early fouls on Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan.

Related: Ranking the top 15 players in the Final Four

Wichita State will win the national title if…
They can continue to play outstanding defense while also staying hot from the 3-point line. In their four NCAA Tournament wins, the Shockers are holding their opponents to a combined 34.3 percent shooting. And since making only 2-of-20 from 3-point range in a Round of 64 win over Pittsburgh, Wichita State is connecting on 45 percent from three.

Wichita State will lose to Louisville on Saturday if…
They don’t play their finest game of the season. Wichita State has been terrific in the NCAA Tournament — knocking off a No. 1 seed and a No. 2 seed — but Louisville will be the best team the Shockers will play all season. They must protect the ball, something they didn’t do very well during the regular season (144th nationally in turnover percentage).

Related: How the Final Four teams were built

ATHLON SPORTS STAFF ROUNDTABLE

Who is the key player for the game?

David Fox: Malcolm Armstead
Wichita State is going to need just about everyone to play out of their minds to beat Louisville. Even if I take it as a given that Carl Hall is going to win his matchup on the boards, and Ron Baker and Cleanthony Early are going to hit outside shots, the Shockers still need a standout game from lefty point guard Malcolm Armstead against the Cardinals’ backcourt. He’ll need to be sure-handed against a team that was second nationally in steals per possession. There’s evidence he can rise to the occasion -- Armstead scored 14 points (albeit on 21 shots) with three steals and three assists against Aaron Craft in the Elite Eight. He’ll need to top that if Wichita State is going to beat Louisville
Prediction: Louisville 77-66

Braden Gall: Gorgui Dieng
Rick Pitino's Cardinals are on the warpath right now and the Shockers won't be able to keep Louisville from the championship game. The Cards play the best team defense in the nation and the roster is loaded with star players who were in this exact situation a year ago in New Orleans. Russ Smith and Peyton Siva have the experience and talent to score at will and the backcourt duo won't be denied this time around. That said, Gorgui Dieng is the most important player on the court as he completely controls the paint and demoralizes opposing scorers. Look for the Cards defense to suffocate the Shockers out of the Final Four on Saturday night.
Prediction: Louisville 78-65

Mitch Light: Malcolm Armstead
In order to have a chance to beat Louisville, you have to keep your turnovers to a minimum. There will be pressure on Armstead to take care of the ball, something he has done well so far in the NCAA Tournament. The Shockers don’t need Armstead to score — they just need him to run the team and do his best to prevent Louisville from scoring easy baskets in transition.
Prediction: Louisville 89-73

Mark Ross: Gorgui Dieng
At 6-11, Dieng will have the height advantage inside against Wichita State. The Shockers' two leading rebounders, Carl Hall and Cleanthony Early, each stand just 6-8. Ehimen Orukpe is a seven-footer, but he is averaging around 15 minutes per game. Dieng has been a force inside for Louisville all season, averaging 9.5 rebounds per game along with 10.2 points and 2.5 blocks. In the Cardinals' march to the Final Four Dieng has been even more effective, totaling 44 points, 30 rebounds, 10 blocks and seven steals in four Tournament games while shooting 83.3 percent (20-of-24) from the floor. Outside of its Sweet 16 win over LaSalle (plus-21 rebound margin), Wichita State has been out-rebounded (minus-seven margin) in its victories over Pitt, Gonzaga and Ohio State. As long as Dieng can stay out of foul trouble (he fouled out against Duke in the Regional Final win), he should be able to have an impact on both ends of the floor Saturday night.
Prediction: Louisville 76-66

Nathan Rush: Carl Hall
Wichita State big man Carl Hall will have to defend the paint like he did against Ohio State — when he swatted six shots in a 70–66 upset win — if the Shockers hope to continue their Cinderella run against Louisville. The Cardinals, led by Russ Smith and Peyton Siva, were given too many uncontested layups against Duke. Hall must make Smith and Siva think twice about challenging the Shockers inside.
Prediction: Louisville 80-64
 

Teaser:
<p> How each team can win and key players for the Cardinals and Shockers</p>
Post date: Friday, April 5, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-basketball/mike-rice-fired-rutgers-who-are-candidates-replace-him-coach
Body:

A day after a video compilation of player mistreatment aired on ESPN, Rutgers fired coach Mike Rice on March 3.

After the program recovers from a public relations nightmare which cost the job of the basketball coach, the work will begin to hire a replacement for a struggling program in transition.

Rutgers will be an intriguing job to fill. The Scarlet Knights are lacking in tradition an recent success. The Scarlet Knights have not had a winning season since 2006, have not reached the NCAA Tournament since 1991 as an Atlantic 10 team and have not won a tournament game since 1983. Yet Rutgers will move into the Big Ten in 2014, leaving a more logical fit geographically for what will be one of the top basketball conferences.

POTENTIAL CANDIDATES TO REPLACE MIKE RICE AT RUTGERS

Bill Carmody, former Northwestern coach
Carmody brought Northwestern to the brink of its first NCAA Tournament on several occasions but failed to get over the hump (injuries to key players at times didn’t help). To put that in perspective, Northwestern’s four consecutive NIT appearances were a big deal given the Wildcats’ history. Before Northwestern, Carmody went 28-0 in the Ivy League in his first two seasons at Princeton.

Tim Cluess, Iona
A New York native, Cluess has risen through the coaching ranks from high school to community college to Division II to Iona, where the Gaels have reached the NCAA Tournament the last two years. A former player at St. John’s, Cluess has never had a losing season as a college coach.

