Cards Win Title and Already I’m Looking Ahead

 

Peyton Siva

Siva is the only senior departing the national title winning Cardinals.

Congratulations to the Louisville Cardinals for their national championship win over Michigan on Monday night. This was Louisville’s third title and second national title overall for Rick Pitino who has another one of course from his time at the Univeristy of Kentucky.

Kudos also to the University of Michigan for an outstanding run in the tournament and for rebuilding the pride to a program that hasn’t been the same since the Fab Five left it in ruins.

In what was easily one of the better championship games in recent memory, Michigan became the first team since the 1985 Georgetown Hoyas to shoot over 50% from the field and still lose the title game. Both teams saw spectacular shooting from guards Luke Wilson (Lou) and Spike Albrecht (UM) in the first half before the scoring balanced itself out more in the second half.

Pitino clearly took advantage of Mitch McGary’s foul troubles in the second half by getting the ball in deep and then hitting the boards hard especially at the offensive end. Defensive rebounding has been Michigan’s Achille’s heel on more than one occasion this season and it reared it’s ugly head again Monday night.

The game was not without the poor officiating that was clearly a top issue throughout the tournament but thankfully it really didn’t figure into the outcome save for the possible argument about Trey Burke’s block late in the game that was whistled for a foul.

Either way, it was a great game worthy of another exciting tourney and solid year in college basketball. That doesn’t mean of course that I’m ready to put college hoops to bed permanently because here is your look at some potential for the 2013-2014 season.

 

John Calipari
I expect Calipari’s Wildcats to be in the hunt for a title next year.

Kentucky – Hard to believe the Wildcats who didn’t even make the tourney will be heavily favored to win it next year but they will be. Top freshmen Julius Randle, James Young and Andrew and Aaron Harrison are all top-flight guys. The Calipari-Revenge tour could be vicious.

Louisville – I’m already starting to drop the Cards a bit because it sounds like Russ Smith is going pro. If he doesn’t, they would lose only Peyton Siva who is a major loss, but is still just one guy. I expect another Final Four run.

Michigan State – Sparty loses Derrick Nix, but should return everyone else. Adreian Payne could jump to the NBA but I don’t think he’ll go because his grade won’t be high enough. MSU will have great guard play with Keith Appling and Gary Harris. They are my early pick to win the Big Ten.

Arizona – They lose three top players but do gain some very nice recruits in guys like Aaron Gordon. My question about Arizona as it is about all Western teams is do they play a tough enough schedule to compete with the ACC/Big Ten/Former Big East?

Duke – The Blue Devils lose really good players in Plumlee, Kelly and Curry but do return some talent in Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon plus Jabari Parker who is the top freshman in the country on most boards. Duke should have UNC as their only real competition for the ACC Title.

Teams I wouldn’t lay a dime on….

Florida – They lose their top three scorers and will play in a significantly tougher SEC next season.

Gonzaga – Even if Kelly Olynyk returns what have they done to prove they can make a run?

Indiana – I’m thinking both Zeller and Oladipo make the jump to the NBA and that leaves big holes.

Teams I’d definitely consider…

VCU – Returns all five starters and I like Shaka Smart’s decision to stay rather than take a bigger job.

UConn -  The Huskies return a strong back-court and will benefit from a different conference.

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