2013 is over! We'll crown a new champion (probably) in 2014, but for now let's look back at a great year in college basketball:
1. Kevin Ware
I won't post the injury (there are plenty of places you can find it) but when I think of the 2013 NCAA tournament, I am immediately thinking of watching Kevin Ware try to contest a jumper, and then his leg shattering when he lands. Even though he's taking a redshirt this year, he's made a remarkable comeback just to be able to walk again, much less being able to play Division 1 basketball again.
2. Trey Burke
The 2013 National Player of the Year posted a 121.2 offensive rating with a 29% usage rate for the Wolverines last year, and got it done shooting (50.6% from two, 38.4% from three) and passing (37.3% assist rate to 13.4% turnover rate). He also completely raised the values of Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III, as we've seen this year. As we've also seen from Michigan this year, Burke was the guy who made his team go more than any player in the country. It showed up at the biggest times as well, as Burke nailed a 40ish footer to tie Kansas late in the Sweet 16.
3. The new rules
The tip off of the 2013-14 season tipped off concerns about the new rules in college basketball. With a greater emphasis on contact on the perimeter, offenses could more freely move about. However, this has had some adverse effects, as games have stretched far beyond the 2 hour window, and some have devolved into foul fests and free throw contests. The increased emphasis on the new rules, however, has led referees to focus a lot more on those kind of things and it has caused the rest of the areas of enforcement to regress bigtime. Now, as refs, coaches, and players adjust to how these new rules have been called, refs are overcompensating by allowing a ton of contact down low, while some of them are allowing more contact on the perimeter as well.
4. The fab freshmen
Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon, Joel Embiid, Tyler Ennis, Noah Vonleh. The list goes on and on. Freshmen have dominated the conversation in college basketball this year, and they have lived up to the hype. Embiid has come from seemingly out of nowhere to perhaps be the favorite for the #1 pick, Wiggins is probably the best perimeter defender in the country, and Jabari Parker would definitely be the national player of the year if voting were held today.
5. Conference Realignment
Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pitt left for the ACC. The Big East gave way to a new Big East. Something called the AAC has been born. It's been a weird look for the landscape of college basketball as a whole, and while there will be some smaller moves (akin to VCU's move to the Atlantic 10 or Belmont's move to the OVC), hopefully we have reached a bit of detente in terms of the big teams moving around.
What a weird year for the Jaguars. In 2013 they had a chance to be the first 16 seed to knock off a 1 seed before falling to Gonzaga, and just this week they beat Champion Baptist 116-12. Not a typo.
7. Louisville at Notre Dame – February 9, 2013
The eventual champs fell to the Irish in South Bend, losing 104-101 in 5 OTs. Jerian Grant went nuts at the end of regulation, and Russdiculous was at his worst in the game, going 4-19 from the field (0-6 from three). Louisville would eventually rebound of course, and it will be sad to look back at Chane Behanan's line, as the forward who was eventually kicked off the team posted a line of 30 points and 15 rebounds in the loss.
8. Dunk City
Florida Gulf Coast became the first 15 seed to make the Sweet 16 last year, and did it in not the normal fashion. Rather than bombing a ton of threes and holding on for dear life, FGCU ran, jumped, pressed, and dunked their way through Georgetown and San Diego State. It propelled Andy Enfield to the USC job, and upped enrollment at FGCU roughly 10 billion percent.