Fran Fraschilla, former New Mexico coach
His name has popped up for open jobs before, but he’s 11 seasons removed from his last coaching gig at New Mexico. Prior to that, the ESPN analyst reached the NCAA Tournament at Manhattan and St. John’s.

John Giannini, La Salle
La Salle was one of the last teams in the NCAA Tournament this season, but took advantage by going from the First Four to the Sweet 16. This season was the culmination of a long rebuild at La Salle. Giannini, who took over in 2004, led La Salle to its first back-to-back 20-win season since the Lionel Simmons era in the late 80s. Giannini previously won a Division III national title at Rowan in Glassboro, N.J.

Ben Howland, former UCLA coach
Rutgers would have a rare chance to hire a three-time Final Four coach, but then again, it’s also rare that a three-time Final Four coach gets fired. He’s spent most of his coaching career out West, but don’t forget that he become a national name by reviving Pittsburgh’s program a decade ago.

Danny Hurley, Rhode Island
Athlon ranked Hurley’s hire at Rhode Island the best coaching move in 2012-13. He’d be an even better fit at Rutgers. The ties to New Jersey run deep. His father, Bob Hurley, is the legendary coach at St. Anthony’s in Jersey City. Danny himself coached at St. Benedict’s in Jersey City before going to Wagner of the Northeast Conference. A former Rutgers assistant, Danny Hurley led Wagner to a school-record 25 wins after the program won only five games the year before he arrived.

Eddie Jordan, Los Angeles Lakers assistant
A Rutgers alum, Jordan would bring clout to a program lacking any. Jordan has had three stints as a head coach in the NBA, including four playoff appearances with the Washington Wizards.

Steve Masiello, Manhattan
A former assistant at Louisville under Rick Pitino, Masiello is 35-31 at Manhattan and 21-15 in the MAAC. Masiello is a former walk-on at Kentucky under Pitino and Tubby Smith.

Steve Pikiell, Stony Brook
Stony Brook has not had a postseason breakthrough under Pikiell, but the Seawolves have been one of the most consistent programs in the America East over the last four seasons. Stony Brook has won three of the last four regular season titles before losing in the conference tournament.

Al Skinner, former Boston College coach
Skinner hasn’t been a head coach since 2010, but he had more than two decades of experience at Rhode Island and Boston College. He rebuilt a struggling program at Rhode Island and thrived in the Big East at BC before the program tailed off after a handful assistants left and the Eagles moved to the ACC.

Teaser:
<p> Rice was fired amid a player mistreatment scandal. Plenty of good candidates could be available for the Scarlet Knights.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 - 15:16
Path: /college-basketball/ranking-top-15-players-final-four
Body:

The cast of characters in this year’s Final Four covers a wide range of careers and personalities, and pretty much all are at the top of their games.

Michigan’s Trey Burke is the only Associated Press All-American still left competing for a title, but there are plenty of standout players in the mix. Peyton Siva and Michael Carter-Williams were All-America caliber players at midseason, and Russ Smith was a potential national player of the year contender. All have returned to that form in the last two weeks.

Meanwhile, players like Michigan’s Mitch McGary and Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng have hit their stride in the postseason. And the well-traveled veterans at Wichita State now stand alongside McDonald’s All-Americans.

Ranking the top players remaining in the NCAA Tournament is no easy task. We ranked our top 15 players in the Final Four based on talent, value to his team and overall production, weighted to the last few weeks.

Related: How the Final Four teams were built

TOP 15 PLAYERS IN THE 2013 FINAL FOUR

1. Trey Burke, Michigan
Particulars: 6-0/190, So.
Last school: Columbus (Ohio) Northland
Burke never led Michigan in scoring in any of the Wolverines’ four tournament wins, but he’s never been more valuable. And it’s not just his deep three-pointer to tie Kansas at the end of regulation in the Sweet 16. He’s had at least seven assists in each tournament game, including 10 against Kansas.

2. Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
Particulars: 6-6/185, So.
Last school: Barrington (R.I.) St. Andrew’s School
The point guard had a slump earlier this season, but he’s back to form in the tournament. Stop him from scoring and he’ll pick you apart with his passing. Shut down his passing lanes, and he can drop 20 as he did against Indiana.

3. Russ Smith, Louisville
Particulars: 6-0/165, Jr.
Last school: South Kent (Conn.)
Smith had his scoring woes at midseason, but he’s been even better than his early-season form. The enigmatic shooting guard is averaging 26 points per game in the tournament on an average of 15.3 shots from the field per game.

4. Gorgui Dieng, Louisville
Particulars: 6-11/245, Jr.
Last school: Huntington (W. Va.) Prep
The top big man in the Final Four, Dieng has needed three years to develop his all-around game, and it’s been worth the wait. In the regional against Duke and Oregon, Dieng averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. As recently as the Big East championship, he had eight assists out of the post.

5. James Southerland, Syracuse
Particulars: 6-8/215, Sr.
Last school: Fitchburg (Mass.) Notre Dame Prep
Southerland hasn’t had the breakout in the NCAA Tournament he’s capable of producing, at least from the offensive end. The senior was one of Syracuse’s most productive players on a per-minute basis with 18.3 points per 40 minutes

6. Peyton Siva, Louisville
Particulars: 6-0/184, Sr.
Last school: Seattle (Wash.) Franklin
One of Rick Pitino’s all-time favorite players may lead the Cardinals to a national championship. The point guard leads the Cardinals at both ends of the floor as Louisville is playing as well as it has all season on both offense and defense.

