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'Nova, Oregon among teams to watch


Nov. 10, 2004
Villanova is the type of team that could pull off its share of surprises in the Big East this season. Coach Jay Wright has a veteran nucleus that has given opponents fits in the recent past. One nail-biter was the 75-74 overtime loss to eventual national champ UConn last February at home.

A number of teams in America are dangerous, capable of pulling off an upset on any given night. They aren't Top 15 teams, and they aren't slated to challenge for the conference title, but they're still potential NCAA squads with a little luck. Here are my five to watch:

Villanova Wildcats The Big East has so much talent up top, yet the Wildcats will give people trouble. Wright has the likes of Allan Ray, Randy Foye and Curtis Sumpter for their third straight year. The status of Jason Fraser (knee) is a concern for the 'Cats.

Oregon Ducks Coach Ernie Kent has one of the nation's premier diaper dandies in Malik Hairston, a versatile player from the Detroit area. A key could be a healthy Aaron Brooks in the backcourt.

Iowa State Cyclones In a league that features Kansas, Oklahoma State and Texas, the Cyclones can do some damage as coach Wayne Morgan has some talent. Curtis Stinson deserves more love, baby! He can be a PTPer, and Ames is a tough place to visit.

Charlotte 49ers Conference USA has its share of powers with Louisville, Cincinnati and Memphis, but coach Bobby Lutz is one of the nation's most underrated coaches. Curtis Withers is one of the top players in C-USA, though he doesn't get enough national attention. He's a rising star. Charlotte also has a real weapon in 3-point shooter Brendan Plavich.

Arkansas Razorbacks Is this the year coach Stan Heath's team breaks through? Ronnie Brewer and Jonathon Modica are ready to push the Razorbacks to bigger and better things. After winning just four SEC games a season ago, Arkansas could be on the move.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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