Well, that was painful for me. It wasn’t just that UConn won the National Title last night, but they won without having to face any real challenges. They beat 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 14 seeds to win the championship. They scored 56 and 53 points in their two final four games. Butler somehow managed to shoot 18% against them in the final last night.
Obviously, UConn was a good team. And they played some really good defense. But the real reason they won the National Championship was that college basketball sucked this year. It sucked really bad. Hopefully, the threat of an NBA lockout will result in a number of underclassmen returning for another year. It also looks like the incoming freshmen class will be much better next year. Here’s a look at what the top 10 should look like next year (making assumptions about certain players leaving for the NBA).
1. North Carolina– Harrison Barnes is the real wildcard here. If he stays, this is probably the number one team in the country next year. With such a weak draft class next year, it might be in Barnes’ best interest to come out and be a top five pick. Even without him, UNC should return Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Kendall Marshall, and Reggie Bullock. James McAdoo and PJ Hairston are both top 20 recruits.
2. Kentucky– Calipari has three of the top five recruits in the country coming in. That class includes Michael Gilchrist, Anthony Davis, and Marquis Teague. Plus, they return Deandre Liggins, Doron Lamb, and Darius Miller. Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight are probably one and done, not because they’re good enough, but because that’s what kids who play for Calipari do. Also, Josh Harrellson was key for them down the stretch this year, so they’ll need to find someone who can rebound the ball.
3. Duke– Kyrie Irving, Nolan Smith, and Kyle Singler are all gone. That’s their three best players from this year’s team. Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins will need to step up. But they’re also bringing in Austin Rivers, Quinn Cook, Michael Gbinije, and another Plumlee brother. That’s three Plumlee brothers, which should make Duke the douchiest team in the country.
4. Ohio State– Jared Sullinger says he is coming back, so this ranking is entirely based on that. Aaron Craft and Will Buford will also be back. Plus Thad Matta is bringing in another loaded recruiting class. The class doesn’t have any top 10 guys, but it does include four players in the top 60, including legit center prospect Amir Williams.
5. Texas– I’m going to rank Texas highly, but don’t expect much out of them in the tournament as long as Rick Barnes is still their coach. He will probably remain horrible at all aspects of his job except recruiting. Luckily for Texas fans, he is a very good recruiter and is bringing in Myck Kabongo, Sheldon McClellan, Jonathon Holmes and Julien Lewis. If Tristan Thompson or Jordan Hamilton leave for the NBA, they should probably be about ten spots lower.
6. Arizona- Derrick Williams is possibly the number one pick in the draft after his NCAA performance, but this team has a lot of talent returning, a lot of talent coming in, and a really good coach. Momo Jones made a name for himself in the tournament, and he will be joined by Josiah Turner, Angelo Chol, Nick Johnson and Sidiki Johnson.
7. Louisville- Louisville overachieved this year and is only losing one senior, Preston Knowles, off this year’s team. They’re also bringing in a loaded recruiting class (Wayne Blackshear, Zach Price and Chane Behanan), and you’re probably noticing this is a trend for top ten teams next year. Blame it on Lebron, Wade, and Bosh, but it seems like all the best recruits are teaming up on only a few teams.
8. Syracuse- ‘Cuse only loses one player off this year’s team, PF Rick Jackson, who I never thought was that good to begin with, plus they’ve got three good incoming recruits, including the awesomely named Rakeem Christmas. I’m sure you’ll hear Dick Vitale say “Christmas came early to Syracuse!!!!!!” at least once by next November.
9. Memphis- Memphis brought in a lot of highly touted recruits this year and were considered a top ten team heading into this season. They didn’t really put it together until the end of the season when the won the C-USA tournament, but they looked really good when they did finally put it together. All those players should return. Plus, they add another top ten recruit in Adonis Thomas.
10. UConn- Hopefully, the one positive from last night’s national championship will be that Jim Calhoun will retire. If he does return, he’s facing a three game suspension next year for cheating. And word is that former recruit Nate Miles is interested in talking to the NCAA about Calhoun’s knowledge of the improper benefits that Miles received. Calhoun should enjoy this title because his name is about to get dragged through the mud for the next few years. Oh, and Kemba is definitely going to the NBA (UConn celebrated him on Senior Day this year even though he was only a junior).
A note on Michigan– I got really excited the last time Michigan made it to the tournament, won a game, and then returned almost every player from that team. They were considered a top 25 team the next year, and then finished under .500 and missed the postseason entirely. They’ll be ranked in the top 25 again next year if Darius Morris comes back, but they’ll need to compete hard game in and game out like they did this year. They’re still too small and they don’t have the talent of the other teams listed here, but Beilein can coach and a deep tournament run next year wouldn’t be surprising.