With the NBA players and owners bickering like spoiled children as opposed to actually playing game, the better form of basketball, college basketball, comes even more to the forefront. Defending champion Connecticut is highly rated, but North Carolina comes in as a loaded team ready to win its second NCAA title in four years. So far there have been no major upsets, but this is a year where a few sleepers can come to the forefront and surprise a few people. Here are some teams to keep in mind that you may not be thinking about this early.
Purdue – Yes, they lost a pair of NBA draft picks in JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore, but the Boilermakers get perhaps the heart of their team back in Robbie Hummel. Hummel has torn his ACL twice since February 2010, but already he is averaging over 20 points per game as Purdue has started 2-0. Purdue plays three solid opponents in this week’s Puerto Rico Tournament, so we will know more about them afterwards.
Alabama – Another team playing in Puerto Rico, and one that has played Purdue each of the past two seasons. The Crimson Tide plays in-your-jersey defense and has a solid team lead by JaMychal Green. They could challenge Kentucky for the SEC title by the time the year is over.
Cleveland State – Stop me if you have heard this before, but a team from the Horizon League makes a stellar run through the regular season and sets the stage for a great NCAA Tournament run. Cleveland State could take that title from butler, as they already have a win over a top 10 team in Vanderbilt, which will pay nice dividends on Selection Sunday.
Michigan State – They have played the nation’s most difficult schedule so far and have suffered losses to North Carolina and Duke, but Tom izzo will have this team playing better. transfer Brandon Wood from Valparaiso is a solid one-year addition.
Harvard – They lost their NCAA bid on the last day of the season last year on a last-second shot, but the Crimson could be a shocker out of the Ivy League. They are good enough to already be receiving votes in the polls.
Kent State – The Golden Flashes had the biggest upset of the day during ESPN’s 24 hours of basketball when they went to West Virginia and beat the Mountaineers by 10 points. Their downside is that they will likely have to win the MAC tournament, as there is very little schedule boost for them outside of an upcoming game with Cleveland State.