Early Season Upsets
Should we really be surprised at the number of upsets taking place in the first few weeks of the college basketball season? Not really!
The college basketball season is upon us and as with every new season most every publication and poll pundit out there has over analyzed each and every team. Yet with all the analyzation the season starts and what we get are head scratching outcomes in the first few weeks of games played that make us raise eyebrows and say “they lost to who last night”?
For the record we have so far…with all due respect to the great Howard Cosell and his famous call…”Down goes”;
#1 North Carolina to U N. Iowa, Virginia to George Washington, Gonzaga to TX A&M, Wichita State to USC and Alabama, Notre Dame to Monmouth, LSU twice to NC State and Marquette, Florida State to Hofstra, Georgetown to Radford, Iowa to Dayton, Indiana to Wake and UNLV, California to Richmond & SDSU, UCLA to Monmouth and Wake Forest, Arizona to Providence.
We also see some early season games featuring power conference teams such as Vanderbilt versus Kansas, Florida versus Purdue, that pit possible end of the year tournament teams against one another.
Early season matchups for many of the typical pre-season teams include games set against teams such as this year’s “Cinderella” Monmouth. The problem though is that each year there are teams such as the “Hawks” that are returning a core of players that are:
- Upperclassmen, in the case of Monmouth of which 6 of their top 7 are junior and senior players!
- Have a history of getting better and a few seasons of maturing into very good college players!
- Due to time together have a reasonable advantage in that they may have team chemistry already established.
This is a contrast to many teams considered the power elite pre-season that are integrating top freshman recruits with at best returning veteran players that in most cases had been role players last year but now are being counted on by their respective coaching staffs to take on a more responsible leadership role. This becomes especially demanding on programs when the elite freshman recruits are considered primary to any team’s overall eventual success. Additionally, teams such as LSU and Cal for example where elite talent such as Ben Simmons, Antonio Blakeney, Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown are quite possibly the best players on a team and may struggle in finding their footing at the college level no matter their preseason and high school achievement.
College basketball has and is attempting to create better early season match-ups in the past few years and this year is no exception with Duke v Kentucky and Michigan State v Kansas in an early TV event. Certainly as we head into the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday period matchups through tournament fields from the preseason NIT to the Battle for Atlantis offer some interesting games to watch if everything and everyone wins as expected!
In the long run of the college basketball season, eventually October’s incoming freshman become March end of the year seasoned players. As usual we all will witness a smattering of upsets during March Madness and we will see a “mid-major” or two reach the sweet sixteen! But fear not those of you that follow your favorite power five teams such as Carolina, Duke, UK, MSU and Kansas. At the end of the year all of them will be exactly where they were supposed to be all along…vying for an elite -8 position and a trip to college basketball’s Final -Four
However, some teams might think twice if a Monmouth or other such teams are suddenly your opponent in your bracket during this early part of the seasons holiday tournaments and remind those elite freshmen that there are upper-class players on rosters that are certainly capable of using their experience and already developed team chemistry to overcome the athletic elite ability of power five programs!