Breakthrough teams for 2013-14
Baylor, Iowa, Kentucky, Stanford, Virginia are candidates to take next step
The 2012-13 college basketball season will come to a close Monday with the national championship game, but we've already begun looking toward next season. Which teams that didn't make the Big Dance this year could be very good next season? Here is my list of five, which leads off with a pair of teams squaring off in Thursday night's NIT championship game (9 p.m. ET, ESPN).
At first glance, Baylor does not look like an NCAA tournament team next season. The Bears are losing their heart and soul in leading scorer Pierre Jackson to graduation, along with big-time assist man A.J. Walton.
There is also a good chance that talented 7-foot-1 freshman Isaiah Austin could leave early for the NBA draft. Personally, I think he'd be better off sticking around for another season in Waco, because his slight frame (he weighs just 220 pounds) could cause him to either sit at the end of an NBA bench or be sent down to the D-league in his rookie season. But as of right now, he's projected to be a first-rounder. If he does leave, he's a big loss for Baylor because he blocks shots, runs the floor and displays an advanced perimeter skill set for a 7-footer.
Those are huge losses, but there are lots of promising signs for the Bears next season as well.
To read Paul Biancardi's full article on the five non-tourney teams that could be very good next season, you must be an ESPN Insider.
ROAD TO ATLANTA
And then there were two. What are our writers looking forward to in the title game? Who's the X-factor? Here's a preview. Home Court »