Biggest Disappointments of the 2012-13 College Basketball Season
Kentucky started its practices with cameras around and a reality television show that would give us a sneak peek at one of the best teams in the nation.
No pressure, huh?
John Calipari was coming off his first national championship, he once again had the best recruiting class and would coach a bunch of pros. What could go wrong?
Well, expectations can weigh on a team, even at Kentucky, as we found out.
The Wildcats, who were preseason No. 3, have a spot on this list of the biggest disappointments in college basketball this past season. The others also had promise and fell short of expectations.
Sometimes that leads to firings. Sometimes it simply leads to frustrated fans and the bittersweet slogan of "wait 'til next year." Only this was supposed to be the year for these 10 teams.
10. Virginia Tech
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Preseason Hype: Picked to finish tied for 10th in preseason ACC Coaches' Poll
Final Record: 13-19 (4-14 ACC)
Why They Disappointed: The expectations were not great for Virginia Tech until the team got off to a 7-0 start with back-to-back wins over Iowa and Oklahoma State. At that point, new head coach James Johnson looked like a great hire. The Hokies were even two spots out of the Associated Press Top 25.
Then, the season turned and slung mud in the face of Virginia Tech's administration.
A one-point loss on the road at West Virginia was the first loss. The Hokies would lose three more on the nonconference schedule, wiping away what had been an exciting start. They spent most of the conference season in the ACC basement even though they had Erik Green, the nation's leading scorer.
Here's why Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver should be hiding under a table somewhere. He looks silly for firing Seth Greenberg. The coach had put together five straight winning seasons until a 16-17 year in 2011-12, including one NCAA tournament berth and several others on the bubble.
For a school that had not made the tourney since 1996 before Greenberg arrived, he was doing quite well.
9. West Virginia
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Preseason Hype: Picked sixth in preseason Big 12 coaches' poll
Final Record: 13-19 (6-12 Big 12)
Why They Disappointed: Bob Huggins missed the NCAA tournament for the first time in his six seasons at West Virginia, and it was the first time one of his teams has finished with a losing record in its league and overall since Akron in 1985.
Huggins actually had fairly high expectations for this team because of the addition of transfers Aaric Murray and Juwan Staten.
At Big 12 media day, Huggins said (via WVUsports.com), "Honestly, if we're the sixth-best team in the league then it's a hell of a league."
The Big 12 must be a hell of a league. The Mountaineers finished eighth.
8. Illinois State
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Preseason Hype: Picked to finish second in the Missouri Valley
Record: 18-15 (8-10 Missouri Valley)
Why They Disappointed: The Redbirds lost in overtime of the Missouri Valley championship in 2012 and then lost in the second round of the NIT in overtime to eventual champion Stanford.
They returned four of five starters, including star Jackie Carmichael. This was supposed to be the Missouri Valley's second-best team behind Creighton—not Wichita State.
Illinois State ended up sixth in the Valley and knocked out of the postseason tourney by the Shockers. To be fair, it was the first season for coach Dan Muller, who took over for Tim Jankovich. The Redbirds started 0-6 in conference and did win eight of their final 12 conference games in the regular season.
Jankovich took Illinois State to four NITs in his five seasons at the school before leaving to become the head-coach-in-waiting at SMU under Larry Brown, and this would have been the year expectations were highest.
7. Saint Joseph's
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Preseason Hype: Received votes in the preseason Associated Press top 25; picked to finish first in Atlantic 10 preseason poll
Final Record: 18-14 (8-8 A-10); lost in first round of NIT to St. John's, 63-61
Why They Disappointed: The Hawks returned five starters from a team that went 9-7 in the A-10 in 2012 and they went from preseason No. 1 to ninth place.
The A-10 was better than expected and Phil Martelli's team was the one squad that did not outperform or at least meet expectations.
6. South Florida
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Preseason Hype: Picked to finish eighth in preseason Big East coaches' poll
Final Record: 12-19 (3-15 Big East)
Why They Disappointed: The Bulls went from last four in to off the reservation.
South Florida made the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1992 in 2012 with one of the Big East's best defenses. Stan Heath's team then won its play-in game and won a second game in the tourney to get to the round of 32.
Heath's style was not fun to watch but it worked. The Bulls played slowed and made it extremely difficult to score.
Either the defense got worst or the rest of the Big East figured it out in 2013. The main issue was inside the arc. In 2012, the Bulls' opponents made only 43.2 percent of their twos. That number went up to 48.5 percent in 2013 and USF won 10 less games.
