We’re about halfway through the college basketball regular season and, well, there are some pretty big storylines and surprises that have developed that we didn’t see coming at the start of the year.
Here’s a look at five surprises so far in the college basketball season.
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College Basketball: What We’ve learned
UConn Huskies Have Bite
Going into the season, the UConn Huskies held odds of +4000 to win the national championship. As you can imagine, they were unranked to begin the year. What an oversight. With a 12-0 start to the season, they now find themselves with the second-best odds to win at +900.
Leading the way for the Huskies is junior Adama Sanogo with 19 points per game. Right behind him is sophomore Jordan Hawkins with 14.2 points per game. That duo has pushed UConn to its highest AP ranking (third) since 2011 when they were ranked fifth.
With 12 games played, we’ve got a decent enough sample to know that UConn is the real deal.
Interesting betting note here: UConn is on a nine-game winning streak against the spread.
Gonzaga, What’s Going On?
The Bulldogs were the top-ranked side going into the season but they’ve fallen off massively since then. Gonzaga finds itself 15th in the rankings after three losses on the season. All three losses were against top-11 sides in the rankings: Texas (No. 7), Purdue (1) and Baylor (11).
Drew Timme has been as advertised this year with 21.3 points, 8.1 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game. But in a team sport, you can’t rely on a single player to carry you. And Gonzaga is finding that out this year.
There’s plenty of time for the Bulldogs to turn it around but things aren’t looking good so far.
The Boilermakers’ odds to win the national championship opened at +3300. They’re now at +1600 with an 11-0 run through the season.
Obviously, they’ve taken down every team they’ve faced so far, but some of those wins were quite incredible and against some strong opposition. They beat Gonzaga by nearly 20 points (84-66) and then did the same against Duke (75-56).
Toronto, Ontario native Zach Edey has lit up the scoreboard with 22.6 points and 13.9 rebounds per game, a heck of a blow-up from the 14.4 points and 7.7 rebounds he averaged last season. The big seven-foot-four man is a big reason the Boilermakers are where they are.
Again, it’s not just about a single player. Purdue’s defensive game is in the 87th percentile among all 363 schools, allowing just 62.3 points per game. The mix of an elite player and a strong defensive game is why they find themselves at the top.
North Carolina Drop
What is happening in North Carolina? The Tar Heels were early favorites to be a top side in college basketball and ranked second before the Sportsbook tipoff. Flash-forward to today and they are anything but a top side.
UNC is one of the worst defensive teams in college basketball, allowing 74.4 points per game to rank 311th. Their poor defense has let down a strong offensive unit led by Caleb Love (18.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists) and Armando Bacot (17.5 points, 11.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists).
The Tar Heels have started turning things around with a three-game winning streak currently underway. But as it stands now, there’s a lot of concern here.
Duke Under New Management
For the first time in 42 years, the Duke Blue Devils have a new head coach. Jon Scheyer took over in 2022-23 after Mike Krzyzewski retired. In those 42 years, Coach K amassed an incredible 1,129-309 record and won winning five national championships and 15 conference tournaments. Scheyer has massive shoes to fill.
With a 10-2 start to the year, Scheyer has obviously not let the weight of Coach K’s legendary career unsettle him. His strong defensive system (Duke is ranked 14th for PA/G) is pushing this team forward.
He’s got a long, long way to go before he can compare himself to Coach K, but his first steps as the man calling the shots have gone very well.