Dribble Handoff: These 2022 NCAA Tournament at-large teams won't return to the Big Dance in 2023

Dribble Handoff: These 2022 NCAA Tournament at-large teams won’t return to the Big Dance in 2023

With college basketball programs across the country back on the court again for official practices, the start of the 2022-23 season is just around the corner. The arrival of preseason practice also means that it’s time for us to look ahead and predict how things will play out over the coming months.

CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm already has a projected 2023 NCAA Tournament field, and it’s never too early to start dreaming of March Madness. For some programs that were part of the Big Dance last season, however, the 2022-23 campaign will only bring disappointment.

In this era of college basketball, it doesn’t matter what you did last season. Rosters can flip so quickly through the transfer portal that the fortunes of an entire program change in a season. Last season, well-established schools like Florida State, Virginia and West Virginia missed the NCAA Tournament after being well-seeded in the 2021 Big Dance. They were just a few of the at-large teams from the 2021 Big Dance that didn’t return in 2022.

For this week’s edition of the Dribble Handoff, our writers are forecasting which 2022 at-large teams will miss the 2023 NCAA Tournament.

I hope coach Matt McKillop has just as awesome of a career at Davidson as the one his father enjoyed. That would be a great story. That said, if forced to try to identify a school that is unlikely to make the 2023 NCAA Tournament after securing an at-large bid to last season’s Big Dance, one of the obvious candidates is Davidson. The Wildcats were a 10-seed last season, so they weren’t too far from the bubble despite a 27-6 record on Selection Sunday.

From that team, Davidson lost three of its top four scorers — namely Hyunjung Lee, Luka Brajkovic and Michael Jones. That’s a lot to replace and among the reasons why the Wildcats are ranked 108th at BartTorvik.com, which equates to seventh in the Atlantic-10. Unless Davidson greatly overachieves relative to those computer numbers, the school’s 16th trip to the NCAA Tournament will have to wait at least until 2024. –Gary Parrish

Matt McMahon guided Murray State to a No. 7 seed in last season’s Big Dance. His Racers beat San Francisco, then became one of the three infamous victims of Saint Peter’s historic Elite Eight run. McMahon’s reward for guiding Murray State to one of its best seasons ever? The LSU job. After that? Everybody left. On Final Four weekend, McMahon was overseeing a program with zero scholarship players. By definition, it’s a total rebuild.

He’s brought some good pieces in — KJ Williams, who followed McMahon from Murray State, is going to be a huge transfer — and got former five-star recruit Adam Miller to come back. LSU has a chance to be a spoiler in the SEC, but it’s hard to envision the Bayou Bengals being enough of a problem to work their way into the NCAA Tournament in McMahon’s first season. He’s a guy who’s built well for this job, and he was a good hire for a program that needs a major image rehab after Will Wade, but give him time. — Matt Norlander

Texas Tech has made four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances (and would have made five if the 2020 tournament hadn’t been canceled). The Red Raiders basically haven’t skipped a beat going from Chris Beard to Mark Adams. I mean, seriously, who loses a coach of Beard’s caliber, then builds a defense that rates No. 1 in adjusted efficiency the following season? It’s incredible. I hesitate to call Adams a wizard, but I gotta ask: has anyone ever seen him and Harry Potter in the same room? make you really think, right?

Anyway, given that success, I’m obviously going out on a ledge here. Texas Tech has consistently been one of the best programs in the Big 12 over the last few years, and Adams has the program on an upward trajectory. However, there’s also a changing landscape within the league that should be accounted for. Kansas will again be a force. Baylor will be Baylor. Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State TCU and West Virginia should all have tourney-caliber teams. The Big 12 is laughably loaded.

With Texas Tech losing Bryson Williams, Terrence Shannon and do-it-all guard Kevin McCullar — the team’s top three scorers — the road ahead for Tech is much tougher than people may be willing to admit. There’s enough talent on this roster to make this prediction look foolish, and I’m queasy even at the thought of fading Adams, but there are a lot of new pieces that will have to fit together well. The process of fitting it together, as we saw last year at Texas with Beard, is a unique challenge that will be a battle Adams has not yet faced as a head coach. –Kyle Boone

san francisco

San Francisco played one of the most memorable games of the 2022 NCAA Tournament’s first round. The No. 10 seed Dons took Murray State to overtime before falling 92-87 despite a heroic 36-point effort from Jamaree Bouyea. It was a crushing way to end the program’s first appearance in the Big Dance since 1998, especially since a return does not appear imminent. The Dons lost their head coach, Todd Golden, to Florida and must replace four starters, including Bouyea.

While the decision to elevate associate had coach Chris Gerlufsen appears to have helped with roster retention, he will take another excellent run through the nonconference slate for this team to build an at-large résumé. A solid transfer class headlined by former Texas A&M guard Marcus Williams and former Washington State guard Tyrell Roberts will keep San Francisco from plummeting too far, but an NCAA Tournament bid will be a tall order for a team going through this much transition. –David Cobb

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *