Returning to New Jersey from the Final Four race in Houston, my only thought right now is “Wow.” What College basketball season, which ended in wild results and ended up being one of the most unpredictable rides we’ve seen in the sport. It’s been a roller coaster ride, going from a 16-seed to a 1-seed to the Final Four and an even more significant coaching move at a school that has never won an NCAA Tournament game for only the second time.
Before I present my list of 23 ways to decide from the 2022-23 season, how about a “thank you.”
Thanks to the players and coaches for their time during the season and for allowing us to cover their stories beyond basketball. And thank you to the people behind the scenes, the sports information directors, those who provide the access and others. Those guys make college basketball what it is, and the sport’s unpredictability makes for a refreshing drama that remains unmatched every March.
Oh, and if you’re looking for ways to prepare for next season, here’s mine The earliest top 25 for 2023-24.
Now, in no particular order, here are my 23 takeaways from the college basketball season.
1. Florida Atlantic. What Dusty May and the Owls accomplished in three weeks against a relatively new program in Division I (they joined in 1993) was simply unbelievable. Just think about the first round of the competition. FAU needs heroes Nick Boyd to hit Memphis. No one saw the Final Four coming, and they were so close to the championship game.
2. Beat of the Season:- Lamont ButlerThe winner of the game because the time has passed to pick it up San Diego State to the national championship game. It was special in Houston for the Aztecs to look back from a 14-game losing streak and bounce back and regain their momentum. This shot will live forever in SDSU and Final Four history. He hit the first buzzer beater of the Final Four by the team he was chasing before the shot.
3. The FDU Knights made history! b Fairleigh Dickinson UniversityHe didn’t even win the NEC tournament, but he’s a member of the league that qualified for the Big Dance. Merrimack He had just one year of NCAA Division II playoffs, winning the first four games and then knocking off the No. 1 seed. Purdue It was nothing surprising. And for FDU head coach Tobin Anderson to call his shots? A native of Columbus Sean Moore 19 points to power FDU to win in hometown? It all happens in a matchup with the National Player of the Year. Zach Eddy? That was absolute madness.
4. Game of the Year and Performance of the Year: Kansas StateS Marquis Nowell For Isiah Thomas and Loeb to “Look at this”. Keyyontae Johnson For an alley-oop jam when the Wildcats get beat Michigan State To advance to the Elite Eight. In that 19-game win over the Spartans, Nowell set a single-game NCAA Tournament record with 20 points. Mr. New York City put on a show for all to see.
5. Coach of the Year and Keeper of the Year: MarketShaka Smart and Tyler Cole. The Golden Eagles couldn’t have been off the map last season. Smart led Marquette to a 29-7 record, the Big East regular-season and postseason crowns and was a college point guard who totaled 270 assists in 36 games. It’s been an amazing year in Milwaukee, and Marquette has one of the best road wins of the season. Cretan And in February, a behind-the-scenes victory over Kolek all but wrapped up the regular-season title.
6. Atmosphere of Witness: Xfinity Center. February 16. Maryland 68, No. 3 Purdue 54. Kevin Willard did a great job in his first season in College Park and Terps fans have completely bought into this new era. Ordering Zach Ede and the Boilermakers was a signature moment.
7. The player who starts the team: Jaime JaquezUCLA He is a winner in every sense of that word. And you may miss it.
8. The biggest surprise: Northwest. Chris Collins and the Wildcats shocked everyone in the Patriots quarterback game Boo boo And Chase Audige. To be the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten tournament? Wild! And the Cats won an NCAA Tournament game for the second time in program history.
9. A run to the Sweet 16? Jersey, get up! Ivy League, Stand Up! of Princeton TigersIn the wonderful hope Tosan Evbuomwan Head-to-head, he stole the show on day one of the NCAA tournament with a shock win over the 2-seed. Arizona. to follow a 15-point loss Missouri It was something I didn’t see coming. Guard Ryan Langborg He was amazing in setting things up for the Tigers.