7. C.J. Fair, Syracuse
Particulars: 6-8/215, Jr.
Last school: Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Academy
With his length and ability to create his own shot, Fair is tough to guard. Fair and Georgetown’s Otto Porter were the only two players in the Big East to rank in the top 10 in the league in scoring and rebounding.

8. Mitch McGary, Michigan
Particulars: 6-10/250, Fr.
Last school: Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Academy
The Wolverines’ freshman big man has been one of the true breakout players in this year’s NCAA Tournament. He started only six games this season, but he’s averaging 17.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in the tourney. McGary has given Michigan a sorely needed inside presence, and he’s been tabbed as a possible first-round draft pick if he leaves school early.

9. Carl Hall, Wichita State
Particulars: 6-8/238, Sr.
Last school: Northwest Florida State
Wichita State used its edge in rebounding to carry it to the Final Four, and one of its best on the glass is Hall. The junior college transfer who needed to treat a heart condition before playing college basketball also has 12 blocks in his last three games.

10. Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
Particulars: 6-6/205, Jr.
Last school: Miami Palmetto Senior
Hardaway has done in the tournament what he did all season, giving Michigan a secondary scorer and a veteran presence. The junior is averaging 13.5 points per game in the tournament on 41.7 percent shooting.

11. Cleanthony Early, Wichita State
Particulars: 6-8/215, Jr.
Last school: Sullivan Junior College
Sometimes Early needs to jarred into maintaining his focus, but that’s been the case in the tournament so far. When Early finds his scoring touch, watch out. He also had seven rebounds in every game so far and launched four three-pointers against Gonzaga.

12. Nik Stauskas, Michigan
Particulars: 6-6/190, Fr.
Last school: Southborough (Mass.) St. Mark’s School
Another one of Michigan’s freshmen who took advantage of all the focus going to Burke, Stauskas proved what can happen when he gets hot from three-point range. Stauskas broke out for 22 points with a 6-for-6 mark from beyond the arc against Florida.

13. Glenn Robinson III, Michigan
Particulars: 6-6/210, Fr.
Last school: St. John (Ind.) Lake Central
Robinson didn’t match the 21 points he had against South Dakota State in the round of 64, but he grabbed a combined 17 rebounds and blocked give shots against VCU and Kansas. With Burke’s playmaking ability, McGary’s play inside, Stauskas’ play from the perimeter, Robinson adds a dimension to the offense by slashing to the basket and running the floor.

14. Malcolm Armstead, Wichita State
Particulars: 6-0/205, Sr.
Last school: Oregon
The well-traveled point guard started at Chipola Junior College in Florida, transferred to Oregon and then paid his own way to Wichita State. The lefty is unflappable, averaging 15.5 points per game in the tournament.

15. Brandon Triche, Syracuse
Particulars: 6-4/210, Sr.
Last school: Jamesville (N.Y.) Jamesville-DeWitt
Syracuse needs Triche to make shots to be at its best in the Final Four. That was clear during Syracuse’s struggles in early March. The senior bounced back late in the year and hit 6 of 12 shots for 14 points against Indiana in the Sweet 16.

Teaser:
<p> Louisville has the top team, but Michigan's Trey Burke takes the top spot</p>
Post date: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-basketball/how-final-four-teams-were-built
Body:

Being a Missouri Valley team and a No. 9 seed isn't the only way Wichita State is an outlier in the Final Four. Gregg Marshall’s roster is an anomaly in this year's national semifinals.

Unlike the the other three Final Four teams, Wichita State leaned on transfers -- from junior college and Division I -- and grizzled veterans to reach the final weekend of the basketball season.

The volume of Division I transfers in recent years has been an issue around college basketball, but it won’t be at the Final Four. The majority of key players at Louisville, Michigan and Syracuse signed with their schools out of high school and stayed.

That’s one of a handful of interesting nuggets we found when we looked at the composition of the Final Four rosters. For the purposes of the piece, we counted only players who played at least two games and 15 total minutes in the first two weeks of the tourney.

Here’s how the Final Four teams were built:

Homegrown talent

• Louisville, Michigan and Syracuse built their teams from high school talent. Of those three teams, the Cardinals’ Luke Hancock, who transferred from George Mason, is the only Division I or junior college transfer.

• Wichita State has four transfers earning regular minutes, including starters Cleanthony Early, Carl Hall, Malcolm Armstead and Ehimen Orukpe. All came directly from junior college except for Armstead, who transferred from Oregon after transferring from junior college.

That’s not to say the other schools didn’t benefit from roster turnover at other programs. Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell decommitted from Virginia Tech, and Kevin Ware decommmitted from UCF and at one point signed with Tennessee.

• Although Louisville, Michigan and Syracuse didn’t add transfers, they contributed to the pool of players in the transfer market. Evan Smotrycz (Maryland), Dayeesha Hollins (Cincinnati) and Carlton Brundidge (Detroit) transferred from Michigan. Rakeem Buckles (FIU), Angel Nunez (Gonzaga) and Elisha Justice (NAIA) transferred from Louisville. Terry Rozier went to Hargrave Military Academy and Justin Coleman did not qualify academically rather than enrolling at Louisville. Da’Shonte Riley signed with Syracuse but transferred to Eastern Michigan.

