College football season is over and we’re only a few months away from March Madness, so it’s about time to really throw yourself in college basketball.If you haven’t been paying attention, we put together the 10 big storylines that you need to know to be all caught up.
They include the ineptitude of the Pac-12, the surprising dominance of Syracuse, and the emergence of a freshman star at (where else?) Kentucky.
The once-impressive Pac-12 conference is now utterly terrible.
It's the 9th-best conference right now, according to Conference RPI -- behind all the traditional power conferences, as well as A-10, Mountain West, and Missouri Valley.
UCLA has been a mess. Arizona is too young and hasn't put it together. And Cal has been their usual under-performing selves.
Any way you look at it, Syracuse is the No. 1 team.
They're first in the polls, first in RPI, first in Strength of Schedule, and first in efficiency margins (stats!).
But since they have a roster filled with solid but unremarkable players and no clear stars, the general sentiment is that they aren't as good as talent-laden teams like Kentucky, UNC, and Ohio State.
We'll see come March.
When the likes of Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes, and Terrence Jones came back to school unexpectedly, people thought college hoops would took a one-season break from the parity which has defined the sports for years.
But halfway through the season, there isn't really one all-time great team, and the race for the national championship is wide open.
No one would argue that the Big 10 is the most fun conference to watch. But it currently has four top-15 teams, and is the strongest top-to-bottom conference despite the fact that Ohio State hasn't been the elite team that many though they'd be.
You don't have to watch it (so many bricks), but you have to respect it.
Here are your best non-BCS conference teams right now:
UNLV (Mike Moser, who was at UCLA a few years back, has developed into a star).
Gonzaga (A really nice mix of veterans like Elias Harris and youngsters like PG Kevin Pangos)
Creighton (They have one of the leading scorers in the country, Doug McDermott)
Big man Anthony Davis is coming on really strong (five-straight double doubles) as we get into conference play.
The long, athletic centre is just the type of 'upside' player that does very little in college before blossoming in the NBA.
But he's made a huge impact by protecting the rim on defence and making himself into one of the country's best rebounders.
In truth, it hasn't been your typical ACC for a few years.
This year, it's again a battle between Duke and UNC. Virginia has been impressive behind them, but after that, it's not looking too hot.
Luckily Syracuse and Pitt will give the conference a much-needed boost next year.
Here's the thing about this much-hyped Harvard team: they don't play the type of efficient, good basketball that we usually see from the nation's best mid-major teams.
Rather, they have the same type of athletes that mediocre power-conference teams have. They play solid defence, rebound well, but can't shoot or create offence in the half court.
So even though they are beating lesser opponents now, they are pretty much a poor-man's Marquette, and don't play the type of flowing basketball that can lead to a deep run in March.
The Racers are 16-0, and will burst onto the national scene soon if they keep it up.
No, they haven't beat anyone (172th hardest schedule), but they are beating teams handily and are a respectable 23rd in RPI.
As silly as it sounds, they'll be favoured in every one of their games coming down the stretch, and could possibly go undefeated.
Missouri runs and guns. Baylor has all the talent in the world. Kansas is performing better than expectations. And Kansas St. is coming on strong and could play the spoiler.
The Big 10 and Big East are probably deeper, but the Big 12 is the conference you should watch if it happens to be on ESPN one night.
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