Top 5 Unranked Teams That Will Finish Ranked in the Top 25
Top 5 NCAA Unranked Teams that will Finish Ranked
There are three key ingredients to being successful at the college level, coaching, talent and schedule. A team coached by names like Pitino, Izzo, Self and Kryzeswski are a lock to be in the Top 25. Coaches that connect with players, have superior motivational ability and can manipulate strategies during games will always lead teams to successful seasons. Having coaches that are experienced and great motivators help maximize talent and ensure that a team reaches its potential.
Likewise, players with exceptional talents tend to help their respective teams into the Top 25. Players from Alcindor to Walton and Jordan to Duncan never struggled to get their teams high rankings. Players that dominate their position and are capable of making their teammates better tend to lead teams deep into the rankings. Having a transcendent player takes you into the top 3. Talent alone wins a lot of games, but talent mixed with coaching is scary for opponents.
Lastly, a schedule that allows you to showcase your ability is necessary to achieve the maximum possible ranking. Do you play tough non-conference games? Is your conference overall ranking solid? Do you take care of business at home and steal some wins on the road? If you have all three of these ingredients you will have a great season, if you have 2 you could still grab a solid ranking. The 5 teams below did not make the pre-season Top 25 but possess the at least 2 qualities that make them a lock to finish the season within those rankings.
This was easy...Colorado Buffaloes. Last year they snuck into the tournament AND got a win. This team is confident and well led by coach Tad Boyle, a Larry Brown product. Boyle is now in his second year with this program and will have his players even more prepared within his system. Also, they have an outstanding player in Andre Roberson. The 6’7 high flyer averaged a double-double last season finishing fourth in the nation with 11.1 rebounds per game. Their schedule is not as strong with only a road game at Kansas as their opportunity to showcase themselves nationally. They have a non-conference tournament that could possibly lead to matchups versus St. Johns and Murray State as well, but they will need to focus on finishing in the top three of the Pac-12 with Arizona and UCLA. Don't be surprised if they finish ahead of UCLA in the final standings and make a run into March Madness and into the Top 25.
VCU was another easy choice to finish the season ranked in the Top 25. With the nationally respected Shaka Smart leading this team they have ingredient number one fully covered, coaching. They do not have one outstanding player but return a young core and experienced upperclassman. Their schedule is built to showcase their ability to contend. First they play 7 non-conference opponents that made the tournament last year. Second, their conference, the Atlantic 10 with Butler, Xavier, St. Joseph's and a few others is very strong. Lastly, they play a minimum of 14 televised games which puts them in front of those that vote for the Top 25.
It's hard to believe that such a storied program with a great coach in such a strong conference is not in the Top 25, but such is the case with Georgetown. Do not be surprised if a motivational master such as John Thompson III uses this preseason slight as motivation for himself and his team. JTIII has the pedigree of great coaching and has proven himself over the years as the leader of Georgetown. No one player will be the dominate player on this team but with Coach Thompson's Princeton style offense it is never about one player dominating the ball anyways. With Florida, UCLA, Texas and preseason number 1 Indiana in addition to their BIG EAST schedule the Hoyas have plenty of chances to gain the quality wins that will take them into the Top 25.
Butler becomes the second team from the Atlantic 10 to look like a lock to finish in the Top 25. Once again led by their own outstanding coach, Brad Stevens, the Bulldogs are primed to make some noise. They won’t be sneaking up on anyone anymore but have been well put together by this staff led by Stevens. This is a well balanced team that receives contributions from everyone on its roster and plays some of the best team defense in the nation. Their non-conference is not as balanced as VCU, which is why they are behind them in these rankings, but they do play preseason number 1 Indiana, Gonzaga and Marquette in addition to the under-appreciated Atlantic 10 schedule.
This position was tough and could have been landed by New Mexico, Murray St, Long Beach St or Stanford, but I settled on Saint Mary’s. Their schedule will do them no favors but the combination of great coach and great player gives them 2 of the 3 ingredients of finishing in the Top 25. Randy Bennett may not be a household name but within coaching circles he is very highly respected for his work ethic, teaching ability and knowledge. To go with his coaching abilities Bennett has an equally under the radar player in Matthew Dellavedova. Another player in a long line of Australian players to play for Saint Mart’s, this 6’4 point guard possess incredible skills with the ball in his hands. Dellavedova has also played in the Olympics for his home country which means that he will not be intimidated by any atmosphere or situation to face his team. With these two leading the way, Saint Mary’s has a great chance of being in the Top 25 by the end of the season.