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After Texas Tech, what is the next program to go from off-the-map to powerhouse?

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Perhaps the most interesting part of the 2019 NCAA Tournament was the fact that the two teams that eventually played for the national title are not known as powerhouses in the sport, at least not traditionally.

Virginia has grown into arguably the healthiest and most sustainable program in the country given the way they identify recruits, develop players within their program and win at a high level year after year. Texas Tech, on the other hand, has grown into being a juggernaut in the Big 12 on the strength of their ability to get players to buy-in from the moment they set foot on campus.

The result is that today, as we enter the dog days of the 2019 summer, both the Cavaliers and the Red Raiders are sitting pretty as two of the top 10-15 programs in the sport.

So who’s next?

Which programs are on the verge of making a similar leap?

To put together a list, we eliminated every team that has either made a Final Four or won a regular season title in one of the top nine conferences in the last five years. Here is what we came up with.

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THE FLUKES

There are four teams that meet the criteria for eligibility on this list that really should not be in this discussion.

LOUISVILLE: The Cardinals are one of the top ten programs in the sport. They won the 2013 national title, their third national title in the last 40 years, and, I’d argue, the biggest reason they don’t currently have a regular season title of Final Four to their name in the last five years has as much to do with strippers, Adidas and a conference that includes Duke, UNC and Virginia as anything. Put another way, it only took Chris Mack one year to get the Cardinals to the point where they are entering the season as a top ten team.

FLORIDA: In 2014, Florida was the best team in college basketball, winning the SEC outright, the SEC tournament and getting to the Final Four. They won back-to-back titles less than 15 years ago and Mike White has them heading into this season as a preseason top ten team. Arbitrary cut-off dates are the only reason they qualify.

MEMPHIS: Near the end of John Calipari’s tenure with the Tigers, they were one of the most powerful programs in the sport. Remember, if he doesn’t leave for Kentucky before the 2009-10 season, then John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Xavier Henry and maybe even Eric Bledsoe would have suited up for the Tigers that year. That would have been arguably the greatest recruiting class of all-time to this day. We’re now ten years removed from that, however, and while Memphis hasn’t reached those heights since, they have put a man in charge that may be capable of getting them there. Penny Hardaway is already making waves on the recruiting trail and it shouldn’t be long before they are hanging banners again.

OHIO STATE: I’m not sure if people realize this, but during Thad Matta’s heydey, from 2005-06 through 2012-13, the Buckeyes were probably the best program in the Big Ten. In those eight years, they won five Big Ten regular season titles, four Big Ten tournament titles, reach seven NCAA tournament, got to the Sweet 16 five times, made it to a pair of Final Fours and came one Joakim Noah away from winning a national title with Greg Oden and Mike Conley on their roster. And it’s not like that success came out of nowhere. The Buckeyes won four Big Ten titles between 1991 and 2002 and reached the Final Four in 1999. The fact that they are eligible for this list has more to do with Thad Matta’s health than anything else. Chris Holtmann will get them to the promised land sooner rather than later.

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CHASING PAST GREATNESS

UCONN: UConn has won four of the last 20 national titles. When Jim Calhoun retired, they were a top ten program in the sport. But then Kevin Ollie took over as the Big East split up and the Huskies were relegated to the American. Ollie drove the program into the ground as the fanbase got frustrated with a lack of relevant rivals, and as a result, new head coach Dan Hurley led UConn to their third straight season below .500 in his first season at the helm. He’s still a year or two away from really getting the program back on track, but with a return to the Big East coming in 2020-21, things are trending in the right direction.

MARYLAND: The Terps have yet to really get back to where they were during the height of the Gary Williams era, when they were going blow-for-blow with Duke in the ACC. Remember, won a national title in 2002. Since Mark Turgeon has taken over, he’s done a lot of the right things. He’s recruiting well, he’s winning games and he’s building rosters that look good on paper. The problem is that we haven’t quite seen the results on the floor. For example, in 2015-16, the Terps entered the season ranked No. 1 by a handful of projections only to finish the years 27-9 overall with a 12-6 mark in the Big Ten and a No. 5 seed. This year, Maryland once again looks to be a preseason top ten team with the likes of Anthony Cowan, Jalen Smith and a loaded sophomore class. All Turgeon is missing at this point is the actual on-court production.

UCLA: The Mick Cronin era is going to be a fascinating one to follow. He’s spent the past 13 years running one of the most successful programs in Cincinnati, but he did so playing a style that was all about physicality, toughness and defense. If Cincinnati won the fight, so to speak, they were going to win the game. UCLA has not exactly been known as a program built on toughness, or defense, or physicality, or, in recent years, winning. There is talent on their roster right now. How will those players adjust to a new regime is yet to be seen, and it will be one of the most fascinating subplots for the next few years.

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SO WHO IS ACTUALLY PRIMED FOR A LEAP TO GREATNESS?

BAYLOR: The perception of Scott Drew has done a complete 180 in the last half-decade. For a while, the running joke was that he is a recruiter that cannot coach. In recent seasons, the exact opposite has been true. Drew has developed players within his program while at the same time managing to be one of the best in the business at identifying prospects that will fit into the way he wants to play. Last year was the perfect example. Baylor entered the season with exactly zero expectation, and despite dealing with a ton of injuries – including a season-ending injury to his best player, Tristan Clark – the Bears managed to win 20 games and get to the NCAA tournament. They will enter this season as a top 15 team.

USC: Andy Enfield has proven that he knows how to get it done on the recruiting trail. He has two five-stars enrolling at his program this season. He has the top player in the Class of 2020, Evan Mobley, enrolling next season. The issue with USC is that the Trojans have not been able to have the success on the floor match what their potential is on paper. We’ll see if that changes this season.

ALABAMA: Alabama’s decision to hire Nate Oats was a bit of a weird choice. Oats had a ton of success at Buffalo, but he is a guy that spent his entire basketball life in Wisconsin, Michigan and Upstate New York. Now he’s running a program in the deep south. He’s going to have to find a way to recruit the region to compete with the teams at the top of the league (Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, LSU, Auburn), but the early returns are promising. Oats managed to keep his most important pieces, Kira Lewis and John Petty, in town.

N.C. STATE: I’m a big Kevin Keatts fan and I fully believe that he is going to find a way to get that program somewhere near where N.C. State fans want it to be. The big question, however, is going to be what kind of hit is the program going to take as a result of the NCAA charging them based on violations that were committed by Mark Gottfriend and Orlando Early and that turned up as a result of the FBI’s investigation into college basketball corruption.

Patrick Ewing (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

GEORGETOWN: I’m bullish on the Hoyas. I know they were a laughing stock in recent seasons because of their non-conference scheduling, but there was a method to the madness. Patrick Ewing was trying to get some talent into the program and build a base level of confidence with what he actually had on his roster. It has seemed to work, as Georgetown entered the 2019 Big East tournament with a real chance to play their way into an at-large bid. It didn’t work out that way, but with a promising pair of sophomore guards and some success recruiting local talent, I think Georgetown has a chance to reclaim past glory.

SETON HALL: If the Pirates are going to have that major breakthrough, this might be the year for it to happen. They return everyone from a 20-win team, including an All-American in Myles Powell and a trio of terrific role players in Quincy McKnight, Myles Cale and Sandro Mamukelashvili. Villanova is more talented, but Seton Hall has more experience and a very real chance to do what Xavier did in 2018 and win the Big East regular season title. My one concern is that this may be what the ceiling is for the Pirates, but if they live up to my expectations – as a top ten team – that’s a pretty high ceiling.

PROVIDENCE: Eventually, Ed Cooley is going to breakthrough. He is a terrific, well-respected coach – there’s a reason that he almost got the Michigan job despite having only one year in his coaching career with single-digit losses – that had been to five straight NCAA tournaments at a middling job. He also has an influx of young talent in his program, namely David Duke and AJ Reeves, and sooner or later the Friars are going to have a season that is reminiscent of Seton Hall this year, Marquette last year or Xavier two years ago.

