College Basketball: 15 Surprise Teams Thus Far

Jim FolsomContributorDecember 13, 2010

College Basketball: 15 Surprise Teams Thus Far

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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).