College Basketball Predictions: 10 Teams Headed for Major Drop-Offs in 2012-13

Thad Novak@@ThadNovakCorrespondent IMay 10, 2012

College Basketball Predictions: 10 Teams Headed for Major Drop-Offs in 2012-13

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    For some college hoops fans, the approaching NBA draft will serve as a reminder of just how much talent their school will have to replace next fall. At some programs (see: Kentucky, University of), a massive influx of standout freshmen will cushion the loss of outgoing stars, but not every school is so lucky.

    One team that’s going to be hit especially hard by early entry this year is the Washington Huskies. The inaugural regular-season champions of the Pac-12 will likely see a pair of underclassmen taken in the first round in June, but they don't have nearly that level of talent remaining on campus for next season.

    Herein, a closer look at Lorenzo Romar’s team and nine others who have a long fall in the standings ahead of them in 2012-13.

10. Georgetown

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    Even with their season having ended on a sour note in the Round of 32, the Hoyas put in an impressive performance last year.

    Despite losing star guards Austin Freeman and Chris Wright, Georgetown won 24 games, finished in fourth place in the loaded Big East and earned a No. 3 seed.

    Next year, though, John Thompson III’s team won’t be nearly so well equipped to bounce back.

    Impressive freshman Otto Porter returns, but he won’t be able to balance the loss of the team’s top three scorers—Jason Clark, Hollis Thompson and Henry Sims—or prevent Georgetown from sliding toward .500 in the most competitive conference in basketball.

9. Long Beach State

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    For a team out of the unheralded Big West, Long Beach State’s No. 12 seed was quite an achievement. The 49ers earned that distinction with a ludicrous schedule (including wins at Pitt and against Xavier) and a sensational 15-1 conference record.

    Next year’s edition, though, will bear little resemblance to the squad that hung tough against MWC champ New Mexico in the Big Dance.

    The departures of seven seniors, including point guard Casper Ware and rebounding machine T.J. Robinson, will cost LBSU three-quarters of their scoring and all of the leadership that made them so dangerous in 2011-12.

8. Ohio State

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    It says a lot about the expectations at Ohio State this year that the Buckeyes came off as a slight disappointment despite sharing the regular-season title in the Big Ten and winning 31 games.

    Jared Sullinger and company made the Final Four trip that eluded them in 2011 and came within a basket of playing for the national title before bowing out against Kansas.

    Sullinger’s departure for the NBA is the biggest hurdle for Ohio State next year, but the loss of sharp-shooting senior William Buford shouldn’t be overlooked either.

    Just as important as what was lost is the absence of any help at all in recruiting: rates OSU’s incoming class as the Big Ten’s worst, while foes such as Indiana and hated Michigan will bring in some of the country’s most heralded freshmen.

7. Marquette

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    There’s not a conference in the country where finishing second is as impressive as it is in the Big East. Marquette managed that feat a year ago, earning a No. 3 seed and a Sweet 16 finish to a sparkling 27-8 campaign.

    The Golden Eagles lose only two players from last year’s squad, but seniors Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder accounted for nearly half of the team’s 76 points per game.

    With no double-digit scorers back (and little help arriving in recruiting), putting points on the board is going to be an uphill battle next season for Buzz Williams’ squad.

6. Temple

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    A dismal postseason, featuring opening-game losses in both the Atlantic 10 tournament and the Big Dance, can’t entirely obscure an outstanding effort by Temple last season.

    The Owls won the A-10 regular-season title (earning a No. 5 seed in spite of their conference tournament stumble) and finished the year with an enviable 24 wins.

    Most of the key pieces from that squad, though, are on the way out, including guards and senior floor leaders Ramone Moore and Juan Fernandez.

    Even more damaging, though, will be the loss of 6’11” center Michael Eric, whose January return from a knee injury sparked Temple’s longest winning streak of last season.

5. Florida State

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    Wins over Duke and North Carolina—twice each!—made for a historic season in Tallahassee. The Seminoles couldn’t entirely follow through in March Madness, but even a Round of 32 exit can’t entirely overshadow a stellar 25-10 season.

    This offseason, though, impending doom is the order of the day, as coach Leonard Hamilton watches his six seniors (including defensive leader Bernard James and Tar Heel-torching Deividas Dulkys) ride off into the sunset.

    High-scoring Michael Snaer is back for another go-round, but without James and Xavier Gibson to anchor the defense behind him, it may not matter very much.

4. Wichita State

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    One of the most impressive mid-major performers of the last couple of seasons, the 2011 NIT champs from Wichita State returned (virtually intact) to win 27 games in 2011-12.

    That tally included the regular-season title in the Missouri Valley and earned the Shockers a rare No. 5 seed (albeit one that turned into a losing matchup against Virginia Commonwealth).

    In 2012-13, though, all the experience that served Wichita State so well is disappearing, as five seniors graduate from last year’s team.

    That quintet consists of the team’s five leading scorers (accounting for 73 percent of the Shockers’ points), making the prospect of facing Creighton—with returning super-scorer Doug McDermott—even less appealing.

3. Washington

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    For the first time in recent memory, the outright regular-season champion of a major conference (Pac-12 leader Washington) failed to make the NCAA tournament.

    That indignity notwithstanding, the Huskies still posted 24 wins, made the semifinals of the NIT and extended a string of four straight seasons winning either the regular-season or tournament titles in the conference.

    Expectations will need to be considerably lower, though, for next season’s squad, which will be without the services of likely first-round draft picks Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross (both underclassmen).

    Losing the combined 32.4 points per game from that pair, plus hardworking PF Darnell Gant to graduation, will leave the Huskies in no position to make it five straight years with a league title to their credit.

2. Missouri

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    Even without winning a single NCAA tournament game—understandably a sore subject in Columbia—Missouri racked up an extraordinary 30 victories last year.

    The Tigers’ No. 2 seed was their best since the Norm Stewart era, and they won their second Big 12 tournament title in four years.

    Of course, that magnificent performance came primarily on the backs of a seven-man senior class that’s now just a memory for second-year Tiger coach Frank Haith.

    Incoming PF Alex Oriakhi (formerly of UConn) will help a little, but with three-point gunners Marcus Denmon and Kim English gone, along with mobile forward Ricardo Ratliffe, even the return of star point guard Phil Pressey won’t make Mizzou a contender in the Big 12 next season. 

1. Vanderbilt

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    Preseason hopes were high in Nashville, with Vanderbilt looking like a genuine contender for its first-ever Final Four appearance.

    Although a tough postseason draw sunk the Commodores, the season was hardly a lost one, with 25 wins and a stunning SEC tournament title—in which Vandy became one of just two teams to beat national champion Kentucky.

    Vanderbilt's window as a national contender, however, slammed shut for the immediate future with the departures of all five starters, plus physical reserve Steve Tchiengang.

    While conference rival Kentucky gets to reload immediately from a similar situation, Vanderbilt doesn’t have nearly the recruiting pull to replace the likes of John Jenkins or Festus Ezeli without suffering through a rebuilding season (or several).