THIS IS THE LIST OF TEAMS THAT WERE ELIMINATED FROM THIS DISCUSSION

Arizona, Auburn, Cincinnati, Davidson, Duke, Gonzaga, Houston, Indiana, Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky, Loyola IL, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Purdue, South Carolina, SMU, Syracuse, Temple, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Utah State, VCU, Villanova, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Xavier

N.C. State forward Jericole Hellems released from hospital

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina State says sophomore forward Jericole Hellems has been released from a hospital and is in “good spirits” after an injury in Saturday’s win at Wake Forest.

The team announced the news Sunday on Twitter. Hellems had fallen on a rebound attempt and banged the back of his head on the court with 28 seconds left. He was alert but had to be carried from the court on a stretcher. Then he was taken to a hospital for precautionary reasons to rule out a possible lower back injury as well as to be evaluated for a possible concussion.

The team says Hellems will meet with NC State doctors in the coming days, while coach Kevin Keatts will address his status later in the week.

NC State travels to UNC Greensboro next Sunday.

AP Poll: Louisville remains No. 1, Ohio State jumps to No. 3

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Louisville and Kansas finally provided some consistency to what has been a volatile Top 25 poll this season, while perennial bluebloods Michigan State and North Carolina continued to tumble after another wave of defeats.

The Cardinals solidified thier place at No. 1 in the AP Top 25 released Monday by routing then-No. 4 Michigan in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and breezing past Pittsburgh over the past week. The Jayhawks stayed at No. 2 after returning from their Maui Invitaitonal title to thump former Big 12 member Colorado.

“I think it’s two games in a row, where we got stops,” Louisville coach Chris Mack said. “We didn’t allow second shots. We ran the clock on offense. We got great looks. We got layups, and that’s a killer.”

Ohio State jumped from sixth to third following its 74-49 rout of then-No. 7 North Carolina and a Big Ten blowout of Penn State. Maryland dropped one spot to fourth despite continuing to pile up wins, while Michigan slid one spot to round out the top five after Juwan Howard’s bunch ran into the Louisville buzzsaw for their first loss of the season.

The Spartans continued their fall from preseason No. 1 after losing to Duke, this time dropping from 11th to No. 16. The Tar Heels tumbled 10 spots to No. 17 after getting crushed by Ohio State and losing to No. 9 Virginia.

San Diego State joined the rankings at No. 25.

1. Louisville (55)

2. Kansas (4)

3. Ohio St. (5)

4. Maryland

5. Michigan

6. Gonzaga

7. Duke

8. Kentucky

9. Virginia

10. Oregon

11. Baylor

12. Auburn

13. Memphis

14. Dayton

15. Arizona

16. Michigan St.

17. North Carolina

18. Butler

19. Tennessee

20. Villanova

21. Florida St.

22. Seton Hall

23. Xavier

24. Colorado

25. San Diego St.

Others receiving votes: Utah St. 160, Washington 144, Purdue 130, Indiana 13, Marquette 11, Liberty 9, Saint Mary’s (Cal) 8, Texas 6, Florida 5, Penn St. 5, Georgetown 4, West Virginia 3, Richmond 3, LSU 2, Duquesne 1, DePaul 1, VCU 1.

Monday’s Overreactions: Naji Marshall owns Cincinnati, Ohio State is No. 1, Joel Ayayi

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Naji Marshall, Xavier

Marshall has lived up to the hype through the first month of the season, but the biggest and best game that he has played in 2019 happened on Saturday. Squaring off with archrival Cincinnati, Marshall went off for 31 points, eight boards, five steals and three assists, hitting four threes and totally outplaying his Bearcat counterpart, Jarron Cumberland.

As a team, Xavier has been a little bit up and down this season. Their issues shooting the ball have been prevalent all season long, and as good as the likes of Tyrique Jones, Quentin Goodin and Paul Scruggs – hell, and Marshall himself – can be, there has been some inconsistency to date.

There was not any on Saturday.

Marshall took over and led Xavier to their biggest win of the season.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Ohio State Buckeyes

Can we even consider anyone else?

On Wednesday, the Buckeyes went into Chapel Hill and ran North Carolina out of their own gym, leaving with a 74-49 win. On Saturday, Chris Holtmann’s club hosted Penn State, and that did not go well for the Nittany Lions, who lost by 32 points while giving up 106.

