We are now just about two months into the 2021-2022 college basketball season. There have been plenty of teams that have been surprises so far, both on the positive and negative sides. Here, in no particular order, we are going to look at eight of the biggest disappointments in college basketball so far this season.
The Biggest Disappointments In College Basketball So Far
Maryland barely even got started. The Terps struggled with Vermont in their third game then lost to George Mason at home a few days later. Since then they have lost four more games and almost lost a fifth against Hofstra, a game they were able to pull out the win in by two points. In addition, head coach Mark Turgeon stepped down on December 3rd. The lone bright spot on their season so far is their win against Florida, ranked number 20 at the time, at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn in the Basketball Hall Of Fame Invitational in December. But that same Gators team did lose to previously 0-7 Texas Southern so take that however you would like.
There is plenty of talent on this Maryland squad. More than enough to turn their season around. But with competing in a crowded Big Ten and doing so with an interim head coach, the question is, can they do it? I think so, but only time will tell.
Virginia Tech Hokies
Virginia Tech started off 5-0. Then they went to Brooklyn for the NIT Season Tip-Off over Thanksgiving and things fell apart. They lost both games, first to Memphis (Who you will see on this list later.) and then to an undermanned Xavier squad. They have only won three times since then, but that does include a really impressive blowout of St. Bonaventure. But on Tuesday the Hokies lost their sixth game of the season.
There is some good news though. There are a bunch of good players on this team. The metrics like the Hokies. They are top 30 in both the NET rankings and KenPom. Given how really just plain bad the ACC as a whole seems, there are plenty of wins to be had for Virginia Tech. The Hokies may be a big disappointment so far, but I still expect to see them in March.
It is really weird to see Florida State in their current position considering how good they have been the last few years. For example, I am a firm believer that if the 2020 NCAA Tournament had not been canceled then the Seminoles would have at least made it to the Final Four in Atlanta. But this year is different. The ‘Noles, like Virginia Tech, are part of the big pile of disappointments that is this season’s ACC. Three of their five losses this season have been blowouts. A 16-point loss to Florida, a 28-point loss to Purdue, and then a 22-point loss on Tuesday to Wake Forest. Now, granted, they were all on the road, but they still should not be losing by that much. There was also the game where they squeaked by Boston U, winning by only a single point in overtime. Their biggest problem is their offense. They are 96th in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency. If they want to go dancing in March that has got to change, and quick.
Just like with Virginia Tech, Florida State will have a lot of opportunities for wins given the current state of the ACC. Leonard Hamilton is a great coach and will get his team turned around. But they will have to play much better, especially on offense, in order to do so.
Oh, look, another ACC team. Another part of the pile of disappointments. I had the Cavaliers just outside of my preseason top 25, and they were really only there because of how great of a coach Tony Bennett is. They have not been anywhere near their usual great selves so far. They couldn’t even get out of the starting gate. Virginia lost to Navy on the first day of the season, then got crushed by Houston a week later. They also lost to James Madison in December. They have a lot of trouble scoring and because of that, they’re 80th in adjusted offensive efficiency. The Cavaliers’ trademark stellar defense has also been lacking this year. Usually, they are at or near the very top in the country in terms of adjusted defensive efficiency. But right now they are just 55th.
Unlike the others teams in this article, I’m not sure Virginia can make it to the tournament. We’re in conference play now and the ACC doesn’t offer many quality wins this year. The Cavaliers are going to need to turn this around quickly and then win a lot if they want to make it to the tourney.
Memphis was an intriguing team to look at before the season started. On one hand, they looked great on paper. The defending NIT Champions brought in the nation’s number one rated recruiting class, including two top-five recruits. But on the other hand, this team was going to be very young. Plus, Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway had not made the NCAA tournament in his first three seasons as the head coach of the Tigers. Starting with their loss in Brooklyn to unranked and, at the time, poorly thought of Iowa State, they went downhill quickly. That starting a skid of four straight losses, all to unranked teams. Then they suddenly rebounded and beat Alabama. Memphis then continued to be a roller coaster, as after having two games canceled they lost to Tulane. And now they’ve won two straight.
The lack of a true point guard has been a big problem for the Tigers. I said it would be back in early November. If they can win most of their games in American Athletic Conference play then they can make it to the tournament. A win next month or in March over Houston would be huge. Memphis is certainly talented enough to make it. But will they? I’m not sure. The next couple of months will show just how good of a head coach Penny Hardaway really is.
Michigan will probably be at or near the top of everyone’s list of the biggest disappointments in college basketball so far. It seemed like most people had Michigan in their preseason top 10’s. They started out number six in the AP poll. I was not nearly as high on them as pretty much everyone else. They started at number thirteen in my rankings. I told some people that I didn’t think Michigan was going to finish better than third or fourth in the Big Ten. As I wrote back in late October, this Wolverines squad is made up of a lot of newcomers. On paper, there is some good talent on this team. But Michigan just has not shown it enough, especially recently. They lost their third of their last four games on Tuesday. In that game, Rutgers ended an 87-year winless streak against the Wolverines (Granted it was only the fifteenth time they’ve played, but still.).
Michigan is in pretty much the same position as conference mate Maryland. They have not played very well and have a very tough conference. Hunter Dickinson has been great. But everyone else around him must start playing better. They look like an NIT team right now, but can still turn things around and make it to the NCAA Tournament.
There are going to be a lot of people that look at this and at Arkansas’ record and think “Why are they on here? Arkansas can’t be one of the biggest disappointments in college basketball so far. They’re 10-4.” Those people, on the surface, have a point. The Razorbacks are 10-4. That can’t be too bad, can it? Well, it actually is in this case. Arkansas started out the season ranked sixteenth and got all the way up to tenth in early December. But after starting out 9-0, they have gone 1-4 since December 11th. The lone win during that stretch was Elon and the losses included one to Hofstra (As you can see the Pride have plagued multiple tournament hopefuls this season.).
Like Michigan, I wrote in my preseason rankings about how many newcomers the Razorbacks have. Some teams like that gel quickly. Others take more time. If that is the case with Arkansas, which I think it is, then it needs to happen quicker. The Razorbacks are 50th in KenPom and 90th in the NET, so the metrics are already not in their favor. Plus, they are already 0-2 in conference play and the SEC looks really tough. But that also means that there are plenty of opportunities for Arkansas to get big, quality, resume-building wins.
Oregon is at the top of my list of the biggest disappointments in college basketball so far. They were number eight in my preseason top 25. Now admittedly that was probably a tad too high, but I had high hopes for them. But the Ducks have been pretty much the opposite so far. Like their football team in its last four games, the men’s basketball team has been extremely disappointing. It started with that 32-point loss in Portland as a part of the Phil Knight Invitational. Then they went to Las Vegas for the Maui Invitational and dropped two games, the latter of which was a 32-point loss to Houston in the 3rd place game. Their only win there was against Division 3 Chaminade. But there have been some flashes of what they are capable of. That was most evident with how well they played Baylor on December 19th.
Going forward for Oregon, the PAC-12 is a bit of a roller coaster in terms of quality. The top three teams all look good and have separated themselves from the rest. The rest of the conference is average at best. The Ducks will have to pick up a couple of wins against those top three if they want to go dancing in March. They are more than capable of doing so.
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