A recruiting mixed bag

• Three of the four teams had at least one top-20 signing class since 2010, according to Rivals.com. The exception, not surprisingly, is Wichita State. The Shockers did not appear in Rivals’ class rankings since 2009.

• Michigan’s 2012 class of Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III, Spike Albrecht and Nik Stauskas was ranked seventh.

• Louisville’s 2011 class of Chane Behanan, Wayne Blackshear, Zach Price, Kevin Ware and Angel Nunez was ranked ninth.

• Syracuse’s 2012 class of Fab Melo, Dion Waiters, Baye Keita and C.J. Fair was ranked seventh, though Melo and Waiters declared early for the NBA draft. Syracuse’s 2011 class of Rakeem Christmas, Michael Carter-Williams and Trevor Cooney was ranked 16h.

• The Final Four will feature six McDonald’s All-Americans, though they’re on only two teams -- Carter-Williams, Christmas and DaJuan Coleman for Syracuse and Behanan, Blackshear and Peyton Siva for Louisville.

• No individual state dominated the Final Four rosters, though four players finished their high school careers in New York (Syracuse’s Brandon Triche  and DaJuan Coleman, Louisville’s Russ Smith and Wichita State’s Cleanthony Early).

• Only two finished their high school careers in the Mountain or Pacific time zones -- Louisville’s Siva (Washington) and Wichita State’s Demetric Williams (Nevada).

• Two players in the Final Four were born in Africa -- Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng from Senegal and Wichita State’s Ehimen Orukpe from Nigeria.

Young vs. old

• Michigan is the youngest team in the Final Four whereas Wichita State is the oldest. The Wolverines have five regulars who graduated high school in the class of 2012. That’s two more than the other three teams combined -- Syracuse has two, Louisville has one, Wichita State has none.

• The Shockers, however, have four players who graduated in the class of 2011. At the same time, they have some of more seasoned players in the Final Four. Carl Hall is one of two players here to graduate high school in the class of 2007. He enrolled at Middle Georgia College in 2007-08 before a heart condition forced him to temporarily give up basketball until he returned to the game at Northwest Florida State in 2010-11. He transferred to Wichita State the following year. Shockers guard Malcolm Armstead started his college career at Chipola (Fla.) Junior College in 2007, transferred to Oregon in 2009, and transferred to Wichita State in 2011.

Where they’re going

• Seven players in the Final Four were ranked among DraftExpress’ top 100 prospects for the 2013 draft, led by four from Michigan. Wichita State continued to be an outlier here with none on that list. Those players were:

10. Trey Burke, Michigan
15. Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
20. Glenn Robinson III, Michigan
24. Gorgui Dieng, Louisville
46. Mitch McGary, Michigan
51. Russ Smith, Louisville
83. Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan

Teaser:
<p> Louisville, Michigan, Syracuse and Wichita State took different paths to building winners</p>
Post date: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 09:46
Path: /college-basketball/kevin-wares-leg-injury-becomes-sundays-top-story-reaction-around-country
Body:

Louisville romped in the second half against Duke to defeat the Blue Devils 85-63 for a trip to its second Final Four, but the news of the day was the devastating injury to Cardinals guard Kevin Ware.

Attempting to defend a three-point shot, the sophomore guard landed awkwardly on his right leg, causing it to break in two places and the bone to protrude the skin. The injury occurred in front of the Cardinals’ bench, causing teammates in to recoil in horror. On the floor, Chane Behanan collapsed to the ground. Russ Smith sobbed. Rick Pitino wiped a tear form his eye.

“It was really hard for me to pull myself together because I didn't ever think in a million years I would see something like that,” Smith told reporters after the game. “And that happened, especially, to a guy like Kevin Ware, I was completely devastated.”

On the court, Louisville must replace Ware’s production. He has become increasingly more valuable off the bench for the Cardinals in recent weeks, but Louisville is one of the deepest teams in the Final Four. Guard Tim Henderson played seven minutes against Duke, as many as he played in the rout over round of 64 opponent North Carolina A&T.

Here’s a roundup of the reaction to Ware’s injury:

► Peyton Siva posted to Instagram a photo of Ware, fresh out of surgery, with the Midwest region trophy.

► The Louisville Courier-Journal’s C.L. Brown explains how the Cardinals found the motivation to win after Ware’s injury.

► Eric Crawford of Louisville’s WDRB takes us moment by moment from the injury to the postgame comments.

► Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn spoke to Ware’s mother, Lisa Junior, who watched the game from home in Conyers, Ga. “You still cannot comprehend the horror of a mother watching it on TV, when CBS opted to show the play again. 'When I saw the replay,' Lisa said, 'I lost it.'"

► Sports on Earth’s Will Leitch delves into the decision to show the injury, to post a GIF of the injury or not (The Big Lead, Buzzfeed, Deadspin and Yahoo posted GIFs; ESPN, SB Nation, SI and USA Today did not, Leitch notes).

“We can moralize all we want and tell ourselves we're taking the high road,” Leitch wrote. “But we are human beings. If someone turns on the stove and tells us it's hot, we can't blame them when we go ahead and put our hand on it. We can only blame ourselves.”

► Through the evening Sunday and into Monday morning, media organizations debated whether or not to air replays of Ware’s injury. The video can be found easily on YouTube. WARNING: The video of Ware’s injury is extremely graphic. Do not click on the video if you do not want to see a graphic leg injury.

