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Friday, December 23, 2011
College Basketball's disappointments

By Myron Medcalf

With Christmas approaching, it’s an appropriate time to consider the gifts that the college basketball scene has given us thus far, such as Indiana’s resurgence, Perry Jones, Anthony Davis’ arms, Syracuse’s goodness and more.

But we don’t always get everything we want. There’s always a lump of coal for those who misbehave. Those worthy of the latter, college basketball’s most disappointing teams, warrant a spot on the following list.

College Basketball’s Top 10 Disappointments
    UCLA head coach Ben Howland
    UCLA and coach Ben Howland are off to a miserable start.
  1. UCLA: The Bruins possessed a massive frontcourt, a senior point guard (Lazeric Jones) and one of the league’s top forwards (Reeves Nelson). Then, they kicked off the season with double-digit losses to Loyola Marymount and Middle Tennessee, despite entering the season at No. 20 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll, and then Ben Howland kicked Nelson off the team.
  2. North Carolina: My email address is mmedcalf3030@gmail.com. But before you shoot off that “Huh?” message with a variety of expletives, consider my argument. The Tar Heels belong here because they entered the year amid “The Dark Knight Rises” hype. Sure, their nonconference schedule was a gauntlet. But they were supposed to be a cut above. See: Undefeated. (Please review the preseason praise before venting.)
  3. Alabama: It’s déjà vu in Tuscaloosa. And not because of the Alabama-LSU rematch for the BCS title next month. Alabama -- the hardwood version -- has encountered the same early struggles that derailed its season a year ago. The Tide had lost three of their past four games entering the week, and on Monday they were dropped from this week’s Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches top 25 polls.
  4. Vanderbilt: In a season dominated by young talent, the Commodores returned experienced players and seemed fit for a potential title run. Entering the season, they looked like Kentucky’s greatest threats in the SEC, too. But they’ve already lost four games after entering the season as a top-10 squad. They’ve gone from Final Four talk to potentially finishing outside the top four in the lukewarm SEC. Ugh.
  5. Memphis: So the Tigers are averaging 80 points per game. They have an All-American in Will Barton and contributors with first-round potential (Adonis Thomas). And they’re still 6-5 and seeking a signature nonconference win. Plus, with Marshall and Tulane surging, they could get tripped up in Conference USA action, too.
  6. Arizona: Next season is supposed to be the year that Sean Miller restores the program back to its glory days by adding a highly touted 2012 recruiting class to the mix. But this season’s team seemed to have the talent to make a respectable push. But that hasn’t happened. From Nov. 17 through Dec. 18, the Wildcats lost four of seven games.
  7. Florida State: Leonard Hamilton’s crew can lock down any team in the country. But college basketball ain't a chess game. During three straight losses in November, the Seminoles failed to reach 50 points. That’s not good.
  8. Washington: Let’s just call it a Pac-12 virus. The Huskies received 29 votes in the first ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll and 44 in the preseason Associated Press poll. Despite losing Isaiah Thomas, the Huskies figured to find success this season behind Terrence Ross & Co. Well, they’ve lost 5-of-8, including a 92-73 defeat against South Dakota State at home Dec. 18.
  9. Cincinnati: Before the brawl, the Bearcats had failed to meet expectations. Ranked in both polls before the season started, they have three losses despite playing the No. 308 strength of schedule.
  10. Kansas: This is not a normal Bill Self Jayhawks team. Yes, Thomas Robinson is a very talented forward. But other than the big man inside, the Jayhawks have struggled to find consistent contributors because of limited depth. The loss to Davidson this week highlighted one of their biggest issues -- point guard Tyshawn Taylor committed five turnovers in that game.