This year, there were 35 teams in the NCAA Tournament that also earned berths in last season's bracket. That means that while we can count on plenty of new blood when March rolls around in 2011, roughly half of the teams we've been watching will be back next year. To help us get an idea of who will be back and who will be rebuilding, we offer a primer of how each eliminated team shapes up for next season. In the newspaper business, we called these obits, but for many of these teams, such a somber term need not apply.
Brigham Young: In BYU's first-round game against Florida, college basketball fans in most of the country got to see what fans in the Mountain West already knew all too well--Jimmer Fredette can play. Unfortunately, in the Cougars' second-round loss to KSU, Fredette fans may have seen that he's not as much of a pro prospect as they'd like to believe. A junior, Fredette may declare for the draft but the likely outcome of that is that he won't hire an agent and he'll be back in Provo for his senior season. BYU won 30 games this season, but loses Jonathan Tavernari, its second-leading scorer and top rebounder, and still hasn't made the Sweet 16 since Danny Ainge led the Cougars there in 1981. Dave Rose also loses his top inside player in 6'11" Chris Miles. If Fredette does leave, his backup, Michael Lloyd, could prove to be a worthy replacement. Lloyd scored 26 points in the win over Florida. Athletic Jackson Emery played a supporting role for the most part this season, but has the skill and efficiency indicators to effectively increase his responsibilities. Freshman Brandon Davies will be the likely replacement for Miles on the inside. Rose also has a couple of players returning from their missions and incoming recruit Kyle Collinsworth, a three-star player according to Rivals.com. With or without Fredette, BYU will be a terrific-shooting team and a contender in the Mountain West. However, the Cougars' ceiling as far as next year's postseason goes may be determined by the NBA's interest in their best player.
California: The Bears were led by a trio of seniors in Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher and Jamal Boykin, so you have to think next season will be a rebuilding campaign for coach Mike Montgomery. Montgomery also loses Theo Robertson, perhaps his top role player and physical presence, from the team that won Cal's first Pac 10 title in 50 years. Next year's team will be led by sophomore Jorge Gutierrez, who will look to become more assertive on offense as he learns to supplement his solid defense. Max Zhang, a 7'3" center, had the kind of shot-blocking rate and field-goal percentage you'd like to see in an oversized college player, but has to learn how to stay on the court; he committed seven fouls per 40 minutes. Harper Kemp, a 6'8" forward who was a regular in 2008-09, will be back after missing all of this season with a knee injury. Uncertain is the status of sophomore Omondi Amoke, Montgomery's best rebounder, who was suspended prior to the tournament for academic reasons. On the recruiting front, the Bears add Rivals.com No. 72 prospect Gary Franklin, a scoring guard, and Nos. 101 and 102 Richard Soloman and Allen Crabbe. Next year looks like a transition year, but the talent cupboard is far from bare.
Georgia Tech: The Yellowjackets underachieved for much of the season, but were playing their best ball by the time they were knocked out by Ohio State on Sunday. What comes next for Tech is anybody's guess. We know for sure that senior starter D'Andrew Bell and sixth man Zachery Peacock are gone. Freshman Derrick Favors is an almost certain one-and-done player as he did nothing in his year at Tech to alter his projection as a top-five pick in the 2010 draft. Junior Gani Lawal has already declared for the draft once, but returned after not being assured that he'd go in the first round. It's unclear whether that status has changed, but with a possible NBA lockout looming in 2011, he may decide to make the leap this time around. If Lawal returns to anchor the inside, Tech will still have plenty of talent, though it will be short of interior players. If he leaves, they are basically devoid of inside talent. Point guard Iman Shumpert was just a sophomore, though his erratic play was one of the reasons why the Yellowjackets were so inconsistent this season. Freshman Glen Rice Jr. has terrific athleticism and a nice long-range stroke, though he needs to work perfecting his shot inside the arc and from the line. Fellow freshman Brian Oliver looks like he's going to be a big-time scorer in the ACC. The top recruit is athletic and long wing Jason Morris, Rivals' No. 84 prospect. However, all this aside, the biggest wild card for Tech may be the status of coach Paul Hewitt. The rumors of the day are that Hewitt is talking turkey with St. John's about its coaching vacancy and given the transition season staring him in the face, it might be a good time to go.
