The most impressive and disappointing teams from the first week of college basketball

Kentucky Wildcats basketball head coach John Calipari yells during loss to Richmond Spiders
Photo of Andrew Ortenberg

Andrew Ortenberg

NCAAB · 1 year ago

Show Bio

I'm an editor here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up.

College basketball is back, and that alone is something to celebrate. We had an action-packed first week around the Thanksgiving holiday, and we learned a lot about some of the top teams. There are plenty of takeaways, including some teams that have looked better than expected and some that have been very concerning. Let’s dive into a few of the most impressive and disappointing squads out there.


1. Gonzaga Bulldogs

Gonzaga entered this season considered by many to be the best team in the country, and they still managed to ‘wow’ us this past week. Unlike a lot of elite teams they didn’t start with a cakewalk schedule, and kicked things off with a bang against two power conference schools. In their opener they dropped 102 points on a Kansas team ranked sixth in the nation, and in their second game they scored 90 while beating Auburn by 23. The offense has looked simply unstoppable, and they have three different guys averaging at least 18 points and shooting 40 percent from downtown through two games.

2. Houston Cougars

I was high on this Houston team coming into the year, and even I’ve been blown away with what I’ve seen so far. The Cougars have already racked up three wins, and have looked great each time. They dominated a weak Lamar team by 45 in their opener, then beat a solid Boise State squad by double digits. But the most impressive outing was their most recent one, when they beat a 14th-ranked Texas Tech team by 11. This team is the clear favorite in the AAC, and the national media is going to have to start respecting this Houston team.

3. Virginia Tech Hokies

The Hokies had a down year last year when they finished 16-16, so everybody slept on them entering this season. That was clearly a mistake. They beat down a solid South Florida team in their most recent game, but right before that they shockingly upset #3 Villanova on a neutral court. They got a season-defining win right off the bat, immediately giving them as strong a resume as anyone. They’re shooting 42 percent from three, and 6’9″ Wofford transfer Keve Aluma looks like a star in the making.


1. Virginia Cavaliers

Staying in the state of Virginia here, you have to shake your head at what the Cavaliers just did. Starting the season off ranked fourth in the country, they lost outright to a mediocre San Francisco team that has already lost to UMass Lowell this season. Virginia’s style of play leaves them prone to upsets like this, and they lost the game 61-60. It looks like offense will be an issue yet again for them, as Marquette transfer Sam Hauser simply isn’t going to cut it as a primary scorer. They only have two guys averaging more than nine points per game through two contests.

2. Memphis Tigers

Memphis had high hopes for this season, and they started things off with a bang with a big win over Saint Mary’s. Things quickly fell apart after that, and they’ve now lost back to back games to Western Kentucky and VCU. The offense has been stagnant, as they’re shooting just 40 percent from the floor through three games. Boogie Ellis and Virginia Tech transfer Landers Nolley II have both met the hype, but they’re getting literally no help from teammates so far.

3. Kentucky Wildcats

Kentucky has been tested once this season, and they failed it in spectacular fashion. After starting with what was essentially an exhibition match against Morehead State they faced Richmond, and immediately crumbled. This heavily-hyped Wildcats team couldn’t buy a bucket, failing to make a single three-pointer while falling by 12 in their home stadium. They also fell to Kansas despite the Jayhawks having a woeful night of shooting (they converted just 29.9 percent of field goals). It looks like yet another year with minimal shooting for Kentucky, and as such their offensive upside will be capped. After what I saw against Richmond, I’m not sure this is the year the Wildcats get back to true college basketball blue-blood status.

Pickswise is the home of free NCAA basketball picks and predictions. We will provide predictions on both the side and totals for all of the power-conference and Top 25 games during the 2020-21 season.

