Cleat Geeks

Full Court Press: Quiet Surprises – College Basketball

December in college basketball has been full of unpredictable outcomes. Teams are trying to get as many good wins on their resume before the highly anticipated dog fights of conference play get going. With so much talent this year, many teams are quietly flying under the radar, poising themselves to be real sleepers come conference play. Here are a few more of college basketball’s surprise teams so far:

Seton Hall:

The Seton Hall Pirates are showing that they never should have dropped from the rankings in the first place. After a two game stretch where Seton Hall played then No. 22 Texas Tech before traveling to No. 17 Louisville, the Pirates have come out a very impressive 2-0. Sophomore Myles Powell has really stepped up his game lately for the Pirates, scoring 19 against Texas Tech. If the Pirates can continue to come out each game with a balanced scoring attack, they can certainly compete with any team in the country. If it weren’t for that one point loss to Rhode Island at the Barclays Center, the Pirates would be undefeated, and a top 10 team in the nation. Watch out for them come conference play.

Image result for myles powell seton hall

Houston:

The Cougars have been playing perfect ball since an early season slip up with Drexel. Since that loss they have won 6 straight and look like they are primed to make a run in a very much improved American Athletic Conference. Led by seniors Rob Gray, who is averaging 21.5 points per game, and Devin Davis, who’s been getting 12.9 points per game along with 7.7 rebounds per game, the Cougars seem ready to finally get back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010. The Cougars just recently beat a very good Arkansas team 91-65, proving to the nation that this team is ready for the big time. Houston has some great opportunities ahead to get some more big resume wins thanks to a very tough schedule and contests against Providence and LSU before league play begins.

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Syracuse:

After the Uconn game Tuesday night, there was a lot of talk about both teams not being exactly what they used to be. However, Syracuse Basketball is far from dead this year. The Syracuse Orange’s only loss this season comes at the hands of the No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks, which was expected. The Orange do have some solid wins against Maryland and Uconn, and they are currently 8th in the country in rebounding. Tyus Battle has been amazing so far, scoring an impressive team high 20.3 points per game. With winnable games against Colgate and Georgetown up ahead, look for the Orange to build upon their win total before they open up conference play against Virginia Tech.

Image result for tyus battle syracuse

Boise State:

Once March rolls around, the Broncos have a chance to find themselves at the top of the Mountain West standings along with Nevada. Boise State is led by Justinian Jessup and Chandler Hutchison, and have an outstanding 8-1 record. Not to mention they are just coming off of their most impressive win at Oregon on a Lexus Williams game winning shot as time expired. The Broncos resume also includes a blowout win over an impressive Loyola-Chicago bunch. This team is ready to get back in the NCAA tourney and seems like they might just have what it takes to get there.

Georgia:

Image result for yante maten georgiaGeorgia is quietly playing some great basketball this year. With wins over Saint Mary’s and Marquette, the Bulldogs are building up a pretty good resume. The SEC features a lot of good teams this year so they will have many opportunities to get resume building wins. Georgia is led by senior Yante Maten and his insane numbers of 18.5 points per game and 9.4 rebounds per game. Maten is helped by William Jackson who is currently averaging 12.5 points per game. The Bulldogs are looking very impressive early on, with only one loss to a good San Diego State team on their record. A big game against Temple later on December will be a huge test for Georiga right before SEC play opens up.

St. John’s:

Friday night will be a very telling day for the Red Storm, as they go out to California to face the No. 16 Arizona State Sun Devils. Up until now, the Red Storm have been 8-1, holding opponents to 60 points per game. So far the Red Storm has overcome foes such as UCF, Grand Canyon, and Nebraska (noteworthy now after their win over No. 14 Minnesota Tuesday night). Despite the solid record, the St. John’s is yet to receive any national attention, particularly because of their lack of signature wins, which brings us back to Friday’s game against Arizona State. A win against the Sun Devils could gain the Red Storm top 25 votes, but a loss could send them back into a state of mediocrity. The thin St. John’s roster is going to have to defend without fouling against the high scoring Arizona State offence, but if they succeed, you will be hearing about the Red Storm a lot more in the upcoming weeks.

 

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