College Basketball: One Guaranteed Bust for Every Top 25 Team
Most fans' expectations are not realistic. Most think their team improved, or are at least holding out hope for a successful season. Some expectations, unfortunately, are unrealistic.
Here, we'll shed light one one "bust" for every top 25 team—anything from a single player to an entire team, where perceived expectations are improbable.
Sure, these "busts" may not come to fruition. Feel free to disagree. I'm here to tell you to temper those expectations, at least until the season begins.
Let's get started!
Once again, we will be using the ESPN revised top 25 for our rankings.
Bust: Getting over the hump
Tubby Smith isn't a bad coach. Minnesota is relevant once again, but is that enough?
In the toughest conference in the nation, Minnesota has struggled to find success, particularly in the NCAA tournament.
Smith may not be on the hot seat now, but with Trevor Mbakwe returning to an NIT team, anything less than an NCAA tournament bid would be unacceptable for the Gophers' head coach.
Bust: Frank Haith
Missouri enjoyed one of their best seasons in recent memory last year with a 30-5 record. An early exit in the NCAA tournament to Norfolk State might leave a bitter taste, but the Tigers and head coach Frank Haith should be praised.
Next season, however, Haith has even more adversity facing him in his second year as head coach. He'll be entering a new conference after losing his top three scorers, and he has four transfers to integrate into the roster.
Missouri may struggle at the beginning of the year, and it will be up to Haith to right the ship.
Bust: Khem Birch
UNLV has had one of the more interesting offseasons. Adding recruits and transfers while keeping stud forward Mike Moser in tow thrusts the Rebels into the limelight.
One transfer, Khem Birch of Pittsburgh, struggled to mesh with an experienced Pittsburgh team last season, resulting in his arrival in Las Vegas.
However, Birch will be battling forwards like Moser and Anthony Bennett for playing time. On an up-tempo team, minutes will be rationed between talented players, thus eroding Birch's impact.
This one may be a bit difficult to explain. Wisconsin is always efficient under Bo Ryan, with minimal turnovers and an extremely slow-paced offense.
Next season, without Jordan Taylor anchoring the point guard position, the Badgers will struggle to stay efficient offensively. In Taylor's four seasons as point guard, the Badgers averaged less than 10 turnovers per game.
With a new point guard, that number may drastically increase.
Bust: Recruiting Class
Cameron Ridley headlines an enormous haul for Rick Barnes at Texas. Ridley will be joined by four other recruits, marking another strong offseason for Barnes.
However, if Texas dominates the Big 12 next season, it will be because of the returning players, not the recruits. The improvement of guys like Myck Kabongo and Sheldon McClellan will be the most meaningful aspect of the 'Horns 2012-13 season.
Bust: Sam Dower
Pump the brakes, Bulldog fans.
Sam Dower has not started a single game for Gonzaga, but expectations are through the roof for this soon-to-be junior. He's shown potential, epitomized in his 20 point, 10 rebound performance against Xavier last season.
Dower may drastically improve next season, but don't expect 20 and 10 performances on a nightly basis.
19. Notre Dame
Andy Katz summed it up best in his first line about the Fighting Irish in ESPN's revised top 25 article, where he states: "Whenever the Irish are supposed to be good, there tends to be disappointment. And the opposite."
In 2012-13, Notre Dame is supposed to be good. They return every piece from its squad from last year that finished third in the Big East.
If Mike Brey can get this team to improve on the 2011-12 season, the Irish may grab a Big East crown.
Bust: Antoine Young's replacement
Antoine Young meant more to the Creighton Bluejays than most may realize.
Doug McDermott is the star for his father's team, but it was Young that broke down defenses and scored when McDermott couldn't.
Someone will have to step up with Young gone, but his impact on the game will be difficult to replace.
Bust: Someone in the 2012 recruiting class
Expectations in the desert are as high as they've ever been, due to a towering recruiting class. Sean Miller's 2012 class is dominated by three big men, and it is impossible for all three to meet expectations.
There just simply aren't enough minutes.
Another interesting note is that the Wildcats don't have a strong distributing point guard. Mark Lyons and Gabe York are both shooters at heart.
Arizona will have (arguably) the best frontcourt in the nation next year, both in talent and depth. Miller has his hands full in dividing game time between his talented bigs.
16. San Diego State
San Diego State will battle UNLV for supremacy atop the Mountain West, and for good reason. They'll return one of the most exciting players in the country in Jamaal Franklin, along with other top contributors like Chase Tapely and Xavier Thames.
How high is the ceiling for this Aztec team?
I don't expect San Diego State to be a top five team next season. They'll be a contender, just not for a national title.
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski had a great offseason. The departure of Austin Rivers allows other players on the Duke roster to step up. Miles Plumlee may be gone, but Mason returns.
One problem for Duke last season was defense. If the Blue Devils couldn't score, they struggled. Expect more of the same next year.
Bust: Josh Pastner
Memphis has talent. Last season, the Tigers were a top 10 preseason team and finished outside of the top 25. The year before, the Tigers were once again started the season inside the top 25 but finished on the outside looking in.
