As the perennial blue blood teams see the most talented athletes in college basketball go to smaller programs, it is harder to know who will truly dominate each and every year. The powers are shifting, and it is easier to come out of nowhere to win your conference.
We saw this just last year when Alabama won both SEC titles despite losing an NBA lottery pick. They were seen as a middle-of-the-road team at best, but they earned a 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
College basketball is the perfect sport for underdogs. Once you make the NCAA Tournament, everyone has a shot to make a name for themselves. That’s why it is so crucial to determine underrated teams.
They are the ones that turn into Cinderella teams, and they can usually knock out a powerhouse or two before their seasons are over.
Underrated teams are also common due to the rotation of talent. Between the transfer portal and so many professional leagues, it is rare to retain your starting five from one year to the next. If you keep your best player, you’re doing better than most.
With that in mind, here are the college basketball picks for underrated teams this season.
A few short years ago, Tennessee was seen as one of the best teams in the SEC. That was thanks to their upperclassmen, and they are now in the NBA. Still, they have one of the most experienced coaches in the SEC, and they have what it takes to make a run at the conference title this year.
Last season, Tennessee was an afterthought in the SEC. That wasn’t because they were a bad team, though. It was only because Alabama ran away with the conference. If the Tide had lost a few games, people would’ve talked more about the Vols.
It also didn’t help that Tennessee was eliminated early in the NCAA Tournament. This changed all the talking points on a season that would’ve been successful otherwise.
This year, the Vols have a great recruiting class coming in. If these players can play early, the Vols have a great shot of winning the SEC outright. They might not win the entire thing, but they have a shot of making a deep NCAA Tournament run. If everything gels, don’t be surprised if they are in the Final Four.
There are plenty of teams in the Pac-12 that can compete in the grand scheme of things. Last year, it was the best conference in the NCAA Tournament. Even the UCLA Bruins made it to the Final Four despite barely making it into the NCAA Tournament pool.
The bubble teams rarely make it to the Sweet 16, but the Bruins overcame that. Because of that, UCLA is getting all the hype in the Pac-12.
They have +1100 odds to win the national championship this year, and they deserve all the credit in the world for what they’ve done. However, there are other teams that need recognition as well.
Oregon has consistently been a dominant force in the conference. With it being one of the deepest conferences in the country, the perennial powerhouse deserves more respect.
Now, the Ducks will look different this season. They won’t play as small as they did last year. Still, they have a shot to win the Pac-12 once again thanks to their size and versatility. We’ll see what happens next season.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
The Big 12 had plenty of great teams last year, and Texas Tech was one of them. They lost some players to the transfer portal and their head coach is gone, but that doesn’t mean they will automatically fall to the bottom of the conference.
Everyone wants to look at Texas and Kansas in the Big 12. Don’t count out the Red Raiders to surprise some people. They’re being overlooked since Chris Beard left, but they’ll still be solid.
Can Texas Tech win the Big 12 this year? I doubt it. Still, look for them to upset some teams in big games. They’ll likely have favorable NCAAB odds early in the year before they prove that they are still a solid team.