Rankings of College Basketball 2024: Three Rising Teams
The whirlwind trajectory to March Madness continues unabated as college basketball offers up a dizzying array of surprises and victories. A topsy-turvy week has seen three teams surge up the latest AP Top 25 amidst all the chaos, underscoring the unpredictability and intense competition that make this sport utterly compelling.
The real challenge lies on the road, with a staggering 16 ranked teams losing last week, a majority of those being away from home. The sport's landscape is undergoing significant upheaval, with the transfer portal and Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) initiatives blurring the lines between the great, the good, and the average.
Amidst all this change stands a constant beacon of excellence - the reigning national champions, the UConn Huskies. Their unwavering performance, navigating a 4-0 record even in the absence of their star player, Donovan Clingan, speaks volumes about their iron-willed resolve and the championship pedigree that radiates from Storrs.
As we navigate this exciting season, it's clear this UConn team is showing no signs of a championship hangover, clutching tightly onto their chance to become the first repeat champion since the Florida Gators' triumph in 2006 and 2007. Three other teams, however, are making a statement and want to have a say in the upcoming NCAA Men’s Tournament.
1. Hubert Davis' Tar Heels Bounce Back to No. 4
Hubert Davis' Tar Heels have completed an incredible bounce back, securing the No. 4 in the AP Top 25 spot after six straight victories. Their exceptional defense, limiting their adversaries to a paltry 60.3 points per contest, has been a cornerstone of their resurgence.
The dynamic duo of Armando Bacot and RJ Davis have spearheaded this revival, with the latter delivering All-American performances night in and night out. Davis is averaging an impressive 20.4 points and 3.3 assists per game while also demonstrating his prowess from beyond the arc with a 41 percent shooting rate.
Transfers Harrison Ingram and Cormac Ryan have seamlessly integrated into the team, extending the Tar Heels' roster depth and helping them average four scorers in double-digits. Freshman Elliot Cadeau’s refined distribution skills have also been a key element of their offensive strategy.
With all the right ingredients, this North Carolina team has the potential to reach the Final Four for the second time in three years, silencing doubters and paying homage to their legacy of excellence.
2. Wisconsin Surges Near the Top 10
Wisconsin continues to be a team that's redefining its identity on the college basketball scene. Its unbeaten 5-0 record in Big Ten play is a testament to the team's tenacity and the strategic acumen of coach Greg Gard. They moved up to No. 11 in the latest AP Poll, the second-best ranking for a Big 10 team.
This season, the Badgers have not only returned nine of their top 10 scorers, but they also welcomed AJ Storr, a high-end transfer, to their ranks. Their offensive efficiency is commendable, sitting sixth in KenPom's rankings. This is not the Wisconsin team of old; it's a reinvigorated squad that's hungry for success and primed for a deep run into the NCAA Tournament.
3. Team of the Week: TCU
The Team of the Week accolade goes to none other than TCU, a team that has unveiled its grit and resilience in the face of tough competition in the Big 12. Their recent impressive victories over teams like No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 2 Houston have proven that they are not a team to be taken lightly. They also went on the road to Kansas recently and nearly pulled off a massive victory despite being big underdogs. As a result, TCU vaulted from unranked to No. 19 this week.
Led by Jamie Dixon, TCU has displayed an unprecedented level of dedication and teamwork to go along with their experience. The credit for their success also goes to fifth-year senior wing Emanuel Miller, who has been instrumental in the team's latest victories, scoring a commendable 40 points along with 12 rebounds and six assists.
TCU's performance has been a testament to their fortitude, as they bounced back from a heartbreaking loss to the Jayhawks with two notable victories. This week's performance has cemented TCU's status as a threat to the top teams, illustrating that experience and resolve can lead to unexpected and exciting results on the court.
As we continue to witness the twists and turns of this unpredictable season, there is no doubt that these three teams – UConn, North Carolina, and Wisconsin - will continue to be at the center of attention. With their immense talent, determination, and unwavering focus on success, they embody what it means to be a college basketball powerhouse. The stage is set for an exhilarating and memorable season, where anything can happen on any given night.
Keep your eyes glued to the NCAAB lines, and get ready for a wild ride! Whether you're rooting for one of these top-ranked teams or cheering on your favorite underdog, #NCAAB2024 is shaping up to be one of the most thrilling seasons yet.