Gonzaga: It was a typically solid season for the Zags, who face another early offseason of rumors about their coach, Mark Few. That's not really Few's fault, more just a result of the outstanding job Few has done at Gonzaga and the arrogant disbelief of major programs that can't believe Few is content in the West Coast Conference. The Zags earned their 12 straight trip to the Big Dance this season and there really are no signs that the program will dip any time soon. Few loses senior Matt Bouldin, the WCC player of the year, but he lost Austin Daye to the NBA last season and didn't miss a beat. Few played five freshmen this season, led by forward Elias Harris, who is a solid NBA prospect. Early indications are that he will be back. Sophomore seven-footer Robert Sacre is an impressive shot-blocker and rebounder, with developing offensive skills. Solid wing Steven Gray will back for his senior season, while quick point guard Demetri Goodson will get another offseason to work on his shot. Among the freshmen other than Harris, keep an eye on Manny Arop, whose tempo-free stats jump of the page, and 6'10" finesse big man Kelly Olynyk.
Kansas: Look, I have as much respect for Bill Self as I do any coach in the country. I think he's fantastic and it kills me, as a Missouri guy, that MU had a shot at Self way back when they hired Quin Snyder. Not only did the Tigers miss out on Self, but then he ended up at archrival Kansas. The results have been predictable. Self has maintained and even raised the stature of the program he took over from Roy Williams. He gets the pick of the top talent in the land and gets them to Lawrence. Even better, he coaches the heck out of them once they get there. While Kansas has elite talent, they don't play like a band of high school all-stars. They play great defense, share the ball and hustle. All this said, Self's record in the NCAA Tournament with KU is growing ever more spotty, depending on how you look at it. My sense is that KU fans view national prominence as an entitlement for their program and the national championship Self won two seasons ago was merely the logical outcome for any given season. The other tournaments haven't been nearly as kind to Self since he arrived in Lawrence. There were two Elite Eight finishes and a loss last year in the Sweet 16. But there are also first-round losses to Bucknell and Bradley, respectively. Then, this year, in a season in which the Jayhawks were the nation's best team and top overall seed in the tournament, they fell in the second round to Northern Iowa. Overall, Self is now decidedly below average when it comes to getting his teams to play to their seed.
Next season will be a transition season in Lawrence. Point guard Sherron Collins graduates and moves into an uncertain future in the NBA. Prevailing opinion is that he will be followed by junior center Cole Aldrich, who will easily be a top-10 pick. Freshman Xavier Henry is more than likely going to be the one-and-done player he was suspected to be all along. He also projects as a first-round pick. The rest of the roster will be back, but it lacks star power. Talented sophomore guard Tyshawn Taylor has underachieved and has also made rumblings about transferring out of the program. The Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff, are talented but it remains to be seen if they can hold down featured roles. Juniors Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar are both supreme role players that feed off other people. Jeff Withey, a seven-foot transfer from Arizona, may get a shot at replacing Aldrich after suffering through an injured-marred season. The other young players on hand--Thomas Robinson, Mario Little, Travis Releford, Elijah Johnson--could also step up. Johnson may be in the point guard mix to replace Collins. Kansas has an unusually tepid recruiting class coming in as of today, but is also supposedly high on the list of undeclared Baltimore point guard Josh Selby, who would immediately become Collins' heir apparent. Selby is one of three Rivals.com top-10 point guards who haven't signed, as they play a game of musical chairs waiting to see who goes pro. You have to think one will end up in Lawrence and one will end up in Lexington, Ken. There are still plenty of pieces at Self's disposal; it's just more uncertain than usual how they're all going to come together.