► Clay Travis noted the morality play brought about on Twitter for those who opted to post video of the injury, noting that Oscar-nominated film The Blind Side opens with a scene of a horrific sports injury.

► Forbes contributor Dan Diamond looked into the morality of college athletics and where does Ware go from here from an NCAA and institution perspective.

► Many reacted on Twitter, but the most resonant comments came from athletes who sustained similar injuries, including former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann and former Louisville running back Michael Bush.

 

 

Teaser:
<p> From Louisville's emotional comeback to debates on showing the injury, Ware's broken leg became the focus</p>
Post date: Monday, April 1, 2013 - 11:40
Path: /college-basketball/amazing-stats-leading-final-four
Body:

The field is set for the 2013 Final Four, and three quarters of it managed to surprise us.

Michigan and Syracuse struggled near the end of the regular season, but the Wolverines’ freshmen and the Orange’s defense carried the way to the national semifinals. And Wichita State couldn’t overtake Missouri Valley champion Creighton during the regular season, but took over its region.

And then there’s Louisville. In a year that seemed to lack a frontrunner for most of the season, the Cardinals captured that role. Louisville won 17 of its last 18 games, culminating Sunday with an 85-63 win over No. 2 seed Duke.

From prohibitive title favorite in Louisville to one of the true surprises in Wichita State, here are the key numbers from the weekend and the four teams left standing in the NCAA Tournament:

18. Combined seed ranking for the Final Four
With No. 1 Louisville, No. 4 Michigan, No. 4 Syracuse and No. 9 Wichita State reaching the Final Four, the combined seeding of 18 is the fifth-highest since the NCAA began seeding teams in 1979. The Final Fours with higher combined seed rankings:
1980 (21): No. 2 Louisville*, No. 5 Iowa, No. 7 Purdue, No. 8 UCLA
2000 (20): No. 1 Michigan State*, No. 5 Florida, No. 8 North Carolina, No. 8 Wisconsin
2006 (20): No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 Florida*, No. 4 LSU, No. 11 George Mason
2011 (26): No. 3 Connecticut*, No. 4 Kentucky, No. 8 Butler, No. 11 VCU
*Won national title

21-18. Record in February and March for Michigan, Syracuse and Wichita State
How important is it to be the hot hand before the NCAA Tournament? Not very, at least in 2013. Michigan (6-6), Syracuse (8-7) and Wichita State (7-5) went a combined 21-18 in February and March heading into the NCAA Tournament. And what’s more, Michigan and Wichita State both lost to the last-place teams in their respective conferences during that span. In addition, Wichita State and Syracuse lost their final games in January. The outlier here is Louisville, which went 12-1 in February and March, its only loss in five overtimes to Notre Dame. The Cardinals are also the only Final Four team that won either its regular season conference title or conference tournament. The Cardinals shared the Big East regular season title and won the conference tournament as a No. 2 seed.

64-43. Amount Louisville outscored Duke after the Kevin Ware injury
Kevin Ware’s gruesome injury -- which caused the Louisville guard’s bone to pop out of the skin of his right leg -- prompted an emotional reaction from the Cardinals. Guard Russ Smith sobbed, and coach Rick Pitino wiped a tear from his eye. Several players for both teams fell to their knees. Louisville, though, regrouped by outscoring Duke 64-43 after the injury. The Cardinals led 21-20 at the 6:33 mark when the injury occurred.

4. Coaches to lead a team to the Final Four in four different decades
An eventful season for Jim Boeheim included his 900th win and now a Final Four, making him one of four coaches to lead a team to the national semifinals in four decades. He joins Dean Smith of North Carolina, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and Rick Pitino of Providence, Kentucky and Louisville in that rare company. Boeheim previously led Syracuse to the Final Four in 1987, 1996 and 2003.

43.3. Points per game by Michigan’s top three freshmen in the tournament
Hard to believe as it is, Michigan advanced to the Final Four without Trey Burke leading the team in scoring in any game in the NCAA Tournament. Of course, Burke’s heroics and his game-tying three pointer against Kansas moved Michigan into the Elite Eight, but the Wolverines wouldn’t have come this far without contributions from their top three freshmen. Mitch McGary, Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III averaged a combined 43.3 points per game in the NCAA Tournament after combining to average 26 points per game during the regular season. McGary had 21 points and 14 rebounds against VCU and then 25 points and 14 rebounds against Kansas. In the Elite Eight against Florida, Nik Stauskas was the beneficiary of the Gators’ attention on Burke. The guard hit all six of his shots from three-point range on the way to 22 points.

Plus-10. Wichita State’s edge in offensive rebounds in the second weekend
Wichita State entered the tournament as one of the best rebounding teams in the country. The Shockers ranked seventh nationally in rebound rate, grabbing 55.6 percent of possible rebounds. The Shockers dominated the glass in wins over La Salle and Ohio State, grabbing 30 offensive rebounds compared to 20 for their opponents.

1. Missouri Valley team to reach the Final Four since 1979
Wichita State not only became the fourth team seeded ninth or lower to reach the Final Four in the 64-team era, the Shockers also ended a long drought of Missouri Valley teams in the Final Four. The Shockers are the first MVC team to reach the Final Four since Larry Bird led Indiana State to the national title game in 1979. The Missouri Valley produced national champions in Cincinnati (1961 and 1962) and Oklahoma A&M, now Oklahoma State (1945 and 1946).

