LSU hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since 2009. But Johnny Jones led the Tigers to 19 wins in his first season as head coach -- an improvement over 2011-12, despite losing Justin Hamilton last summer. And there are signs this team could be on the rise.
Only three SEC schools made a trip to the Big Dance this past season, but that number is all but certain to go up next year. And LSU is a team that's at least capable of making a push to get back to March Madness, with Johnny O'Bryant, Anthony Hickey, Andre Stringer and Shavon Coleman all returning. That quartet accounted for 45.7 points per game in 2012-13 -- nearly 65 percent of the team's total offense. Not only are they all back, they're joined by the nation's No. 9 recruiting class. That all adds up to the sort of team that can make some noise. In fact, our own Seth Greenberg thinks the Tigers are capable of surprising everyone and maybe even winning a tournament game or two if they play to their potential and get decent enough guard play.
"The focal point of the Tigers' top-10-ranked freshman class is McDonald's All American Jarrell Martin. He's a jump shooter who is tough to keep off the glass. His ability to score and rebound will complement O'Bryant. Top 100 power forward Jordan Mickey is a 6-8 pogo stick who has unbelievable upside. He finished his high school career looking as if he was going to be an impact SEC forward. If the backcourt holds up and the Tigers make enough shots to stop teams from shrinking the court on O'Bryant, this team has the potential to go to the Sweet 16."