Recap of the current NCAA Basketball season


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NCAA Basketball is one of the most watched college athletics programs, especially March Madness.

Following the Virginia Cavaliers win at the NCAA championship game last year, another season of college basketball is underway. Since the season officially started with the State Farm Champions Classic on November 5, most games have been filled with tension and drama, resulting in many competitive games.

Thus far, there have been five teams that have been ranked number one in the AP Top 25. Michigan State was the number one ranked team in the preseason rankings, but have failed to live up to expectations. Despite bringing back senior Cassius Winston, who averaged 18.8 points per game and 7.5 assists per game last year, the Spartans sit at 7-3 overall. Winston himself has gone through some personal problems, including his brother’s passing one week into the season. 

Kentucky and Duke are the two other teams projected to be at the top of the rankings. Although, both teams had won their first game of the season against Michigan State and Kansas respectively and ranked number one, they proceeded to lose games to considerably less competitive schools. Kentucky lost to Evansville 67-64 after trailing most of the game, and Duke lost 85-83 to Stephen F Austin State in what is considered one of their biggest upsets in 15 years. 

One team that was a dark horse coming into this season was the Louisville Cardinals. Despite losing in the first round to Minnesota last year, they returned several key players. In particular, the Cardinals have junior Jordan Nwora, who averaged 17 points per game last season, along with an abundance of depth and talented freshmen from recruiting. The Cardinals pulled off a number one rank just last week, but fell to number three after losing to Texas Tech. However, the Cardinals have shown they can compete and will surely be a team to watch in the coming weeks.

This week, Kansas is the new number one ranked team in the AP Top 25. Despite committing an egregious 28 turnovers in their loss to Duke, Kansas has rebounded nicely and dominated all of their games since. Kansas also had many returning players, including the dominating center Udoka Azubuike, who missed most of last season due to a wrist injury.

Other teams that have been solid include Gonzaga, Maryland, Michigan and Memphis. Gonzaga, despite losing most of their starters from the previous season, have shown to be very impressive. Although they were heavily defeated by Michigan, Gonzaga has been playing well and now sits at number two in the rankings. 

After failing to make the ranks preseason, Michigan have made a surprising dominating presence. After winning the Battle 4 Atlantis under first time head coach Juwuan Howard, Michigan jumped all the way to number 5 in the rankings. They have been knocked down on the ranks since, but still sit in the top 15.

The Maryland Terrapins is a team that was expected to compete for the Big Ten title this year, after players like Anthony Cowan and Jalen Smith returned for another year. The Terps started out really well at 10-0, with Cowan averaging 16.5 points per game. Despite some of their unconvincing wins, the team was still doing well with their talent and experience. However, the Terps have also recently lost to an unranked team, just like many of the other highly ranked teams. Maryland’s loss to Penn State came as a surprise, considering that Maryland had been playing better in their last four games.

The Memphis Tigers are a team that made big splashes before the season even started. The Tigers hired their coach, Penny Hardaway, last March and made it a goal in the beginning to go out and scout for talent. The Tigers not only met standards, but exceed them when they ended up having the number one ranked recruiting class, including a potential generational talent in center James Wiseman. 

The Tigers had started out well with a 2-0 record, before an NCAA investigation began on Wiseman. It turns out that coach Hardaway had spent $11,500 in moving expenses for Wiseman to move to Memphis in 2017. The NCAA responded by ruling Wiseman ineligible until January 12 and forcing his family to pay the $11,500 to charity. The Tigers are 6-0 in Wiseman’s absence and are a team to watch when Wiseman returns.

Even with many teams surprising fans and doing well, there have also been some disappointments, including the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Tar Heels scouted star recruit Cole Anthony and he has responded by averaging 19.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. However, despite Anthony playing well, the Tar Heels have lost their past three games and recently dropped out of the AP Top 25. Even worse, Anthony suffered an injury that will take him out of play for at least four weeks. 

In these seven weeks of college basketball, there have been a record of 11 upsets, the most since 2010. This year, college basketball does not have a star studded team, like Duke last year, as the top three recruits this year signed with Georgia, Washington, and Memphis. It is worth noting that two five star prospects chose to play overseas, and that likely has increased the level of competition in the NCAA. Without any extremely dominant teams this year, this season should be an interesting race to see who can claim the National Championship title.