By: Pat Longobardi
With the football season winding down to the big game in Cowboy Stadium in Dallas, sports fans will have to mix and match different sports until the baseball season starts up in April. As January ends and we approach the month of February, now is the time to actually focus on college basketball and the road to March madness.
Although college basketball began in November, teams then tended to play lower tier schools. Once the calendar reaches the beginning of the new year, conference play begins and teams start to make names for themselves with great games and different memories. Teams that fit this category this season are Connecticut, San Diego State and Brigham Young University.
At the beginning of the 2010 season, the Connecticut Huskies were not in the Associated Press Top 25. After participating in one of the many tournaments to begin the season, and after winning the Maui Invitational in Hawaii with wins over Kentucky and Michigan State, the Huskies jumped not only into the rankings, but into the top 10 at number six in the country.
Entering February, Connecticut is at the top of the Big East Conference with teams such as Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Villanova. This is what basketball is all about. Having a team who was not on the radar and making a name for themselves in big spots to bring notice to themselves.
I never actually counted out Connecticut. After getting their hearts broken last season in a hard fought game at Virginia Tech in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT), who knew what to expect entering this year?
Behind enormous games by Kemba Walker, the Huskies are the talk of the country. In his junior season, Walker is unanimously the best player in the country, averaging 25.5 points a game, and is leading Connecticut to victories. He will need to follow in the footsteps of Hasheem Thabeet, Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon and be a key part to UConn’s run into March.
On the other side of the coast, the mid-majors conferences are on the move with very successful teams. San Diego State has 20 wins and is ranked number four in the country while Brigham Young University has 18 wins and is ranked number 12 from the Mountain West Conference. Teams like these, that not many people know about, usually cause problems come tournament time. San Diego State could steal a potential two or three seed come March if they keep winning. For BYU, with a player like senior Jimmer Fredette leading his team with 25.8 points a game, and an unknown Aztec team having four starters averaging 10 or more points a
game, these two teams are Butler. Time will tell when they play each other twice within a month.
It is more than half way through the season, but we know who the contenders are: teams like these that make comebacks, memorable moments and the most of their opportunities.
Low ranked teams making moves in polls
By: Pat Longobardi