As requested by some of my loyal followers, I bring to you my latest article featuring non-traditional college basketball powers poised to shake up brackets come March Madness. I didn’t really have set criteria when it came to choosing these teams. The only real criteria was these teams are not notorious for making deep tournament runs. Some are football powerhouses, some play in non-power conferences, and others just seem to have all the stars aligned for a monster 2019-2020 season.
Utah State (4-0)
Utah State fits the mold of a non-traditional power. They did advance to an elite 8 but that was back in 1939 and they haven’t won a tournament since they upset Ohio State as a 12 seed in 2001. They do appear to have the goods this year. The Aggies specialize in half court offense. They set a lot of screens, move the ball exceptionally well, and are led by 16.5 a game scorer Sam Merrill. Utah State currently ranks 15th in the country and will have chance to shoot up the rankings as they have non-conference games against Florida, Washington, LSU, and Saint Mary’s before conference play.
Like above mentioned Utah State, Colorado has had minimal tournament success. They haven’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2012 when they were able to defeat UNLV. This year could be their year to establish themselves as a formidable basketball presence in a less than stellar PAC 12. The Buffalos return pretty much all their roster from last year. Although Colorado didn’t receive a tournament bid last year, they were able to gain valuable post season experience by winning two games in the NIT. This experience from last year accompanied by elite defense should make Colorado legit contenders to represent the PAC 12 in this year’s NCAA tournament.
Win 2 ✅
Win 3 ✅
Roll the tape 🎥
Felt good to be back home with Buff Nation. pic.twitter.com/LzHLAWfEBh
— Colorado Men’s Basketball (@CUBuffsMBB) November 20, 2019
Penn State (4-0)
The Penn State basketball program has always been the ugly stepchild to the football program. The Lions haven’t advanced to the big dance since 2011 and haven’t won a tournament game since 2001. Their most recent claim to fame on the hardwood was winning the NIT in 2018. This year appears to be different. Senior forward Lamar Stevens leads the way for the Lions. Stevens received preseason all Big Ten honors and is off to a hot start averaging 17 points per game. Penn State’s outside shooting also gives me reason for optimism. They are shooting just under 40 percent on the year and are really benefiting from the emergence of sophomore guard Myreon Jones. Jones is shooting 50 percent from three thus far and poured in a career high 21 points against Georgetown. Penn State is for real this year.
There hasn’t been this much optimism around Razorback hoops since the Nolan Richardson teams of the early 90’s. I love what this Arkansas team bring to the table in terms of their back court. Both Isaiah Joe and Mason Jones stand 6’5 and average 20 and 18 points respectively. Joe also is shooting over 40 percent from three in the early going this season. The Razorbacks also posses an inside presence in Adrio Bailey. Bailey stands only 6’6 but averages 7 boards and 2 blocks per game. Arkansas appears to have a complete team but will need to avoid bad losses as they don’t play a strong schedule.
2️⃣8️⃣ points off turnovers pic.twitter.com/y8CFVVHkjJ
— Arkansas Razorbacks Basketball (@RazorbackMBB) November 20, 2019