After another hectic week in college basketball, several teams have begun to show their potential true colors as sleepers or busts. Here are some of the top talking points from this period:
Arizona The Wildcats rapid demise from #2 nationally to unranked in a span of one week is one that no one saw coming. Things simply aren’t clicking for Sean Miller’s group at the moment. Arizona fans, however, don’t panic just yet. With a roster this loaded with talent, we’re confident that a bounce back is imminent.
North Carolina The Tar Heels may have only lost one game, but some are already knocking this team down as a potential bust. A historically dreadful shooting night against Michigan State may be accredited to the Spartan defense, but the Tar Heels simply couldn’t throw a rock in the ocean. This is a rare occurrence – North Carolina will be fine.
Notre Dame A crazy final minute in Maui gave the Irish a huge win over Wichita State earlier in the week, led by none other than Bonzie Colson. This team is deep and experienced – expect the late-game calmness and execution to continue.
Texas A&M The Aggies have burst on to the scene this season with wins over West Virginia, USC, and Oklahoma State. What is more impressive is that all three wins came by considerable margins. Expect a great matchup when A&M meets Arizona on December 5th.
Gonzaga Many severely wrote off Gonzaga early in the season after significant losses to the NBA and graduation, but this Bulldog team is as impressive as ever. The Zags may have lost in overtime to Florida (who is having quite the start of their own), but anyone who stayed up to watch that one knows that Gonzaga had two glamorous chances to put it away for themselves in the final seconds. They bounced back with a solid win over Texas.
Arizona State I’ll be honest, I was not one who thought Arizona State would be this real of a contender. With a brilliant head coach and a star in Tra Holder, the Sun Devils are absolutely crushing it early. Nice wins over San Diego State and Kansas State were followed with a walloping of #15 Xavier – a big statement from Hurley’s squad.
Alabama How can we not discuss this one? Through just six games, it is already clear that Collin Sexton is a top-10 player in the country. Period. Watching as he carried the Crimson Tide back to within one possession with TWO TEAMMATES on the court was something special. If the bench can stay put, this team can be a significant factor in a revamped SEC.
Saint Mary’s As crazy as it sounds, Saint Mary’s is already in trouble. The NCAA Selection Committee has shown in the past that a lack of marquee wins, even with an excellent record, will not normally give you entry to an at-large berth. Losses to Washington State and Georgia, teams the Gaels were expected to handily defeat, have given Saint Mary’s just one more chance to gain their first and only Power-5 win for the season – a pretty terrible California team on December 2nd. The Gaels aren’t looking good, a sweep of Gonzaga may be needed.
Washington State Speaking of Washington State, how bout them Cougars? Often referred to as “the worst Power-5 team in college basketball,” Robert Franks and Co. have set a solid standard early. Wins over Saint Mary’s and San Diego State may not be the marquee wins they need to make it in March, but its a much better start than anticipated.
Syracuse Having not been tested much in their first five games, many didn’t know what to expect as Maryland rolled into the Carrier Dome. The Orange responded with a solid win over the Terps heading into a huge matchup with Kansas on Saturday.
Iowa A consensus bubble team heading into the season, Iowa has not done much to help themselves early. Brutal losses to low-level mid-majors in Louisiana-Lafayette and South Dakota State leave Iowa searching for answers. If the Hawkeyes don’t wake up before their next bout, a trip to Virginia Tech, things could get ugly.
Loyola (IL) No, the Ramblers haven’t beaten a great team yet – but they are undefeated none the less. A possible sleeper in the Wichita-less Missouri Valley, Loyola heads to Boise for a great mid-major matchup with Chandler Hutchison and the 5-1 Broncos. Should Hutchison remained sidelined with a concussion, the Ramblers will have an even better chance at heading home with a nice victory.
UNLV The Rebels were 11-21 last season and good for a 4-14 conference mark. This year, Marvin Menzies has UNLV back on the map at 6-0 with a blowout win over an underrated Utah team. Watch out for UNLV as a potential dark horse in the Mountain West.