61-to-67. Field goal-to-turnover ratio for Syracuse’s tournament opponents
How tough has it been to score on Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament? Put it this way: Teams were more likely to cough up the ball than score a basket against the Orange during their run to the Final Four. Syracuse’s opponents had 61 field goals and 67 turnovers. Round of 32 foe Cal was the only team to have more field goals (22) than turnovers (17).

40. Years since a final 16 team failed to score 40 points
Marquette’s 39 points against Syracuse in the Elite Eight were the fewest for a team in the regional semifinals or later in 40 years. UCLA defeated San Francisco 54-39 in the regional final in 1973.

3. Consecutive Elite Eight losses for Florida
Florida is the first team to lose in the Elite Eight in three consecutive tournaments, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Before losing to Michigan, the Gators lost to Louisville in 2012 and Butler in 2011. Before 2011, Florida won its first four trips in the regional final in 1994, 2000, 2006 and 2007.

Teaser:
<p> Key numbers for Louisville, Michigan, Syracuse and Wichita State as they head to the Final Four</p>
Post date: Monday, April 1, 2013 - 07:35
Path: /college-basketball/elite-eight-sunday-schedule-times-tv-announcers-and-more
Body:

The second day of the Elite Eight may feel more like a Final Four or national championship weekend.

The South and Midwest regional finals feature four teams that were ranked No. 1 for stretches this season (Louisville, Duke and Michigan) plus a team that spent time ranked No. 2 (Florida).

Duke, Michigan and Louisville were ranked Nos. 1-3 in that order as recently as Jan. 7. Florida, Michigan and Duke were ranked Nos. 2-4 on Feb. 4.

The star power will be in full force, particularly on the bench where Michigan’s John Beilein is the only coach without a national championship.

But only two will stand at the end of the day when two teams will join Syracuse and Ohio State in the Final Four.

Here’s a quick look at Sunday’s games, including times, television networks and broadcast pairings.

SUNDAY ELITE EIGHT VIEWERS GUIDE
All times p.m. Eastern

No. 4 Michigan vs. No. 3 Florida
Time and TV: 2:20, CBS
Region: South, Arlington, Texas
Announcers: Marv Albert, Steve Kerr
Last Final Four appearances: Michigan (1993), Florida (2007)
From the Sweet 16: Trey Burke scored 23 of Michigan’s 53 points in the second half and overtime against Kansas, but Mitch McGary (19.7 points, 12.3 rebounds in the tourney) continued to be the breakout star of the Wolverines’ tournament run. After a shaky start, Florida ended Florida Gulf Coast’s miracle run through the tournament with a defensive pressure that had 11 steals and contributed to 20 FGCU turnovers.
What to watch: The Gators defeated a No. 14 (Northwestern State), a No. 11 (Minnesota) and a No. 15 (Florida Gulf Coast) on the way to the Elite Eight. The Wolverines defeated a No. 13 (South Dakota State), a No. 5 (VCU) and a No. 1 (Kansas). The Gators’ defense eventually shut down Florida Gulf Coast, but they did so with a lineup favoring Casey Prather and Will Yeguete over leading scorer Erik Murphy. Expect the Gators’ Scottie Wilbekin to draw Burke, but Murphy or Patric Young will be on the spot against McGary and an interior defense that struggled to stop Kansas’ forwards.
Game in a Tweet: On Friday, Trey Burke joined Billy Donovan as one of five players with 20 points and 10 assists in a Sweet 16 game.

No. 2 Duke vs. No. 1 Louisville
Time and TV: 5:05, CBS
Region: Midwest, Indianapolis
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg
Last Final Four appearances: Duke (2010), Louisville (2012)
From the Sweet 16: Louisville overcame Oregon’s tenacity and a case of the sniffles running through the Cards' roster to defeat the Ducks. The Cardinals’ defensive pressure and Russ Smith continued to work at a high level. Michigan State kept it close with Duke, but Seth Curry was virtually unstoppable from the perimeter. He went 6 of 9 from three-point range while his teammates were 1 of 9.
What to watch: Curry and Smith are on fire in this tournament. The Duke guard is averaging 24 points and 50 percent shooting in the tournament while his counterpart at Louisville has been even better at 27 points per game and 53.3 percent from the field. They’ll be watched, but one of the most important matchups could be down low between Mason Plumlee and Gorgui Dieng, who has been undervalued as an all-around player.
Game in a Tweet: Pitino and Krzyzewski have coached a combined 2,147 games. Their only meeting was the Laettner shot.

Teaser:
<p> Elite Eight Sunday Schedule: Times, TV, announcers and more</p>
Post date: Sunday, March 31, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-basketball/wichita-state-beats-ohio-state-unlikely-run-final-four
Body:

Wichita State will be the party crasher.

The Shockers defeated Ohio State 70-66 to advance to the Final Four and ensure the teams competing for the national title will have an outsider among them yet again.

Syracuse clinched a spot in the Final Four earlier Saturday, and the other two teams will come down to former champions (Duke or Louisville and Florida or Michigan).

But Wichita State, the second-place team in the Missouri Valley this year, joined the ranks of VCU, Butler and George Mason in recent years to upend the college basketball power structure.

At first Saturday, Gregg Marshall’s team looked like it would cruise to a win Saturday. Wichita State led by 20 with 11:01 remaining, but Ohio State clawed its way back to a four-point deficit in the final minutes.

What carried Wichita State all season, though, sealed the Final Four trip. The Shockers were one of the best rebounding teams in the country all year and continued to own the glass during this year’s run.