This season, Josh Pastner once again has Memphis in the top 25 to start the year. And once again, talent is not a question.
What constitutes a successful season for Pastner? The past two seasons have resulted in two NCAA tournament losses, and another first round exit may put Pastner on the hot seat.
13. North Carolina
Bust: Replacement point guard
North Carolina lost four starters to the NBA. None may be harder to replace than Kendall Marshall at point guard.
Dexter Strickland will be coming off ACL surgery, and incoming recruit Marcus Paige is unproven.
Both may keep North Carolina in the thick of things throughout the year, but if the 2012 NCAA tournament was any indication, Marshall will be difficult to replace.
Bust: Mike Rosario
Coming from Rutgers, Mike Rosario was touted for his scoring skill. He averaged over 16 points per game in his first two seasons for the Scarlet Knights, a number that he wasn't close to replicating in his first season in Florida.
Billy Donovan loves his guards, and Rosario fits right in to that style. However, he'll never be the scorer he was at Rutgers. He won't land the minutes or the amount of shots to duplicate that success.
Brady Heslip and Pierre Jackson will be the leaders of the Baylor Bears next season, as another strong recruiting class replaces guys like Quincy Acy and Perry Jones III.
The experienced backcourt will have to step up into a much larger role with Acy and Jones III out of town.
The backcourt may be expected to lead in 2012-13, but the Bears will once again be dominated by frontcourt talent.
Syracuse, like North Carolina and Kentucky, lost a lot from its excellent 2011-12 campaign.
The most important departure may be Fab Melo, who controlled the paint for the Orange.
In Jim Boeheim's 2-3 zone, Melo was as good as anyone. His combination of length and athleticism intimidated opponents. His defensive prowess will be the most difficult thing to replace.
9. Michigan State
This one is simple: Draymond Green was everything to the 2011-12 Michigan State Spartans. He led the team in points (by five per game), rebounds (by six per game) and finished second in assists.
No matter how much Keith Appling or Branden Dawson improves, nothing can replace Green's leadership skills.
8. Ohio State
Who will score for the Buckeyes?
Deshaun Thomas is a given. But who else? Lenzelle Smith? LaQuinton Ross?
Jared Sullinger and William Buford combined for 32 points per game last season. That is difficult to replace, regardless of how much talent is on the roster.
UCLA has one of the best recruiting classes in the nation, but there will be a challenge to sync the incoming recruits with a team that finished 19-14 last year.
Questions abound for this team. Who will be the point guard? Who will take the most shots, the last shot? Who's the leader?
There is plenty of talent for Ben Howland to tinker with, but the Bruins are expected to win early and win often.
6. North Carolina State
I'm not ready to give the title of "best team in North Carolina" to the Wolfpack just yet. North Carolina State and head coach Mark Gottfried have proven they can contend with the Tar Heels and Blue Devils on the recruiting trail, but haven't topped them in ACC play.
NC State will get a great shot this season, but for right now, Duke and North Carolina are still the top two premier programs in North Carolina.
Bust: Post play
Michigan has arguably the best tandem of guards in the Big Ten. Its wingmen, led by incoming recruit Glenn Robinson and Jordan Morgan.
Where Michigan will struggle is in the post. Mitch McGary, an incoming power forward, will look to help one of the worst rebounding teams in the country last season.
McGary and Robinson will help the Wolverines in that area, but it will take a concerted effort as a team to improve on their 30.8 rebounds per game.
Replacing Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor will be a tall task for Bill Self.
He'll look to seniors like Elijah Johnson and Jeff Withey to lead Kansas back to the Final Four. Withey, however, didn't have the look of a leader last season and Johnson is not the scorer that Taylor was.
Both will have to step up in the leadership and scoring departments if the Jayhawks hope to stay on top of the Big 12.
Bust: Nerlens Noel
Noel is not Anthony Davis.
But the comparison will be drawn, from the first shot block to the last. And while comparisons are great in some instances, they are hindrances in others.
These two players cannot be compared because of Davis' dominance. This is no slight to Noel; he will be another great center for John Calipari, but Davis was a very special player.
Any Big Blue fans out there expecting another 186-block season, beware.
Let's not kid ourselves: Louisville couldn't shoot last year. The Cardinals shot 42.5 percent as a team, good for 225th in the country. Two of their best outside threats, Kyle Kuric and Chris Smith, have graduated.
So who will step up for Rick Pitino? Incoming point guard Terry Rozier will most likely be the best "shooter" of the bunch, although Russ Smith is always willing to pull the trigger.
Louisville deserves its high ranking. Shooting, however, will be the largest hurdle for this team to overcome.
For an uncertain 2012-13 college basketball season, one thing is certain: Indiana will be very good. The Hoosiers' top five scorers return, along with a top recruiting class.
The one question for this team is defense. They have talent offensively, from all over the court. Defensively, however, they may struggle.
That's hardly a knock on this team, and there is no reason to think they won't be able improve on their Sweet 16 season from a year ago.
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