Maryland: The Terps are on something of a plateau, having now lost second-round games three years running. Gary Williams will have to replace his top player, Greivis Vasquez, the ACC player of the year, who did as much in his offense as any player in a major conference. Maryland also loses senior starters Landon Milbourne and Eric Hayes. The Terps will miss Milbourn's defense and Hayes' uber-efficient offense. Returning to form next season's core will be sophomore Sean Mosley and freshman Jordan Williams. Mosely is an athletically-gifted, defense-oriented wing who is not really suited to fill the role Vasquez played on this year's team. Williams is a dominant interior presence who will get a chance to become the interior focus on offense. Dino Gregory, Cliff Tucker, and Adrian Bowie, three reserves on this year's roster, will all step into more playing time. Coach Williams has a solid recruiting class coming in, headlined by No. 53 Rivals.com prospect Mychal Parker, a four-star small forward, and No. 122 Terrell Stoglin, a point guard, who may battle Bowie at point guard.
Missouri: The Tigers were a tempo-free darling all season, but lacked the bedrock offensive talents that could get them over the hump against their top opponents. Nevertheless, Mike Anderson is developing Mizzou into one of the signature programs in the Big 12. His style of play, and the types of athletes he needs to run his system, are well established. He's now starting to up the ante on the talent front. Anderson loses a trio of senior starters off this year's team--guards J.T Tiller and Zaire Taylor, plus center Keith Ramsey. However, that's not nearly as bad as it sounds. Tiller and Taylor were rock-solid defenders that were at the heart of Missouri's resurgence, but were both limited on the offensive end. Ramsey improved by leaps in bounds during his four years in Columbia, but he falls into the same category as Tiller and Taylor. Because Anderson favors a 10-man rotation to deploy his helter-skelter system, Missouri returns a number of players that saw significant time. Sophomore guard Marcus Denmon and freshman Michael Dixon will replace the TnT backcourt and are much more offensively gifted than the seniors. One or the other will need to emerge as the lead playmaker, though that role could be filled by recruit Phil Pressey, son of Paul and the No. 54 prospect on Rivals.com, who will be one of the more exciting freshmen in the country. Swingman Kim English will be back for his junior season and should improve his efficiency as the offensive talent around him steps up. Mizzou will again be short of interior players, as Lawrence Bowers and Justin Safford will be relied upon to hold down the inside. Safford is more of a face-up player than an interior presence and is coming off a knee injury. A lot will hinge upon the development of foul-prone sophomore center Steve Moore. Mizzou's recruiting class is ranked 12th in the nation and tops in the Big 12. It's headlined by super-athletic forward Tony Mitchell, the No. 15 player in Rivals' rankings, a long and skilled combo player that will play heavy minutes right off the bat. These are heady times in Columbia.
Murray State: As John Gasaway stated time and again, the Racers were an uncommonly good Ohio Valley Conference team. The Racers knocked off Vanderbilt in the first round, then lost a two-point decision to Butler in the second round. That capped a 31-5 season for coach Billy Kennedy. Kennedy loses Danero Thomas, one of six players that averaged between 9.7 and 10.6 points per game on one of the nation's most balanced teams. It was Thomas' buzzer-beater that sunk Vandy last Thursday. Tony Easley, the Racers' top inside player and another one of those 10 points per game guys, also graduates. Kennedy should be able to replace the modest offensive contributions of those players, but Murray State succeeded on the strength of a defense that was No. 34 in the nation. That defense loses Easley's sixth-ranked shot-block percentage and no other player on roster is taller than 6'7". However, one of those 6'7" players was athletic freshman Edward Daniel, who blocked 7.1 percent of opponent's shots and posted the Racers' second-best offensive rebound rate behind Easley. He looks poised to step into a bigger role. Kennedy still has plenty of pieces to run his egalitarian system.
