Don't get it twisted: Wisconsin's Final Four run was no fluke. Save a rough patch in January, the Wisconsin offense you saw in March -- the one that was a possession away from a crack at the national title -- really was that good all season. Next season, almost everyone is back. Ben Brust is the only significant contributor graduating this spring. Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker both declared their intentions to return almost immediately following their loss to Kentucky on Saturday night; both could compete for national player of the year honors next season. Josh Gasser and Traevon Jackson will be seniors. Rising sophomore Nigel Hayes will be a seasoned and even more polished frontcourt force. And if Bronson Koenig can re-create his stellar work against Kentucky on a regular basis, the Badgers have every chance of getting back to the Final Four a year from now.
Losing senior Cleanthony Early hurts for all the reasons he displayed in his remarkable 31-point performance in the Shockers' second-round loss to Kentucky. (Has any player helped his draft stock so much with one game? What a stud.) And role players Nick Wiggins, Chadrack Lufile and Kadeem Coleby won't be easy to replace. But coach Gregg Marshall has on the way another crop of sturdy junior college reinforcements who will join hyperefficient point guard Fred VanVleet and NBA-eschewing shooting guard Ron Baker -- to say nothing of Darius Carter and Tekele Cotton. The Shockers aren't going anywhere.
Leslie McDonald graduated and James Michael McAdoo declared for the NBA draft, and those are the only two departures coach Roy Williams has to worry about. In other words, the Tar Heels are going to be good. Marcus Paige came of age in his sophomore year. McAdoo's departure creates room (and loads of deserved touches) for uber-efficient Brice Johnson. That swap may be addition by subtraction. Then there is addition by addition: Williams has the No. 3-ranked class en route to Chapel Hill, which includes Justin Jackson, Theo Pinson and Joel Berry, none of whom ranks lower than third at his respective perimeter position. With Paige running the show, UNC will be within range of national title contention once more.