I gotta admit, I'm a tough critic. I never really think anybody is any good. In fact, I'd much rather have a team prove it to me than to just elevate them to lofty levels. And there have been a lot of teams I've been wondering about during the start of the college hoops season. For instance, Indiana, Louisville, Washington State, Georgetown are all near the top and haven't really proven anything yet. Obviously, the Hoyas made a huge run last year and that should be factored in but I just haven't included them yet.
Well this weekend, it seemed a lot of "good teams" lost. Gonzaga lost in Alaska. Indiana fell in Chicago. Louisville went down in Vegas. UVA lost in Philly. Tennessee was defeated at the Rock. Florida was blasted by the Noles. Even UNC Asheville, which had started 5-0 fell for the first time in OT on Saturday.
So who are we left with? Obviously, UCLA and North Carolina are probably at the top of the list, and Kansas probably becomes part of that discussion if they win tonight. You can probably put Duke, Pitt, Texas A&M, Memphis in the next grouping.
But what about some others, who might just be moving up. How about the Hurricanes of Miami? Fresh off their tourney victory in Puerto Rico, the Canes dropped a solid Morgan State team yesterday. Their next four games are against teams that started a combined 9-3, so we might find a little bit more out about the Canes. A big trip to Mississippi State looms.
What about Baylor? The Bears won in the Virgin Islands and I think that shocked everyone. But the Bears have a chance with some returning players in the Big 12. If they pull the surprise on Friday night as part of the Big 12/Pac 10 series versus Washington State, everyone will have noticed.
And what about Butler? The Bulldogs won another early season tourney this year. Although it probably wasn't as impressive as last year. Butler is off to a 6-0 start and it really is hard to imagine any team that has performed better to this point. The Bulldogs welcome Thad Matta back to Indy next weekend in what could be a huge game. After that, they have only 4 non-conference games left before the bulk of conference play. (They will play a Bracket Buster matchup in February). Bradley, Florida State and Southern Illinois will all provide challenges. But if the Bulldogs manage to go 3-2 in these last five OOC games, they could end up with 5 or less losses and a Top 4 seed in the Big Dance.
Seton Hall surprised Virginia as I mentioned. And the Pirates at 5-0 are on the fringe of the Top 25. The Pirates have not been overly impressive at spots this year. But they continue to win. Two overtime wins versus the NEC and then a four-point win over Navy. Still, they were fairly impressive against the two best teams on their schedule. A spot in the Top 25 could await the winner of next weekend's game at St. Mary's.