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Monday, November 26, 2012
Parity rules early in season

By Dick Vitale
ESPN.com

Now that we are approaching December, I have a number of thoughts about the college basketball season so far.

The top teams in the preseason, Indiana, Louisville and Kentucky, have been vulnerable at times. They have the potential to be in the Final Four, but they have proved that there are few truly dominant teams out there.

Here's proof. Indiana was taken to overtime by a very good but then-unranked Georgetown team. Louisville lost in the final of the Battle 4 Atlantis to Duke. Granted, Rick Pitino's team was short-handed as Gorgui Dieng was out with a wrist injury. Kentucky also fell to the Blue Devils, in Atlanta. The Wildcats had issues with rebounding as Maryland grabbed a staggering 28 offensive rebounds and Morehead State had 16 offensive boards.

Duke has built the most impressive early-season résumé. Besides beating Kentucky and Louisville, Mike Krzyzewski has to be thrilled with victories over a tough VCU squad, as well as Minnesota. The Golden Gophers rebounded and beat Memphis and Stanford after the loss to the Dukies. Coach K & Co. have another test with Ohio State next on the schedule.

Seth Curry
Seth Curry's Duke squad has been one of the few dominant teams so far this season.

Experience has been a positive factor for the Blue Devils. Having Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly leading the way helps.

Early on, we have seen that there are a number of "mid-major" teams that will be heard from this season. Creighton and Gonzaga stand out as the best of the best over the first month. The Bluejays beat Wisconsin, Arizona State and UAB early. Gonzaga blew out West Virginia and won the Old Spice Classic down in Florida.

The Missouri Valley Conference and the Atlantic 10 have sent messages that they will make some noise. Besides Creighton, keep an eye on Wichita State, which had a great victory over VCU. Illinois State is a legitimate contender. Northern Iowa took Louisville to the final minute. Drake gave California a battle out west.

Butler made a major statement by beating North Carolina out in Maui. Saint Joseph's got a solid win over Notre Dame and battled Florida State to the wire. Charlotte got out of the gate fast by winning the Great Alaska Shootout. Temple also opened with three straight victories. I already mentioned VCU as a serious threat.

Other teams worth noting that started well: Oklahoma State beat Tennessee and NC State. New Mexico impressed with wins over Davidson, George Mason and Connecticut.

Speaking of the Huskies, AD Warde Manuel should sign Kevin Ollie to a long-term deal now. He has shown great leadership and poise since taking over for Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun.

There have been plenty of surprises. Cal Poly overcame an 18-point deficit to beat UCLA. Albany won on the road at Washington. Bryant beat Boston College; Florida Gulf Coast knocked off Miami; and Delaware stunned Virginia. Gardner-Webb knocked off DePaul and took Illinois to the end. Sacramento State surprised Utah. Belmont knocked off Stanford.

We're off to a great start. This week, the ACC/Big Ten Challenge should provide some more great moments. College basketball is awesome with a capital A!