Not even two months into the 2010-11 season, college basketball has reminded us why we love it. Some under-the-radar squads have overachieved. And a few preseason powerhouses have failed to meet expectations so far.
1. Central Florida: No, he's not his father, but who is? Marcus Jordan, son of Michael, has led the Knights in scoring during their first 14 games, all victories. Their Dec. 1 victory over Florida put them on the national map. What's their secret? Their 49.6 percent clip from the field is 12th-best in the country.
2. San Diego State: The Aztecs are 16-0, the best start in the program's history. Only Duke has a longer winning streak. A decade ago, coach Steve Fisher was handing out tickets to try to lure people to SDSU's games. His name had been tarnished after he coached Michigan's Fab Five to a pair of title-game appearances but lost his job following a pay-for-play scandal investigation. Now, he's coaching the sixth-ranked team in America.
3. St. John's: Steve Lavin became a TV guy after UCLA cut ties with him in 2003. After taking the St. John's gig last spring, he was expected to struggle for a few years in a perennially stacked Big East. But he didn't need that much time to put the Red Storm on track to compete for an NCAA bid. St. John's is 3-0 in league play, with road victories at West Virginia and Providence and a home victory over Georgetown.
4. Louisville: The Cardinals lost four starters from last season's team, which didn't get past the first round of the NCAA tournament. And they entered the year following a scandal-filled summer. Rick Pitino spent the offseason in the middle of a highly publicized trial that revealed allegations of an affair and extortion. Despite all of that, they have started strong. Victories over Butler and UNLV will look good on Louisville's NCAA tourney résumé.
5. Notre Dame: Mr. Everything Luke Harangody is in the NBA and four-year starter Tory Jackson exhausted his allotted time. Yet, the Fighting Irish have regrouped without them. The team that squeezed into the NCAA tourney last season after an up-and-down year already has toppled Wisconsin, Gonzaga, Georgetown and UConn this season.
1. Baylor: An Elite Eight team returned LaceDarius Dunn and added projected lottery pick Perry Jones. Yet, the Bears are 3-3 in their past six games, with all three losses coming away from Waco against unranked opponents.
2. North Carolina: Can't make any more excuses for the young bunch. Yes, the Tar Heels have lost to four solid teams (the Gophers, Vanderbilt, Illinois and Texas). But they were billed as one of the most talented teams in the country entering the season. They haven't done enough with that talent. Harrison Barnes, last year's national prep player of the year by most accounts, is the worst shooter on the team (37.2 percent).
3. Michigan State: The Spartans always get credit for playing a tough nonconference schedule. But they didn't prove much by beating only one of their five ranked nonconference foes. This team doesn't have the scrappy persona that led the program to the past two Final Fours.
4. Oklahoma: A few years ago, Sooners coach Jeff Capel was promoted as a candidate for a few high-profile vacancies. He led his team to the 2009 Elite Eight. But he might end this season without a job if Oklahoma can't figure things out. After a 13-18 season a year ago, the Sooners were expected to rebuild this year, with a roster featuring nine new players. Even then, there should be some signs that the program is on the way up. Not so -- through 14 games, they already have weathered a five-game losing streak, including a loss to Division II Chaminade. And Big 12 play hasn't started.
5. Tennessee: Sure, the Volunteers crushed No. 21 Memphis by 20 points Wednesday. But that was the first time they had played with that much heart in nearly a month. They haven't handled success well. After beating Pitt and Villanova during a 7-0 start to the season, they lost four out of six.