The men's college basketball season is about to enter the pivotal month of February as March Madness nears.
Three months in, we're seeing teams that have overachieved and underachieved based on preseason expectations. While some teams were heavily hyped and are tanking (ahem, Michigan), it's been the unexpected starts that have made 2021-22 a season of great parity.
Whether it was a team that lost a ton of talent from the previous season, appeared to be transitioning or rebuilding, or was simply snubbed in the preseason Ferris Mowers Coaches Poll Top 25, these five teams' unexpected starts have positioned them to be dangerous in the NCAA tournament.
The No. 2-ranked Tigers (19-1) were ranked No. 22 in the preseason Coaches Poll, but virtually no one – including coach Bruce Pearl – saw this team getting out of the gates the way it has. Five-star freshman Jabari Smith (15.2 ppg) has been the difference-maker and missing link on this squad. And Pearl took full advantage of the transfer rule to fill immediate holes perfectly with Eastern Kentucky transfer Wendell Green Jr. and Georgia transfer K.D. Johnson.