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Watch out for these under-the-radar teams


Dec. 16, 2004
One month into the season, preseason favorites like Illinois and Kansas have been impressive. But a number of teams are flying under the radar and playing well yet are not getting enough exposure. These are my SportsCenter squads. They need more air time on SportsCenter, baby! These eight teams have come out of the gate well and could make some noise come NCAA Tournament time, so keep an eye on them (listed in alphabetical order, with records):

With Craig Smith, Jared Dudley and Co., coach Al Skinner's team could surprise some people in the Big East. A win over UCLA at the Wooden Classic was impressive.

Coach Dana Altman's squad has wins over Xavier, Missouri and Ohio State already. Junior guard Nate Funk isn't in one, baby!

Coach Karl Hobbs' team lost to Wake Forest in its opener but has been on a roll since, including back-to-back wins over Michigan State and Maryland that opened a few eyes. Nana (Pops) Mensah-Bonsu, T.J. Thompson, J.R. Pinnock and Carl Elliott are going to be tough in the A-10.

The Pride, under coach Tom Pecora, beat St. John's and La Salle and have an outstanding guard in Loren Stokes.

Coach Tom Crean's team got a big 63-54 win over Wisconsin. Travis Diener showed his guts and determination by playing through an ankle injury to score 29 points against the Badgers. With some other C-USA teams struggling (like Memphis), the Golden Eagles could push for an NCAA berth.

Coach Blaine Taylor's team has beaten TCU and Kent State already, with the lone loss coming at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, a surprise team in its own right.

The favorite to win the Mid-Continent Conference, the Golden Eagles have tied their best start in school history. Oral Roberts won its first four road games, including wins at Saint Louis and Tulsa.

The Shockers beat Providence in Rhode Island. Coach Mark Turgeon was a member of that "Danny (Manning) and the Miracles" team at Kansas when the Jayhawks won the national championship in 1988. Now he's coaching an MVC contender, led by 5-11 guard Randy Burns, who averages 14 ppg for a balanced attack.

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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