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How college basketball perceptions changed (for better and worse) in one year

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How college basketball perceptions changed (for better and worse) in one year

Cuonzo Martin’s return to Missouri — along with Michael Porter Jr.’s arrival — has changed the college basketball world’s perception of the Tigers. 

College basketball’s great gift for coaches and players is the short memory of the game’s fans and powerbrokers.

Everything can change in a year or less.

And that’s a good thing for some of the coaches, conferences and players on the following list who’ve enjoyed an upgraded status since last summer. But it’s a more perplexing reality for the coaches, conferences and players who’ve witnessed their national profiles deteriorate over that same span.

Better a year later

Missouri Tigers
Last summer, the Tigers were preparing for a miserable 8-24 season. During one turbulent stretch last season, they lost 13 consecutive games. The former SEC afterthought made the most impressive transformation of any program in the country when it hired Cuonzo Martin and signed a top-10 recruiting class led by Michael Porter Jr. (No. 1 recruit in the country, per ESPN.com). Now, the Tigers will enter the 2017-18 season as a squad that should compete for a slot in the top-tier of the SEC and an NCAA tournament appearance. Oh, and that’s not it. On Wednesday, Jontay Porter (No. 10 in the 2018 class), Michael’s younger brother, said he will reclassify into the 2017 class and join his brother next season. It’s a new day in Columbia.

Mark Few, Gonzaga Bulldogs
Last summer, Few had just lost to Syracuse in the Sweet 16, giving his critics another reason to doubt his ability to win on the big stage. But Few silenced all haters in 2016-17 when he led Gonzaga to the national title game and battled North Carolina.

The SEC
The “Kentucky and everyone else” perception of the SEC persisted, with just three teams cracking the field of the 2016 NCAA tournament. Vanderbilt’s inclusion after a shaky season spawned fury from other bubble teams that doubted the squad’s resume. Ben Simmons couldn’t elevate LSU to a postseason berth. Last season, however, five teams reached the NCAA tournament. Alabama missed the tournament, but Avery Johnson signed a nationally-ranked class with a pair of five-star prospects. South Carolina reached the Final Four. Florida, which will return the nucleus of last season’s squad, made a run to the Elite Eight. At the top, the SEC is one of the strongest leagues in the country right now.

Richard Pitino, Minnesota Golden Gophers
After an eight-win season in 2015-16, questions about Pitino’s time in Minnesota expanded. The son of Rick Pitino had sold a vision, but hadn’t really delivered. Until last season. Last year’s run to the NCAA tournament with a young team that is back and even stronger for 2017-18 altered the narrative on Pitino. Now, folks within the Minnesota fan base who criticized him a year ago are wondering whether he’ll stay in town.

Svi Mykhailiuk, Kansas Jayhawks
The NBA rumors began the day he arrived, although he didn’t play a major role with the Jayhawks his sophomore season. But Mykhailiuk enhanced his numbers (9.8 PPG, 40 percent from the 3-point line) in 2016-17 when his minutes doubled. Now, he’s a legit NBA prospect with an opportunity to lock up a first-round slot if he has a big season.

Not so rosy a year later

North Carolina Tar Heels and Louisville Cardinals
Both schools could start the season ranked within the top 10, based on reputable national polls. But they’re fighting NCAA investigations that could cost both schools national championship banners. The Tar Heels are fighting the NCAA’s claims that multiple student-athletes enrolled in sham classes. And the Cardinals are appealing a Committee on Infractions (COI) ruling stemming from the sex-for-pay scandal that started with Katina Powell’s book.

The American
One year after sending four teams to the NCAA tournament, the American had just two reps (Cincinnati and SMU) in the field in 2016-17. Neither reached the second weekend. Memphis lost multiple players, including Dedric Lawson and K.J. Lawson, in a mass exodus. Connecticut missed the NCAA tournament for the second time in the three years after capturing the 2014 national title. Yes, Wichita State arrives next season. That’s a positive. But the rest of the league is facing a variety of question marks.

Grayson Allen, Duke Blue Devils
He has a lot to prove in 2017-18. Many picked the Duke star to win the Wooden Award last summer. But Allen’s season was stamped with drama stemming from tripping incidents, a suspension and the shadow of Luke Kennard, who secured a first-round slot in the NBA draft while playing next to Allen. With that drama-filled 2016-17 season, Allen only gave the haters more fuel. Only he can turn his image around next season.

Tony Bennett, Virginia Cavaliers
He’s still viewed as an elite coach. And his Virginia team will welcome one of the most talented pools of his tenure. Still, the 39-point loss to Florida in the second round of the NCAA tournament encouraged Bennett’s critics, many of whom wonder whether his offensive approach will enable Virginia to reach its postseason potential.

Georgetown Hoyas
John Thompson III was replaced by Patrick Ewing after another challenging season. But the obstacles he must overcome to reignite the Hoyas are vast.

How college basketball perceptions changed (for better and worse) in one year

Source: http://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/20153370/the-biggest-changes-better-worse-college-basketball-one-year

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