By Brandyn Smith
North Carolina State: With a trip to the sweet sixteen in this year’s big dance under their belt, look for the Wolfpack to use that experience and make a lot of noise next year. NC State is returning leading scorer C.J. Leslie and three other starters. The Wolfpack also boasts the ninth ranked recruiting class in the country with three McDonald’s All-Americans so look for this team to be the front runner in the ACC next season with Duke and North Carolina in somewhat of a rebuild mode.
Michigan Wolverines: The Wolverines were victims to a tough upset in the big dance, but Big Blue will bounce back and crack the top ten this upcoming season. With the return of leading scorers Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan will definitely have the experience to take the next step in becoming the top dog once again in a supremely talented Big Ten Conference. The Wolverines will also be bringing in top recruits Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson Jr. so scoring will not be a problem in Ann Arbor.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Notre Dame surprised everyone last year by finishing third in the Big East last year. The Irish will look surprise everyone again by increasing that success next year returning essentially that entire roster including second leading scorer and senior Jack Cooley. It will be a stretch, but look for Norte Dame to finish in the top three once again in the Big East, and be a top 20 team in the country.
Kansas State: The Bruce Weber era has begun at K-State, and the Wildcats won’t miss a beat. Weber is still a great coach, and he will pick up where former Wildcat’s coach Frank Martin left off, by keeping this team on the rise. With leading scorer Rodney McGruber returning for his senior season, and the core group of players remaining in tact, look for this K-State squad to be among the front runners in the Big 12 and a mainstay in the top 25.
Indiana Hoosiers: Tom Crean has done an amazing job getting the Hoosiers back on the national stage by getting them back to the NCAA tournament this season. Indiana ended the season well, getting to the Sweet 16, but falling to eventual national champion Kentucky. Although the Big Ten is becoming more talented, the Hoosiers will be the stand outs of the conference. With big man Cody Zeller returning, along with most of the roster, and a top ten recruiting class, look for the Hoosiers to be making a trip to the Final Four.