No. 11 UConn struggles
To everyone’s surprise, the preseason #2 and powerhouse UConn Huskies have struggled so far this season. They’ve had blowout losses to #1 South Carolina and #16 Georgia Tech, along with a close loss to #3 Louisville in their last outing. A big part of this struggle is due to them losing reigning AP Player of the Year Paige Bueckers to a knee injury in early December. Two of their losses came shortly after losing Bueckers. They’ve now fallen out of the AP top 10 for the first time in 16 years. There’s still plenty of time for them to bounce back, especially after Buecker’s expected return early in 2022, but they’re certainly not off to the start that analysts and fans expected.
No. 19 UNC is undefeated
Going into the 2021-2022 season, UNC was unranked and was not expected to perform well this season, as they didn’t receive any votes for the AP Top 25. They have had one of the easier first half schedules, with their best wins against 8-3 Boston College and 5-3 TCU. However, 13-0 is no easy feat and something that the Tar Heels should be proud of. Not only that, but they also boast a top-10 offense and defense– the only team in the country to do so. They are winning their games by an average point differential of 36.2, with only one game being decided by less than 10 points. There is no reason to assume they cannot keep up their dominant start to the season and should be considered a contender entering the second half of the season.
DePaul’s offensive firepower
DePaul currently has the #1 offense in the country, putting up 91.7 points per game with 8.8 3-pointers made per game. One of the biggest reasons they are succeeding is that they are taking care of the ball, averaging only 14.2 turnovers per game, while their opponents average over 21 turnovers per game. They also rank 3rd in rebounds per game. They’ve had a tough schedule this season and have made the most of it, with wins against #21 Kentucky, Loyola Chicago, and Northwestern. With only 3 losses coming against tough competition in #25 Texas A&M, #4 Arizona, and Notre Dame, they’ve had an excellent start to the season and should continue to be a tough team to beat in the second half of the season.
Undefeated No. 4 Arizona looking strong
Originally ranked #22 in the preseason, the Wildcats have climbed their way up to AP #4 after going 10-0 to start the season. With impressive wins at #3 Louisville and DePaul, they could not have started the season any stronger than they have. The #3 defense in the country enters conference play as the only ranked team in the Pac-12 other than #2 Stanford, who they face off against on January 30th.