- Myron Medcalf, ESPN Staff Writer
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Kansas isn’t the only team in America that’s struggling right now.
Here are five other squads that might stumble into conference play due to some early problems.
Notre Dame (7-3): The Fighting Irish entered the season ranked 21st in the Associated Press preseason poll. And that’s where the hype stopped for this new ACC member. Notre Dame’s upset loss to North Dakota State in South Bend, Ind., on Wednesday night was the team’s third of the year. In each loss, opponents have made at least 48 percent of their shots against Mike Brey’s squad (48 percent for Indiana State, 56.9 percent for Iowa and 51 percent for North Dakota State).
BYU (8-3): The Cougars entered the week averaging 89.9 ppg, sixth in the country. They put up 112 points against Stanford, 90 against Iowa State and 96 against UMass. Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino comprise one of the best offensive combos in college basketball. But BYU’s poor defense could ruin its chances of snatching the West Coast Conference title from Gonzaga. The Cougars entered the week with the 318th-ranked scoring defense after giving up 80.4 ppg in their first 10 matchups. That’s a problem.
Marquette (5-4): The Golden Eagles were picked as the Big East favorites prior to the start of the season. But they’re having a lot of trouble on offense. The backcourt that led Buzz Williams’ program to the Elite Eight last season is gone. And Marquette, 83rd in adjusted offensive efficiency per KenPom.com, just can’t score consistently. The Golden Eagles scored just 35 points in a November loss to Ohio State. They’ve failed to break 60 points three times this season. They have three players averaging double figures (Jamil Wilson, Davante Gardner and Todd Mayo) but they haven’t been consistent.
UNLV (3-4): Most teams suffer after losing key players. But the Runnin’ Rebels’ problems are a combination of departures -- Anthony Bennett was the No. 1 pick in last summer’s draft and Mike Moser transferred to Oregon -- and limited cohesiveness due to a multitude of new faces. Bryce Dejean-Jones (13.3 ppg) is one of just three UNLV players who logged 5.0 mpg or more last year. Dave Rice’s program is 260th in adjusted offensive efficiency. That’s what happens when a team loses more than 50.0 ppg of production.
Temple (4-4): Even without last year’s star Khalif Wyatt (20.5 ppg), the Owls appeared to be potential contenders for the inaugural American Athletic Conference crown before the season started. But Temple has a multitude of problems. The Owls are shooting just 43.7 percent from the field, 211th overall. They’ve also given up 74.8 ppg, the ninth-ranked scoring defense in the American thus far. And they’re also at the bottom of the conference in 3-point shooting (30.3 percent from beyond the arc). Where should Fran Dunphy begin? The list of problems is lengthy and it grew after Saturday’s overtime loss to Texas.