College Basketball Teams That Will Suffer the Biggest Drop-Offs in 2014
A lot can change in the seven months between now and the start of the 2013-14 college basketball season, particularly in the next week-and-a-half.
That's the amount of time between now and April 28th, the date when current underclassmen have to make their final decisions vis-a-vis the 2013 NBA draft. And when they do, the crystal ball will look a lot clearer.
Until then, though, we'll make do with some combination of the information available and gut instinct.
With that vague alchemy as my guide, I've pegged the below teams for significant performance drop-offs next season. Be advised that these predictions are based primarily on regular season outcomes.
In other words, I'm not going to put Wichita State on this list just because Gregg Marshall's team is unlikely to make next year's Final Four. The Shockers won 26 games in 2012-13 and finished second in the Missouri Valley conference. They're more than capable of a repeat showing in 2013 14.
These seven teams, though, are in a noticeably pricklier predicament.
2012-13 Record: 25-7, 14-4 (Big East)
Final AP Rank: 8
Key Losses: Otto Porter Jr.
Georgetown overachieved last year, and that was with do-everything forward Otto Porter Jr. doing, well, everything. John Thompson III's team was a lackluster 63rd in adjusted offensive efficiency despite the sophomore's phenomenal play, and could be at a major scoring disadvantage next season.
The return of suspended forward Greg Whittington and the addition of UCLA transfer Josh Smith should offer some relief. And the rest of the Hoya core is young and improving. But that should tell how vital Porter was for this offense. Even with the rest of the roster largely intact, this group could wind up on the high side of the tournament bubble.
One final caveat to add: Georgetown's move to the new Big East means it could end up with a similar overall record to the one it posted this year. That record, however, will carry significantly less weight with the selection committee than it did in America's second-best basketball conference.
2012-13 Record: 31-6, 14-4 (Big 12)
Final AP Rank: 3
Key Losses: Ben McLemore, Jeff Withey, Elijah Johnson, Kevin Young, Travis Releford
Bill Self always finds a way to keep his teams atop the Big 12, but this may be his biggest challenge yet.
The Jayhawks lose all five starters from a team that went 14-4 in conference play, two of whom (McLemore and Withey) are projected to go in the first round. Ballyhooed newcomers Wayne Selden, Joel Embiid and Conner Frankamp should contribute right away, but it'd be dangerous to assume they'll replicate the production of 2012-13's accomplished, senior-laden core.
If the coach was anyone other than Self, you'd peg this for a bubble team. But even after accounting for Big Bill's magic touch, you have to think the nine-season run of Big 12 titles is in jeopardy.
2012-13 Record: 29-7, 15-3 (ACC)
Final AP Rank: 5
Key Loses: Reggie Johnson, Durand Scott, Kenny Kadji, Julian Gamble, Trey McKinney Jones
The team's best player, sophomore point guard Shane Larkin, is still undecided about his NBA future. Even if Larkin returns, though, he won't have nearly as much talent at his disposal.
The rest of Jim Larranaga's starting five is on its way to diploma-ville. And although the program is headed in a positive direction, that oncoming exodus leaves a cloud over Miami's short-term prognosis.
2012-13 Record: 29-7, 14-4 (Big 10)
Final AP Rank: 4
Key Losses: Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford, Jordan Hulls
The arrival of highly touted recruit Noah Vonleh proves that Indiana basketball has regained its former glory, but a few promising additions won't account for the loss of two elite college talents (Zeller and Oladipo) and a plus role player (Watford).
Tom Crean's team should still be competitive in the Big Ten, but I doubt the Hoosiers can summon another wire-to-wire season in the AP Top 10—or even the Top 20 for that matter.
2012-13 Record: 26-9, 11-5 (Mountain West)
Final AP Rank: N/A
Key Losses: Colton Iverson, Greg Smith, Dorian Green, Wes Eikmeier, Pierce Hornung
Those five guys listed above? All starters.
That should tell you what Larry Eustachy is up against heading into next year. The former Southern Mississippi head man led the Rams to a banner season in 2012-13 and should have this program back near the top of the Mountain West soon enough.
The 2013-14 season, though, could be a slog.
2012-13 Record: 32-3, 16-0 (WCC)
Final AP Rank: 1
Key Losses: Elias Harris, Mike Hart, Guy Landry Edi, Kelly Olynyk
Junior All-American Kelly Olynyk still hasn't declared for the NBA draft, but I have to believe the recent college graduate is on his way to the league after a breakout season in Spokane. And without Olynyk, the Bulldogs lose both members of a frontcourt that was among the nation's best.
Coach Mark Few has amassed enough talent to stay atop the WCC and in the March Madness picture. Another run in the Top Five, however, seems unlikely.
North Carolina State
2012-13 Record: 24-11, 11-7 (ACC)
Final AP Rank: N/A
Key Losses: Richard Howell, C.J. Leslie, Rodney Purvis, Lorenzo Brown, Scott Wood
It's no surprise that junior C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown declared for the NBA draft, but losing freshman shooting guard Rodney Purvis to transfer was a major blow.
The good news, I suppose, is that the group above played well under expectations last year. And the return of emerging youngsters T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis along with the addition of Anthony Barber, BeeJay Anya, Kyle Washington and Desmond Lee provides some solace for Wolfpack fans.
But the cold reality is that a bushel of next-level talent just walked out the door. If coach Mark Gottfried couldn't keep a loaded 2012-13 team in the Top 25, I shudder to think what he'll do with this group.
Michigan: Losing consensus player of the year Trey Burke is bad enough, but if Glenn Robinson III, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Mitch McGary follow their point guard to the league, John Beilein's Wolverines are in for a serious regression.
Michigan State: Like their neighbors in Ann Arbor, the Spartans are at the mercy of the draft deadline. Gary Harris and Adreian Payne are the names to watch.
Duke: Lots of talent leaving (Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly, Seth Curry) and lots of talent coming in (Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood, Matt Jones). We'll find out soon enough if the newbies can cohere quickly enough to keep Coach K's team in Final Four contention.
Creighton: If junior All-American Doug McDermott leaves, the Bluejays go from the Missouri Valley's best to fringe NIT team.
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