Apr 11, 2012, 9:30 AM EDT
Cody Zeller and Christian Watford are both returning to Indiana, which, when combined with the talent that Tom Crean has coming in with this year’s recruiting class, will have the Hoosiers as a consensus top three team nationally.
And if Kentucky doesn’t come out of tomorrow’s signing day with both Shabazz Muhammad and Nerlens Noel, there is a very good chance that Indiana will be the nation’s No. 1 team in October.
That’s great for college basketball, and for the state of Indiana. Our sport is that much more entertaining when the Hoosier State is relevant and contending for titles. The good folks of Bloomington rival those of Lexington, KY, when it comes to the passion — bordering on insanity — that they have for their team.
My question, however, is what this says about the state of college basketball next season.
Cody Zeller will be a National Player of the Year candidate next season and will have a legitimate chance of going No. 1 overall in the 2013 NBA Draft, but who else on that roster looks like they will be an NBA player? Victor Oladipo and Christian Watford are both currently projected by Draft Express to be a late second round pick in 2013. So is Robert Covington of Tennessee State. The highest-rated recruit Crean is bringing in is Yogi Ferrell, who is a borderline top 25 player and may not even start for the Hoosiers next season.
Who did Indiana beat out for the top spot?
A Louisville team whose best NBA prospect is either Wayne Blackshear, who has a surgically reconstructed shoulder, or Gorgui Dieng, a defensive-minded center with an offensive repertoire that doesn’t go much farther than dunking a basketball? Or a Kentucky team whose future depends on the decisions made by Nerlens Noel and Shabazz Muhammad on Wednesday night? Or an Ohio State team that loses Jared Sullinger and William Buford? Or … gulp … NC State?
Look, Indiana is going to be a very good basketball team. They are going to be even more entertaining to watch, if this year’s club was any indication. Every game played in Assembly Hall is going to be jam-packed and rocking and an incredible environment to see a basketball game.
2012-2013 is starting to resemble 2010-2011 in my mind. That year, there really was no dominant team. Ohio State was really good that year, as was Kansas and Pitt. But that year, the top three teams in the preseason — Duke, Michigan State and Kansas State — all fizzled throughout the year while a team that finished ninth in the Big East ended up winning the national title in a Final Four that included a No. 3 seed, a No. 4 seed, a No. 8 seed and a No. 11 seed.
In other words, next year’s college basketball landscape won’t have a dominant team. And while it will make for a year where no teams will be remembered in much of a historical context, it should make for quite the entertaining season.
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