Games that defined 2012-13 season
Wichita State-VCU, Louisville-ND among key matchups that shaped season
In a week, we'll post our first bracket for the 2013-14 season. That exercise will be educated guesswork subject to a whole bunch of variables -- such as coaching changes, NBA early entry candidates and transfers -- between now and November.
Today, we take one last look backward. It's our coda for the 2012-13 season and a reminder of how easily just a handful of games can impact the NCAA tournament. What we view with so much finality in March (and April) is actually anything but final without a near-endless series of events along the way.
Here's a look at nine key dates (featuring a dozen games) that proved to be the most significant stepping-stones in terms of shaping the NCAA tournament bracket and determining the eventual national champions, the Louisville Cardinals.
• Nov. 13, Wichita State Shockers at Virginia Commonwealth Rams
The Shockers were replacing four starters from a 27-6 team that had lost to VCU as a 5-seed in the 2012 NCAA tournament. The likelihood that Wichita State would win on the road at an even-better VCU in the second game of the season seemed remote. Yet the Shockers prevailed 53-51, giving us a very early indication of what would be possible just four months later.
• Jan. 19, Gonzaga Bulldogs at Butler Bulldogs
Who knew a crazy finish and loss at Hinkle Field House would propel the Zags to the most unlikely No. 1 seed since Saint Joseph's in 2004? Gonzaga would win 15 in a row following Roosevelt Jones' heroics for Butler, claiming a No. 1 seed in the West and igniting the usual big-versus-small-conference debates. Once again, even with the Zags losing in the third round, the NCAAs provided plenty of "little-guy moments."
• Jan. 23, Duke Blue Devils at Miami Hurricanes
The Hurricanes were a nice little story through the nonconference schedule, then hammered Duke (90-63) and North Carolina (87-61) on their way to ACC regular-season and tournament championships. It was by far the best season in school history, and it earned coach Jim Larranaga national coach of the year honors (and a near No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday).
To read Joe Lunardi's complete list of the most impactful games of 2012-13 college hoops season, sign up for ESPN Insider today.
Insider CBB content
• Greenberg/Telep: Kansas Jayhawks
• Greenberg/Finkelstein: Marquette
• Gasaway/Rankin: Indiana Hoosiers
• Gasaway/Rankin: Michigan Wolverines
• Gasaway/Rankin: Ohio State Buckeyes
• Greenberg/Finkelstein: Memphis Tigers
• Gasaway/Rankin: Florida Gators
• Greenberg/Telep: Kentucky Wildcats
• Gasaway/Finkelstein: Louisville Cardinals
• Gasaway/Finkelstein: Syracuse Orange
• Greenberg/Biancardi: NC State Wolfpack
• Biancardi/Gasaway: Duke Blue Devils
• Biancardi/Gasaway: North Carolina Tar Heels
• Biancardi/Gasaway: Arizona Wildcats
• Greenberg/Telep: UCLA Bruins
• Gasaway: Breakout second-year coaches
• Lunardi: Could Louisville repeat as champs?
• Greenberg: UVA tops list of surprise teams
• Fraschilla: How returning stars can improve
• Gasaway: Top title challengers to Kentucky
• Lunardi: Who will earn No. 1 seeds in 2014?
• Telep: Latest on No. 13 junior Theo Pinson
• Rankin: What Wiggins means for Kansas
• Biancardi: KU to prep Wiggins for NBA success
• Telep: Updated look at top recruits
• Roundtable: Most impressive on AAU circuit?
• Ford: NBA draft lottery preview
• Ford: Winners from the NBA draft combine
• Fraschilla: Burke the draft's top point guard?
• Ford: Measurements concern some GMs
• Ford: Why Wiggins would go No. 1 in 2013
Jay Bilas Blog
Jay's take on latest from around the nation
Analysis from Fraschilla, Greenberg and Lunardi
Get news and rumblings before anyone
Hollinger's College PER
College basketball's top players
Get wagering advice for every game
MORE MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL HEADLINES
- Nike Men's Duke Blue Devils Duke Blue Elite Game Jacket