An offensive rebound ended Ohio State’s surge when Tekele Cotton grabbed a teammate's missed three-pointer, which translated to a basket by Fred VanVleet to open an insurmountable six-point lead with a minute to go.

Wichita State will be a fitting addition to the narrative of mid-majors reaching the Final Four. Its roster is littered with success stories: Carl Hall, a force in the paint, has uses medication to cope with a heart condition that has caused him to pass during games in high school and junior college. Small-town guard Ron Baker missed 21 games with a foot injury to become the Shockers’ most well-rounded player. The roster is led by a junior college transfer (Cleanthony Early) and a Division I transfer (Malcolm Armstead from Oregon).

And the Shockers' coach, Gregg Marshall, is a big-time personality who hasn't grabbed a big-time job despite eight NCAA tournament apperances in 15 seasons as a head coach at Winthrop and Wichita State.

Of historical note:
► Wichita State is making its first Final Four since 1965, when the Shockers lost 108-89 to UCLA for John Wooden’s second national title. Wichita State then lost a national third place game 118-82 to a Princeton team led by Bill Bradley.

► Wichita State is the first Missouri Valley team to reach the Final Four since Larry Bird led Indiana State to the 1979 title game against a Magic Johnson-led Michigan State team.

► The Shockers are the fourth team seeded in the bottom half of the bracket (ninth or lower) to reach the Final Four since the field expanded in 1985. Wichita State joins 2011 VCU, 2006 George Mason and 1986 LSU. Besides Wichita State, all three were No. 11 seeds.

► Wichita State and 1986 LSU were the only two teams in that group of four to reach the national semifinals to defeat the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds in their region. Wichita State defeated No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 2 Ohio State. LSU in 1986 defeated No. 2 Georgia Tech in the Sweet 16 and No. 1 Kentucky in the Elite Eight.

► Among notable teams to reach the national semifinal as a Missouri Valley team: Oklahoma A&M/Oklahoma State (won titles in 1945-46) Cincinnati (won titles in 1961-62), Louisville and Memphis.

Teaser:
<p> Shockers will disrupt a blue-bood laden national semifinal</p>
Post date: Saturday, March 30, 2013 - 22:11
Path: /college-basketball/elite-eight-saturday-schedule-times-tv-announcers-and-more
Body:

We’re one step closer to the Final Four, and the final days before the national championship could wind up as unexpected as the entire season.

For the four teams playing for the national semifinals Saturday, defense has led the way. Syracuse shut down Cody Zeller and the Indiana offensive attack, while Miami couldn’t make a shot against Marquette.

Ohio State has won two of its three tournament games on late three-pointers, but the Buckeyes’ defensive effort is led by Aaron Craft. The true surprise here is Wichita State, which has used its interior defense to bring it to the brink of its first Final Four since 1965.

Here’s a quick look at Saturday’s games, including times, television networks and broadcast pairings.

Sweet 16/Elite Eight Previews
Midwest
| South | East | West

Related:
Athlon staff picks the Sweet 16
Re-ranking the Sweet 16 teams

SATURDAY ELITE EIGHT VIEWERS GUIDE
All times p.m. Eastern

No. 4 Marquette vs. No. 3 Syracuse
Time and TV: 4:30, CBS
Region: East, Washington, D.C.
Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery
Last Final Four appearances: Marquette (2003), Syracuse (2003, won championship)
From the Sweet 16: Great defensive efforts from both. Syracuse held Indiana’s Jordan Hulls and Yogi Ferrell to a combined 0 for 8 from the floor while blocking 10 IU shots from the field. Against Marquette, Miami struggled to make shots, making 34.9 percent of their attempts from the field.
What to watch: Syracuse took advantage of Indiana’s unfamiliarity with the zone to stifle one of the best offensive attacks in the country. The Orange won’t have the same luxury against a conference foe in Marquette. Vander Blue was a non-factor in the only game these two teams have played this season, but he’s been Marquette’s best player in the tourney so far.
Game in a Tweet: Buzz Williams is 3-3 against Syracuse with all three wins coming in the last four meetings.

No. 9 Wichita State vs. No. 2 Ohio State
Time and TV: 7:05, CBS
Region: West, Los Angeles
Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Len Elmore, Reggie Miller
Last Final Four appearances: Wichita State (1965), Ohio State (2012)
From the Sweet 16: LaQuinton Ross’ game-winning shot deserves most of the attention, but Ohio State showed resilience by battling back from down 11 in the first half and then withstanding a second-half surge led by Mark Lyons. Meanwhile, Wichita State forward Carl Hall made easy work of La Salle’s four-guard lineup by fueling the Shockers’ 14-2 start.
What to watch: Despite the three-point outburst against Gonzaga, Wichita State’s interior is carrying the Shockers through the tournament. The Shockers are shooting 50 percent from two-point range in the Tournament while holding opponents to 39.6 percent shooting inside the arc. One of the top teams in rebound rate, Wichita State is grabbing 53.3 percent of missed shots. Meanwhile, Ohio State is getting more dangerous as the Buckeyes can now depend on Aaron Craft and LaQuinton Ross to take the final shots in close games.
Game in a Tweet: The Buckeyes seek to become third Big Ten team to reach consecutive Final Fours since '85.

Teaser:
<p> Elite Eight Saturday Schedule: Times, TV, announcers and more</p>
Post date: Saturday, March 30, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-basketball/trey-burke-hits-deep-three-keep-michigan-alive-against-kansas
Body:

Michigan shouldn’t have even been in this position.

