Each season, there are memorable performances that take place in the opening few weeks that catch the attention of everyone across the NCAA basketball landscape. From upset wins, to overtime thrillers, and unexpected hot starts to the season, the opening month of the NCAA basketball season is always full of unexpected surprises.
The 2015-16 season is no exception. There have been plenty of upsets, memorable individual performances, and some teams who have simply dominated their competition before making a huge leap into the top 25 rankings.
These teams are not always power conference teams, and our list of Five Pleasant Surprises for the 2015-16 Season is made up of predominately mid-major programs. Four of the five teams on our list are smaller programs who have made big splashes to open the season.
Division I men’s basketball is composed of 351 teams, meaning that there are more than 4,000 players in the country (based on an approximation of 12 players per roster x 351 teams = 4,212). With this, many of the standout talents excel on the courts and can remain relatively anonymous.
For players at smaller schools, it usually takes a Herculean performance in the regular season, or a splash in the NCAA Tournament, to garner any sort of regular attention on the national stage.
They put up better stat lines than many players who play at some of the power conferences, albeit against weaker competition, but it’s as though these players don’t exist until they do something “big”.
One would call these so-called underrated players stars of the mid-major conferences. Just because they play in smaller conferences doesn’t mean they don’t have the talents to succeed and play at a high level.
Back in April, it looked as though Florida A&M transfer Jermaine Ruttley was off to Louisiana Tech. The junior guard had committed to play for the bulldogs in 2015-16, but then things got interesting.
Mike White left the team, opting for the head coaching position down in Gainesville, FL with the Gators, and their top assistant went with him. With the coaching change, Ruttley de-committed from Louisiana Tech, and reopened his recruitment.
While he entertained possibilities like Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, Memphis, Tennessee, and Purdue, among others, he went off the map with his decision.