Turnaround team candidates

Le'Bryan Nash has Oklahoma State looking like a tournament team this season. Richard A. Rowe/US Presswire

We tend to focus on perennially successful programs in college hoops, and with good reason. If you want to know which team will win the 2013 national championship, you're right to start your search with the teams that made the NCAA tournament in 2012. Eight of the past 10 teams that have won it all have done so after playing in the previous season's NCAA tournament.

Then again, there are exceptions to that rule; oddly, they both come from the Big East. Connecticut in 2011 and Syracuse in 2003 won the national title the season after not getting a bid at all. Pulling off that kind of U-turn is unlikely, but it can be done.

If that unlikely event is going to happen in 2013, here are five candidates that could make it happen. None of these teams played in the NCAA tournament last season. All of them should be there in March.

Pittsburgh Panthers
The Panthers missed the tournament last season, but that is very likely to be seen in the long view as a one-year hiccup. With a nucleus of Tray Woodall, Talib Zanna, Steven Adams and J.J. Moore, Pitt can compete with any team in the Big East, if not the nation.