This team is starting to look scary, and there’s a valid argument to make that they should be sitting at No. 1 in the AP poll this morning.

Speaking of which …

OVERREACTIONS

1. OHIO STATE HAS THE MOST IMPRESSIVE RESUME IN THE COUNTRY

If we ranked teams solely based on resume at this point in the season, I don’t think there is any way to leave the Buckeyes out of the top spot.

They are undefeated. They have beaten Villanova by 25 at home. They have beaten North Carolina by 25 on the road. They have beaten Penn State by 32 at home. Those are three of the top 24 teams in the country, according to KenPom. No one else can match that. Hell, the Buckeyes are currently sitting at No. 1 in KenPom’s rankings.

To put those wins into context, consider this, via Jordan Sperber of Hoop Vision: There have been six instances this season of a top 50 KenPom team losing by 20 or more points. Ohio State is responsible for three of them.

To be honest, I’m not ready to actually call Ohio State the best team in college basketball – I explain why in the podcast below at the 11:20 mark – but they are certainly playing like it.

2. WE FINALLY SAW THE ANTHONY COWAN WE NEED TO SEE FOR MARYLAND TO REACH THEIR POTENTIAL

Look, I know how ridiculous this is going to sound.

Coming off of a performance where Anthony Cowan shot 6-for-14 from the floor in a game where Maryland needed something bordering on a miracle to erase a 15 point second half deficit at home against unranked Illinois, I’m finally convinced?

Well, kinda?

Here’s my logic: I am not sold on Mark Turgeon being the best coach in college basketball, and I am hardly alone in that sentiment. But he does have a roster with some talent, and it is always a good sign when a team’s talent takes over and wins a game where, frankly, they played like crap. That’s exactly what happened on Saturday. In the past, Cowan would not have taken over. In the past, he would not have put the team on his back, scored 20 points in the final 23 minutes and finished with seven boards, six assists and the game-tying and winning points in the final 20 seconds.

All-Americans bail their team out in games they are not supposed to win. Final Four teams win games where they don’t show up until they are getting thoroughly embarrassed. The Terps did both of those things.

Now, would I like to see them finally figure out how to win without sleepwalking through the first half of games?

Absolutely!

But it’s hardly a bad sign to be sitting at 10-0 as you’re still figuring things out.

3. BUTLER IS THE MOST UNDERRATED TEAM IN THE COUNTRY

After taking down Florida in Indianapolis on Saturday afternoon, Butler has a surprisingly impressive crop of wins this season. They beat Minnesota at home. They beat Missouri in Kansas City. They beat Stanford on a neutral. They won at Ole Miss. And now they have that win over the Gators, who we just can’t quite seem to quit.

Either way, the Bulldogs play at Baylor on Tuesday night and then take on Purdue in the Crossroads Classic next Saturday.

We’ll know more about them then, but for now, this is a team that we have to talk about.

That said …

4. … NO ONE HAS MADE US A BELIEVER IN MORE TEAMS THAN FLORIDA

Florida State beat Florida in Gainesville?

The Seminoles must be awesome!

UConn beat Florida in Storrs?

The Huskies are back, baby!

Butler knocks off the Gators in Hinkle?

The Bulldogs are the most underrated team in the country?

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5. JOEL AYAYI IS THE X-FACTOR THAT WILL MAKE GONZAGA A TITLE CONTENDER

Listen, I’m not saying that Ayayi is the best player on this Gonzaga roster.

I think that he’s probably their third-best player, and even that might be generous.

What he is, however, is a guy that fills a role that the Zags didn’t have anyone to fill. The issue with this Gonzaga team heading into the season was in their backcourt. We wondered if they had enough point guard play, perimeter shooting and playmaking to be able to compete with the best teams in the country. It’s one thing to have a great frontline with guards that can get them the rock where they need it. It’s another thing to have a great frontline and no one that an initiate offense or keep defenses honest.

Ayayi has done those things to date this season. He’s averaging 10.1 points, 6.6 boards and 3.8 assists, which is second on the team to Ryan Woolridge, who is quietly having a solid start to the season as well. He provides length, athleticism, floor-spacing, a second ball-handler and creator. He takes the pressure off of Woolridge to carry the lead guard load.

