College Basketball: 15 Surprise Teams Thus Far

Jim FolsomContributorDecember 13, 2010

College Basketball: 15 Surprise Teams Thus Far

0 of 15

    PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 11:  Tennessee Volunteers head coach Bruce Pearl directs his team against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the SEC/BIG EAST Invitational at Consol Energy Center on December 11, 2010 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.The Volunteers defeat
    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Preseason rankings: We look forward to them during the offseason, but do they really mean all that much?

    By the first month or so of the season, they've been pretty much blown up. Teams nobody expected emerge as contenders and some who we thought would be great are plummeting.

    Here are some surprises so far.

San Diego State Aztecs

1 of 15

    PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 19:  Members of the San Diego State Aztecs leave the court after a 62-59 loss to the Tennessee Volunteers during the first round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 19, 2010 in Providence,
    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Steve Fisher's Aztecs are 10-0 for the first time in school history. Four players are averaging double figures in points, led by Kawhi Leonard with over 16 per game.

    So far the Aztecs have beaten Gonzaga and Cal by 20 points each. However, the Aztecs are not alone in the Mountain West Conference.  They are going to get some competition from...

BYU Cougars

2 of 15

    OKLAHOMA CITY - MARCH 20:  Noah Hartsock #34 of the Brigham Young Cougars attempts a shot against the Kansas State Wildcats during the second round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Ford Center on March 20, 2010 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The Cougars, also 10-0, are led by Jimmer Fredette who averages 23 points and four assists per game. BYU has wins over South Florida and Arizona.

    They will meet San Diego State twice and also...

UNLV Runnin' Rebels

3 of 15

    LOUISVILLE, KY - DECEMBER 11:  Chris Smith#5 of the Louisville Cardinals dribbles the ball while defended by Justin Hawkins #31 of the UNLV Runnin' Rebels during the game at KFC YUM! Center on December 11, 2010 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyo
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    At 9-1, UNLV is off to a great start. The Rebs have three players averaging in double figures, Chace Stanback, Travon Willis and Oscar Bellfield. They have wins against Wisconsin and Virginia Tech and their only loss is a tough eight-point loss at Louisville.

UCF Knights

4 of 15

    The Knights are led by Marcus Jordan, who is averaging 16 points per game, and Keith Clanton, 15 per game. They are 8-0 with wins over South Florida and Florida and play Miami on Saturday. A win in that one and they will likely be unbeaten heading into Conference USA play.

Tennessee Volunteers

5 of 15

    PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 11:  Scotty Hopson #32 of the Tennessee Volunteers shoots a technical against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the SEC/BIG EAST Invitational at Consol Energy Center on December 11, 2010 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justi
    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    No. 1 in the most recent RPI rankings, Tennessee was supposed to fold under the turmoil of head coach Bruce Pearl's NCAA violations and subsequent suspension.

    UT has done anything but that.

    The Vols won the Preseason NIT, beating (then No. 7) Villanova and have now beaten No. 3 Pittsburgh to go 7-0. Freshman Tobias Harris has been huge, averaging 25 points per game. Junior guard Scotty Hopson has been stellar, averaging 18 per game.

UConn Huskies

6 of 15

    HARTFORD, CT - FEBRUARY 13: Kemba Walker #15 of the Connecticut Huskies drives toward the basket against the Cincinnati Bearcats at the XL Center on February 13, 2010 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    The Huskies were somewhat of an afterthought at the Maui Invitational. That obscurity didn't last long as they walked away with the championship after ripping a very talented Kentucky team.

    Kemba Walker is just about unstoppable, averaging an eye-popping 28 points per game.

Minnesota Golden Gophers

7 of 15

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 08:  Maverick Ahanmisi #13 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers brings the ball up court agianst the St. Joseph's Hawks at Michael J. Hagan Arena on December 8, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Ima
    Chris Chambers/Getty Images

    Tubby Smith's boys are ballin'. They are at 9-1 with wins over North Carolina and West Virginia. Their lone loss was to Virginia, 87-79.

    Four Gophers average in double figures, led by Blake Hoffarber at 15 per game.

Butler Bulldogs

8 of 15

    CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 9: Butler Bulldogs head coach Brad Stevens looks on against the Xavier Musketeers at Cintas Center on December 9, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Xavier defeated Butler 51-49. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Last year's national runner-up sits at 5-4 right now. Although the schedule has been rough, the Bulldogs did manage to lose to Evansville.

Michigan State Spartans

9 of 15

    DURHAM, NC - DECEMBER 01:  Austin Thornton #13 of the Michigan State Spartans against the Duke Blue Devils during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on December 1, 2010 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Perennial Final Four contender Michigan State sits at 7-3 right now. None of the losses are embarrassing.

    However, the Spartans just barely escaped with a one-point win over Oakland (not the Raiders).

Florida Gators

10 of 15

    GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 16: Forward Chandler Parsons #25  of the Florida Gators drives against the Ohio State Buckeyes November 16, 2010 at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    A Preseason Top Ten team in several polls, the Gators sit at 7-2 after getting waxed at home against Ohio State and another loss to UCF. They have some lackluster performances against the likes of FAU and Morehead State, too. Kansas State and Xavier loom prior to the tough SEC slate.

North Carolina Tar Heels

11 of 15

    CHAMPAIGN, IL - NOVEMBER 30: Justin Watts #24 and Leslie McDonald #2 of the North Carolina Tar Heels defend against Bill Cole #30 of the Illinois Fighting Illini during the 2010 ACC/Big Ten Challenge at Assembly Hall on November 30, 2010 in Champaign, Ill
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    The Heels sit at 7-3 right now. They were another preseason Top 10 team that has disappointed so far. A nice win over Kentucky may have been the spark they needed. Giving up 91 points to Long Beach State can't make the fans too happy, though.

Gonzaga Bulldogs

12 of 15

    KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 23:  Stephen Gray #41 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs shoots a free throw during the CBE Classic consolation game against the Marquette Golden Eagles on November 23, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie S
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    The Bulldogs have spoiled us; we're used to them being really good.

    So far this year they are not that good. They are at 4-5 right now, though they have played a brutal schedule. Still, we've come to expect more from the 'Zags.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

13 of 15

    MILWAUKEE - MARCH 21:  Head coach Paul Hewitt of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets reacts in the second half while taking on the Ohio State Buckeyes during the second round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Bradley Center on March 21, 2010
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Jackets sit at 5-4 with an embarrassing loss to Kennesaw State. The really embarrassing part is they lost to them by 17. Ouch!

    Losing to Georgia won't sit well with the Bug fans either.

Maryland Terrapins

14 of 15

    NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 18:  Head coach Gary Williams of the Maryland Terrapins watches on in the closing minute against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the 2k Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 18, 2010 in New York, New York.  (Photo by Chris
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    The Terps were doing pretty well until a loss to Temple and a loss in the ACC opener at home to Boston College. The Terps are now 7-4 and 0-1 in conference with a brutal ACC schedule awaiting. They also have a roadie at Villanova.

Auburn Tigers

15 of 15

    NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 11:  Brendon Knox #30 of the Auburn Tigers looks on dejected after they lost 78-69 the Florida Gators during the first round of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at the Bridgestone Arena on March 11, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee.
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    How can a team from the SEC be this bad? You just built a new arena. Can't you get some players?

    Auburn has losses to powerhouses such as UNC Asheville, Campbell, Samford and Jacksonville (not the Jaguars).