College basketball can be a funny game sometimes, and even the top programs have off years. These teams need bounce-back seasons in 2023-24.
10. Oregon Ducks
2022-23 record: 21-15 (12-8)
A 21-win team last season, Oregon is more of a recent college basketball “powerhouse”, making it to the NCAA Tournament 7 times in Dana Altman’s first 11 seasons. The Ducks were also ranked 13th in the AP Poll when COVID shut down the 2020 tournament.
Oregon has missed the Big Dance the last two seasons and has been below average, by Altman’s standards. The Ducks continue to bring in exceptional talent, but it isn’t translating to the court. 30 losses are the most in a two-year span since Altman came to town. This season, Oregon will look to big man N’Faly Dante and another strong incoming recruiting/transfer class to help bring the Ducks back to relevancy.
9. Rhode Island Rams
2022-23 record: 9-22 (5-13)
Ever since Dan Hurley left town, URI has been slipping. The Rams hired David Cox, who went 64-55 in four seasons, never making the NCAA Tournament, and finishing with two straight losing seasons.
Archie Miller took over in 2022 but had a disappointing 9-win season, the first time the Rams failed to reach double-digit wins since Hurley’s first year in 2012-13. That might give some hope to a URI fanbase that was spoiled during the Hurley era. The Rams were consistently atop the Atlantic-10, even cracking the final AP Poll in 2017 and 2018.
8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
2022-23 record: 11-21 (3-17)
Mike Brey’s final season in South Bend was one to forget, with the Irish only winning three ACC games. After an 8-5 start, Notre Dame went 3-16 the rest of the way.
Micah Shrewsberry takes over, but not with much. Notre Dame loses – prepare yourself – their top SEVEN scorers from that 11-win team. What are they adding? A 4-star recruit, and two transfers who combined to average 7.8 PPG at Northwestern and Penn State. I’m no mathematician, but that doesn’t add up. The Notre Dame basketball brand has never been as big as the football one, but it’s always been a respectable program. It’s starting to lose ground.
7. Ohio State Buckeyes
2022-23 record: 16-19 (5-15)
The Chris Holtmann era got off to a great start, but ever since his 25-9 debut, the Buckeyes have been “mid”, as the cool kids say. Last season might have put Holtmann on the hot seat, as Ohio State finished with a losing record, their first since 2003-04.
In Holtmann’s case, the Buckeyes were a very young team last season and should be able to learn from that with a more seasoned roster this year. But, this is a program that isn’t used to losing, so there is some pressure for improvements.
6. Syracuse Orange
2022-23 record: 17-15 (10-10)
Syracuse has just been “okay” for the past nine seasons. Over those years, the Orange have failed to finish the season ranked, even once. But 2023 is off to a new start, as Adrian Autry takes over as the new head coach of the storied program.
That might take some getting used to, but Syracuse fans are hoping Autry can quickly put the ‘Cuse back on the map. SU is still a top-notch program, but they’ve lost some ground lately. With a backcourt of Judah Mintz and JJ Starling, the potential for a trip to the NCAA Tournament is there, something the Orange have missed out on the past two Marches.
5. Oklahoma Sooners
2022-23 record: 15-17 (5-13)
I’ll give Oklahoma a bit of a pass because the Big 12 was the toughest conference to play in last year. The Sooners were on the bubble, even with a losing record, which says a lot about the league they play in.
With that being said, Oklahoma fans are starting to get antsy with Porter Moser. He made some runs with Loyola-Chicago, but has a 12-24 Big 12 record with the Sooners, which is not necessarily ideal. Oklahoma has been one of the most consistent Big 12 teams over the years, and with the move to the SEC coming up, 2023 would be a great time to get back into form.
4. Georgetown Hoyas
2022-23 record: 7-25 (2-18)
You don’t even want to know what Georgetown’s Big East record was under Patrick Ewing, but I’m going to tell you anyway.
This is the same Georgetown that was one of the founding members, and dominant programs in the Big East for decades. It’s now Ed Cooley’s Georgetown, which should give Hoya nation some hope, considering Cooley’s performance with Providence. Basketball is just better when Georgetown is good, and Cooley might be the man for the job.
3. Villanova Wildcats
2022-23 record: 17-17 (10-10)
Even Duke and North Carolina have down years here and there, but it’s still surprising when it happens. Villanova is in the same breath, after a 17-17 finish in year one of Kyle Neptune.
College basketball fans got used to Jay Wright’s Wildcats competing for National Championships year after year, so one .500 record sounds an alarm. It’s not nearly time to panic, but it certainly wasn’t the start Neptune wanted. To his credit, Nova couldn’t seem to escape the injury bug last season. If this Wildcats unit stays healthy, they should once again be at the top of the Big East.
2. Florida State Seminoles
2022-23 record: 9-23 (7-13)
Is it possible that Leonard Hamilton could be on the hot seat? I’d say he is, although FSU likely wouldn’t “fire” him, and rather urge him to step down if he can’t get FSU back from a dismal 2022-23 season.
The Noles never even won more than two games in a row last season, speaking volumes about their inconsistency, which usually resulted in losses. Now, after a 1-9 start, they did finish 8-14. That’s still bad, but it showed some signs, considering how bad a 10% win rate is. The Noles have a much different roster, but can it be enough to get back from a nine-win season?
1. Louisville Cardinals
2022-23 record: 4-28 (2-18)
I’m not sure if Kenny Payne lost the locker room, or if the talent and cohesion were just never there, but Louisville made Florida State look good. The Cards won four games all season, their fewest since 1940-41, when they only won two games, in a 16-game schedule.
Payne found a way to utilize the transfer portal, with Skyy Clark as an interesting get, considering his potential. The biggest plus for Louisville is the recruiting class, ranked inside the top 10 by 247Sports. A major turnaround might take a few years, but I’d bet my bottom dollar the Cardinals don’t go 4-28 again.