With Louisville and Syracuse out, who would have won your 2013 NCAA Tournament bracket?
The University of Louisville has lost its appeal, and with it, the 2013 NCAA men's basketball national championship.
But while Louisville's NCAA championship banner comes down, another won't go up at a different school. There will be no new champion crowned as the Cards step aside.
The results of that NCAA Tournament will not be redone, but a look at how the tournament would have played out without Louisville and Syracuse — another school hit with sanctions affecting its 2013 postseason run — gets interesting.
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Let's take a look at how the 2013 NCAA Tournament would have looked without the Cards and Orange — and pick a new winner.
UK makes the cut
Louisville was the No. 1 overall seed. Without the Cardinals, Kansas would have been No. 1 overall, followed by Indiana, Gonzaga and Miami, which was the top No. 2 seed.
Each of those teams’ tournament outlooks would have changed with every team moving a spot or two up the seed list. It’s impossible to project where the selection committee would have sent each team, but many matchups would have been different.
The most striking alternative is that Kentucky would have made the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats were the first team out of the bracket in 2013 after winning the national title in 2012, as they became the No. 1 overall seed in the NIT while Louisville opened the NCAA Tournament at Rupp Arena.
Instead of losing a first-round NIT game against Robert Morris, John Calipari’s team would have headed to Dayton, Ohio, for a First Four matchup against another No. 12 seed for a chance to play a No. 5 seed. The Wildcats would have played La Salle or Middle Tennessee State in Dayton. If they had won, they would have advanced to play a No. 5 seed such as Wisconsin or Virginia Commonwealth with a chance to pull off an upset.
Help for the Hoosiers
A different NCAA bracket also would have meant different things for an Indiana team up the road in Bloomington. The Hoosiers finished 26-5 in the regular season and fielded one of the most talented groups in the country, led by Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller and Christian Watford.
Indiana’s NCAA Tournament run ended early in the Sweet 16 against Syracuse, 61-50. With a different draw, the Hoosiers might have played, for instance, Oklahoma State or UNLV in the Sweet 16 and then Ohio State or New Mexico in the Elite Eight. They would have had a chance to win their first national championship since 1987.
And if they had gone all the way — or at least made the Final Four — Tom Crean may not have been fired as head coach last spring.
No more Dunk City?
With different pairings, every upset would have been in jeopardy, too, most notably Florida Gulf Coast’s stunner against Georgetown in the first round.
Without Louisville and Syracuse in the mix, Florida Gulf Coast may well have been a No. 14 seed, as its spot on the seed list projected. Andy Enfield’s team never would have drawn Georgetown and may not have become the Cinderella story that it did. The moniker “Dunk City” would be absent from college basketball lore.
Oregon over Oklahoma State, Ole Miss over Wisconsin, Cal over UNLV and La Salle over Kansas State may never have happened, either. No. 16 seed Western Kentucky may not have pushed Kansas to the final seconds.
Back at the top, Gonzaga, at 31-2, was a highly criticized No. 1 seed. With different seeding, perhaps the Kelly Olynyk/Elias Harris/Kevin Pangos-led Bulldogs would have drawn Colorado or NC State in their second-round game, and not an upstart from the Missouri Valley Conference named Wichita State. Gonzaga would have had a chance to race through the West Region over Georgetown or Marquette and reach its first Final Four, four years before it actually did last spring.
In that case, much of the college basketball world might not know about Wichita State, Gregg Marshall’s rising program that has now reached every NCAA Tournament since 2013. The second-round upset of Gonzaga vaulted the Shockers to a Final Four berth, an undefeated 2013-14 regular season — ended by another 1-8 seed upset by Kentucky — and two more Sweet Sixteen trips. Had they instead faced Temple in the first round and then Kansas or Indiana in the second, who knows what would have happened?
The new champion
The 2013 bracket would have looked totally different, with different matchups between different teams played in different rounds. But we'll say for now that in that different bracket, Indiana, Kansas, Duke and Michigan emerge in the Final Four, with Indiana winning the title.
Jake Lourim: 502-582-4168; email@example.com; Twitter: @jakelourim. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/jakel.