To be under the radar you can’t be in the AP top 25 or in our March Madness Power 36. You can be in our 'in the mix' category outside the Power 36 with the hope that getting in at some point is more than plausible.
Here’s our list of teams to watch:
1. Wichita State: The Shockers were picked to be a top four team in the American Athletic Conference. They’ve got the guard play to get there. Last season was a rare year where the Shockers weren’t old. They will be older this season and Gregg Marshall should have them back in the thick of a bid chase.
2. Syracuse: Coach Jim Boeheim was quick to point out to me at ACC media day that I didn’t have the Orange in my rankings. He said they are much better than projected. He’s usually not off. So, if the Orange don’t have scoring droughts then this squad — without much preseason hype — should be back in the tournament.
3. Ole Miss: The Rebels may have one of the best backcourts in the country in Breein Tyree and Devontae Shuler. The question for the Rebels will is: do they have the board and rim protection crew to ensure a bid? They expect they do.
4. South Florida: This could be the best season ever for the Bulls with experience returning in David Collins, Laquincy Rideau and Alexis Yetna. They won’t be ranked to start the season. They should make a cameo at some point during the year.
5. Colgate: The Raiders are the favorite to win the Patriot League again and have the possible preseason player of the year in Rapolas Ivanauskas. Colgate plays at Syracuse, Clemson and Auburn. Win one game and Colgate will get noticed. Win two and the Raiders may find themselves ranked.
6. New Mexico: The Lobos did lose Anthony Mathis to Oregon. But the return of Carlton Bragg, Vance Jackson and JaQuan Lyle means the Lobos have the talent to get to the NCAA. UNM plays Auburn in Brooklyn in November. That could go along way toward showing the potential of UNM.
7. UTSA: The Roadrunners should be in contention with Western Kentucky for the CUSA title. But the backcourt of Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace could be the highest scoring in the country. They averaged over 20 points each last season. Playing at Oklahoma and Utah State in Houston early in the season will be a good barometer.
8. Oregon State: The Beavers rarely get national attention. It may come this season if Tres Tinkle becomes a Pac-12 player of the year. Having Kylor Kelley as a rim protector gives the Beavers the necessary balance.
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9. Pepperdine: The Waves have a 1-2-3 punch of Colbey Ross, Kameron Edwards and Kessler Edwards. The Waves could have a season-changing win if they knock off Arizona in the Wooden Legacy tournament in Fullerton, Calif. in late November.
10. Bradley: The Braves gave Michigan State fits in the first round of the NCAA tournament after winning the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. Missouri State is the team to beat to start the season but there is no reason to believe Bradley won’t be in a similar position this March. Playing at Memphis in early December will be a strong indication of the growth of this crew.
11. St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies have historically had high-quality guards. This season won’t be any different with the return of Kyle Lofton and Dominick Welch. Playing Vermont and at Rutgers should let the Bonnies know where they stand early in the season.