A dozen years have passed since a Big Ten last claimed a national title. Since Michigan State won the 2000 title, four conferences have won at least two national titles. The Big East and SEC have claimed three titles. The ACC has claimed four.
A season can be changed by an injury. In the same way, 10 teams are hoping a key player returning from injury will change their fortunes for 2012-13.
Among those players returning from injury include a forward with All-American potential at Minnesota, a key veteran at rebuilding North Carolina, and explosive guard at USC and former starters at three SEC schools.
After a year in which the Pac-12 regular season champion failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, none of the programs in the league made a coaching change.
That’s partly a testament to some of the new coaches in the league or the built up credibility for some of the others. But it was a mild surprise after the entire league struggled en masse for another season.
With roughly 340 teams in Division I basketball, some players are bound to fall through the cracks.
We’d like to do our part to rectify that by highlighting some of the key players you may have missed last season. A handful of reasons led to these players going overlooked and underrated nationally: Chief among them is an absence from the NCAA Tournament. Some made all-conference teams. Some had impressive statistics, but for whatever reason, only hardcore fans knew their names.
In 2012, 30 of 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament field missed out a bid a season earlier.
The tally included eight from the six major conferences, including returns to prominence for Indiana and NC State. A quarter of the Sweet 16 -- the Hoosiers, Wolfpack, Baylor and Ohio -- was comprised of teams that a year earlier were either in consolation tournaments or missed the postseason altogether.
In 2012-13, Tournament droughts undoubtedly will end with a handful of teams capable of reaching the second weekend.