2011-2012 College Basketball Season Preview: Top Five Sleepers
Nothing is more exciting than March Madness in college basketball. The madness may still be months away, but the beginning of the college hoops season is just about here. Let’s take a look at five sleeper teams that I believe may make bettors some solid money over the course of the season.
5. Indiana Hoosiers- Tom Crean’s team has gone through some very long seasons of late, but I think they will star to turn it around this year. Maurice Creek appears to be healthy, and that should be a big boost for the team. Cody Zeller, Tyler’s younger brother, is the best recruit Indiana has brought in for several years. Zeller will team up with Christian Watford to form a solid low-post tandem. I’m not expecting this team to jump to the top of the Big Ten right away, but I do think they have a legitimate chance at getting to the NCAA Tournament this year.
4. Central Florida- UCF went out and won their first 14 games last year, and then proceeded to lose their next nine games. Most people are underrating this team because of their dramatic drop after a red hot start last year. Marcus Jordan, A.J. Rompza, and Keith Clanton are all capable of taking over a game at any time. The Knights should also benefit from some solid players who transferred in to the program. UCF has the ability to knock off plenty of bigger named opponents this year.
3. Arkansas- Mike Anderson came back to Arkansas during the offseason, and I think he has a good setup to succeed. John Pelphrey brought in a great recruiting class last year, and those young Razorbacks should be ready to contribute this year. Besides, Anderson’s teams have a great way of dragging down the opponent through their breakneck pace and pressure defense. The athletes are there for this team to pick up the pace right away, and I think they’ll surprise quite a few people this season.
2. Detroit- Butler has put the Horizon League on the map in a big way the last couple years. Detroit has a chance to challenge Butler for the top spot in the league this year. The Titans have a tremendous combination of inside and outside talent that should prove difficult for their opponents to matchup against. Eli Holman is a 6’10 center that led the league in rebounding and field goal percentage last year. Ray McCallum Jr. is an ultra-talented guard who can weave his way through defenses better than just about anyone in the country. Expect this small school to make some real noise.
1. Virginia- Tony Bennett definitely knows how to coach, and the fact that he is starting to get the talent necessary to compete in the ACC should be concerning to the team’s rivals. Mike Scott only played ten games last year, but he should be ready to go this season. Scott is a great low-post scorer who can dominate the paint on a consistent basis. Malcolm Brogdon and Paul Jesperson were both ranked in the top 100 recruits nationally, and I expect them to make an impact right away. Bennett’s teams always play tough defense, and now they are starting to get the talent to keep up with ACC opponents when it comes to scoring. Look for Virginia to take a major step forward.
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