Less than a week away from the 2017-18 college basketball season to start, one can wonder what to expect during a usually crazy, dramatic and stellar basketball season. Most of the buzz always surrounds UNC, Duke, Kentucky, and Kansas due to their highly reputable school programs, coaches, and the ability to reel in big time recruits. With that, brings added pressure and lofty expectations to win the national championship come tournament time.
In the sport of college basketball, where anything can happen, small time schools can be valued just as much as big time programs. Thanks to the NCAA tournament, Lower seed schools tend to make a name for them selves and are able to prevail against highly ranked teams. Reason being- teams look at rankings too much of a measuring stick, chemistry, style of play, better suited matchups.
Prime examples can be made for the 2014-2015 Michigan State Spartans who made it to the final four as a 7th seed coached by Tim Izzo with players Denzel Valentine, Brandon Dawson, and Travis Trice leading the way. The following year 10th seed Syracuse defied the odds and made it to the final four as well led by Jim Boeheim starring Michael Gbinije and Malachi Richardson. It’s not just a trend; teams in the tournament can be severely slept on and can make an emphatic run. Formula to achieve that type of success is having a coach who can lead and players who play together. Every year there’s a surprise team. Last year it was Frank Martin’s South Carolina Gamecocks who came nearly close to reaching the national championship. Sindarius Thornwell played a remarkable tournament nearly carrying the Gamecocks to their first championship game in school history. College basketball brings an even level field and is a true sport that exemplifies competition.
Today we examine five teams that are on the rise and who should be paid close attention throughout the season gearing towards the March Madness.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
The Crimson Tide is poised to being one of the top teams in the SEC. With Avery Johnson at the helm, Alabama is looking to take the throne from Kentucky with its best roster in years. Five star recruit Collin Sexton will make this team over the top with his play making ability and will play along well with backcourt mate Dazon Ingram. Alongside the versatile Braxton Key and good depth, Alabama will make the tourney for the first time in six years.
2. Rhode Island Rams
The Rams can very well be the most athletic team in the nation. After 1 win shy of reaching the Sweet 16 look for Dan Hurley to rally the troops and compete again for the crown. With added experience and mostly all the players returning its almost certain they’ll make noise out of the Atlantic 10. E.C. Matthews will look to end his collegiate career with a bang. Rams can just about beat anybody. They’re that good.
3. Seton Hall Pirates
Seton Hall has not won an NCAA tournament game since 2004. Fortunately that trend will come to an end this season, as The Pirates are battle tested and ready to make a name for themselves. With Angel Delgado returning for his senior year he joins Khadeen Carrington, and Desi Rodriguez to lead the Kevin Willard coached team. Seton Hall has the opportunity to make noise and can pose a threat to the big schools. Big East is coming back in a big way.
4. TCU Horn Frogs
TCU won the NIT last season and is looking for more hardware. TCU won the NIT last season and is looking for more hardware. Jamie Dixon was able to improve the teams win total by 12 wins. TCU has become relevant and is looking to capitalize from the momentum. Six of the top scorers return with big man Vladimir Brodziansky looking and transfer Alex Robinson, expect them to compete for the Big 12 crown. Dixon knows how to bring the best out of his players. TCU fans should be excited this season. Do not sleep on the horn frogs. was able to improve the teams win total by 12 wins. TCU has become relevant and is looking to capitalize from the momentum. Six of the top scorers return with big man Vladimir Brodziansky looking and transfer Alex Robinson, expect them to compete for the Big 12 crown. Dixon knows how to bring the best out of his players. TCU fans should be excited this season. Do not sleep on the horn frogs.
5. Missouri Tigers
After a disastrous year the Missouri Tigers are starting fresh. Cuonzo Martin will take over as coach looking to bring a winning culture back in Mizzou basketball. With the revamped roster, Martin brings a #4 nationally ranked recruiting class starring Michael Porter Jr. (projected top three pick in next years NBA draft) Jontay Porter, Jeremih Tilmon, Blake Harris and transfer Kassius Robertson. It’s extremely difficult to turn a team into a contender in one season, but with a player of Porter Jr’s caliber leaves huge upside. If the players around Porter Jr can play well, Missouri will be able to compete in a loaded SEC and pose a threat heading into the big dance.