So What’s Changed?

If there’s one thing that is always the same in college sports, it’s that the landscape is always changing.  Coaches take new jobs, players transfer, and schools switch conferences.  Most of this seems to go under the radar due to summer baseball, and NBA free agency taking precedence.  However, come November, College Basketball will be center stage for 5 months.  So why not take the time to catch everyone up on some of the biggest moves to take note of?

Coaching Changes

Butler – Chris Holtmann led Butler to 3 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including a trip to the Sweet 16 last year.  However, he jumped to take one of the most profound jobs in College Basketball, as Head Coach of The Ohio State University.  His heir?  LaVall Jordan, who played at Butler from 2004-07.  He’ll have to win right away, because Butler has become a yearly contender, so expect Jordan to be on the Hot Seat in no time if things don’t work out.

Ohio State – As mentioned before, Chris Holtmann is the new man in town at Ohio State.  Although he has a proven track record, Thad Matta was one of the most respected coaches in the last 25 years, with a 337-123 record and two final four appearances during his 13 year tenure at Ohio State, so Holtmann will have to earn his stripes all over again.  As for Matta?  Health issues have slowed him down, but he is only 50 years old, so a return in the near future may be a strong possibility.

San Diego State – This one is going to be weird.  Steve Fischer is done coaching for what seemed like an eternity for the Aztecs – since 1999 to be exact.  And the man who helped Kawhi Leonard first get to the national stage will be very tough to replace.  However, Brian Dutcher seems like a good fit, as he helped recruit the Fab-5 under Fischer at Michigan, and followed him to San Diego State.  Dutcher has the experience and mentor ship, but being under the helm as the big boss will be the real test.

Indiana – Hoosier nation should be really happy about this one.  To be fair, Tom Crean wasn’t all that bad for Indiana.  Since he started coaching for the Big Ten powerhouse in 2008, Crean led Indiana to three 25-win seasons, and two Big Ten season titles.  However, he could never get the Hoosiers past the Sweet 16, which just doesn’t sit well with Indiana.  In comes Archie Miller, who may have what it takes to bring Indiana it’s first title since Keith Smart hit “The Shot” against  the Cuse in 1987.  Miller, who had only one season of under 20 wins and an Elite 8 run in only 6 seasons at Dayton brings a lot of firepower to Indiana, something that Hoosier fans need.

Georgetown – The John Thompson III era is officially closed!  He did lead the Hoyas to the Final Four in 2006-07, but since then never got past the second round, and finished with two straight losing seasons.  However, GTown has a right to be excited, as Patrick Ewing comes in, looking to get Georgetown back to their glory days.  The only question with Ewing is how good he will actually be as a coach, but that will all play out in time.  Yes, DC may be back on the map in no time.

Other Notables – Mike Hopkins in at Washington, Mark Gottfried out at North Carolina State.

Transfers

South Florida – The Bulls have had an insane year as far as transfers go.  They lost 2 graduates and 4 regular transfers, and brought in 5 to replace them.  The biggest addition may be Payton Banks from Penn State, who averaged over 10 PPG last season for the Nitany Lions.  However, it is definitely a transition time for USF.

UConn – Connecticut is on this list for the wrong reason, after losing Vance Jackson, Steven Enoch, and top recruit Makai Ashton-Langford to other teams.  They do bring in Antwoine Anderson, a grad transfer from Fordham, but don’t expect this to be enough to propel UConn.

Memphis – Memphis is on here for the same reason as UConn – they lose a lot.  This is mainly Dedric Lawson, who averaged almost 20 PPG for the Tigers last season.

 Duke – Duke won’t sweat this one too much.  Chase Jeter never really worked out for the Blue Devils, but nonetheless, he will be in a new uniform.

Louisville – The Cards add UConn transfer Steven Enoch to an already loaded front-court, just adding to the reasons the they will be competing for a national title come March.

Pittsburgh – Pitt adds Malik Ellison for St. John’s, who should help the guard play for the Panthers.  However, they lose Cameron Johnson as a grad transfer.  Pitt will be fighting for a bubble spot all season long.

Kansas – Kansas adds super scorer Dedric Lawson to the mix, so the Jayhawks won’t be on the way down any time soon.  Bill Self and Co. won’t have much to worry about, so expect Big 12 titles 14 and 15 to be coming soon.

Alabama – The loss of Tevin Mack does hurt Texas, but they do add Mohamed Bamba, so the Longhorns will still be in play for an NCAA birth.  However, Mack will help the Crimson Tide compete in a strong SEC.

Conference Realignments

Wichita State – The AAC hasn’t lived up the whatever expectations it had to begin with.  However, adding Wichita State, a team with Final Four odds, to a conference with UConn, Cincy, and SMU should help the conference in the future.