New Mexico: If you are a Pomeroy fan that didn't buy into New Mexico's 28-3 regular season record, you were proven right when the Lobos barely escaped No. 14 seed Montana in the first round, and then was thumped by Washington in the second round. New Mexico star Darington Hobson played with a bum wrist in that game, a severe handicap for the Lobos' leading scorer, rebounder and assister. He'll be back for his senior season, though he does rate as a fringe NBA prospect. Coach Steve Alford loses only defensive specialist Roman Martinez off this year's roster. Besides Hobson, he returns drive-and-kick master Dairese Gary, one of the country's best foul-drawing guards. The Lobos will add UCLA transer Drew Gordon to the mix. He's a post player that averaged 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds for the Bruins before a falling out with UCLA coach Ben Howland. He's exactly the kind of player New Mexico lacked this season. Alford also had three freshmen and three sophomores that saw time this year, and recruited 6'10" Alex Kirk, the No. 109 Rivals.com prospect. Chances are Alford's squad will get a chance to redeem themselves in next year's tournament. The Lobos look loaded.
Ohio: The Bobcats' late surge saw them overcome a 7-9 record in the MAC to win the conference tournament and then stun--yes, stun--Georgetown the first round of the NCAAs. Ohio took off behind Indiana transfer Armon Bassett, who led the team in scoring and provided coach John Groce with an offensive focal point. He's got another year of eligibility remaining. Groce loses top rebounder Kenneth van Kempen, but his contributions will be replaced by a pair of promising freshman forwards, Reggie Keely and Ivo Baltic. Also returning is sharpshooter Tommy Freeman, who led nation in True Shooting Percentage. Groce also gets back freshman point guard D.J. Cooper, who logged 87 percent of available minutes in his first college season and posted top-40 assist and steal rates. Chances are that next year's Bobcats will more closely resemble the team we saw in March than the team that finished under .500 in its conference.
Old Dominion: The Monarchs have been a consistent power in the Colonial Athletic Association and this may have been coach Blaine Taylor's best team yet. ODU was 27-9 and knocked off Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAAs while posting the 12th-best Defensive Rating in the land. Taylor only loses one player but that player, Gerald Lee, was the Monarchs' only double-digit scorer at 14.4 per game. The 6'10 Lee was an anchor for ODU on both ends of the floor. The top returning player is 6'5" sophomore guard Kent Bazemore, who may have to become more of a scorer and less of a playmaker. On the interior, 6'9" sophomore Chris Cooper may get more time. Returning bangers Frank Hazzell and Ben Finney will be featured players, as will junior point guard Darius James. ODU should again be a threat in the CAA, but losing Lee likely drops them back to the pack with the young teams at George Mason and Virginia Commonwealth.
Pittsburgh: After losing DaJaun Blair and Sam Young to the NBA, the Panthers were under the radar entering the season, but coach Jamie Dixon again proved the staying power of his program with a 25-9 record and a tie for second place in the Big East. This time around, Dixon should be returning nearly all of his significant contributors. Sophomore leading scorer Ashton Gibbs will again be one of the Big East's top home run threats and solid point guard Brad Wanamaker returns for his senior season. Gone will be defensive specialist Jermaine Dixon. The defense will again be anchored by 6'10" junior Gary McGhee, the Panthers' top rebounder and shot-blocker. This collection of solid talent will be joined by a pair of Rivals ranked recruits, No. 69 Isiah Epps, who will back up Wanamaker initially, and No. 107 J.J. Moore, who could help replace the defensive gap created by Dixon's departure. Should be another strong team for Dixon.
