Getty Images

Programs on the rise and the decline heading into 2013-2014

Leave a comment
source: Getty Images
Getty Images

All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of our preview lists,click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

PROGRAMS ON THE RISE

Iowa: Seven teams from the Big Ten got a bid last year, but Iowa, with a 9-9 conference record, did not. This should be the season for Fran McCaffery’s program to get a bid to the tournament. The Hawkeyes return a bulk of their talent, with Roy Devyn Marble, Aaron White and Mike Gesell are all back among other key contribuors. Iowa will bring in transfer Jarrod Uthoff and freshman Peter Jok. Iowa hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 2006. That should change this year, and the future looks even brighter.

Harvard: The Crimson upset No. 3 New Mexico in the NCAA tournament — the team’s second-straight appearance — this past March, and it’s not far-fetched to see Harvard staying past the first weekend this year. Harvard not only returns Wesley Saunders, Laurent Rivard, Siyani Chambers and Kenyatta Smith, the Crimson also see the return of Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry, the team’s top players from its first trip to the NCAA tournament. Add in top-100 recruit Zena Edosomwan and another strong 2014 recruiting class, and the expectations are at an all-time high. This is a top 25 team, and will be for the near future.

Providence: Although the Friars lose Vincent Council (and Ricky Ledo), Ed Cooley could still end up in his first NCAA tournament in Providence. Bryce Cotton, a healthy Kris Dunn, and talented freshman Brandon Austin make up the back court, while Kadeem Betts and LaDontae Henton will be joined by transfers Tyler Harris and Carson Desrosiers. The Friars are a sleeper in the new Big East, and they’re only getting better as Cooley continues to land high-profile recruits.

LSU: Like Iowa, LSU could be making its return to the NCAA tournament this season, or at worst case be on the bubble. The Tigers still have Johnny O’Bryant III, Anthony Hickey and Andre Stringer, while 6-foot-9 five-star recruit Jarell Martin headlines a six-man class for Johnny Jones that also includes four-star commits Tim Quarterman and Jordan Mickey. LSU is going to fight for a bid from the start this season, and with Jones showing consistency landing high-profile southern recruits, the Tigers should be able to sustain success.

Tennessee: The Volunteers just missed out on the tournament in Cuonzo Martin’s first two years at the helm, but that should change this season. Jordan McRae and Jarnell Stokes decided to return to school, while the frontline will get a boost with Jeronne Maymon returning to 100 percent. Adding Antonio Barton, a Memphis transfer and Robert Hubbs, a five-star freshman, will help round out the back court. The best news? Martin’s already landed two in-state top 20 recruits. It’ll take a lot to compete with Kentucky and Florida for SEC supremacy, but the Vols are headed in the right direction.

Others: Boise State, Colorado, Rhode Island, Towson

PROGRAMS ON THE DECLINE

source: AP
AP

Miami: The Hurricanes won both ACC titles a season ago, but pretty much everybody but Jim Larrañaga is gone. Kenny Kadji, Durant Scott, Trey McKinney Jones, Julian Gamble, Reggie Johnson and sophomore point guard Shane Larkin, who was drafted 18th overall, all have to be replaced. Angel Rodriguez won’t play until 2013-2014. Coral Gables won’t see a repeat performance from The U this season, especially with Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pitt now on the conference schedule. Larrañaga is in full-on rebuilding mode.

Butler: Brad Stevens was ready to be the big-time coach in the new Big East, until the Boston Celtics made him offer he couldn’t refuse. Butler was quick to hire Brandon Miller, and the Bulldogs have been very good with their coaching hires in the past. But Miller is replacing a guy who went to two NCAA title games, and is now leading a program that has bounced from the Horizon League to the Atlantic 10 to the Big East in three years. He’s without leading scorer Rotnei Clark or second-leading scorer and top rebounder Andrew Smith, and he suffered a big blow with Roosevelt Jones was ruled out for the season with a wrist injury. Miller will likely thrive as the new coach, it just may not be in his first season. The Bulldogs need to prove they can survive as something other than a plucky mid-major.

N.C. State: Mark Gottfried has to replace his entire starting five from one of last year’s most disappointing team. This leaves a big whole for T.J. Warren to fill, though he is reportedly in great shape. But Tyler Lewis is the only other player returning, who logged more than 10 minutes a game last season. Adding LSU transfer Ralston Turner in with another good recruiting class — Cat Barber, BeeJay Anya and Kyle Washington — is a good sign, but the concerns with the Wolfpack start up top. Can Gottfried coach up the talent he brings in?

Alabama: In 2013, 23 wins wasn’t good enough to get Alabama into the Big Dance. This offseason wasn’t too good for Anthony Grant, either, as Trevor Lacey transferred to N.C. State and Devonta Pollard had a major run-in with the law, leading to him being no longer enrolled at the university. Trevor Releford is back, but it will be tough for the Crimson Tide to make a push for the NCAA tournament. Grant was a hot name when he was hired away from VCU, but he’s yet to get the Alabama program off and running.

