NCAA Basketball: Biggest Surprises In Each Conference At Midway Point

Basketball

 

The 2022-23 college basketball season is just over its halfway point, and what a start to the campaign it has been. Kansas State, Clemson, and UConn are off to their best start in recent memory. Several other teams are off to solid starts; the following are the biggest surprising teams in each conference.

ASUN: Stetson Hatters 

Picked to finish 12th/13th in the ASUN, the Hatters are 9-6 and the only undefeated team in conference play. Stetson began the season 3-0 with victories over Florida State, South Florida, and Rider. It was the Hatters’ first win over the Seminoles (1-14), Bulls (1-12), and Broncs (1-1) in program history.    

 

America East: UMass-Lowell River Hawks

UMass-Lowell (15-3, 3-1 AE) is off to its best start since 2002–03, when the River Hawks were still a DII member. The River Hawks’ 15 wins match their most since moving to DI. They are the best shooting and defensive team in the America East.  

 

American: UCF Knights

The Knights are on pace to finish with one of their best seasons under head coach Johnny Dawkins despite returning 30% of their player minutes and 28% of their scoring from a year ago. UCF (13-4, 4-2 AAC), led offensively by freshman Taylor Hendricks, is a top-40 defensive team in the nation.  Their four losses have been by a combined 13 points, with their largest defeat being by six points to Houston. 

 

A-10: Duquesne Dukes

Duquesne (13-5) has already more than doubled than win total (6) from a season ago. The Dukes also have tripled their A-10 victories (3) after going 1-16 in conference play last year. They snapped a 16-game league losing streak with a win over Rhode Island on New Year’s eve.    

 

ACC: Clemson Tigers

The Tigers (14-3, 6-0 ACC), ranked in the top 40 in my college basketball rankings, is off to its best start under 13th-year head coach Brad Brownell. They are 6-0 in conference play for the first time and have won a program-record 10 straight ACC contests overall. The Hunters lead the way for Clemson, with Hunter Tyson averaging a double-double for the season (16.2 points, 10.1 rebounds), while  Chase Hunter ranks second in scoring (14.5 points) and topping the squad in assists (4.5). 

 

Big 12: KANSAS State Wildcats 

Under the direction of first-year coach Jerome Tang, Kansas State (15-1, 4-0 Big 12) is off to its best start since 1958-59 though they have a strong roster that includes nine former DI transfers. The Wildcats set a program record with 116 points in their overtime victory over Texas on Jan 3.

Big East: UConn Huskies 

The Huskies have posted a winning record in three straight seasons. They are off to their best start under Dan Hurley at 15-3 and 4-3 in the Big East. UConn, led by big man Adama Sanago, won its first 11 contests and was ranked as high as No. 2 in the AP poll — which is the Huskies’ highest ranking since 2008-09. 

 

Big Sky: Idaho State Bengals

The Bengals are 6-10 and 3-0 in the Bog Sky heading into Thursday night’s clash with Montana State. Idaho State, which won seven games last season, defends the 3-point line very well. They hold their opponents to 5.4 treys a contest and 29% shooting from beyond the arc, ranking in the top 25 in the nation in both categories. 

 

Big South: UNC Ashville Bulldogs

UNC Ashville is 11-6 and 3-1 heading into Thursday night’s contest versus conference-leading Longwood. The Bulldogs, undefeated at home through their first six games for the first time since 2017-18, are on pace to post a winning record in back-to-back seasons. 2015-16 through 2017-18 were the last time the Bulldogs finished with a winning record in consecutive seasons. 

 

Big Ten: Northwestern Wildcats

The Wildcats (12-4, 3-2 Big Ten) are off to their best start since 2016-17, when they finished with a 24-12 record, including 10-8 in Conference play. Senior guards Chase Audie and Boo Buie lead the way for the Cats.

Other Conferences

  • Big West: UC Riverside Highlanders (11-6, 4-1) 
  • CAA: Charleston Cougars (17-1, 5-0)
  • CUSA: Florida Atlantic (15-1, 5-0)
  • Horizon League: Milwaukee Panthers (11-5, 5-1)
  • Ivy: Cornell Big Red (12-4, 2-1)
  • MAAC: Niagra Purple Eagles (9-6, 4-2)
  • MAC: Bowling Green Falcons (8-8, 2-1)
  • MEAC: Morgan State (8-8, 2-1)
  • MVC: Indiana State Sycamores (13-5, 6-1) 
  • Mountain West: San Jose State Spartans (12-6, 3-2)
  • NEC: Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (10-8, 3-2)
  • OVC: SIU Edwardsville Cougars (12-5, 3-1)
  • PAC 12: Arizona State Sun Devils (13-3, 4-1)
  • Patriot: American Eagles (12-4, 4-1)
  • SEC: Georgia Bulldogs (12-4, 2-1)
  • Southern: Western Carolina Catamounts (10-8, 3-2)
  • Southland:  Texas A&M Commerce Lions (6-11, 2-1)
  • SWAC: Prairie View A&M Tigers (6-10, 2-1)
  • Summit: St. Thomas Tommies (13-6, 4-2)
  • Sun Belt: Southern Miss Golden Eagles (14-3, 3-1) 
  • West Coast: Loyola Marymount Lions (12-6, 2-2) 
  • WAC: Utah Valley Wolverines (14-4, 5-0)

 

 


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