He is more or less everything that Gonzaga fans were hoping Admon Gilder would turn into.

We’ll see if this lasts, but his performance against Washington on Saturday was really promising. Ayayi didn’t play or shoot particularly well, but he stepped up with 20 seconds left and buried the biggest shot of the game, a three to give the Zags a 82-76 lead and bury U-Dub.

Mamukelashvili breaks wrist as No. 16 Seton Hall loses to Iowa State

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AMES, Iowa — No. 16 Seton Hall lost much more than a game in Ames, as starter Sandro Mamukelashvili broke his right wrist in the first half of a loss at Iowa State.

Tyrese Haliburton scored 17 points, George Conditt had a season-high 17 off the bench and the Cyclones knocked off Seton Hall 76-66 on Sunday for its second straight victory.

Rasir Bolton scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half to help the Cyclones avenge an 84-76 loss on Nov. 29 to the Pirates (6-3) in the Bahamas. The rematch was part of the Big East/Big 12 Alliance series.

Mamukelashvili, a 6-foot-11 forward and a facilitator who averaged 12.3 points and 5.3 rebounds a game entering play, went down hard with 15:14 to go in the first half and didn’t return.

Coach Kevin Willard said after the game that it was too soon to know how long Mamukelashvili might be out.

“I don’t know for sure. It’s definitely broken. But we … have to go get an MRI tomorrow and let our doctors and radiologists read it,” Willard said. “There’s definitely a break in there, it’s just that we don’t know where it is.”

Conditt’s free throws pushed Iowa State’s lead to 59-53 with 2:56 left. Haliburton then drew an offensive foul and freed himself for a wide-open 3 at the top of the key. Haliburton drilled it, making it a nine-point game at the 2:23 mark.

Seton Hall fouled Prentiss Nixon from beyond the arc with 1:27 left. Nixon hit all three from the line to push Iowa State back up by nine, and Conditt’s transition dunk sealed the win.

Iowa State won despite shooting just 4 of 19 on 3s.

“Every good team needs a signature win and this was the first one for us,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said. “It felt really good beat a ranked team, but also a team that beat us before.”

Myles Powell scored 19 points with eight rebounds for Seton Hall. But Powell was 7 of 20 shooting, had five turnovers and fouled out with 54.4 seconds to go on an offensive foul. The Pirates’ previous defeats came against Michigan State and Oregon by just five combined points.

Seton Hall committed 20 turnovers and was outrebounded 43-40 despite having a major size advantage. The Pirates also gave Iowa State 33 tries from the line, and Cyclones made 26 of them.

“We turned the ball over too much and we fouled,” Willard said. “You can’t go on the road against a good team and turn the basketball over and foul.”

THE BIG PICTURE

Seton Hall: On losing Mamukelashvili, Willard said that “it changes things a lot. But the good thing is, we have some guys that need to get comfortable in that role and step up in that role…we’re going to need everyone to step up.”

Iowa State: The Cyclones have been strangely awful at times this season shooting jump shots — even though they supposedly have enough shooters. It’s a problem that Iowa State will need to get sorted out before it threatens to sink their season. On the plus side, the Cyclones were active with their hands in forcing Seton Hall’s bigs to turn it over, and Haliburton delivered yet another signature performance.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Losing on the road to a Big 12 team that had the opportunity to play them 10 days ago shouldn’t cost the Pirates too much. Iowa State’s Hilton Coliseum can be a brutal place for opponents — especially one that didn’t necessarily know what it was walking into.

HE SAID IT

“It’s a hell of a win for us.” —- Prohm said.

UP NEXT

Seton Hall: At Rutgers on Saturday.

Iowa State: Hosts Iowa on Thursday night.

Monday Overreactions Podcast: Ohio State’s the best, Travis Steele’s the GOAT, is Anthony Cowan good?

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Rob Dauster and Bobby Reagan are back to walk through everything that happened in college basketball this weekend. Is Ohio State the best team in college basketball? Is it actually Maryland? Just how good is Anthony Cowan? Just how bad is Florida? And did Travis Steele do the greatest thing in the history of coaching on Saturday night? He might have.