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College Basketball Predictions: 11 Scariest Offenses in the Country for 2012-13

Thad NovakCorrespondent IJuly 12, 2012

College Basketball Predictions: 11 Scariest Offenses in the Country for 2012-13

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    For many college hoops fans, the best reason to watch is seeing a high-powered offense at the top of its game. Last year’s North Carolina squad was a prime example, and while the Tar Heels won’t be the same after losing four starters to the NBA, there are plenty of other teams who will be equipped to put up monster point totals next season.

    One of the best will be preseason championship favorite Indiana, which returns just the kind of inside (Cody Zeller)-outside (Jordan Hulls) game every coach wants. With a terrific recruiting class added to the Hoosiers’ loaded roster, Tom Crean’s team will be scoring points in bunches in 2012-13.

    Read on for more on IU and the rest of the 11 most imposing offensive squads in the country for next year.

11. Illinois State

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    Three Illinois State players shot better than 40 percent from three-point range last season, and all three return. The leader of that group is rising senior Tyler Brown, whose 79 treys keyed a Redbirds attack that ranked fifth in the country in three-pointers made.

    On top of all that, leading scorer Jackie Carmichael is back for his senior year.

    The 6’9” Carmichael is a first-rate rebounder who gets plenty of points putting back his teammates’ misses, and he could easily improve on last year’s career high of 13.9 points per game.

10. UNLV

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    As much publicity as rebounding star Mike Moser got for the Rebels, UNLV also boasted one of the most overlooked offenses in the nation. Dave Rice’s team ranked second in the country in assists (17.6 per game) and ninth in three-pointers made (291).

    The Rebels’ long-range game will take a serious hit from the graduations of Oscar Bellfield and Chace Stanback, but sharpshooting freshman Katin Reinhardt will pick up some of the slack.

    Rising senior Anthony Marshall will keep the team’s assist totals high, especially since he’ll get to feed 5-star freshman Anthony Bennett on top of the Rebels’ other scoring options.

9. UMass

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    A big part of the reason UMass jumped from a .500 record in 2010-11 to 25-12 last year was a massive spike in offensive performance across the board.

    The Minutemen finished in the top 25 nationally in points per game (76.9), assists per game (15.3) and three-pointers made (288, the 11th-best figure in the country).

    The leader of that effort was stud transfer Chaz Williams, who arrived from Hofstra to turn in a monster sophomore season: 16.4 points and 6.4 assists per game, plus .419 long-range shooting.

    The rest of last year’s top offensive threats are back as well, including snipers Raphiael Putney, Jesse Morgan and Freddie Riley (50-plus three-pointers apiece in 2011-12).

8. Providence

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    It’s been 15 years since the Friars won an NCAA Tournament game, so fans can be forgiven for overlooking coach Ed Cooley’s squad. Nevertheless, the pieces seem to be falling into place for an offensive explosion at Providence.

    Rising senior Vincent Council, the point guard who helped MarShon Brooks become a first-round NBA draft pick, is the best of five returning starters after averaging an eye-popping 7.5 assists (and a team-high 15.9 points) per contest.

    Council has three other 13-plus point scorers to feed, but his best weapon could be his newest: prize recruit Ricardo Ledo, a 6’5” shooting guard who ranks as high as the No. 6 freshman in the country (according to Rivals.com).

7. Davidson

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    An unlucky NCAA Tournament draw—red-hot Louisville and its stifling defense—kept 13th-seeded Davidson from making much of an impression on a national audience last season.

    This year, though, the 13th-best scoring offense in the country should be even sharper for coach Bob McKillop.

    Every member of the Wildcats' rotation is back, including all five double-digit scorers.

    Look for 6’10” Jake Cohen, the best of an impressive group of rising seniors, to top even last year’s 14.3 points per game in a Southern Conference that doesn't see many impact big men.

6. Michigan

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    John Beilein’s much-vaunted offense hit a bit of a rough patch last season, with Michigan scoring a lackluster 66.5 points per game.

    The pieces are in place, though, for a breakout showing next year, led by the returning backcourt of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr.

    The pair combined for 29.4 points a game last season, and Burke dished out 4.6 assists a night even in that unremarkable attack.

    Now, Michigan brings in two superlative freshmen—Glenn Robinson III outside and Mitch McGary inside—who should launch both Burke’s and the team’s numbers into the stratosphere.

5. UCLA

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    When it comes to UCLA’s returning player base, offense seems like the only thing the Bruins don’t have under control.

    Big men Joshua Smith and the Wear twins (Travis and David) provide plenty of rebounding and defense, but little in the way of fireworks.

    Fortunately for Ben Howland, one of the nation’s most impressive recruiting classes will provide scoring in abundance, led by the nation’s No. 2-ranked freshman in SF Shabazz Muhammad.

    Muhammad immediately becomes a frontrunner for the Pac-12 scoring title, all the more so because he’ll be supported by a dangerous low-post threat in Tony Parker and a high-powered point guard in Kyle Anderson (both freshmen themselves).

4. NC State

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    A great point guard is always a key element of an elite offense, and NC State has one of the best.

    Rising junior Lorenzo Brown, whose summer knee surgery isn’t expected to cost him any portion of the upcoming season, had a breakout year in 2011-12 with 12.7 points and 6.3 assists per game.

    Brown has plenty of veteran weapons returning from last year’s Sweet 16 squad, highlighted by scoring leader C.J. Leslie (14.7 points a night).

    On top of their four returning starters, the Wolfpack also bring in a top-five freshman class led by high-scoring Rodney Purvis in the backcourt.

3. LIU-Brooklyn

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    Largely anonymous before meeting Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament, 16th-seeded LIU-Brooklyn hung tough with the mighty Spartans throughout the first half.

    The Blackbirds’ valiant effort in that game (and 25-9 record overall) depended almost entirely on a light-speed attack that finished second nationally with 81.4 points a night last season.

    Four starters from that mighty unit return, including leading scorer Julian Boyd and his 17.4 points per contest.

    The team won’t be losing anything in terms of offensive flow, either, as rising junior Jason Brickman (7.3 assists a game last season) is back to run the show.

2. Indiana

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    Already the fifth-best shooting team in the nation (.492 from the floor), Indiana’s biggest offensive weakness was the lack of a top-tier point guard.

    With celebrated freshman Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell arriving to handle that job, the sky is the limit for the Hoosier offense next season.

    Ferrell’s main job, of course, will be setting up 6’11” center Cody Zeller, a likely candidate for national Player of the Year honors after averaging 15.6 points per game as a freshman.

    The Hoosiers aren’t exactly hurting for perimeter scoring, either, whether it’s sweet-shooting PF Christian Watford (12.6 points a night) or incomparable three-point marksman Jordan Hulls (.493 from long range, 72 three-pointers made).

1. Creighton

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    Creighton was already on the short list for the best offenses of 2011-12 after finishing ninth in the country in scoring (79.2 points a night) and tying for the lead in field-goal percentage (.504).

    They’ll have a chance to improve on even those gaudy numbers with four starters returning, including the most important single player on any team in the country: Doug McDermott.

    McDermott is the only first-team All-American from last season to return to the college ranks, and his 22.9 points per game (on ungodly .601 shooting from the floor) are the heart and soul of the Creighton team.

    With a rising-star PG in Grant Gibbs (five assists a night) setting him up, look for McDermott to make a run at becoming Creighton’s first-ever national Player of the Year.

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