It has been nearly one whole month since the NCAA Men’s College Basketball season has begun and although it’s still extremely early, we have a pretty good idea as to what to expect from certain programs within the sport considering the slow starts (Connecticut, Oregon, Michigan State) and strong finishes (North Carolina, Virginia, Baylor).
Thus far we have seen multiple displays of clock malfunctions, highlight reel dunks and acrobatic shots that are already in place for play-of-the-year nomination. Here are the top 25 (last 5) teams after 3 full weeks of play:READ MORE: Authorities Have Identified The Suspect Who Attacked Author Salman Rushdie
25. Ohio State Buckeyes – Tate’s Take: This may surprise some people but it shouldn’t. It seems that the football program’s success has seemed to have rubbed off onto the hardwood production. After playing a favorable non-conference schedule, the Bucks haven’t taken any of their recent opponents to the woodshed to result in blowout victories by any stretch of the imagination but flashes of potential is beginning to to peak.
Single digit wins over Providence and especially North Carolina Central may seem scary bit only time will tell if OSU will play up to their competition. After scoring 111 points versus Marshall, at top 10 nationally ranked Virginia could get ugly this week with a struggling UConn and perhaps the most underrated team in the nation, UCLA in Las Vegas before Christmas to follow.
Six players are averaging double figures for Thad Matta led by Jae’Sean Tate, Marc Loving and Jaquan Lyle. Don’t look forward to seeing the same OSU team performance that has been on display the past few seasons.
24. Syracuse Orange – Tate’s Take: Not getting much high praise lately for a team who returns from the Final Four but if you are yet to see Sophomore Tyler Lydon, you’re missing out on a real treat. Lengthy by no surprise how Boeheim recruits, Lydon has sneaky athleticism and is as confident of a player in the game today. Tyler Roberson will get a huge boost of playing time which will ultimately lead to big time scoring opportunities and a possible draft declaration in June.
Once Freshman guard Tyus Battle grows into his own role, it should make for an awesome fit with Nebraska scoring machine transfer Andrew White III. Has frequently injured and former 5-star prized recruit Dajuan Coleman been around just as long as Okie State’s Phil Forte?
A 14-point loss to South Carolina will sting a bit but will have a chance to redeem themselves this week when they’ll travel to the ‘blistering cold’ Kohl Center to compete with Wisconsin.
23. South Carolina Gamecocks – Tate’s Take: Mediocre at best a season ago, the Gamecocks lost 35 points of their scoring including their leading scorer in Michael Carrera. Starting Forward Laimonas Chatkevicius played a huge part as well but has also departed. Let’s first be sire to give credit to Head Coach Frank Martin who may be as stern and much of a coach’s coach as it gets yet still manages to get guys to play hard for him… win, lose or draw.
That is one trait that can take you on deep runs in March. Returning is Senior Guard Sindarius Thornwell who has scored beyond the teens in 4 of 6 total games played and is the current leading scorer at 20ppg. Duane Notice also helped contribute to USC’s signature wins over then 25 and 18 ranked Michigan and Syracuse.READ MORE: Anne Heche's Son Mourns His Mother
PJ Dozier is another option on offense though tough to measure his contribution guarantee due to inexperience as a Sophomore. If the Cocks want to continue taking long strides, they cannot afford for Dozier to go scoreless again as he did vs. Cuse.
22. Oregon Ducks – Tate’s Take: Perhaps the most disappointing team in the country (besides UConn) and even then the Huskies’ expectations weren’t nearly as lofty. Entering the season countless experts had Oregon preseason ranked in the top 10. Since, the Ducks have ‘quacked’ under pressure on the road at Baylor who has been arguably the most impressive team in the country thus far and in Hawaii against a Georgetown team with no identity.
Wins over Tennessee and UConn aren’t bad either from a program prestige standpoint though they haven’t been anything worth sneezing at. All-American Canadian Guard Dillon Brooks has been a shell of himself lately, scoring in single digits in 3 of his 4 games played. Much will be relied upon him moving forward as the straw that stirs the drink but will be back at full strength sooner than later after coming off a late healing injury where he was absent vs. Baylor.
Oregon has too much talent for their results to depend on only Brooks. Dana Altman has to figure out a solution behind the madness in Eugene and figure it out fast! OR is stacked with youth and experienced above average talent on their roster: Payton Pritchard, Villanova transfer Dylan Ennis and Jordan Bell. Tyler Dorsey and Chris Boucher are 2 of the best complimentary players in the country.
What will happen is likely what Oregon needs… for many people to put them on the back burner as if they weren’t ready , get a couple wins under their belt to gain confidence and come back stronger than ever as Oregon no longer looks like the strongest team out west. Arizona, Gonzaga and UCLA now have something to say about it.
21. Notre Dame Fighting Irish – Tate’s Take: When you lose 30ppg, 2 leaders and 2 starters from an already undersized team coming off of an Elite 8 appearance, it is tough to bounce back. When those losses are your starting Center and Point Guard, instant success becomes even harder to fathom.
Over-achievement has been the best word to describe ND even after losing All-American Guard Jerian Grant the year prior. Mike Brey has become one of the more consistent and underappreciated coaches in the country. Upperclassmen recycles with one of the best teams in the country that utilizes their chemistry with no superstars.
The Fighting Irish may have looked as impressive as any so far considering what they’ve lost and how hard they play every possession but have not played any top 25 competition. Steve Vasturia, Bonzie Colson and VJ Beachum are 3 of the toughest and hardest workers in the ACC conference and won’t back down to shy away from a challenge making it easy to fall in love with South Bend if you love and embrace competitive play. Rex Pfleuger is a nice compliment to what already returns.MORE NEWS: Trump Lawyer Claimed No Classified Material Was At Mar-A-Lago In Signed Letter To The Justice Department
A home game versus Iowa may not be a breeze but should be a win. Don’t look now but back to back contests with defending national champion Villanova in New Jersey and a date with in-state rival Purdue at the Pacers’ home looms ahead. Notre Dame definitely has their work cut out for them ahead.