Temple: The Owls were one of the best teams in the Atlantic 10 last season, making the NCAA tournament and nearly getting to the Sweet 16 by knocking off No. 1 seed Indiana. But Khalif Wyatt’s 20.5 points won’t be there this season, and Scootie Randall graduated with him. Will Cummings and Anthony Lee will have much bigger roles leading a young team as Temple enters the brand-new AAC. With two games against Louisville, Memphis, UConn and Cincinnati each, it could be a long season for Fran Dunphy.

Others: Colorado State, Kansas State, Minnesota, Oklahoma, St. Mary’s

Johnson, Paige help No. 9 Tar Heels roll past Panthers 85-64

North Carolina's Isaiah Hicks (4) dunks against Pittsburgh during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
AP Photo/Gerry Broome
Leave a comment

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) Brice Johnson scored 19 points to lead a dominating offensive performance that helped No. 9 North Carolina beat Pittsburgh 85-64 on Sunday.

Marcus Paige added 15 points for the Tar Heels (21-4, 10-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who shot 59 percent to stay atop the league ahead of the next renewal of their fierce rivalry with Duke.

UNC had plenty of balance, shared the ball and got out in transition in arguably their best performance in weeks, using a 13-0 second-half burst to blow the game open. UNC finished with 26 assists on 32 baskets, 24 points off turnovers and scored 16 fast-break points after managing a combined five in the past two games.

Michael Young and James Robinson each scored 15 points to lead Pitt (17-7, 6-6). But the Panthers shot 37 percent and committed 19 turnovers, and a strong effort on the glass did little to offset their troubles.

The Tar Heels were playing their first home game in two weeks after a difficult three-game road trip that started with losses at Louisville and Notre Dame. Then came Tuesday’s game at Boston College, where the Tar Heels struggled against a winless league team then had a scare when Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams briefly collapsed in a second-half huddle after an attack of vertigo and had to leave the sideline for the rest of the game.

Williams was back in the office on Wednesday’s off day, returned to practice Thursday and told reporters Friday he was fine and even cracked jokes about a two-decade history with vertigo dating to his Kansas years.

Getting back home certainly helped everyone feel better. After wrestling with shooting struggles for much of the past month, UNC’s offense kicked back into an efficient and balanced gear, while Paige – the player the Tar Heels are practically begging to jolt free from a prolonged shooting slump – looked more like his old self against the Panthers.

That included one second-half play in which he caught a crosscourt pass from Theo Pinson in transition and made sure to step back behind the arc before burying a 3-pointer.

The Panthers had lost three of four since a 5-2 league start coming in, including 65-63 on a late tip-in at No. 12 Miami on Tuesday. And Pitt again had trouble getting their offense going, failing to crack 70 points for the third straight game.

TIP-INS

Pittsburgh: Second-leading scorer Jamel Artis scored five points on 2-for-8 shooting. … Pitt finished with a 41-29 rebounding advantage. … Pitt made 9 of 21 3-point attempts.

UNC: Justin Jackson scored 14 points. … UNC made 8 of 15 shots from 3-point range and 13 of 15 free throws. … Jackson and Pinson had six assists each. … UNC managed just one offensive rebound.

UP NEXT

Pittsburgh hosts Wake Forest on Tuesday.

UNC hosts Duke on Wednesday.

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap and the AP’s college basketball site at http://collegebasketball.ap.org

Denzel Valentine dominant as No. 8 Michigan State whips Indiana

Michigan State's Denzel Valentine (45) shoots over Indiana's Kevin Yogi Ferrell during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
AP Photo/Al Goldis
Leave a comment

Trailing by one point at the half, Indiana appeared to be in good shape at No. 8 Michigan State. However the fact that they were unable to slow down Denzel Valentine, who scored 15 first-half points, was a major concern for Tom Crean’s Hoosiers. Sure enough the national Player of the Year candidate continued on his tour de force in the second half, scoring another 15 points and dishing out seven assists as the Spartans rolled to an 88-69 victory.

For the game Valentine finished with 30 points, five rebounds, 13 assists and just one turnover. Of Michigan State’s 48 second half points, Valentine had a hand in 29 of them with all seven of his assists resulting in Michigan State layups. It was a dominant performance from one of the nation’s best players, a versatile guard whose four games missed due to injury may have led to some overlooking him when it comes to those national Player of the Year conversations.

When Valentine’s on everything else flows smoothly for Tom Izzo’s team, as his ability to both score and create results in quality looks for teammates who would struggle if they had to get that part of the job done themselves.

The biggest beneficiary Sunday afternoon was forward Matt Costello, who finished the game with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Of Costello’s ten made field goals (10-for-12 FG) five were assisted by Valentine, and he accounted for 13 points and seven rebounds in the second half. As a team Michigan State shot 63.3 percent from the field and assisted on 16 of their 19 made field goals in the second half, turning a tight contest into a blowout.

Tum Tum Nairn returned the court for the first time in seven games, but he played just two minutes and his time on the court will be managed carefully by Izzo moving forward. For many teams not having your point guard at full strength would represent a crippling blow, but that hasn’t been the case for Michigan State thanks in large part to Valentine. Michigan State went 4-3 in those seven games without Nairn, but the three losses were by a total of three points.

Valentine’s ability to make his teammates better will be a key factor down the stretch for Michigan State, and that skill was what led to the Spartans blowing out Indiana on Sunday.