By Luka Papalko
The college basketball season is underway and so far so good. Basketball is back, with the exception of the NBA, and basketball fans are sure glad it is. Despite having high expectations coming into the season, NCAA basketball has lived up to those so far and it’s been an exciting first few weeks. In case you missed it, here’s a quick recap of what happened within the first few weeks of basketball returning.
This was supposed to be the year of the elite teams and so far the elite teams haven’t disappointed. The top 5 teams in the country, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio State, Connecticut and Syracuse have all cruised along to undefeated records so far and have asserted their dominance. While Syracuse and Connecticut did not play a big time opponent early in their schedule, they both still look the part of a potential National Championship team. Meanwhile, North Carolina, Kentucky and Ohio State all played legitimate teams early in the schedule and all looked very impressive in their wins. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if any of these 5 teams wins the title but it would be a very big surprise if any of these 5 teams didn’t make to the Elite 8.
Who would have ever thought that Ohio would possibly be the best college basketball state going into the season? Ohio Teams at the start of the season had 3 teams ranked in the top-25 and entering Week 4 it’s possible 5 Ohio teams could be ranked in the top-25 when it’s all said and done. Ohio State, Xavier, Cincinnati, Cleveland State and Kent State are all responsible for only two losses between the teams. That’s without mentioning Cleveland State beating a potential Final Four Vanderbilt team and Kent State beating a good West Virginia team. Akron started out the year with an impressive road victory against a very good Mississippi State team but has lost two straight versus inferior opponents.
One of the highlights coming into the season was the incredible freshman class which every college analysts and draft expert couldn’t stop talking about. So far in the early season while some of the freshman have had some rough spots, for the most part they have shined through. Players like Anthony Davis, Michael Gilchrist and Quincy Miller have shown why they were considered some of the top players in their class. Even while struggling at times, players like Andre Drummond, Austin Rivers and Bradley Beal have all still shown good signs and look to be very good players down the road. There are many other freshman not mentioned which just goes to show the true depth of this class as well.
Just like any good college basketball season, it isn’t any good without some upsets. Usually this is saved for the NCAA tournament but when a Cleveland State team beats Vanderbilt, a Cincinnati team loses to Presbyterian, a Washington team loses to Saint Louis or a Pittsburgh team loses to Long Beach State, it’s worth mentioning early in the season. Most of these games don’t mean much because it’s early in the season and teams are starting to gel as well as most early games are treated as exhibition games, but it’s always interesting to see who gets caught sleeping early and who doesn’t.
On top of their being upsets, college basketball fans have been spoiled with some pretty good games on the schedule. They were able to see North Carolina and Michigan State play each other on an aircraft carrier, Ohio State take on Florida at home, Kentucky’s freshmen show their potential against Kansas and Duke play a couple of very good teams (Kansas and Michigan). More good games will come once teams start to get into conference play but so far college basketball fans have been able to see some very good games early on.
Despite it being within the first few weeks of the college basketball season, fans have a lot to be excited about considering how many good teams and good player’s college basketball has this season. With the NBA Lockout looking more and more like a certainty, this is college basketball’s moment and to shine it couldn’t come at a better time. The season is just starting and it will only get better.