NCAA Tournament 2012: 40 of the Biggest Questions Heading into 2013
So what happens now?
We came, we saw, some of us even placed a wager or two and now we leave.
Kentucky has another title and John Calipari can get that monkey off his back. We leave New Orleans feeling the Big Easy in so many ways, but truly for its great basketball the past three weeks.
The games are over and the title has been assigned. Now, we look to 2013 and what the NCAA basketball season has in store for us.
Yes, there are many questions and we all want answers.
Here are 40 of the most pressing questions we want answered now.
Could Kansas Have Won Monday Night?
Yes, but it was highly unlikely.
Every team in the tournament had a real chance to win the title.
Kansas could post up with Kentucky better than most teams—they have height, which is something you cannot teach.
While they were tall, Kentucky was more athletic.
Will a Top Seed Ever Fall in the First Round?
I think it will happen sooner than people think.
That is the beauty of the tournament; the win-or-go-home mentality.
We see No. 2 seeds fall to No. 15 seeds, and we always see a No. 4 or No. 5 fall in the first round.
This is not to make it look like there is destiny created by some teams in their quest, but the talent level in this tournament is so evenly matched that it WILL happen soon enough.
Which Was Better: Kentucky Winning or Baylor's Women Going 40-0?
I think it is a compelling angle for both.
Kentucky and the Baylor Lady Bears were college basketball's best teams all season—both were on a course for greatness.
Brittney Griner is one of those rare talents that only come along once in a blue moon. The same can be said for freshman Anthony Davis.
Both feats are equally amazing.
Were the Brackets Even This Year?
When you have a room full of men who are looking out for themselves, trying to make a living and bring money to college athletics and the NCAA, nothing is ever "even."
That being said, the brackets were done in such a way that it looked like the officials in the NCAA (and maybe CBS) were praying for a Kentucky/UNC final.
And based on everything, if injuries did not play a role in it, that very well may have happened.
Who Had the Best Jerseys in the Tournament?
Without a doubt it goes to Long Beach State, with their bright yellow jerseys that said "The Beach" on them.
Just totally awesome.
Which Team Was Hurt Worst by the Brackets This Year?
Tough call on that one.
When you look at the brackets and try to pick wins and losses early, you look at closely seeded teams. But this year, every team was all around the board; there was no one clear team that really had an advantage over the other.
Kansas almost lost to Purdue. Syracuse almost went out in the first round.
Take your pick.
Will We Ever See Pat Summitt on the Sideline Again?
I sure hope so.
Pat Summitt is the "Dean Smith" of the women's game. Her coaching at Tennessee is on par with the greats of the game, period.
She has had as much influence on this game from the women's side as someone like Dean Smith or John Thompson has had on the other side of the rim.
Besides Duke's First-Round Loss, What Was Most Shocking to You?
Missouri losing in the first round as well.
Missouri had a team that played well and matched up well with the likes of Florida and Louisville.
When Mizzou fell in the first round, everything in the Midwest bracket became a whole lot easier for everyone—except the Tigers.
Besides Ohio University, Who Could Surprise Us in 2013?
Florida may be a surprise team.
If they lose Bradley Beal and Irving Walker, they still have Erik Murphy, Kenny Boynton, Patric Young and a nice bench to work with.
Billy Donovan also has two highly recruited point guards coming to Gainesville. The cupboard is not bare.
Who Was the Biggest Disappointment in the Tournament?
I hate to say this, but Duke's demise was definitely the biggest disappointment, especially with all their talent and the fact they lost in the first round.
The first thing this tells us is that this was a deep field. Secondly, it tells us that any team can be beaten on any given night.
Their early loss also did not allow us to enjoy Coach K or the sweet stroke from Austin Rivers.
Kentucky or the Field in 2013?
Wow, this had to be asked right after the championship game?
I think Kentucky will still have a pretty good team next season, and they also will have 5-star recruits coming in.
When asked if the battle between Louisville and Kentucky will be on the minds of his players, Kentucky coach John Calipari reminded the media that most of these players have only been with him six months.
There is great turnover at UK, but the team survives.
Can Kansas Be a Force Next Season?
Maybe. I still think they are a team that loses a lot to the draft.
But Kansas and teams in the Big 12 do one thing better than anyone else in the college—they sign height and teach them to play inside.
If Kansas can retain some of its star power, they could be a factor next season.
How Far Could Syracuse Have Gone with Fab Melo in the Rotation?
Melo was the force in the middle for the Orange. Much like Carmelo Anthony, he was the catalyst toward a national title.
