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Early season surprises

There are always a few upstart teams that make noise early in the season. It’s no different this year as several squads have caught the eye of Hoops Scoops.

Murray State: The No. 24 Racers moved to 11-0 with an 89-65 win over Lipscomb on Thursday. It was Murray State’s first win as a ranked team since 1971. The Racers made their mark as a legitimate NCAA Tournament contender after a 76-72 win at Memphis on Sunday. With hot-shooting guard Isaiah Canaan and fellow sharpshooting guard Donte Poole, the Racers will scare a lot of teams.

Harvard: Typically, when Ivy League schools are mentioned nationally, Princeton, Penn or even Cornell comes to mind. Not any more. Harvard (9-1) stamped themselves a viable squad after solid wins over Florida State, Central Florida and Boston University. The Crimson couldn’t topple Connecticut, but it was a two-point game at the half. Harvard doesn’t score a lot, but they play some serious defense and have a dead-eye three-point shooter in Laurent Rivard.

Seton Hall: We’ll probably get a little hear for referring to a Big East team as a surprise program, but no one thought the Pirates (8-1) would be this hot. They don’t have any wins over any top 25 schools, but the Pirates did knock off St. Joseph’s, Auburn, Wake Forest and VCU. With Mercer, Dayton and Longwood next on the schedule, Seton Hall could be 11-1 heading into its road game against Syracuse on December 28.

St. Joseph’s: The Hawks (7-3) are back. With wins over Penn State, Georgia Tech and Creighton, St. Joseph’s has done enough to put a scare into A-10 heavyweights Temple and Xavier. St. Joseph’s has a dynamite perimeter crew led by Carl Jones and Langston Galloway, who are averaging a combined 35 points per game.

St. Louis: Rick Majerus can coach. The Billkens (9-1) are off to a sizzling start and have dropped the likes of Washington, Villanova and Oklahoma along the way. Oh yeah, Majerus picked up his 500th career win. But will St. Louis be ranked? With games against Alabama State, Arkansas State, Texas Southern and New Mexico coming up before the conference schedule begins, the Billikens will have a gaudy record. Even with no wins against top 25 teams, you can’t dismiss a 13-1 record.

Coastal Carolina (8-1), with wins over LSU and Clemson, Providence (9-2), Ohio (8-1) and Wyoming (10-1) all could make it to the national stage at some point this season.

New York Sports