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Harry’s Hidden College Basketball Gems

Harry's Hidden Gems

We all know about the big-time programs and the big-time conferences to look out for in college hoops, such as No. 1 Louisville (9-0), No. 7 Duke (9-1) and defending champion No. 9 Virginia (8-1, holding opponents to 55 points or less in every win) in the ACC. In the Big Ten, we have powerhouses Ohio State, Maryland and Michigan sitting at Nos. 3, 4 and 5 in the country.

However, I’m going to dig deep to look at schools that don’t get the recognition but are having solid seasons and might be good plays as the season progresses.

Don’t Sleep on the Atlantic 10

Dayton Flyers (7-1)

The Flyers are led by sophomore forward Obi Toppin. Toppin, from Brooklyn, is averaging 22 points and eight rebounds a game while shooting a remarkable 66 percent from the field and 42 percent from three-point range. Dayton is first in the country in shooting proficiency at 55 percent and has blowout wins on neutral courts vs Georgia, Virginia Tech and Saint Mary’s. Plus, they lost in overtime to No. 4 Kansas in the Maui Invitational championship game. Aside from Toppin, the Flyers have five other players averaging nine points or more.

Richmond Spiders (8-1)

The Spiders have a win over Vanderbilt and double-digit victories over Wisconsin and Boston College. Guard Jacob Gilyard is averaging 17 points a game and is shooting 60 percent from the field and a sizzling 53 percent from three-point land. Gilyard also leads the nation in steals with four a game.

VCU (7-2)

The Rams have a victory against LSU on their resume and a couple of three-point losses against top-20 teams in Purdue and Tennessee.

Blue Demons and Bulldogs are Beasts in Big East

DePaul (9-1)

The Blue Demons are having their best start to a season since the 1986-87 campaign. They have three quality road wins vs power conference teams, beating Boston College, Minnesota, and Iowa by 15. Paul Reed leads DePaul with 15 points, 11 rebounds and nearly four blocks per game.

Butler (9-0)

The Bulldogs’ resume is stacked as well with wins over Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi and Florida. They won all four games by eight points or more.

Marquette (7-2)

The Eagles have a double-digit win over Purdue to their credit and have the nation’s leading scorer (25.1 ppg) in Markus Howard, a senior guard from Chandler, Arizona.

Aggies and Aztecs are Riding High in Mountain West

Utah State (9-1)

The Aggies are 11th in the NCAA in rebounding with 43 boards a game. Justin Bean leads the team with 15 points per game and is fifth in the nation in rebounds with an average of 11.8 per game.

San Diego State (10-0)

The Aztecs have seven double-digit wins this season, including victories over Iowa and Creighton.

Best of the Rest

Liberty (11-0)

The Flames are sixth in the country in three-point shots made. We will see how that works out for them as they play Vanderbilt and LSU in the next couple of weeks.

SMU (8-1)

Guard Kendric Davis leads the Mustangs with 16 points a game on 50 percent shooting.

Wichita State (8-1)

The Shockers have a couple of impressive road victories. They won in Stillwater vs Oklahoma State by 19 and in Columbia against the South Carolina Gamecocks by 23.

Through a third of the season, these teams have shown plenty of moxie and there are others that have as well. We will keep our eyes on these teams to see if they can continue their winning ways as conference play approaches.