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Preseason Hype: Received votes in preseason Associated Press poll; picked fourth in Big 12 preseason coaches' poll
Final Record: 16-18 (7-11 Big 12); lost in first round of CBI to Houston, 73-72
Why They Disappointed: Rick Barnes missed the NCAA tournament for the first time at Texas in his 15th season at the school.
The Longhorns get a bit of a pass for this year because the NCAA decided to flex its muscle and suspend Myck Kabongo for the team's first 23 games. This was because of a workout paid for by a friend that Kabongo was not initially truthful about when questioned by Texas officials. (Thank you for protecting us, NCAA.)
The Longhorns went 10-13 without Kabongo and 6-5 with him. I'm already on the record defending Barnes as a coach, but this was a bad year for him. Not only did his team look off all season—part of that was the Kabongo mess—but he's going to have a tough time bouncing back next year. Kabongo declared for the draft and his second-leading scorer, Sheldon McClellan, decided to transfer.
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Preseason Hype: Picked to finish sixth in the Big Ten preseason poll
Final Record: 21-13 (8-10 Big Ten); lost in the round of 32 to Florida, 78-64
Why They're Here: This seems a bit out of place for a team that made the NCAA tournament and won a game, but Minnesota created expectations for itself with a 15-1 start and climb to No. 8 in the rankings.
Included in that start were wins over Memphis, Stanford, Florida State, Michigan State and Illinois. For a team to start like that and then finish 8-10 in the Big Ten and barely get in the NCAA tournament was a disappointment.
Ultimately, that's what led to Tubby Smith's firing. Every season was almost the same story. The Gophers would start out well, build expectations and disappoint by the end. Fast starts were essentially a curse for Smith.
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Preseason Hype: Ranked No. 19 in the preseason Associated Press poll; picked to finish second in the Big 12 preseason coaches' poll
Final Record: 23-14 (9-9 Big 12); won the NIT
Why They Disappointed: Baylor's run through the NIT served as a "what might have been" for Scott Drew's team.
The Bears obviously had the talent, and they finally clicked in the postseason. It's a wonder why it took so long.
Pierre Jackson is one of the best point guards in the country, and if you don't believe that, you either have not watched him play or hate numbers. Jackson led the Big 12 in scoring and assists, and he was fifth in steals.
Baylor also has two big men (Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson) who will play in the NBA, another off the bench (Rico Gathers) who could potentially play in the league someday and they had two other senior guards who filled roles.
The Bears also were coming off an Elite Eight. There was simply too much talent and too much experience for that team to play in the NIT.
2. North Carolina State
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Preseason Hype: Ranked No. 6 in the preseason Associated Press poll; picked to finish first in the ACC
Record: 24-11 (11-7 ACC); lost in the round of 64 to Temple, 76-72
Why They Disappointed: When you caught the Wolfpack on the right day, they looked like one of the best teams in the country. And they should have looked the part. They had the talent.
No team did less with more. Expectations were high because they should have been high. Mark Gottfried returned four out of five starters from a Sweet 16 team, and he also brought in three McDonald's All-Americans.
It was frustrating to watch the Wolfpack even if you had no affiliation just because you could see what they were capable of in spurts.
Unfortunately for NC State fans, Gottfried could never get his players to bring consistent effort on the defensive end, and so a team that based on talent alone was Final Four-worthy ended up losing its first game in the NCAA tournament.
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Preseason Hype: Ranked No. 3 in the preseason Associated Press poll; picked to win the SEC
Final Record: 21-12 (12-6 SEC); lost in the first round of the NIT to Robert Morris, 59-57
Why They Disappointed: The fact that a team featured five new starters and four freshmen is a disappointment seems a bit off.
But these are the expectations that John Calipari has built for himself, and for the first time, we saw his philosophy of relying on the one-and-doners come together like a bad recipe.
What Calipari was missing were a couple veterans and a future pro at point guard. He has had both on most of his teams and he had made the NCAA tournament every season since 2006, advancing to at least the Sweet 16 in each.
The Wildcats might have made it to the tourney without the loss of Nerlens Noel, but even with Noel, the season had been a disappointment and the 'Cats were headed toward the bubble.
Calipari lost a bit of his aura with this team, but he could get it back quickly next year as he has put together one of the greatest recruiting classes of all time. If UK struggles again, however, you might get some fans in Big Blue Nation wondering if Calipari needs to find some players who will stick around long enough to legally drink.