Who's favored to win next year's NCAA men's basketball title?

April 07, 2010

Hoyas have horses
Shannon Ryan

Chicago Tribune

That stunning loss to 14th-seeded Ohio in the first round of the NCAA tournament is going to stick with Georgetown. And nothing will make it seem less significant than an NCAA championship in 2011.

That could be very possible if 6-11 center Greg Monroe comes back for his junior season.

After an up-and-down season with no seniors, the Hoyas will be a steadier group, especially with one of the nation's best backcourts of Chris Wright and Austin Freeman.

Forward Julian Vaughn and guard Jason Clark took strides this season and will be even more consistent parts of the offense next season.

But the Hoyas' NCAA success hinges on Monroe's decision on whether to return. He averaged 16.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.

sryan@tribune.com

Beware the Tar Heels
Mark Wogenrich

The Morning Call

A Duke-Butler rematch will garner fashionable mentions come November, particularly since both will be among the 32 teams receiving first-round byes in the newly christened ESPNCAA Shootout. If Butler can sharpen its big-game shooting percentage, it might even win such a rematch, which won't happen anyway.

North Carolina's loss to Dayton in the NIT final should steel Chapel Hill for a chin-jutting return next season. The Tar Heels bring in three of the nation's top five recruits - including top-ranked forward Harrison Barnes - and Roy Williams loves turning youngsters loose.

Tom Izzo could take five kids from Michigan State's college of veterinary medicine to the Final Four. If Kalin Lucas stays, Izzo will need only four.

mwogenrich@tribune.com

Spartans dangerous
Andrew Carter

Orlando Sentinel

There are few more difficult tasks than picking the next national champion right after the current national champion has been crowned. There's too much attrition, too much unpredictability about which players will actually stick around.

If Kentucky were to return John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, for instance, the Wildcats would be the overwhelming favorites next season. But there is approximately a zero percent chance those guys come back.

Michigan State should be better than it was this season. The Spartans, who aren't likely to lose any of their key players, will be led by point guard Kalin Lucas. Butler, too, should be back in the mix. But how will the Bulldogs react not playing the role of the underdog?

If Kyle Singler returns, Duke is likely to be a preseason top-5 team.

acarterb@tribune.com

Michigan State solid
Chris Dufresne

Los Angeles Times

The chances of seeing Duke vs. Butler back in the Final Four are not outrageous. Duke loses veteran guard Jon Scheyer, forward Lance Thomas and center Brian Zoubek, but if Kyle Singler returns, the Dookies can be right back in the mix. Same for Butler, which hinges on whether superstar Gordon Hayward returns for his junior season. If so, he may get another crack at a halfcourt shot to win the national title.

The team to watch next year, though, is Michigan State, which fell three points short of this year's title game despite a rash of injuries and off-court distractions. The Spartans return the core of something special in Kalin Lucas, Korie Lucious, Draymond Green and Durrell Summers. The most important returning veteran though is head coach Tom Izzo.

cdufresne@tribune.com

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