Which surprise teams are for real? 

January, 8, 2014
Jan 8
10:58
AM ET
Villanova/SyracuseRich Barnes/USA TODAY SportsVillanova guard James Bell is averaging 14.8 points and 6 rebounds per game this season.
Pittsburgh is 14-1 and won its first two ACC contests, but I’m not buying Jamie Dixon’s Panthers -- not quite yet, especially after the lackluster nonconference slate. Kansas State is on a roll, but I’m still not sold that Bruce Weber's Wildcats will establish enough consistency to be more than a fringe NCAA tournament team. Illinois is 13-2, though I’m still cautious about buying the Illini.

Those teams may be playing over their heads and will soon come down to earth, but here are a half-dozen that are the real deal. Six that have gotten off to nice starts and are programs that should still be able to sustain their early-season success.


1. Villanova Wildcats

Jay Wright didn’t forget how to coach in 2011-12. The issue was that he didn’t have his "type of guys," players who have an edge to them and play unselfish basketball. Now he's got a team whose sum is greater than its parts. Are there any surefire NBA players? No, but he’s got enough talent, chemistry and guys who understand and accept their roles.