The sun has set to end another year in 2022, and has risen again to start a new one in 2023. With that comes the second half of the college basketball season. Some programs are doing well heading into the new year.
Others not quite.
It has long been tradition in the world to set goals, continue good practices and simply improve oneself to start the new year. Things like going to the gym, cutting out sodas, reading more books, or watching even more basketball than you already do.
These are what we people call New Year’s Resolutions. However, these aspirations don’t just stop at us. Coaches, players and fans of programs all across the country are hoping for certain achievements and improvements to finish out the season in 2023.
Here are some college basketball New Year’s resolutions for 2023.
Arizona, Houston, Purdue, UConn: Win your conference
These four programs heading into the new year were a combined 54-3 and were all ranked in the top five of the AP Top 25. Their average rank in KenPom is 4.75, while for the NET Rankings it’s 3.5. These are four of the best programs in the country, and are the best teams in their respective conference. Purdue and UConn, until their losses recently, have looked as dominant as any team in recent season. On the other hand, Houston and Arizona have been monsters on opposite sides of the court. The Wildcats are the best offense in the country, ranking first at KenPom, while the Cougs have the second ranked defense.
The Pac-12 has a close race between Arizona and UCLA, by far closer than any of the three other conferences, however Zona has looked too good so far this season to not be the favorites in the end. Houston is by far the favorite in the AAC, with Cincinnati and Memphis just looking alright. UConn was just beat by Xavier and Providence, but they were on the road and both teams are legit good. The Huskies are 14-2 with 13 double-digit wins. Lastly, Purdue has the NPOY favorite right now in Zach Edey and are dominating everyone except the likes of Rutgers in their most recent game. Each of these teams believe they can win their league, and will be very disappointed in themselves if they don’t.
Cal & Louisville: Get more than 5 wins
There is really not much to say about the state these two programs are currently in. Cal and Louisville are by far the two worst Power 5 programs in the 2022-23 season, owning a combined 4-26 record on the season. Cal currently has a win in conference play, while Louisville is 0-4. The Golden Bears best win is over Colorado, who owns a very good win over Tennessee and is ranked No. 74 in the NET. The Cardinals best win is over Western Kentucky, who is ranked No. 203 in the NET.
It is almost like a race to the bottom at this point for both teams to see who will finish worse. Last season, Oregon State was by far the worst P5 program, finishing 3-28 (1-19) on the season, and Georgetown was also horrendous finishing 6-25 (0-19). Cal and Louisville are likely not going to do any miraculous turn arounds and be notable or make it to the tournament. However, the least they can do is get to 5 wins or more, because even though it is still awful, it at least sounds better than 3-28.
Gonzaga: Run the table in the WCC
In the past decade, Mark Few has had his Gonzaga Bulldogs as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament five times. A 50% rate at a No. 1 seed is a remarkable stat to have for your team. In those five times, Gonzaga’s worse number in the loss column was three. How many do the Bulldogs have currently? Three. Granted, they are to No. 1 Purdue, No. 6 Texas and No. 19 Baylor. However, the Zags are not used to losing this much before conference play.
Two seasons ago, when the Zags went undefeated until the championship game, they had a stacked team with veterans Corey Kispert & Joel Ayayi, great first year Jalen Suggs, and Drew Timme. Last season, they had a majorly improved Andrew Nembhard, star freshman Chet Holmgren and still Drew Timme. This year, the Bulldogs are still great, but don’t have the same caliber of team as recent years. However, the constant is they still have… Drew Timme. The perennial star big man is as good as ever, averaging 22.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, and a steal and a block per game.
Gonzaga is on a three season streak of getting a No. 1 seed, and surely wants to do what it can to continue that streak. With Timme, and others such as Julian Strawther and Rasir Bolton, it is a possibility for Gonzaga to enter the WCC Tournament with a 3 still in the loss column. However, that means they’ll need to get through the WCC without a loss. It is a tall task, but nothing Mark Few and his squad can’t handle.
Kansas: Make back-to-back Final Four’s
Ever since Bill Self took over this Jayhawks program in 2003, he has gotten his team to the Final Four a total of four times. Last season was the fourth, and they ended up winning it all after defeating North Carolina in the title game. This season, even after losing stars Ochai Agbaji, Christian Braun, David McCormack, and Remy Martin, the Jayhawks have reloaded with the likes of an improved Jalen Wilson, star freshman in Gradey Dick, and Jr. trio of KJ Adams Jr., Dajuan Harris Jr. and Kevin McCullar Jr.
The Jayhawks are No. 3 in the AP Top 25, much thanks to Wilson’s All-American type season thus far, and look to be on their way to another No. 1 seed. The Jayhawks are top five in both KenPom and the NET rankings, and are tied with Arizona with the most Quad 1 wins at five a piece. The are also only one of four teams that are ranked top 15 in both offensive and defensive efficiency at KenPom. Kansas is once again really good, and are on their way to yet another dominant season. Will they cap it off with another trip to the Final Four? They certainly have the capabilities to.
Kansas State, LSU, Missouri: Don’t lose momentum during conference play
What do Kansas State, LSU and Missouri all have in common? They all have a first year head coach who is beating expectations because they attacked the transfer portal and is doing extremely well to start the season. LSU had a decent season last year, going 22-12 and earning a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but sadly lost to No. 11-seed Iowa State and lost every player after the season. Missouri and Kansas State both had losing seasons, and if you combine all three records from last year, the loss column would be bigger.
However, the three teams are now a combined 37-5 this season, and all receiving votes for the AP Top 25, with Missouri currently at No. 20. The teams are a combined 6-5 in Quad 1 games this season, while being undefeated in Quads 2-4. This Q1 record isn’t too stellar, but the SEC and Big 12 are two of the three best conferences in the nation. These teams are right now on their way to good seasons after disappointing ones last year, but need to win some more quality games before more people give them higher recognition. Come March, these records could be totally different from how they started. Conference play is no joke, and surely these teams and coaches understand that. However, keeping the momentum going is important.
North Carolina: Make it to the NCAA Tournament
What a story North Carolina was in the year of 2022. After an 18-8 start to last season, the Tar Heels would roll of six straight wins, including one at Cameron Indoor in Mike Krzyzewski last home game. They would lose to Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship game, to which they would land a No. 8-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Five straight wins would come, including beating Coach K’s Blue Devils again in the Final Four. One final loss would come against Kansas in the title game, but it is still an incredible end to a season for this historic program.
Fast-forward to the start of the 2022-23 season. Armando Bacot, Caleb Love, RJ Davis, and Leaky Black are all back to run it again and try to win it all this time. Hubert Davis is entering his second season, the team brought in Northwestern transfer Pete Nance to replace Brady Manek, and they were ranked No. 1 in the preseason AP Top 25. Times were good in November in Chapel Hill. Today on Jan. 6, 2023, times are not so good.
The Tar Heels are 10-5, with a 1-5 Quad 1 record, and ranked outside of the top 25 in the NET. The team became the fastest ever to go from No. 1 in the AP Top 25 to out of the poll. Now, it seems silly for a program like North Carolina to have so much talent and miss the tournament all because of a disappointing start. However, the ACC is down this year, with only six members in the top 50 of the NET and KenPom. North Carolina will not have many opportunities for Quad 1 wins, so when they come – and every other game for that matter – they better do what they can to win. Otherwise, it is going to be a boring March for the crew in baby blue.
“From Our Haus to Yours!”