NCAA Championship Keys for Kentucky Kansas Michigan State Louisville

Keys to the Season for Top NCAA Basketball Teams

9/5/13 in NCAABB   |   EdIsaacson   |   15 respect

The NCAA Basketball season is coming up quickly and as at the beginning of every new season, many teams believe that they have what is needed to bring home a NCAA Championship. Over the next two days, I will take a look at some of the major contenders heading into the season, and look to identify what they key to their season may be.

Blog Photo - NCAA Championship Keys for Kentucky Kansas Michigan State LouisvilleMichigan State – Last season was Michigan State’s 11th trip to at least the Sweet Sixteen under Tom Izzo and with the return of some key personnel from last year’s team, they are primed to make a title run again.  The return of Gary Harris for his sophomore season and Adreian Payne for his senior were vital if the Spartans expect to advance far. Harris is capable of scoring from the perimeter and on penetration, and he uses his strong body well to create space. Payne is very skilled for his size, but he has had issues staying focused and putting all the pieces together.  The key for this group may be the play of point guard Keith Appling who has shown flashes of the distributor he could be, but would still rather look to score first. If Appling can defer more to Harris and Payne, it may make his job much easier.

Louisville – Losing the starting point guard and center from a National Championship team would be tough for almost any one, but Rick Pitino has himself a team that will be right back in the NCAA Championship hunt this season. With Peyton Siva now in the NBA, this is fully Russ Smith’s team, and like him or hate him, he produces on both ends of the floor. He’ll be joined in the backcourt by JUCO Player of the Year Chris Jones, who uses his speed well to create scoring opportunities and force turnovers.  The backcourt also has depth with freshman Terry Rozier and the returning Kevin Ware.  The frontcourt has two of the toughest forwards in the country in Chane Behanan and Montrezl Harrell, and both are capable of scoring and defending in the paint. The key for Louisville is adjusting to not having a true big man to rely on, especially having someone to replace Gorgui Dieng as a rim protector. It will likely be a backcourt-dominant team again, but the frontcourt will need to produce consistently.
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9/6/13   |   EdIsaacson   |   15 respect

Most of these teams have coaches who lift their teams to the "elite" category. Self has done an amazing job, but I can't recall him replacing 5 starters, and only really 1 returning guy (Tharpe) who played significant minutes. I hope he pulls it off. Basketball is better when KU is near the top

9/5/13   |   Dan_B   |   1066 respect

The thing I would add to the bit about Kansas is the Bill Self factor. Kansas doesn't have down years like some of the other big schools (Kentucky, North Carolina, UCLA). They don't miss the tournament, and are basically never seeded worse than a No. 4. Bill Self just rebuilds and rebuilds and rebuilds. Guys who weren't productive the year before are all of a sudden useful starters (Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed, Connor Teahan... the list goes on). It is a next-guy-in mentality and it happens year after year.