Once he went down, the oddsmakers and the fans knew it would be tough for the Orange to get to the Final Four.
It just goes to prove that one player's injury could cost a program dearly.
What Was the Worst Game of the Tournament?
Although it was closely contested, Florida State losing to Cincinnati was just awful—and I am an FSU alum.
With sloppy play, poor shooting and lack of control by both teams, it was one of those games where you went to watch a basketball game and a train wreck took its place.
How Underrated Is Leonard Hamilton?
Not as much as he was before.
The NCAA and fans now know about him.
Hamilton takes his teams to the NCAA tournament and teaches them to play defense. If they could have found their offensive rhythm, then the Seminoles could have made some noise.
Even President Obama said he liked FSU's chance in the tournament before it started.
Who Is the Best Young Coach in College Basketball?
Let's go with Shaka Smart of VCU.
Smart has his players ready for the tournament each year.
When a coach is as fiery as Smart and injects excitement in the team, players usually energize from it and play at a higher level.
I also like Anthony Grant of Alabama, who once took over for Billy Donovan as head coach at Florida before Donovan decided he wanted to come back to Gainesville.
Should Austin Rivers Have Stayed in School?
There are two sides to this argument.
Does a 19-year-old have the right to seek fame and fortune in the pros? Are the college ranks being used as a "layover" for high school graduates who could make an impact earlier than that?
Blame this one on LeBron James who, at 17 and a junior in high school, wanted to petition to play in the NBA.
If Rivers can make his fortune and play, then should he?
Will Jared Sullinger Be a Good Professional Player?
Time will tell. It is hard to say that someone over 6'8" is a "tweener" in basketball circles, but that is exactly what he is.
I think Sullinger is a great college player, but in the NBA, he is somewhere between a three and a four with great rebounding and defensive skills.
But until his game gets better, he may not be any better than Corliss Williamson.
How Will North Carolina Be Affected by Defections Next Season?
Any time you lose a great player, you must adjust. Kentucky will go through the same thing as North Carolina.
Roy Williams is losing four major parts of his starting unit when sophomore wing Harrison Barnes, junior power forward John Henson and sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall all are entering the NBA draft, the school announced Thursday.
Add them to seven-footer Tyler Zeller, who is graduating, and the Tar Heels lose four-fifths of the starting lineup that led them to the NCAA regional finals.
Williams will have to find puzzle pieces again and hope the Tar Heels can recover and make another deep NCAA run.
Can We Bring Back Gus Johnson to Do Play-by-Play?
Johnson made some of the greatest calls in NCAA tournament history. His zeal and his drive were legendary, bringing us out of our seats—especially when there were buzzer-beaters or his description of the underdog in a huge upset.
Can We Ever Get Rid of Jim Nantz as the Finals Announcer?
I sure want to. The Super Bowl, the NCAA tournament and then the Masters.
It is Jim Nantz's "holy trinity" of sports.
Many of us want to seek counseling after being exposed to that much gush.
Who Will Be the Top Overall Pick in the NBA Draft?
It depends on who holds the first pick in the June draft, but you have to figure Anthony Davis will get his name called first.
The NCAA tournament has a way of making stars out of ordinary players. This year, players like Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Draymond Green will hear their names called early.
Who Is the Best Coach in College Basketball?
Take your pick. Tom Izzo of Michigan State, Roy Williams of UNC, Coach K of Duke, Billy Donovan of Florida, Rick Pitino of Louisville.
Realize I never added John Calipari to this list.
There are plenty of great coaches who go out and show they can motivate and teach. There is also Tom Crean of Indiana and Bill Self of Kansas to add to the list.
Could Kentucky Beat the Charlotte Bobcats?
It is a question that was brought up last week, but it got some legs and stuck around.
The Bobcats are one of the worst franchises, if not the worst, in the NBA (thank you, Michael Jordan).
Kentucky has five or six NBA stars on the team and could stick around for a bit. Anything can happen but, again, the Bobcats are an NBA team, and have 12 NBA PLAYERS ON IT.
Who Are the Top Five Prospects Coming into the Draft?
If the draft was held today, names like Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of Kentucky, Bradley Beal of Florida and Andre Drummond of Connecticut could be among the first picks.
Harrison Barnes of UNC, Arnett Moultrie of Mississippi and Austin Rivers could also be among the handful of first picks.
Is Thad Matta the Best Coach in College Basketball to Never Win a Title?
It looks that way.
Matta is a great teacher and has had some tremendous players to coach, but has come up short when there was an opportunity to claim a title.