10. The best road win I’ve seen live: January 16. MLK Day. Purdue at Michigan State. Zach Eaday finished with 32 points and 17 rebounds. Fletcher Lauer It came out clutch as the Boilers stole a 64-63 win from the Spartans in East Lansing.
11. Horns up: Texas It could have gone downhill after the Chris Beard saga, but the level of strength Marcus Carr, Timmy Allen, Sir’Jabari rice & Co. The Longhorns have been rolling. This team finished the game 29-9, minutes away from a trip to the Final Four. Chris Del Conte deserves credit for appointing Rodney Terry as the program’s full-time head coach.
12. I enjoy watching live: Xavier. Sean Miller went from spot to spot on the year and designed a beautiful offense to watch this past season. Fifth year guard Solly Boom He’s been impressive in his motivation, scoring 20-plus points in 12 games. on the wing, Colby Jones He has developed into a quality NBA draft prospect.
13. The coach I was most excited about in March: miami’Jim Larranaga, 73 years old, is a great quote and has an easy-going personality. He’s really reached an age where he’s very relaxed, and the way he handled the stormy NIL situation by letting the kids do their own thing and not making an issue of it deserves credit. Plus, his team is loaded with talent. The so-called “Coach L” was the big winner in March for the second year in a row.
14. Player we will lose:- GonzagaS Drew Tim. He was the face of the Zags and wasn’t afraid to speak his mind, going 121-13 at a historic pace. One of the best hats.
15. Best Individual NCAA Tournament Performance: Adam Sanogo, Yukon. Averaging 20 and 10 per game in the Big Dance in the Final Four, making two 3s in the first four minutes and completely dominating anyone in his sights, the Huskies’ star big man left his mark on the contest.
16. Biggest Disappointment: North Carolina. Need we say more? I expect the Tar Heels to bounce back next season, but this past year has been pretty disappointing.
17. Best moment of the season: This is obvious. JP Pegues 3-Pointer Drill a Keith Clark Transition as Furman Stunned Virginia On the opening day of the NCAA tournament. For the record, Bob Ritchie’s Paladins were as fun to watch as any mid-major team in the country. They deserve it then.
18. The middle-of-the-road program that blew me away: of College of Charleston. Pat Kelsey had a mature group of guys this past year and the Cougars created one of the best home court advantages in the country. Kelsey is just getting started there, and his 31-4 season has been impressive. Their loss? Chef’s kiss.
19. The team I will join next season: Michigan State. Watch the Spartans live and see progress Jayden Akins It makes me think Tom Izzo is in for a big 2023-24 season. AJ Hoggard It returns, and if Tyson Walker They should have stayed in East Lansing, be careful. MSU is a team I feel strongly about being the front runner in the Big Ten.
20. Best coaching hire in the cycle: Rick Pitino. St. John. The 70-year-old will snap the Red Storm’s streak of not winning an NCAA Tournament game since 2000. It may not be this year, but it will be under his watch. He will reinvigorate the program and a hungry fanbase. This was an A+ hire.
21. Never Count Moose Bass Out: Arkansas He went through injury and suffering, but he made it back for the third consecutive year sweet 16 Davonte Davis And Council of Reiki. If you’re asking for your bracket next March, pick the Razorbacks. Before 2021, when was the last time you made Sweet 16? In 1996
22. The conference that won March: The Big East. The league went 12-4 in the NCAA Tournament. Rick Pitino is back. Ed Cooley described the dramatic movement of the conference Providence to the Georgetownigniting intense anger and rivalry from Rhode Island. Bully rising star Kim English was hired by the Friars. Yes, the league will be a monster next season.
23. Blue Blood Rises Again; We’ll save the best for last with Connecticut, which has won six tournament games by 120 points and set the all-time streak in Big Dance history. Dan Hurley has silenced his critics and confirmed that the rumors about Husky’s arrival are all true. UConn is here to stay.
I hope you enjoyed the trip as much as I did everyone. Here’s to a great season. We are only 216 days away from the new season!
John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers sports in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to commentating on the 68 Media Network field. Follow him on Twitter @John_instead.
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