NCAA Basketball

The 15 Biggest Surprises of the College Basketball Season So Far

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Biggest Surprises of the College Basketball Season

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Wichita State Shockers are one of the few teams who are undefeated in college basketball. Did anyone really expect them to be undefeated this late in the season? Regardless, their perfect record is still surprising, despite making a run to the Final Four last year. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the 15 biggest surprises of the college basketball season so far.

In this article, you will find teams and players. Just because players like Jabari Parker and Doug McDermott are left off of this list, does not mean they are disappointing or anything like that. They were both expected to be good this season and they are.

The same thing can be said about teams such as Arizona and Michigan State. Both entered the season in the top 10 and both were expected to challenge for a national title. There is nothing surprising about their impressive starts.

Going back to the Shockers, they are ranked No. 5 in the nation. Sure, they were one of the last teams standing in the dance last year, but they have arguably been even better this season. They are definitely exceeding expectations and have the talent to go undefeated.

All of the players in this article are having big years. Some of them could be seniors and some of them could be first-year players.

Whether the case, let’s get to it. Read on to see the 15 biggest surprises of the 2013-14 college basketball season so far.

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Casey Prather, Florida Gators

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I am sure not many people expected Casey Prather to lead the Florida Gators in scoring this year. Even if they did expect that, I am sure they did not expect him to put up 17 points per game.

He averaged 6.2 points per game last season, but is easily one of the most improved players in the country.

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San Diego State Aztecs

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Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

San Diego State lost its top two scorers from last season, but apparently that does not matter. The team entered the season unranked, but is now ranked as high as No. 10.

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Wisconsin Badgers

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Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin entered the season by being ranked in the top 25, but is now ranked No. 3 in the country. It’s hard to believe that this Badgers team is one of the favorites to win a Big Ten title after Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan got so much hype entering the season.

All three are still having good years, but Wisconsin has arguably been the best team in the conference and has the undefeated record to prove it.

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Villanova Wildcats

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Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Villanova entered the season unranked and it entered the season trailing teams like Marquette and Georgetown in the Big East.

The Wildcats were talented enough to be a tournament team entering the year, but I am sure no one expected them to be the best team in the conference and one of the best teams in the nation.

They have beaten teams like Kansas and Iowa and are ranked No. 6 in both major polls.

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Iowa State Cyclones

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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa State has dropped two straight games, but it is still arguably a top 10 team. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if the Cyclones come away with the conference title, but that was far from the case entering the season.

Iowa State is 3-1 against ranked opponents and is ranked as high as No. 8.

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Massachusetts Minutemen

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Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

VCU and Saint Louis were supposed to be the elite teams in the A 10 this season, but Massachusetts has been stealing the show. Conference play is still young, but the Minutemen are the team to beat.

They have already beaten LSU, New Mexico, BYU and Providence this season. Their only loss was against Florida State.

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Joseph Young, Oregon Ducks

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Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Joseph Young was great for Houston, but he has been just as good for Oregon, who has been challenged multiple times this season.

Young is averaging 18.8 points per game and is shooting 42 percent from behind the arc in the process. As I am sure you could have guessed, he is leading the team in scoring.

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Rayvonte Rice, Illinois Fighting Illini

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Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

Rayvonte Rice is another player that played in a mid-major conference last season. He is now averaging 18.1 points per game and 5.9 rebounds per game for the Illinois Fighting Illini, which is a team that could earn a bid to the dance once again.

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Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh Panthers

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Patterson should be considered for the player of the year award. I am not saying he should win it, but he is easily one of the best players in the country and he is a big reason why the Pittsburgh Panthers have been so successful this season.

Pittsburgh is one of two teams still undefeated in the ACC and I am sure Patterson’s 17.9 points per game, 4.7 rebounds per game and 4.5 assists per game has a lot to do with that.

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Syracuse Orange

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Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse was one of the more talented teams entering the season, but I am sure not many people expected it to start the season with a 17-0 record.

The Orange’s record is no fluke, as they have already beaten Minnesota, California, Baylor, Indiana, St. John’s, Villanova and North Carolina.

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Cincinnati Bearcats

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Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati is off to a 15-2 start and it is also the only team still undefeated in the AAC.

The Bearcats had the talent to finish in the top five in the conference entering the season, but they are now a serious threat to win the AAC title.

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Tyler Ennis, Syracuse Orange

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Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Ennis is one of the best point guards--if not the best--in the nation. May I remind you that this is his first year at the collegiate level.

Ennis is averaging 11.6 points per game, 3.2 rebounds per game and 5.6 assists per game. He is also one of the main reasons why the Orange are still undefeated. Having a solid point guard is always a huge bonus in this sport and that is exactly what Syracuse has.

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Yogi Ferrell, Indiana Hoosiers

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Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana lost a bunch of talent over the offseason, which meant Yogi Ferrell had to become more of a threat in the scoring department. He has definitely done that.

Ferrell was not even close to being the main option on the Hoosiers last year. He averaged 7.6 points per game. This season he is averaging 17.5 points per game and would probably be getting more attention if Indiana was a threat to win the Big Ten title.

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Kansas State Wildcats

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Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas State lost its top two scorers from last season and was expected to have a down year. Well, the Wildcats have already beaten Ole Miss, Gonzaga, George Washington and Oklahoma State.

All four of those teams could make the dance this season. It is safe to say that the Cowboys will, since they are ranked in the top 10 and have one of the most talented teams in college hoops.

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Minnesota Golden Gophers

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Minnesota lost a bunch of talent and was not expected to compete for a conference title. The Golden Gophers probably weren't even expected to make the tourney, but they have a great chance of doing so now. The team may have four losses, but all four were to teams that should make the tournament (Syracuse, Arkansas, Michigan and Michigan State).

The Razorbacks are really the only team in question right now, but they do have an 11-4 record and almost beat the Florida Gators last game, who are ranked in the top 10.