After looking at teams and players that have excited us during the opening month of the season, we need to look at the other end of the spectrum. This won't be fun.
This is the roundup piece that is not fun to write. It is a lot of fun to pick out the guys that have excelled or even overachieved based on expectations.
But when it comes to reminding someone that there was more expected of them, and they haven't lived up to the standards that have been -- either fairly or unfairly -- set? That is not something that is easy to do.
So why don't we start with the easy team to pick on.
I think if you were to run down a list of teams that people expected lots from and that haven't put forth the effort expected, the team that would keep making the list would be Memphis.
The Tigers entered the season ranked, stumbled through a couple of close games, then went to Atlantis and got embarrassed. They showed they were better than Northern Iowa, and things have started to pick up recently, especially with the win over Ohio, but Memphis is a team that is lacking leadership, and just playing ugly basketball.
Miner Rush's Anthony Salom sums it up pretty nicely:
The Tigers aren't a terrible team right now, but with the exception of Kentucky, no one has fallen quicker on the national scene. Memphis came into the season with as much hype as they always do, and frankly they just haven't backed it up. I still have them as my no.1 team in my C-USA Power Rankings, but more than anything, that's by default.
And I think you would find a similar sentiment from a lot of other sites around the country. Heck, they were picked by three of our writers in this category.
This is a team that carries with it pretty unfair expectations, and well, they are going to have to deal with them. It doesn't help that they shut themselves off to the media and that Tarik Black took a little personal time. Those things don't endear anyone to think better of your team.
But enough on Memphis.
Who else hasn't exactly been tearing it up?
I would be remiss if I didn't call out the ol' alma mater, Drexel, here. The Dragons lost just one player from last season's team, and based on the depth on the bench, it was expected to be easy to fill in the blanks.
That has not happened over the first month (and continues not to happen). If any team knows how small the margin for error is come March, it is Drexel, and they had a slim chance at earning an at-large bid this season. It would have required a near sweep of the non-conference slate, as the schedule was less than a shining example of strength.
Injuries haven't been kind to the Dragons, but that really hasn't been an excuse when they go out and look like all five of the starters on the floor are new, not just one. The shooting hasn't been there. The defense really hasn't been there.
And there must be something that goes on in the locker room at halftime. Ever since I was a student there oh so many years ago now, Drexel has always come out flat after the half. It didn't matter the coach. It was always a struggle, and things are no different this season.
This commentary could kind of apply to the entire Colonial conference with the exception of George Mason (and even it hasn't been a shining star of achievement), but we will stick with the most glaring example for now.
And last, I think we have to call out the Northeast trio of favorites. Nicolas will take care of Robert Morris below, but the performances of Wagner and Long Island have been less than inspiring.
Long Island probably gets a little slack because of the hangover of dealing with the arrests of their players prior to the season (and honestly this spot should go to just the sheer number of arrests that have taken place in the last month -- this is looking at you, HOFSTRA!). But that doesn't explain how long the hangover has gone on.
This is Larry Eustachy-type hangover territory here.
As for Wagner, maybe they get some slack for having a new coach on board, but what is going on here? The team has gone from a very good defensive squad to an elite defensive squad and yet the wins and losses haven't kept pace. The offense has just been atrocious. Maybe last season's mark was an anomaly, but this year, shooting has been at the bottom of not just the Northeast conference, but the entire country.
Bashir Mason is not shooting the ball out there. He can't be held accountable for that.
But something on offense needs to adjust, or the Seahawks won't be competing for any title this season.
How did the rest of our writers fill out the ballot?
North Texas: The Mean Green are number one on my list, whether I'm covering the Sun Belt or not. They are 3-5 through eight games, and it's a minor miracle that Tony Mitchell leads his team in scoring to this point. They have lost to Texas-Arlington and D-II Alabama Huntsville, and Mitchell took one shot in their loss against Louisiana-Lafayette. He is the team's best player, and that game was the fourth time this year that Mitchell didn't top eight shot attempts. That is no way to treat your former (yes, former) All-American, Tony Benford.
Robert Morris: The Colonials are on my disappointment list as well, only because I also have no clue what this team is doing either. Sure, they've knocked off both Ohio and Cleveland State, plus a near-miss against Xavier. But that all balances out next to losses against Savannah State, Rider and Lehigh (the last two being blowouts). They're struggling to get in sync and get their heads in the game consistently, and it shows: Velton Jones is only shooting 33 percent from the field but leads the Colonials in scoring
Davidson and Memphis: They've been mentioned by us already, so I'll allow Davidson and Memphis to share this third spot.
Long Beach State: I know this is a new team, but it lost to USC and Fresno State (arguably the worst team in the Mountain West Conference right now) along with barely escaping against a Loyola Marymount team that lost in Alaska. The 49ers are 2-4.
Eastern Washington: Full of bad losses, including an 86-83 loss against Utah Valley State. They are 2-5 right now.
Portland: While not predicted to do well in a very tough West Coast Conference, the Pilots got blown out by a horrible Montana State team. Shame on you. Sitting at 2-4.
Missouri State: After the 16-16 finish last year, most expected the Bears to improve a bit on that this year, and make their way somewhere into the middle of the league. At this point, they'll be lucky to match the win total of last season. They're off to a 2-5 start, and their only wins have come against non-division 1 opponents.
Old Dominion: The Monarchs were a team that was almost unanimously expected to finish in the top third of the Colonial this season. However, they're off to a 1-7 start, with losses to Holy Cross, VMI, and William and Mary. Things aren't looking so good in Norfolk right now.