Texas A&M: Mark Turgeon did yeoman’s work in propelling the Aggies to one of the best hoops seasons in school history, but now the going gets rough. A&M went 24-10 and came two points shy of the Sweet 16 after falling to Purdue on Sunday. Purdue was of course missing one of its top players but, then again, so were the Aggies. Turgeon loses his top two scorers in Donald Sloan and Bryan Davis. Sloan led A&M with 17.8 points per game, over seven points more than any other player. Uncertain is the status of senior Derrick Roland, who suffered a nasty broken leg in December. Roland did play in 12 games before he was hurt but is considering appealing to the NCAA for a medical redshirt. Other than Roland, the top returnees will be sophomore banger David Loubeau and slashing guard B.J. Holmes, who may be the player most looked upon to take up Sloan's scoring slack. Point guard Dash Harris, a drive-and-kick type, returns and will anchor the perimeter defense. Turgeon, who you'd think would start to show up on the radars of the power programs, landed Rivals' No. 21 recruiting class, which features all fours and fives: Tobi Oyedeji (No. 82), Daniel Alexander (No. 89), Kourtney Roberson (No. 131) and center Keith Davis. With Sloan gone, it will be a different kind of Aggie squad next season, but it may be no less effective--especially if Roland returns and is healthy.
Villanova: One year after making the Final Four, the Wildcats limped home to a disappointing finish. Villanova was 20-1 on Feb. 2, but went 5-7 the rest of the way. Jay Wright has established himself as one of the top coaches in the college game, so this was just one of those things. He loses senior star Scottie Reynolds, who was one of the players that faltered down the stretch. His running mate, Corey Fisher, should be back as his NBA fortunes are uncertain-to-unlikely. He'll be the go-to guy in the new Cats order. Antonio Pena will again anchor the inside game, but raw freshman Mouphtaou Yarou could emerge as a force if he can cut his foul rate by at least a third. As for who will replace Reynolds, the most likely candidate is quick freshman Maalik Wayns, who needs to improve his outside shooting. Wright loses defensive specialist Reggie Redding on the wing, but he has an able replacement in freshman Dominic Cheek. Wright has another solid recruiting class coming in, led by physical forward Jayvaughn Pinkston (No. 67 at Rivals.com) and sweet-shooting wing James Bell (No. 76). Despite the loss of one of the program's best-ever players, Villanova may be even better next season.
Wake Forest: The Deacons did pretty well for a team lacking much of an offense. Wake Forest entered the tournament as a nine-seed, outlasted Texas by one point in overtime, then fell before the mighty sword of Kentucky in the second round. Wake Forest could be looking at a rebuilding season with senior point guard Ishmael Smith leaving and star foward Al-Farouq Aminu a likely early entrant into the NBA draft. Dino Gaudio also loses major contributors L.D. Williams, Chas McFarland and David Weaver. Coming back is jet-quick freshman guard C.J. Harris and fellow first-year player Ari Stewart, a gifted forward that can get his shot whenever he wants, but needs to up the ante on the efficiency front. If Aminu were to return, he, Harris and Stewart would qualify as a dynamite young core, but without him, Gaudio's 's roster looks a little slight but for a terrific recruiting hall, ranked No. 8 by Rivals.com. Top 100 talents include Travis McKie (No. 50), J.T. Terrell (No. 78), Melvin Tabb (No. 85) and Carson Desrosiers (No. 87). So Wake Forest will be long on raw talent, though a bit short on experience. It may well be a rebuilding year, but most of the future foundation is already in place.
Wisconsin: Bo Ryan's squad just didn't have enough bullets, falling to a Cornell squad that dissected the Badgers' stalwart defense with surgeon-like execution on offense. Thus ended a fabulous Badgers campaign that saw them go 24-9 overall and finish one game back of the Big Ten tri-champs despite the fact that their top player, Jon Leuer, missed nine games with a wrist injury. Leuer will be back for his senior season, but Ryan loses senior guards Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon. Hughes combined with Leuer to do the heavy lifting in Ryan's super-slow offensive scheme. Defensive specialist Tim Jarmusz returns, as does Jordan Taylor, who will become the top option in the backcourt. Ryan will need other options to emerge, though sophomore Rob Wilson is a possibility. Also returning is 6'8" Keaton Nankivil, who is the best offensive rebounder on a team that doesn't send many guys to the offensive glass. The Badgers don't have a highly-ranked recruiting class coming in, but did land a trio of three-star players that presumably fit the deliberate system Ryan likes to run.
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Bradford Doolittle is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
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