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NCAA Preview Series Part 2: Teams 11-20

With the top 10 out of the way, it is time to discuss those in the middle of the pack that are looking to break into the top 10. To make THEIR case for a top seed in March Madness and the NCAA Tournament. So lets do a full court press on 11 through 20 right now.

11. Wichita State Shockers: It has been two years and if you do not know the Shockers of Wichita State, then you must have been living under a rock. This team from the small Missouri Valley Conference have over the last couple seasons played in the NCAA tournament like they belonged with the big boys of the NCAA, the ACC schools, the MWC schools, the Big East, Big Ten, you get the picture. The Shockers should and will be on everyone’s’ radar all season long. In the end, the Shockers will be another team to reckon with during the season because of how good they are coached by Gregg Marshall.

12. Villanova Wildcats: With Syracuse OUT of the Big East conference, this is the time for the Villanova Wildcats to take their place as the beast of the Big East. Head Coach Jay Wright looks to revamp the offense with Darrun Hilliard II after the departure of James Bell. An always tough Big East looks to be a bulls eye on the back of this years Wildcats of Villanova as a number of teams look to dethrone the preseason favorites.

13. Gonzaga Bulldogs: The West Coast Conference favorites always seem to find a way to find a way to be right in the thick of the NCAA tournament talk. The Bulldogs struggled early last season but came roaring back to take the WCC title. With another strong schedule this year, the Bulldogs look to continue to prove that they belong in the NCAA Tournament as they will match up with powers like #2 ranked Arizona, UCLA, Georgetown and Memphis just to name some strong basketball schools. Gonzaga knows what it takes to get into and go deep n the NCAA tournament.

14. Iowa State Cyclones: A team that was second in the country in assists, first in the rebounds, the Cyclones were a team that came out of no where to become a powerhouse in the Big XII conference, even got a win against Kansas and Oklahoma, the teams that were ahead of them. Head Coach Fred Hoiberg looks to not rock the boat as he has a mid season transfer coming in. The Cyclones look to improve and potentially make their case as the best in the Big XII.

15. UCONN Huskies: With one full year under his belt, Head Coach Kevin Ollie looks to improve from the 2013 campaign. Granted that Shabazz Napier has moved onto the NBA and the Miami Heat, but Ollie has a solid team around him. Senior guard Ryan Boatright looks to cement his UCONN legacy this year and fellow Sophomore guard Sam Cassell Jr. looks to begin his own legacy. Does that name Cassell sound familiar, it should because of former Houston Rockets Sam Cassell, you know “Sam I Am?”

16. Virginia Commonwealth: The kings of thievery in college basketball are the Virginia Commonwealth Rams who last season got to the NCAA tournament because they led the country in steals. Head Coach Shaka Smart and his “Havoc” defense do not allow opponents to breathe. Not in the halfcourt, not during inbound plays, not during anytime of the game. Teams can handle it at first but eventually the HAVOC of VCU ends up breaking their opponents down and those turnover leads to easy buckets on the offensive side for the Rams. Expect more HAVOC this year from VCU and in the NCAA tournament.

17. San Diego State Aztecs: With Xavier Thames gone and Head coach Steve Fisher NOT signed to an extension, things are not looking too good right now for the Aztecs. Winston Shepard will look to be the guy to take over the leadership role on the court for the Aztecs. His scoring is a must need for the Aztecs if they are to contend in the Mountain West and make a serious case for an NCAA tournament bid. If one thing is clear, it is that somehow Coach Fisher finds a way to make his teams always competitive and free from distractions that can jeopardize a season.

18. Michigan State Spartans: Everyone seems to always sleep on Sparty and Coach Tom Izzo and yet each and every year they always find themselves in the mix for a NCAA bid and a top seed no less. Sparty looks to turn to Brandon Dawson, the player who at times was his own worst enemy last year. Travis Trice who took over for Dawson while out with injury, looks to contribute even more this year with a returning Dawson. Sparty is truly underrated this year and they WILL be a serious National Title contender. Will go to show that you can NEVER sleep on a IZZO team.

19. Oklahoma Sooners: Boomer Sooners were seventh in the nation in scoring at 82 points per game. One of the best backcourts in the country and an inside presence that put up points like crazy, this Sooners team is another undervalued team. While their offense is their strength, their mismatches at the guards and spacing, it is their defense and their lack of inside presence that seems to be their achilles heel for moving deep into the NCAA tournament. Oklahoma can go deep if they address these crucial needs and yet … still have not addressed them. Sorry Sooner fans, expect similar results from last year this year.

20. Ohio State Buckeyes: Head Coach Thad Matta looks to get a jumpstart to this season as last season his Buckeyes stumbled out of the gate early and never quite got the momentum to catch up to leaders Wisconsin and Michigan. After almost a decade, Aaron Craft has moved on and Shannon Scott looks to take over the leadership role. His ability to handle the rock and to be able to play a stifling defense will fill the void left by Craft. The one major concern for the Buckeyes will be the ability to score, who do they go to now? Time will tell but do not count out the Ohio State Buckeyes.

END of part two of the NCAA Preview series. Up next, the final five that made the Top 25 AND I will give you FIVE “Cinderellas” who will surprise you.

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