In this way-too-early look at the 2016 NCAA Tournament, I’ll be giving my guess at which teams that made it this year will be missing out in the next. Whether due to graduating seniors, freshman superstars going to the NBA, or just plain not being very good, I don’t think they’ll make it to March.
Oregon made it to the Round of 32 this year, and to their credit, they were good. Senior Joseph Young put together a good season, averaging 20.7 points per game on 44.8-percent shooting. Young will be moving on however, and there is no obvious successor to his role in the offense. Oregon just landed four-star recruit Keith Smith, but he looks raw and will need time to develop before he contributes. Combine this with the off the court concerns of Elgin Cook, and Oregon is two-steps away from a disastrous season.
They slipped into the tournament this year at an 11-seed, but I don’t see any way they keep it going a second year. Their two leading players in minutes, Norman Powell and Bryce Alford, are both on their way out. To make matter worse, their recruiting class is highly unremarkable, ranking around 30th in the country. With Arizona and Utah, the Pac-12 has a lot of big dogs, and UCLA will have trouble competing.
It’s time to end the Pac-12 hate, and take a look at the opposite coast. Maryland came strong into the tournament at the 4-seed, and was brought down in Sweet 16 by the “Press Virginia” defense. While freshman Melo Trimble decided to return for his next season, Dez Wells and Jake Layman will be leaving the team this offseason. With an extremely sub-par recruiting class (around 50th in the nation.) and no other real scorers on the team, this will put enormous pressure on Trimble going forward. If Trimble shows he’s a real superstar, no doubt Maryland will find itself back in the tournament at a high seed. If not, they’ll be looking at a mid conference finish, and possibly no invitation in March.