The Wolverines were beat -- several times -- against Kansas. But Trey Burke kept Michigan alive.

With a deep three-pointer over the 6-8 Kevin Young, Burke tied a game it hadn’t led since the early minutes against Kansas. A day after LaQuinton Ross hit a game-winning three-pointer for Ohio State, Burke may have upstaged his rival for the shot of the NCAA Tournament.

Kansas had its way with Michigan in the first half, punishing the Wolverines in the paint. Michigan was lucky to be down merely 40-34. Kansas led by as much as 14 with 6:51 to go, but Burke wouldn’t let Michigan go down easily by scoring eight of the Wolverines’ final 10 points in regulation.

Teaser:
<p> Michigan's star point guard ties game with miracle shot to keep UM alive</p>
Post date: Friday, March 29, 2013 - 22:00
Path: /college-basketball/sweet-16-friday-schedule-time-tv-announcers-and-more
Body:

The Sweet 16, as always, finds a way to capture the imagination.

The NCAA Tournament moves into the second weekend with its share of storylines, even if the biggest one from Dunk City seems to overshadow all.

Few people saw Wichita State, the runner up in the Missouri Valley, advancing this far. And even fewer could have tabbed La Salle to go on a run out of the First Four.

Beyond those out-of-nowhere stories, the Sweet 16 will feature games that have the look of Final Four matchups: Indiana-Syracuse, Duke-Michigan State, Ohio State-Arizona.

Here’s a quick look at Friday’s games, including times, television networks and broadcast pairings.

Sweet 16/Elite Eight Previews
Midwest
| South | East | West

Related:
Athlon staff picks the Sweet 16
Re-ranking the Sweet 16 teams

FRIDAY SWEET 16 VIEWERS GUIDE
All times p.m. Eastern

No. 12 Oregon vs. No. 1 Louisville
Time and TV: 7:15, CBS
Region: Midwest, Indianapolis
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg
What to watch: Johnathan Loyd helped neutralize Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart in the round of 64, and then he stepped up for a struggling Dominic Artis in the easy win over Saint Louis. Will the Ducks’ point guards be able to answer the call against Louisville on both ends of the court? That’s going to be tough. The Cards’ press has been effective as it’s been all season, and Russ Smith returned to his early season form in the offensive end. Dana Altman pushed the right buttons at point guard last week, but his backcourt will be put to the test against the Cardinals.
Game in a Tweet: Louisville forces a turnover on 27.4 percent of possessions. Oregon commits one on 21.2 percent.

No. 4 Michigan vs. No. 1 Kansas
Time and TV: 7:37, TBS
Region: South, Arlington, Texas
Announcers: Marv Albert, Steve Kerr
What to watch: What will we see from Ben McLemore? An All-America candidate during the regular season, he’s struggled in the NCAA Tournament -- to a point that Bill Self played him only 24 minutes against North Carolina. McLemore went 2 of 14 from the field last week. Can Kansas advance if he’s not back to form? And for Michigan: How will the guard-oriented Wolverines counter Jeff Withey down low?
Game in a Tweet: Michigan is seeking first Elite Eight since ’94. Kansas has been to eight since then.

No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 2 Duke
Time and TV: 9:45, CBS
Region: Midwest, Indianapolis
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg
What to watch: Duke clamped down on Creighton’s Doug McDermott in the round of 32, but the Blue Devils may be guessing as to who will be the offensive focus for Michigan State. Forward Adreian Payne is a matchup problem who can be the best player on the floor, and freshman Gary Harris can get hot from the perimeter. Duke is thankful for Seth Curry being steady all season and for meaningful contributions off the bench, but it’s time for Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly to take charge.
Game in a Tweet: Tom Izzo is 1-7 all-time against Mike Krzyzewski, but the only win was in the 2005 Sweet 16.

No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast vs. No. 3 Florida
Time and TV: 10:07, TBS
Region: South, Arlington, Texas
Announcers: Marv Albert, Steve Kerr
What to watch: Seriously, how many people even heard of Florida Gulf Coast a week ago? Now we know their coach, their nickname, their style of play and their care-free set of overlooked players. This is the best story in the Tournament in quite a while, and now they face the state’s best basketball program. The Gators are one of the best defensive teams in the country (third in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency, fifth in effective field goal percentage and second in fewest points per game). Billy Donovan will be under pressure to close the borders on Dunk City.
Game in a Tweet: FGCU shot 56.9 percent from the field in the second half last week, outscoring opponents 101-82.

Teaser:
<p> A quick look at Friday evening's Sweet 16 games</p>
Post date: Friday, March 29, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-basketball/ohio-state-advances-again-late-three-pointer
Body:

Ohio State has another postseason hero.

After Aaron Craft made the game-winning three-pointer to defeat Iowa State in the round of 32, LaQuinton Ross had a monster second half and the game-winning three-pointer to defeat Arizona 73-70 and move onto the Elite Eight.

Deshaun Thomas led Ohio State in scoring as usual, but Ross had 14 points in the final eight minutes, capped by a three-pointer at NBA range with two seconds remaining.

At one point of the season, it would have been tough to imagine anyone but Thomas taking the final shot in a close game, but not in the NCAA Tournament.

Athlon Sports' Braden Gall had a chance to sit down with Ohio State's Sam Thompson following the win:

Teaser:
<p> Ohio State advances again on late three-pointer</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 22:26

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