basketball-men-d1 flag

Andy Wittry | | December 7, 2021

The 10 most surprising men's college basketball teams through the first month, according to Andy Katz

Andy Katz's biggest surprises in men's college basketball

On the latest episode of the March Madness 365 (#MM365) podcast, host Andy Katz is joined by Purdue forward Trevion Williams, ESPN's Bob Wischusen, Auburn's Jabari Smith and Alabama's Jaden Shackelford. He also ranks the 10 most surprising men's basketball teams through the first month of the season.

You can listen to the latest #MM365 episode below.

Here are Katz's 10 most surprising teams so far.

Kelsey Kremer | Special to USA TODAY Sports Images Iowa State was picked to finish last in the Big 12 preseason coaches poll.

1. Iowa State

Last season, Iowa State went just 2-22 and entering this season under new head coach T.J. Otzelberger, the Cyclones were the unanimous pick to finish last in the Big 12 preseason coaches poll. Now, they're 8-0 with neutral-court wins over Xavier (No. 30 in the first NET rankings) and Memphis (No. 65) in the NIT Season Tip-Off, and a road win at Creighton (No. 89).

They debuted at No. 20 in the NET rankings.

MORE: Click or tap here to read a refresher on the history and purpose of the NET rankings

2. Arizona

Like Iowa State, Arizona has a first-year head coach in Tommy Lloyd, who was previously a longtime Gonzaga assistant. And like the Cyclones, the Wildcats also got off to an undefeated start with a 7-0 record, following neutral-court wins over Wichita State and Michigan in the Roman Main Event. Their win over the Wolverines came by an 18-point margin.

In their Pac-12 season-opener, they defeated Oregon State by 25 points on the road.

Arizona started at No. 3 in the NET rankings.

3. Wisconsin

The Badgers are 7-1 and their only loss came when sophomore guard and the team's leading scorer Johnny Davis didn't play in a five-point loss to Providence. Davis, whose scoring average has climbed from seven points per game as a freshman to 20.1 as a sophomore, is among the most-improved players nationally.

He scored 30 points in a two-point win over Houston โ€“ a Cougars team that debuted at No. 4 in the NET rankings.

CROSSOVER TO THE COURT: How the College Football Playoff teams are faring in men's hoops

4. Iowa

The two largest universities in Iowa both appear on Katz's list of the 10 most surprising teams through the first month of the season because the Hawkeyes got off to a 7-0 start before falling to now-No. 1 Purdue (by only seven points, without Iowa's leading scorer, Keegan Murray) and to Illinois (No. 30 in the NET rankings, as of Dec. 7).

Iowa's best win of the season came on the road against Virginia in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Now, back to Murray: the sophomore has helped fill in the shoes of departed national player of the year Luka Garza and another NBA draft pick, Joe Wieskamp. Murray is enjoying a breakout season in which he's averaging a team-high 23.9 points and 8.0 rebounds per game, while shooting nearly 70 percent inside the arc. He's a potential first-team All-Big Ten candidate if he can keep up this pace statistically, while leading Iowa to a competitive record in the Big Ten.

5. Minnesota

Here's some more Midwestern, Big Ten flavor, as the Gophers, under first-year head coach Ben Johnson, have gotten off to a 7-0 start, following a road win over Mississippi State. They're already halfway to last season's win total, when they went just 14-14.

George Washington transfer Jamison Battle, a 6-7 forward, has translated well to Minnesota so far, as he has averaged a team-high 17.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.

6. San Francisco

Through Dec. 6, San Francisco is tied for having the most wins in the country (nine) and the Dons are one of two teams, along with Colorado State, to be 9-0 so far.

San Francisco debuted at No. 32 in the NET rankings and has since cracked the top 30. The Dons' wins this season include neutral-court wins over Davidson and UAB, plus home wins over Nevada and UNLV.

7. Dayton

Following a season in which Dayton finished 14-10 overall and 9-7 in the A-10, the Flyers are 6-3 through nine games, highlighted by a buzzer-beating win over Kansas in the ESPN Events Invitational. They also beat Miami (FL) and Belmont in the event.

8. Wake Forest

After a 6-16 season in coach Steve Forbes' first season in Winston-Salem, the Demon Deacons already have two more wins this season after an 8-1 start. Their only loss so far was a neutral-court loss to LSU, which started at No. 2 in the NET rankings. Wake Forest has wins over Oregon State, Northwestern and Virginia Tech.

MORE: The true story behind Wake Forest adopting the nickname 'Demon Deacons'

9. Cincinnati

In a trend among many schools on this list, Cincinnati has a new head coach, Wes Miller, and the Bearcats are 7-2, highlighted by a 20-point win over Illinois on a neutral floor โ€“ a game that was Kofi Cockburn's first game back.

Per, Cincinnati's defensive effective field goal percentage allowed ranks third nationally at 39.6 percent.

10. Wyoming

Wyoming debuted at No. 12 in the NET rankings and the Cowboys have since moved up to No. 9 after their 8-0 start to the season. They've already won three games on the road, including an overtime win at Washington, plus away victories at Grand Canyon and Cal State Fullerton.

Programs with the most Men's College World Series titles

Here's a look at the college baseball programs with multiple Men's College World Series titles.

Who should be the 2023 Bowerman finalists in NCAA track and field?

Ten men and 10 women were named 2023 Bowerman semifinalists. NCAA Digital's Stan Becton makes his case for the athletes who should be the top-three finalists.

Here are the college baseball coaches with the most College World Series victories

These are the 13 coaches who have the most wins in the Men's College World Series.

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from and our partners