Virginia Bonuses

See All
FanDuel Sportsbook


Get a $1,000 Risk-Free Bet

Sign up for a new FanDuel Sportsbook account and make your first deposit of $10+

Place your first bet up to $1,000 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $1,000

Must be 21+. First online real money wager only. $10 first deposit required. Bonus issued as non-withdrawable free bets that expire 14 days after receipt. See full terms at



Bet $5+ On Any NFL Pre-Game ML, Get $200 If Your Bet Wins

Sign up for a new account with DraftKings Sportsbook and make your first deposit

Bet $5+ on any NFL pre-game ML

Win $200 if your team wins

Offer valid for new players only. Must be 21 years or older to play. Reward paid in site credit. Full terms available at DraftKings Sportsbook.



Get a $100 Risk-Free Bet!

Register for a new Unibet account & make a deposit

Place your first bet up to $100 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $100

New players only. Terms & conditions apply. 21+. VA only.



Get 4x $200 In Free Bets

Sign up for a new PointsBet account

Bet up to $200 and If you lose, you get a refund

You will receive Free Bet(s) in the amount of the losing wager(s), up to $200 each for four days.

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

Caesars Sportsbook


Get a $1,250 risk-free bet

Sign up for a new Caesars Sportsbook account

Place your first bet of $10 or more

If your first bet loses, you’ll receive a refund up to $1,250 from Caesars in free bets

21+. Terms and conditions apply.



Get a $1,000 Risk Free Bet

Register for a new BetMGM & deposit

Place your first bet up to $1,000 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $1,000

21+. Terms & conditions apply.



Get Your First Bet Risk-Free Up To $500

Sign up for a new BetRivers account using promo code PICKSWISE

Make your first deposit & get up to $500 in free bets

To get $500 in free bets, wager $500

Must be 21+. Play in IA Only. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-BETS OFF



Bet $5+ on MLB and get $100 in Free Bets Instantly!

Sign up for a new account with DraftKings Sportsbook and make your first deposit

Bet $5+ on any MLB team to win their next game

Win $100 no matter what!

Offer valid for new players only. Must be 21 years or older to play. Reward paid in site credit. Full terms available at DraftKings Sportsbook.



Get 5x $100 in Free Bets With PointsBet's Second Chance

Sign up for a new PointsBet account

Make a bet of up to $100 and receive a refund if you lose

Get this offer once a day for the first 5 days you sign up

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.



Get a $1,000 Deposit Bonus!

Register for a new DraftKings Sportsbook account & deposit

DraftKings will match 20% of your deposit up to $1,000 total

To get a $100 bonus, deposit $500

21+. Terms & conditions apply.



Get $2,000 in Free Bets

Register for a new PointsBet account & deposit

Receive a free bet refund up to $500 if your first fixed odds bet loses

& a free bet refund up to $1,500 if your first two PointsBetting Wager loses

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

Monkey Knife Fight


Claim Instant Deposit Match up to $100 + Free $5 game

Register for a Monkey Knife Fight account & deposit using promo code PICKSWISE100

Monkey Knife Fight will match your first deposit up to $100

Deposit $100 and you'll get $100 bonus + a free $5 game

18+. Terms and conditions apply. You must live in one of the states where real money DFS is legal.

Yahoo DFS


Get $25 in Site Credit With Yahoo DFS When You Deposit $5!

Register for a new account with Yahoo DFS and deposit $5+

Enter a $5 DFS contest

Upon entry, you will receive a bonus $25 in credit into your account!

21+ and new players only. Full terms available from Yahoo DFS.



Get Your First Single-Horse Win Wager Back Up to $200 if you don't win

Register for a new TVG account and make a deposit

Place your first single horse win-type bet up to $200

If your horse doesn't win you'll get a refund up to $300

21+. T&C's apply. Please gamble responsibly.



Get a $200 Sign-Up Bonus with Twinspires Racebook!

Open your account using offer code BET200

$200 bonus cash will be credited in increments of $100 for every $400 wagered

To earn the full $200 bonus players must wager $800 within 30 days

21+. Terms and conditions apply.