Valpo – Valpo makes a move from the Horizon to the Missouri Valley.  They won’t replace Wichita State, but the Crusaders will be playing in a tougher conference, which should help them improve.

Obviously this is only a little bit of what will be new for College Basketball in 2017-18.  Of course, rules changes happened too.  One of these may help out Jim Boeheim, as the coaching box has grown from 28 to 38 feet.  Another change includes the shot clock resetting to 20 seconds when the ball is inbounded in the front-court after a foul by the defense.  Soon enough, all of this will be in effect.  Until then, we can only wait for what we hope to be another great College Basketball season.

 

13 And Counting….

Eric Tanner, NCAAMReview Author

The Jayhawks look to continue their run of dominance in the Big 12

13 college basketball seasons have come and gone since the last time Kansas did not win at least a share of the regular season championship.  Other teams have climbed the ladder to take their shot at the Jayhawks, but no one has been able to solidify themselves as perennial contenders for the throne.  Here, we will examine if Kansas can make it 14, as well as take a look at a few of the teams poised to take their shot.

Kansas Jayhawks

Expectations in Lawrence are…wait for it….high.  For the 7th time in the Bill Self era, the Jayhawks earned a #1 seed.  However, 4 of those trips ended in the Elite 8 for Self, including the last 2.  When the horn sounded on their season after a 74-60 loss to Oregon, it also did so on the collegiate careers of Frank Mason and Josh Jackson.  With Mason having exhausted his collegiate eligibility (which concluded with being named POY), and Jackson’s status as a one-and-done star, the focus turned to Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk.  Both decided that life as a Kansas basketball player wasn’t so bad, and returned to school.  Memphis transfers KJ & Dedric Lawson will sit out the 17-18 season, but Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman is eligible after being the nations best practice squad player last season.  Newman could be a major force for Kansas after averaging 11 PPG during his freshman season for the Bulldogs.  When you add LaGerald Vick and Udoka Azubuike to the mix, there’s no reason to believe the Jayhawks won’t find themselves near the top of the standings at the end of the year…again.

West Virginia Mountaineers

At the top of the list of teams who will challenge Kansas for the top spot in the Big 12 is West Virginia.  Their season ended with a 3 point loss to eventual national runner-up Gonzaga.  This season, the Mountaineers will be led by their leading scorer Jevon Carter.  Carter enters his senior season having averaged 13.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.5 steals per game, in addition to earning 2nd Team Big 12 and All Defensive Team honors as a junior.  Coach Bob Huggins also brings back his 2nd leading scorer in Esa Ahmed.  Ahmed saved his best for the battles with Kansas, scoring a season team high 27 points in their first meeting and 20 points in their second.

The 28 wins last season were the third most in school history, behind only the 2 WVU Final Four squads (1959, 2010).  The Mountaineers 9 losses were by an average of 4.4 points, and did not include any double digit defeats.  It also defeated Kansas by 16, and lost by 4 in an OT thriller in Allen Field house.  If West Virginia gets a few more balls to bounce their way, they may be playing for more than just the Big 12 title.

Baylor Bears

The word mess just doesn’t seem to do enough justice in describing the state of Baylor basketball when Scott Drew took over.  Once things cleared up, all he has done is lead the program in a complete 180 degree turn.  2 trips to the Elite 8 (2010, 2012) and 2 Sweet 16 appearances (2014, 2017) have changed the way Baylor is viewed on the national scene.  The Bears lost All Big 12 1st Teamer Jonathan Motley as expected, but return 3rd Team member Manu Lecomte as well as Jo Lual-Acuil from the All Defensive Team.  If someone, or more likely a group of someones, can fill the Motleys’ role, another run to the 2nd weekend isn’t out of the question.

 

Texas Longhorns

              Shaka Smart’s seat is hotter than it should be considering he is entering only his 3rd season, but going 11-22 (4-14) and being winless on the road will get the heat turned up anywhere…especially at Texas.  While they did lose Jarrett Allen after one season, Andrew Jones and his 11.4 PPG did stick around.  Smart also landed a haul on the recruiting trail, led by big man Mohamed Bamba.  Despite recent questions surrounding his eligibility, he has been cleared and will be a force for the Longhorns this yr.  Smart and the Longhorns will be seeking to quiet the critics, and return to the NCAA Tournament after the disaster that was last season.

 

The Big 12 may be arguably the deepest conference in the country.  With Iowa State having won 3 of the last 4 Big 12 Tournaments, and TCU’s run to the NIT Title after struggling through a 3-11 stretch midway through last season, there is no easy night anywhere.