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7 NCAA Basketball Teams Already Hitting the Panic Button

Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistDecember 8, 2014

7 NCAA Basketball Teams Already Hitting the Panic Button

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    There are two types of losses this early in the college basketball season—those you finish by tipping your cap to the other team and then learning from and those you simply have trouble ever getting over.

    Indiana’s loss to Butler would fall into that first category. The Hoosiers will undoubtedly use the lessons gained from that defeat as they head into the Big Ten season.

    Texas’ loss to Chaminade at the Maui Invitational would fall into the second category. You just can’t come out with Longhorns plastered across the front of your jersey and lose to a team like that.

    Read on to see why Texas and six other schools are already hitting the panic button this early in the season.

Texas

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    We already mentioned the Longhorns, so why not start with them?

    Rick Barnes’ squad was a borderline Top 25 team when the season began, but it will probably be a while before it sniffs the rankings again.

    The season kicked off with a narrow victory over Fresno State, which was somewhat worrisome, but at least it was a win. However, when Texas arrived in Hawaii for the Maui Invitational, the wheels immediately fell off.

    Chaminade shocked the Longhorns by 13 points in the first game, and then the team clad in burnt orange followed that up with an overtime loss to a terrible USC team.

    A few weeks later, Texas racked up another two-game losing streak to Georgetown and a worse-than-advertised UCLA squad. The Georgetown loss just happened to be by 23 points.

    Maybe the eventual return of Myck Kabongo will turn things around in Austin, but if things continue to develop the way they have been, the Longhorns will be watching the NCAA tournament from home this season.

Kentucky

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    Honestly, the panic button gets pushed in Kentucky after just about every loss, so three early defeats are probably not sitting well with Big Blue Nation.

    The Wildcats have won three games in a row, but the best team Kentucky faced among that bunch is Portland. Three of the four games Kentucky has played against quality competition ended in defeat, and it almost choked away the contest against Maryland after holding a commanding lead.

    Again, if this was a different program there wouldn’t necessarily be so much worry after losing to Duke (the No. 1 team in the nation), Notre Dame and Baylor, but this isn’t just your everyday basketball program.

    Nerlens Noel has been good but not great, turnovers have been a real issue and the rebounding has been suspect at best.

    The game at Louisville is on the horizon, and it is one the Wildcats could really use. There won’t be a lot of quality competition in the SEC outside of Florida and Missouri, so Kentucky needs a quality win to tack onto its resume.

UCLA

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    By the end of the year, UCLA could very well meet its lofty preseason expectations if it runs rampant through the weak Pac-12 teams not named Arizona.

    The Bruins have played two quality teams so far (sorry Texas fans, you aren’t there yet) and lost to both of them. Nevertheless, falling to Georgetown and San Diego State is not unforgivable.

    But losing to Cal Poly at home is.

    No team with UCLA emblazoned on the front of its jersey should ever lose to Cal Poly, especially one that was ranked in the Top 15 to start the season.

    The attrition didn’t stop there though, as Josh Smith quit the basketball program. For a team that is so reliant on freshmen, the loss of the older Smith definitely hurt.

    If the Bruins hope to turn it around, they are going to need more from Tony Parker, who was supposed to join Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson in a three-headed freshmen attack. He is only averaging 3.9 points and 1.4 rebounds a night in limited minutes.

    There is still time left for the Bruins, but they better show some signs of life quickly.

Northwestern

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    Northwestern didn’t have the national contender aspirations that many of the teams on this list do/did, but this is the only power conference team that has never made the NCAA tournament in its history.

    An early victory over Baylor—the same Baylor that beat Kentucky—had the fanbase somewhat optimistic that 2012-13 would finally be the season. Heck, the Big Ten is the best conference in the country, so strength of schedule numbers wouldn’t even be an issue.

    Then news broke that star forward Drew Crawford will miss the rest of the season thanks to a torn labrum. Crawford was a senior, and his on-court leadership was beginning to show on the floor.

    I just don’t see the Wildcats, a fringe tournament contender as it was, making the big dance without Crawford. There will be far too many losses in league play, and the only quality non-conference victory to speak of is that Baylor game.

    Perhaps Crawford can obtain a medical redshirt and next year will be the season Northwestern goes dancing.

North Carolina

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    If you rounded up four of your closest friends, the five of you could probably score some points against North Carolina’s defense if it played like it did against East Carolina.

    While the defense hasn’t been that poor all season, it is somewhat worrisome that the Tar Heels gave up nearly 90 points to the likes of the Pirates and UAB. The real issue with the Heels is that they have fallen to the two good teams they played and looked vulnerable in a few of their wins against lesser competition.

    Butler destroyed North Carolina for the first 36 minutes of their game until UNC made a late charge that ultimately fell short. Indiana went ahead and destroyed the Tar Heels for the entire 40 minutes.

    Losses to those teams in a vacuum are nothing to worry about, but the way the Heels lost is concerning. Throw the struggles against Long Beach State and East Carolina in there, and it becomes a bit clearer why it may be time to panic in Chapel Hill.

Florida State

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    Like Texas, Florida State was a borderline Top 25 team heading into the season. And also like Texas, Florida State has seen its wheels come unhinged in the early going.

    The Seminoles wasted no time in sending their fans to the antacid section of the pharmacy by losing to South Alabama at home in the season opener.

    However, things seemed to be turning back around with four straight victories, two of which were against the likes of BYU and Saint Joseph’s. Then a loss against Minnesota, a shocking defeat at the hands of Mercer and a 25-point beat down from rival Florida raised the red flags once again.

    That’s right, Florida State has lost on its home court four times already this year, and two of those losses were to Mercer and South Alabama. It will probably be a while before the Seminoles see their name appear in the Top 25 of the AP Poll.

West Virginia

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    West Virginia is not a program accustomed to being terrible, especially under Bob Huggins. Well, Mountaineer fans better get accustomed to it this season because I don’t see things turning around in Morgantown in 2012-13.

    West Virginia is off to a 4-5 start, and only two of those five losses came against ranked teams (Michigan and Gonzaga). The other three defeats came at the hands of Oklahoma, Davidson and Duquesne.

    The losses to Gonzaga and Michigan were both by double digits, and it never appeared as if the Mountaineers had a chance in either. In fact, West Virginia would probably be alright if it never had to face the Zags again after losing by 34 this year and getting crushed by them in the NCAA tournament last year.

    Considering the collapse that Geno Smith and the football team experienced this season, it hasn’t exactly been a banner year for the West Virginia faithful.

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