Ohio State was well ahead of Kansas in the Final Four, and somehow, some way, they let Kansas back inside and back into the game.
Matta needs to coach start-to-finish in the tournament because he seems to come up short.
Is There Now Pressure on Rick Pitino to Win a Title in Kentucky?
There is always pressure to win a national title.
Rick Pitino is still a star in the Bluegrass State, but now that he lost to Kentucky in the Final Four and then the Wildcats won the national title, maybe Pitino himself feels the heat.
The Louisville Cardinals were a team of unknown talent and were not expected to move past the Sweet 16.
How Much Does Bradley Beal Leaving Hurt Florida?
Beal was a major reason the Gators got to the Elite Eight. He took over as leader of this team when Will Yeguete went down with a knee injury.
Beal's maturity helped Florida when the team needed it most—but he also was a top-ranked freshman coming into the program, so Billy Donovan must have known his time in Gainesville was short.
Donovan signed two point guards during recruiting to handle the loss of the freshman star.
Will the NBA Put a Stop to "One and Done" in College Basketball?
I don't see that happening, and it isn't fair to college basketball.
Back in the day, colleges like Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Georgetown and others prided themselves on having players stay for four years, but that is now a thing of the past.
The college game for the "one and done" is now the hot thing where teens are cashing in on "potential" and not "play."
Can Billy Donovan Beat Rick Pitino?
At some point, you hope the student passes the teacher.
Donovan wins everywhere except against Pitino.
Pitino considers Donovan one of his children. The relationship is the best in college hoops but, for now, the teacher is still ahead of the game.
Will the Ohio University Bobcats Be the "Murray State" of 2013?
Maybe. The Bobcats are a talented team of players with most of the unit coming back next season.
Believe it or not, some of us knew about the Bobcats before the start of the NCAA tournament and before the 13th-ranked team upset Michigan in the first round.
Under coach John Groce, they could go even further than the Sweet 16 next season and could be preseason ranked.
How Does Kentucky's Five NBA Prospects Rank with Teams of the Past?
They may be the best five starters to ever come together for one purpose.
Are they as good as the "Fab Five" and the 2006-07 Gators? We will never know.
I like the fact that of the five or six players who could leave, all of them had a hand in winning Monday night. Even when Anthony Davis was not as productive on the offensive end, he was still dominant on the defensive side of the court.
This is a very good team, but we don't know if it is the best of all time.
How Did Ohio State Let the Game Slip Away from Them Against Kansas?
It just happens.
Games like that where a team comes out "tight" like Kansas, usually evens out in the end. We did not expect Ohio State to lose its shooting touch late in the game.
The Buckeyes were a better team than Kansas, but it also proves that any team can rise above the occasion and turn in a stellar performance.
Who Could Be a Dominant Player Next Season?
Jeff Withey, Center, Kansas.
If there is anything we know, it is that size cannot be taught. But at 7'0" and 255 pounds, Withey could stand another year in college to build on his game, get stronger and possibly be a top-10 selection.
Who Does Anthony Davis Remind You Of?
I liken him to a smaller version of Danny Manning.
Manning took Kansas on his back and rode the wave to a 1988 national title with Kansas.
Davis is still growing, and if he continues to get better inside, his game will be better than Manning's.
Look out, NBA.
Would the Tar Heels Have Been in the Finals If Not for Injuries?
The television gods wanted it that way, that is for sure. Kendall Marshall's injury was devastating. Had the Tar Heels had a full stable of horses, who knows how far they could have gone.
Teams like North Carolina and Syracuse won't know if they could have made it to the top of the mountain because major players were out of action.
How Long Does Shaka Smart Stay at VCU?
Who knows? There were rumors that Illinois was interested in him, but he said he wanted to stay at VCU.
When the right job comes along, you know he will have to listen.
Great young coaches get great opportunities.
Will There Ever Be a Team Like Florida in 2007 Where the Team Stays Together?
No—the 2006 and 2007 Florida Gators were anomalies.
No team will ever have five starters return two or three years in a row again because of attrition, graduation, the NBA and greed.
Who Will Win It All in 2013?
If most of their players come back next year, I like Kansas because they are tall and lean.
Guard play wins the first two rounds of this tournament. Inside play and tempo wins the remaining rounds and the championship.
Bill Self and the Jayhawks could have a mature team next season that has both.
What Is the Best Thing About Kentucky Winning It All in 2012?
Ashley Judd, of course!
It also means the SEC was pretty good this year as well.
Who knows what will happen in 2013?