Illinois, Florida off to Hot Starts While Kentucky, North Carolina Struggle
The Illinois Fighting Illini have been one of the most shocking teams in college basketball so far this season. They are ranked 10th in the country, and have an historic 11-0 start under new head coach John Groce.
Illinois has taken control of games with high-pressure defense, and a great three-point shooting attack. Whether the team will be able to survive the tough schedule that the Big Ten offers remains to be seen. But the team did prove on Saturday night that it can compete with the nation's elite, when the Illini knocked off then-No. 10 Gonzaga.
Illinois' start has probably been the most surprising in college basketball this year, but there are also many more teams that have surprised us.
Here is a look at three more teams that have gotten off to surprising starts this season.
The Kentucky Wildcats have surprised fans for the wrong reasons this season.
After winning the national title last season, many fans expected the new star-studded class of freshmen to dominate college basketball once again. That has certainly not been the case. Kentucky has started off the season 6-3, and is 1-3 against teams from power conferences. The 6-3 start has also knocked the Wildcats out of the Top 25.
There is still plenty of time for this team to turn it's fortunes around this season, but fans are finding out how hard it is for freshmen to come together and play at an elite level, no matter how much talent is on the team.
The 6-3 start has caused fans to realize how impressive Kentucky's freshman class really was last year.
The Gators have not been a huge surprise this season, but they have been a surprise nonetheless. The Gators were looked at as a team that would compete for the SEC title this season, and could even make a strong NCAA Tournament run. Now though, Florida is ranked fifth, and may even be the best team in the country.
Even though Florida lost Brad Beal to the NBA draft, the Gators still have a dynamic backcourt, led by senior guard Kenny Boynton. The team has good big men inside as well.
It is not surprising that the Gators are 7-0, but the way they have crushed their opponents is the surprising part. Many people are beginning to believe that this Florida team will be a national championship favorite once March rolls around.
Much like Kenutcky, the Tar Heels are on here because they have been surprisingly disappointing to start the season. North Carolina is still in the Top 25, but the Tar Heels have dropped drastically over the past few weeks, and now sit at No. 21 in the country.
The Tar Heels were obliterated by Butler in the Maui Invitational semifinals in November, and they put up very little opposition against Indiana during the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Just like Kentucky, there is still a long way to go, and we know how talented head coach Roy Williams is. As of right now though, the Tar Heels' slow start has been a big shock to the college basketball world.