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What college basketball's first month tells us about the rest of the season

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Arizona defeats Texas A&M in a close game (1:37)

Deandre Ayton scores 13 points to lead the Wildcats over the Aggies 67-64. (1:37)

There were plenty of surprises during college basketball's first month -- as well as teams and players who validated their preseason hype. At least one freshman has exceeded his already high expectations, a preseason top-5 team has underachieved and a league that puts multiple teams in the NCAA tournament year after year has looked brutal through the first few weeks. Find out why that is and how it could be costly come Selection Sunday.

Marvin Bagley III has emerged as the most dominant player in the nation

What we thought: It would take time, and Bagley would take a back seat to senior teammate Grayson Allen this season.
What we know: Bagley doesn't need time. He is the first Duke player to post consecutive 30-point, 15-rebound games and has taken over when the game has been close. He also plays with far more poise than anyone expected. He's averaging 22 points and 11 boards through the first 11 games of his college career.
What happens next: Bagley will continue to produce at a high level, but he's logging a ton of minutes (he's averaging 33.8 over the past six games). It will be interesting to see if he hits any sort of freshman wall come February.

Arizona has been brutal

What we thought: Arizona would roll to the championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas and beat Villanova to make it the storybook homecoming for 7-foot frosh Deandre Ayton.
What we know: This team -- which went 0-3 in the Bahamas -- has issues. It begins with the distractions surrounding an FBI probe, which resulted in the arrest of assistant Book Richardson, and extends to this not being a typical Sean Miller hard-nosed, defensive-minded group.
What happens next: The good news is that the Pac-12 is mediocre (and that's being kind). The Wildcats passed a big test Tuesday night, besting Texas A&M 67-64 in the Valley of the Sun Showcase. Arizona has another revealing contest against Alabama upcoming, then starts conference play against a sizzling Arizona State club.

The Big Ten is lackluster right now

What we thought: That the league would be down, but not like this. We knew Michigan State would be elite but figured there would be multiple teams in the back end of the Top 25: Minnesota, Northwestern and maybe even Purdue.
What we know: Michigan State is one of the top teams in the country, but after that, no one has really done enough to warrant a spot in the Top 25. Purdue has a couple of nice wins, including a home victory over Louisville, but the Boilermakers also lost to Tennessee and Western Kentucky in the Bahamas. Northwestern has struggled, Michigan lost to LSU, Maryland lost to St. Bonaventure, Minnesota just lost to Nebraska and the league went 3-11 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
What happens next: Michigan State should cruise to the Big Ten crown, but the "résumé" teams in the league will need to step up for the conference to get more than a handful of teams in the tourney.

Gonzaga is still the team to beat in the WCC

What we thought: Saint Mary's was the favorite to win the league with Jock Landale, Calvin Hermanson and Emmett Naar all back in the fold. In fact, every coach in the league except for Randy Bennett picked the Gaels to win the conference.
What we know: The Zags may have lost four starters from last year's squad that nearly won the national title, but Mark Few's team hasn't missed a beat. Josh Perkins has stepped up in the backcourt, freshman Corey Kispert has quickly emerged as a dependable shooter on the wing and Killian Tillie and Johnathan Williams form a formidable frontcourt duo.
What happens next: This will be settled on Jan. 18 and Feb. 10. Gonzaga and Saint Mary's will play in Spokane, Washington, the first time around and in Moraga, California, in mid-February.

Kentucky is no lock to rule the SEC

What we thought: It was John Calipari's Kentucky squad, and then separation between the Cats and the next tier, which featured Florida and Texas A&M.
What we know: Kentucky isn't the front-runner to win the SEC this season. This is an inexperienced team that also lacks star power. Florida and Texas A&M looked impressive to start the year but have suffered some disappointing losses this week. The Gators nearly knocked off Duke but lost badly to Florida State on Monday. The Aggies pounded West Virginia and had no difficulty with USC on the road, although they did let a struggling Arizona team sneak by.
What happens next: Kentucky will face both Florida and Texas A&M twice, but the Aggies only have to face Mike White's Gators once, in College Station, Texas, on Jan. 2. So, we'll give Texas A&M the edge for the SEC title.

UConn will be irrelevant nationally for another season

What we thought: This Huskies team would be better now that Terry Larrier and Alterique Gilbert are back after missing most of last season. Gilbert is hurt again, but Kevin Ollie's team struggled even with everyone at full strength, losing 102-67 to Arkansas in its final game of the PK80 in Portland and falling to Syracuse at Madison Square Garden.
What we know: This UConn team isn't really any different than last year's squad. Right now, without Gilbert, it's a two-man team for the most part: Jalen Adams and Larrier. The front line is abysmal for a program of UConn's standards.
What happens next: UConn likely does what it has done the past few years and finishes somewhere around fifth in the American Athletic Conference.

Kansas will win the Big 12 ... again

What we thought: That maybe, just maybe, West Virginia would push Kansas.
What we know: Let's face it: West Virginia hasn't looked powerful, and the rest of the league isn't as good as it has been in the past few years. Bill Self's team is painfully thin up front right now while freshman Billy Preston is still ineligible, and Self has questioned the team's toughness, but the Jayhawks' perimeter shooters, including senior point guard Devonte' Graham, have carried them thus far.
What happens next: Kansas will lose at least a couple of conference games on the road, but the Jayhawks will run the table at Allen Fieldhouse, and Self & Co. should extend their streak of 13 straight Big 12 titles.

The Ball family will find a way to remain in the headlines

What we thought: LaVar Ball would be focused on his older son, Lonzo, during his rookie campaign with the Los Angeles Lakers, and home schooling his youngest, LaMelo, after pulling him from Chino Hills High. The only reason we'd hear from LaVar on the college front was to complain about LiAngelo's playing time as a freshman at UCLA.
What we know: We were naive in thinking that the family wouldn't find a way to stay relevant. LiAngelo created his own headlines when he and two other Bruins freshmen were arrested for shoplifting in China. Then came the war of Twitter words between LaVar and President Donald Trump, and LaVar's appearance on CNN. Now LiAngelo has withdrawn from UCLA.
What happens next: UCLA is able to move forward without distractions, especially when Cody Riley and Jalen Hill are reinstated from their indefinite suspensions. And it shouldn't be too long before LaVar announces what LiAngelo will do this season, and also whether LaMelo will actually attempt to play college basketball at UCLA in a couple years.

Arizona State has the most impressive win thus far

What we thought: The Sun Devils would take a step forward and be an NIT team after failing to advance to the postseason in the first two years of the Bobby Hurley regime.
What we know: Arizona State has a huge résumé win over Xavier on a neutral court. The Sun Devils blasted San Diego State and also beat Kansas State. Hurley's club, which boasts a veteran backcourt of Tra Holder and Shannon Evans II, looked as impressive as any team in the Pac-12 in November.
What happens next: ASU needs to win two of its upcoming three nonconference games to remain in the Top 25 heading into league play. Next is a game in Los Angeles against St. John's, followed by a road game at Kansas and a home date with Vanderbilt. Then there's a pair of home games against Longwood and Pacific before league play gets going with a date in Tucson against rival Arizona. Thanks to a strong nonconference showing, the Sun Devils could wind up getting to the NCAA tourney.