The parity in College Basketball this season has been nothing short of spectacular. In a sport defined by the chaos of March, there has been madness almost every night since opening tip in November. Here are four Contenders, Dark Horses, and Disappointments so far in college hoops.
This Zags team is for real. Like, for real for real. Mark Few’s bunch
While the Blue Devils do have one of the worst losses of the season to date to Stephen F. Austin in Cameron Indoor, they’re a one-loss team that can boast wins over Kansas, Michigan State,
San Diego State
How about the Atecs? Neutral site victories over Creighton, Iowa and Utah to go along with true road victories against BYU and Utah State, SDSU is a dangerous group. The calling card of this team has to be their defense, as they allow opponents to score on average only 56.8 points per game, good for fifth in the entire country. Junior guard Malachi Flynn leads the team in points per game (15.9), steals, (24) and assists (76).
Bill Self’s bunch has played well so far, navigating the first half of the season with their only losses coming to Duke and Villanova. An overtime thriller win against a Dayton squad that can hang with anyone in this country serves as their lone signature win at the moment.
The one true calling card win for the Scarlet Knights so far was their 20 point drubbing of in-state rival Seton Hall on their home floor. However, there is still plenty of opportunity for Steve Pikiell’s crew to pick up quality wins on their way to a potential NCAA Tournament berth. Rutgers won’t light other teams on fire on the offensive end, but the defense they play is absolutely a reason to buy stock in this team, as they allow opponents to score 59.6 points per game, which is good for 16th in the nation.
We’ll stay in the Garden State for now. While the Pirates have had their injury problems, this is still a team that can make a lot of noise in the Big East and come tourney time. Myles Powell is a sensational talent, averaging over 21 points per game for the Hall.
This is where the line between a true “dark horse” and more so just an under the radar team gets blurred. As long as Tony Bennett is patrolling the sidelines for the Cavaliers they’ll always have a chance at a national title, but this year’s team seems like they’re flying below the normal national scopes. The Cavs defense, as always, is their calling card, as they allow 46.7 points per game to opponents, first in the country.
Similar to Virginia, the Red Raiders aren’t your traditional dark horse but this is my list so we’re going to soldier on. Chris Beard is one of the best coaches in the country and Tech has a great win to boast, when they took down (at the time) #1 overall Louisville in Madison Square Garden.
Oh where did it go wrong for the Friars. A team that graced many analysts and experts top-25 rankings, (or close to it), PC picked up a loss on their home floor to Penn and had two neutral site disasters against Long Beach State and Charleston. The good news? Providence is currently on a three game winning streak over Texas, Georgetown and Depaul. There are still plenty of chances for Ed Cooley to right this ship towards a potential tournament bid, but the Friars will have to come pretty close to running the table in the Big East to do so.
Another team that graced preseason top-25 rankings or came very close to it, the Wildcats have just never been able to get going. While there’s plenty of top end talent in Kellan Grady and Jon Axel Gudmundsson, Davidson just doesn’t have the depth they need. Currently at 6-7, the only way Davidson gets into the Dance is if they win the Atlantic 10 tournament.
The Tar Heels season to this point is nothing short of a catastrophe. Injuries to Cole Anthony and already starting out with a lack of depth, UNC is 8-6 so far. The most recent disappointment was a 13-point home loss to ACC opponent Georgia Tech.
The Vols sit at 8-5 so far on the season but are currently on a streak where they’ve lost four of their last five games. In a pretty strong SEC, they have plenty of time to turn it around, but Rick Barnes has his work cut out for him.