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5 College Basketball Teams Bound to Overachieve in 2012-13

Ryan CuriFeatured ColumnistOctober 10, 2016

5 College Basketball Teams Bound to Overachieve in 2012-13

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    During the offseason, all that college basketball fans have to judge the next season by are the preseason rankings. These teams won't hit the hardwood for regular season games until November, won't play a conference game until January and won't be NCAA Tournament bound until March.

    Only two of the five teams highlighted here are ranked in preseason polls, although four of the five advanced to the NCAA Tournament a year ago. All of these teams' expectations are lower now than they were last season, although I don't think they'll necessarily be any worse.

    Whether these teams lost key players to transfers, graduation or the NBA, they all have good enough returning talent, as well as great head coaches, to make up for their losses and surprise teams in their respective conferences.

    I not only expect see all five of these teams playing in March, I also am confident they can all advance a few games into the NCAA Tournament. 

Wisconsin Badgers

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    After losing Jordan Taylor, who boasts the NCAA record for assist-turnover ratio during a career, it's hard to believe the Badgers will make a third consecutive Sweet Sixteen appearance. But as long as Bo Ryan is at the helm in Madison, they will be just fine every year no matter who they lose.

    Ryan has finished in the top four of the Big Ten standings every season he has coached UW, and even with a strong Big Ten in 2012-13, I expect the Badgers to continue that streak and finish only below Indiana, Michigan and Ohio State.

    Ryan was able to bring in Wisconsin's Mr. Basketball for the upcoming year in Sam Dekker. They also return nearly every other key player from last season besides Taylor (and Rob Wilson on occasion). Jared Berggren, Ryan Evans, Mike Brusewitz and Josh Gasser all started in 2011-12.

    Ryan is able to have consistent success because of the swing offense and his ability to recruit players that fit his system. Despite lacking the athleticism of some other Big Ten squads, Wisconsin makes up for it by playing team ball and executing on both ends of the court.

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: George Marshall-FR

    SG: Josh Gasser-JR

    SF: Ryan Evans-SR

    PF: Mike Bruesewitz-SR

    C: Jared Berggren-SR

    6: Ben Brust-JR

    7: Sam Dekker-FR

Missouri Tigers

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    After finishing second in the Big XII regular season and winning the conference tournament, the Tigers felt they were snubbed from a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament in 2012. Many people even picked Mizzou to win the entire tournament. 

    The Tigers responded by losing 86-84 to Norfolk State in the first round, ending the careers of Kim English, Marcus Denmon and Ricardo Ratliffe, who happened to be the team's three leading scorers. Despite these losses, Missouri enters the season as the 25th-ranked team in ESPN's preseason poll.

    Phil "Flip" Pressey will be the engine that makes Missouri run, and run they will. Michael Dixon will now enter the starting lineup and Lawrence Bowers will return from an injury that kept him out last season. The Tigers have also benefited from transfers such as Keion Bell (Pepperdine), Jabari Brown (Oregon) and Alex Oriakhi (Connecticut).

    So despite only returning one starter from a season ago, the Tigers may bring in four seniors to fill the other starting roles. Frank Haith inherited a great team during his first season, so if Mizzou can overachieve in the SEC in 2012-13, he will finally get the credit he deserves.

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Phil Pressey-JR

    SG: Michael Dixon-SR

    SF: Keion Bell-SR

    PF: Lawrence Bowers-SR

    C: Alex Oriakhi-SR 

Illinois State Redbirds

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    In 2011-12, the Illinois State Redbirds finished the Missouri Valley season in a five-way tie for third place, only behind Wichita State and Creighton. After upsetting the Shockers in the conference tournament semifinals, ISU fell to the Bluejays in overtime, leaving them NIT bound.

    Illinois State responded by winning at Ole Miss in the first round of the NIT, leaving the Redbirds still unbeaten all-time against SEC schools. After a third straight overtime contest, the 'Birds season ended in a 92-88 loss at Stanford—who went on to win the NIT.

    After former head coach Tim Jankovich left the team to take the associate head coaching job at SMU under Larry Brown, star point guard Nic Moore decided to follow him. Despite the loss of potentially their best player, I expect the Redbirds to contend with Creighton for the Missouri Valley title this year.

    Of the Redbirds top six returning players, four of them are seniors and two juniors. If they want to make an NCAA Tournament during their time in Normal, that time is now. As long as they can continue the high level of play that they ended last season with, they should easily accomplish that.

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Bryant Allen-JR 

    SG: Tyler Brown-SR

    SF: John Wilkins-SR

    PF: Jon Ekey-JR

    C: Jackie Carmichael-SR

    6: Anthony Cousin-SR

    7: Johnny Hill-SO

Iowa State Cyclones

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    After becoming known as the school to transfer to, the Cyclones became NCAA Tournament bound last season. After defeating defending champion Connecticut, Iowa State fell to eventual champion Kentucky.

    Like Missouri, Iowa State loses their top three scorers from last season: Royce White, Scott Christopherson, and Chris Allen (all of whom were transfers). Thankfully, the Cyclones retain a few more of their transfers and add Michigan State's Korie Lucious for this season.

    Last season, Iowa State basically ran an isolation offense through Royce White, who is a great passer and ballhandler for his size. This year they will have to play more team basketball if they want to finish third in the Big XII again.

    While Kansas, Baylor and Kansas State are all ranked in preseason polls, I see Iowa State finishing fourth and comfortably making the NCAA Tournament for a second straight season. 

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Korie Lucious-SR

    SG: Tyrus McGee-SR

    SF: Chris Babb-SR

    PF: Melvin Ejim-JR

    C: Anthony Booker-SR 

Marquette Golden Eagles

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    After both Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom were selected in June's NBA Draft, it'd be tough to expect two players on Marquette's roster to step up in the same way that those two did in 2011-12. In fact, both Crowder and Johnson-Odom were First Team All-Big East selections, while Crowder was selected as the conference Player of the Year.

    Marquette finished last season in second place in the mighty Big East, only behind Syracuse. Since joining the Big East conference in 2005, Marquette is the only team in the 16-team conference to have made the NCAA Tournament in every season since that time.

    While the Golden Eagles did lose easily their top two players, they eased the pain by picking up Trent Lockett from Arizona State, who will be eligible to play immediately. They also regain Chris Otule, who missed most of 2011-12 to injury. 

    Buzz Williams is an up and coming coach, who brings an intensity and energy that rubs off on his team. Marquette does need to improve on their half court offense, but they have the ability to be deeper than they were a year ago and could compete at the top of the Big East once again.

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Junior Cadougen-SR

    SG: Vander Blue-JR

    SF: Trent Lockett-SR

    PF: Jamil Wilson-JR

    C: Chris Otule-SR

    6: Davante Gardner-JR

    7: Todd Mayo-SO

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