Biggest conference surprises

Which potential league champs have defied expectations most this season?

Updated: February 6, 2013, 1:09 PM ET
By Ken Pomeroy | Special to ESPN Insider
Bryant University BulldogsCal Sport Media/AP ImagesBryant, led by guard Corey Maynard, already has 13 more wins than last season.

It's hard to believe, but a majority of conferences are at least halfway through their league schedules. In most cases, the teams competing for a regular-season title are the ones we expected before the season. However, there are always surprises in college hoops, and I thought it would be interesting to scour the entirety of Division I to determine which teams in the hunt for their conference's regular-season title have been the biggest surprises.

The methodology is a bit subjective. To fuel my estimate of a team's preseason expectation, I'm using the conference's sanctioned preseason poll where applicable and supplementing it with the preseason computer rankings created by Dan Hanner of Basketball Prospectus, David Hess of TeamRankings.com and myself. Getting picked fifth in one conference (like the ACC, where the top three were assumed to have a stranglehold on winning the league) can be worse than being picked sixth in another (like the Atlantic 10, where the top six teams were thought to be very similar). For that reason, you see Miami on this list and not Butler. Let's get started.