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Top of the Arc - January 6, 2009

Jan. 6, 4:15 p.m.: The season is barely half over, so there is plenty of time to turn things around. But a handful of teams have struggled to live up to their potential so far. Here are six teams that have been the biggest disappointments so far:

1) Louisville
When three non-conference losses earn you the top spot on the most disappointing list, it’s a sign of how high expectations were for the Cardinals. Many, including myself, picked Louisville to play North Carolina for the national title. There were the issues with Edgar Sosa, and Rick Pitino urging him to transfer. Then Sosa hits the game-winner against Kentucky. Earl Clark and Samardo Samuels didn’t play well against the ‘Cats, so all problems are not solved yet. Louisville has only beaten one top 50 team, Alabama-Birmingham, and the loss to Western Kentucky remains a black eye.

2) Arizona
No one was expecting a Final Four from this group, but the Wildcats have too much talent – starting with Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill -- to be 9-5 and 0-2 in the Pac-10. A disappointing offseason, which included departures by Brandon Jennings and Lute Olson, has turned into a subpar showing the first two months of the season.

3) Winthrop
The Eagles have won four straight and eight of the past 10 Big South championships. They have not had a losing season since 1997-98. Yet they are 2-10, with the only Division I win being against Liberty. The non-conference schedule was very difficult, but the Eagles probably should have a few more wins.

4) San Diego
I know one AP voter who put San Diego in his preseason Top 25. Not a bad selection because Bill Grier’s team returned all five starters from a team that reached the second round of the NCAA tournament. But San Diego is 8-7 and will have to win the WCC tournament again to reach the NCAAs. Suspensions and injuries have hurt their chances.

5) Virginia Tech
The Hokies came thisclose to an NCAA tournament berth last season, and I expected them to be a little bit stronger this season and finish around fifth or sixth in the ACC. Obviously they could still do that, but the problem is their non-conference profile. So many heartbreaking losses and no quality wins. They probably need 10 ACC victories to reach the NCAAs.

6) St. Joseph’s/Massachusetts/Temple
I put all three Atlantic 10 teams on this list. I expected the three to be behind Xavier near the top of the conference. At least Temple has a quality win, having beaten Tennessee. And at least St. Joseph’s is hovering around .500. Massachusetts is 4-8 against Division I teams.

By Eric Prisbell  |  January 6, 2009; 4:26 PM ET
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