There is something about the unpredictability of college basketball that has fans hooked. Sure, Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky and Kansas will always be in the mix as one of the top teams, but the buzzer beaters, the Butler’s, the resurgence of programs and watching players grow from “sixth” man to “the” man is what makes college basketball great. The teams that follow have everything fans want, and if you’re not watching, you should be.
No one could have guessed that Fab Melo would be so fabulous this year. His impact on Syracuse this season has been beyond huge. The 7-foot sophomore who looked confused and out of place last year, is having a block party this year averaging three blocks a game including 10 against Seton Hall.
But, Melo isn’t the only reason the Orange are the No. 1 team in the nation. Despite the controversy surrounding former assistant coach Bernie Fine when the season began in November, Jim Boeheim has his team playing controlled, team basketball. The Big East is the toughest conference in college basketball and Syracuse is sitting on top.
Next game: Jan. 14 vs. Villanova
Indiana University (15-1)
Isn’t next year supposed to be Tom Crean’s highly touted recruiting class? If that is the case, pencil in the Hoosiers for the Final Four next season.
Indiana opened the season with a little hype thanks in large part to Cody Zellerπ who has turned out to be everything advertised. Still, most people had their eyes on Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan in the Big Ten conference, but after knocking off Kentucky, Ohio State and Michigan, the Hoosiers are showing that Crean’s four years of sleepless recruiting nights are paying off. When you see a team playing well together and having as much fun as Indiana, it’s easy to see why they’re winning.
Next game: Jan. 14 vs. Ohio State
Syracuse may be No. 1 in the Big East, but Georgetown is showing their Feb. 8 matchup might decide who wins the conference. John Thompson III is showing critics that he can coach after all. He has one of the youngest teams in the nation (two seniors, one junior, four sophomores and five freshman) playing in the toughest conference, and although they’ve suffered two recent losses, Thompson will rally his troops. What makes this group special is that although it lacks experience, the three upperclassman are doing a great job leading, on the court and off the court. Their defense is off the charts and Thompson is doing a superb job meshing the young guys with the veterans.
Next game: Jan. 15 vs. St. John’s
The Baylor Bears are entering 2012 in a position they’ve never been – on top. Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III led their football team to a rare bowl victory, their women’s basketball team is ranked No. 1 and has been since the preseason, and the men’s basketball team (at Recorder press time) was undefeated and ranked No. 5 in the country.
The Bears are off to their best start in school history thanks in large part to Pierre Jackson who encourages all of his teammates to play their best. The continuity of the team is what sets them apart. With a group of guys that can all score in a variety of ways, but instead play team ball show why this Baylor team is different from the others.
Next game: Jan. 14 vs. Oklahoma State
*Records were at Recorder press time.