A year in college basketball always holds its shocks. Teams picked to have a down year before the season starts can break out and become one of the most dominant teams in the nation.
There is always that team that loses a bunch of key members from their squad the year before, but still manages to hang on and have a great year, or teams with a lot of young talent that aren’t recognized as a threat before the year starts.
It is difficult to tell who these kinds of teams are going to be before the season gets under way, but when you look back at how the world thought these teams would do before the year started; there are almost no similarities between what we thought then and what we know now.
These are some teams that made the AP top 25 look really bad before the year started with their great play throughout this year.
The Hokies were so far down in the Projected ACC rankings at the beginning of the year, Duke and UNC could barely see them from their usual perch at the top.
However, this year in the ACC has been much different than in years past where the league has been basically owned by UNC and Duke year in and year out.
Carolina has struggled this year and has vastly underachieved from the experts' original thoughts on the team, which has basically left the ACC wide open for new contenders to step up and perform.
Led by talented Malcolm Delaney, this Hokies team has really stepped up this year and has stated their case to be a tournament team.
With an impressive 22-7 record overall and a record of 7-6 in the ACC, Tech has surprised some people this year and has proven they deserve to be in the tournament.
I think most people expected a solid year out of the Cougars led by an established scoring guard in Jimmer Freddette, but nobody thought this team could dominate their schedule like BYU did this season.
The Cougars came out of the gate roaring, pounding opposition into nothingness. They destroyed weaker compotation and never seemed to falter, even against some of the better teams on their schedule.
Freddete has been everything advertised so far this season, but the emergence of other quality players like freshman forward Tyler Haws has pushed this team from being just solid, to a team better than anyone would have thought.
To start the season, the Baylor Bears were so far off the radar, I don't think anyone thought they could win games in a tough conference like the Big 12 this year.
Baylor has been thought of over the past few years as a team that can shoot the rock, but doesn't play defense.
Teams have put up big offensive numbers and lights out shooting percentages against them in past years, but Baylor has certainly changed that this year.
The Bears have really stepped it up this year on the defensive side of the floor, not letting teams get wide open looks or slash to the basket as easily as before.
Baylor can still chuck it from long range, but with the emergence of players like Ekpe Udoh who can really shut you down on defense; this team is solid all around and has really surprised some people this year with how well they have played.
The Aggies at the beginning of the year were looked at as a team that had an outside shot at making the tournament, but not much more.
A&M received only 14 votes for the rankings at the beginning of the year in both the ESPN and AP top 25 polls combined.
They were thought to lack talent and the ability to compete at a high level with the rest of the Big Twelve, but boy were those critics wrong.
The Aggies have been playing stellar basketball lately and are absolutely rolling right now. A&M has been on fire, winning eight out of their last eleven games including blowing out 21st-ranked Texas on Saturday.
Donald Sloan's 18 points per game have led the Aggies past some tough teams as of late and this team is going to be on fire coning into the Big 12 tournament.
The success of this Aggies team has been a real shock to the nation as they have basically come out of nowhere to find themselves sitting as the No. 23 team in the nation.
The Owls have preformed at a high level since there first tip of the season, hanging tough with some of the best compaction in the land.
Temple really came onto the map this season after beating Villanova by ten points early in non-conference play, and since then, things started to go all up for the Owls, beating tough out of conference opponents and dominating a surprisingly strong A-10 conference.
Temple continues to stay competitive and compete not because of a ridiculous scorer or outstanding shooters, but because of their tenacious defense.
They get after you on the defensive end of the floor and work to shut down teams best scoring threats.
They hustle and play hard no matter what and even though they aren't the most talented team in the world, but they perform consistently every single night.
Temple has been one of the most surprising teams in college basketball so far this year.
After sneaking into the field of 65 as a 12 seed last year, the expectation for the Badgers was they would have a similar season in 2009-2010.
However, the Badgers have played way past the expectations of the experts at the beginning of the season, getting big wins on a consistent basis in a very difficult Big Ten schedule.
The Badgers have beaten some of the best in the land such as Duke, Maryland, Michigan State, Purdue, and Ohio State so far this season, an impressive resume for a presumed bubble team to start off the season.
One of the main reasons for the Badgers' success is because of Trevon Hughes and his ability to score the basketball and lead this team.
Whenever the Badgers need a big bucket, they give to ball to Trevon and let him do his work. He can score in so many different ways, whether it be from beyond the arc, or swooping in for a floater over a big, Hughes can do it all.
That's what makes him so dangerous, his versatility and his ability to turn the tide in a game with a few quick buckets.
Hughes is the key to this stout Badger team, and has led them to a top 25 rank and possibly a team that could do some damage in the Big Dance.
The Lobos have been on fire lately, winning 14 straight games including wins over BYU twice and San Diego State. This team has come from being completely off the radar to a team that is currently ranked in the top 15 and is in contention for a 2 seed.
The reason- Darington Hobson.
This guy has played like an absolute monster this season; posting huge numbers of 15.8 points per game, 9.1 rebounds per game, and 4.6 assists per game (He leads his team in all three categories).
No one has been able to slow this kid down this season and he is a leading cog in a well oiled machine that is prepared to make a run at the Sweet 16 or further.
This Panther team has defied everyone’s odds by recovering from losing star players such as big man DeJaun Blair and forward Sam Young. They were supposed to have a way down year, projected by many to finish in the bottom of the Big East and not make the Big Dance.
People definitely underestimated Pitt led by Coach Jamie Dixon who always brings a tough resilient team to the floor and really gets after people.
Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker have done a good job this year of scoring the rock this year for the Panthers, which was thought to be one of their bigger problems to start off the season.
This season should be a lesson to people to never under estimate the Pitt Panthers as long as Jamie Dixon is the head coach, because they will take it too you and play tough night in and night out, no matter who they are playing.
The Kansas State Wildcats weren't projected to be much more than a bubble team by anaylists at the start of the season.
However, this Wildcat team led by swingman Denis Clemente and scoring guard Jacob Pullin have proved that you can't determine how good a team is until games have been played.
Even though the Wildcats have some explosive offensive players, this team has really gotten it done on the on the defensive end.
This is a lockdown team that speeds up this pace of their opponents, forcing them to turn the ball over, creating instant and easy offense.
The Cats' can also produce in a half court set too. The move the ball extremly well and get open looks for teammates. Also, they have players that can create their own shots off the dribble like Denis Clemente, who can reall take it to the rack.
It was a projected average year for the 'Cuse, coming off a season where they had lost two of their best players, point guard Jonny Flynn and shooting guard Eric Devendorf.
These two guys were the heart and soul of this team's Sweet 16 run last year, and I don't think anyone expected them to go far with the loss of such key players.
After a loss in the exhibition games to a basically unknown division two school, people really had their doubt about the Orange, but these critics were quickly silenced as Cuse shot out of the gate and kept the momentum going and are no sitting pretty at the top of both ESPN's and the AP top 25 poll.
Lots of this success can be credited to Wesley Johnson, a transfer from Iowa State, who has really shocked the world with his remarkable play. He has a smooth jumper that hits from all over the court and creates match-up problems for any defense with his length and athleticism.
Johnson also works hard on the defensive end, which has been much improved this season. Andy Rautins is one of the better perimeter defenders in the country and Syracuse's length inside the 2-3 makes it tough for teams to penetrate and finish at the basket or find holes in the zone.