After just over one month, there are a handful of disappointing college basketball teams. As the season continues to play out, there has been some separation between the good teams and the average teams. Regardless, the tournament is a long way away and can be won by anyone. The teams that find themselves on this list just have several things to iron out before March.
The Spartans opened the season as the number one team in the nation and were a very popular pick to be in the Final Four, at least. Unfortunately, they have really struggled early on and their gauntlet of a schedule has not helped. Tom Izzo typically schedules tough opponents early and his teams do not fare too well, but it pays off at the end of the season. That may be the case again this year, but let’s see why Michigan State has struggled.
So far, the Spartans are 6-3 with losses to Duke, Virginia Tech, and Kentucky. There is no reason to panic yet, but there is definitely reason to be concerned.
Cassius Winston is one of the best guards in the nation and is a great playmaker. He suffered an unspeakable family tragedy but has displayed incredible toughness to start his Player of the Year campaign. If Winston was not playing, Michigan State would be unranked and in a deep hole.
Outside of Winston, the Spartans have almost no consistency. They are typically a great interior team with good forwards and can rebound like no one’s business. Xavier Tillman was supposed to continue that trend after a nice start to his college campaign last year, however, he has started slowly. Ultimately, Tillman is not a back to the basket big, yet. He will be a great Big Ten forward as an upperclassman, but still has some work to do.
Additionally, Michigan State has absolutely nothing on the wings. Joshua Langford was outstanding for the Spartans but a pesky foot injury has kept him on the sideline for the better part of two years. If he does not return any time soon, Michigan State needs to find a wing.
The answer to the wing concerns is either Gabe Brown or Aaron Henry. Brown is more of a shooter and Henry is a slasher, but both are very capable players. They need to become legitimate scoring threats so some of the attention comes off of Winston.
Additionally, they need another big to develop quickly alongside Tillman. Right now, Michigan State is just too one dimensional and if teams can limit Winston like Duke was able to, the Spartans have no chance. Michigan State is playing the long game and will be much better come March, but currently, they are one of the most disappointing college basketball teams.
The Pirates opened the season with high hopes as they return almost their entire roster from an NCAA tournament team last year, including one of the best players in the country in Myles Powell. The expectations are for Seton Hall to make a legitimate run in the tournament, at least to the second weekend.
Seton Hall sits at 6-3 but has not had a bad loss. The best part about this team is no matter what the situation they play hard and always give themselves a chance to win.
Myles Powell is an interesting player. He can really score, but can occasionally struggle when forcing the issue, which is what happened in their most recent loss against Iowa State. He still has been playing at his All- American level and is a big reason Seton Hall has a chance this year. Without Powell, this may not be a tournament team.
Seton Hall plays an isolation style often. Typically, when all else fails, the ball is given to one of the guards to make a play. Luckily, the Pirates have outstanding guard play and capable isolation players. However, the results can vary as isolation basketball can lead to tough shots.
Quincy McKnight and Myles Cale are great guards that have a ton of abilities. Unfortunately, they have both struggled on the offensive end. Realistically, they are playing fine, they just are lacking volume. Part of that comes from being a teammate of a great scorer like Myles Powell. In this isolation type style, it is hard to keep guys involved consistently because the ball does not move as much as usual.
Seton Hall needs Myles Powell to use his creative abilities to set up his teammates more successfully. If they would rather him just be a scorer, then they need to find another guard to initiate things and let Powell run off screens. There is just too much talent and experience on this roster for them to struggle, making them a disappointing college basketball team to start the year.
North Carolina has started slow which has surprised some people, but not others. Ultimately, they are led (and then some) by freshman Cole Anthony and his ability to create. They entered the season highly touted, mostly because of Anthony and the history of the Tar Heel program.
Anthony has been somewhat inconsistent, as all freshmen are to start their careers. He is averaging 19 points a game, but taking 16 shots, most of which are extremely difficult. Anthony has the ability to score in every way, but he is struggling since all eyes are on him.
North Carolina received some excellent play from Garrison Brooks and Armando Bacot this year, but outside of those two and Anthony, they get almost nothing. In North Carolina’s win over Oregon, their best this season, they got 32 points and 22 rebounds from Bacot and Brooks, as well as 19 points from Anthony.
North Carolina has already been held under 50 points twice, which is something Tar Heel fans are not used to in the Roy Williams era. The problem starts with their lack of scoring from the wings. Brandon Robinson and Leaky Black are not known as scorers and are third or fourth options at best. Justin Pierce, a grad transfer, was supposed to be one of the best scorers on this team but has started very slow and struggled to create his own shot.
The Tar Heels problems are fixable. Their defense is solid and they have big men that get better every minute. They need to play through Brooks and Bacot to take the weight of the world off of Anthony’s shoulders. The more Armando Bacot has the ball, the better the result for the Tar Heels.
Additionally, they need either Robinson or Pierce to take a major step forward in terms of scoring. Realistically, there should be a lot of ball screens between Anthony and the forwards, with Robinson and Pierce ready to knock down a kick out. The lack of offensive ability makes North Carolina one of the most disappointing college basketball teams.
The Gators entered the season as a legit threat to win the National Championship and exited the Top 25 by week 2. They returned several talented underclassmen and added a nice recruiting class, including graduate transfer Kerry Blackshear.
They currently sit at 6-3 with losses to Butler, Florida State, and Connecticut. Realistically, they have not looked anything close to a championship contender, yet. Unfortunately, the Gators are the most disappointing college basketball team in the nation.
Blackshear has been excellent to start the year, but the supporting cast has not produced to expectations. The result is an abysmal offense. Florida is currently shooting 43.5% from the field, including 29% from three, which ranks in the bottom third in the nation. The Gators have good shooters in Noah Locke and Blackshear, but their talented freshmen have not been making any shots.
Florida Gators’ fans should be concerned, but they also should be hopeful. The Gators have the offensive talent on the roster to score, it is just a matter of getting the right shots. That role falls on Andrew Nembhard, a sophomore point guard. He is still very young but is averaging five assists per game.
For Florida to contend for a title, Nembhard needs to do a better job of getting the right players shots. Blackshear is shooting eight times a game, which should go up closer to 12. Offenses perform well when players are put in a position to succeed and that is Nembhard’s job. He is a great player and should turn Florida’s offense around in no time, as long as he does not fall in love with shooting threes.
If you are a fan of one of the teams on this list, there is a reason for concern, but not panicking. Look for these teams to make the necessary adjustments and improve as the year progresses. At the next update, it is very possible all these teams turn into true contenders.
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