NCAA Basketball: 5 Darkhorse National Championship Contenders

The 2016-17 college basketball season is coming up quickly and should be a very entertaining year. There are a lot of teams who are considered “favorites” to contend for a championship and a few that are on the outside looking in at this point in time.

Each and every season, teams like the Duke Blue Devils and Kentucky Wildcats enter the year as the clear-cut favorites to win a title. Even though the elite programs in college basketball have much better odds of winning a title, it seems like schools come out of nowhere to either knock them off or push them much harder than expected.

Looking ahead to the college basketball season, there are a few teams to keep an eye on as contenders that don’t receive the hype they deserve.

It is going to be an interesting season, to say the least. There are a lot of stories to keep an eye on and a lot of young stars looking to take their teams deep into the NCAA tournament. Every season is different, but this year could be one of the most exciting years that we’ve seen in recent history.

All of that being said, which five teams are potential darkhorse championship contenders that have a chance to knock off the elite teams and make a cinderella run?

The Purdue Boilermakers are a sleeper team in 2016.
[Photo by Doug McSchooler/AP Images]
Purdue Boilermakers

Matt Painter and the Purdue Boilermakers are without question a team to keep an eye on this season. After ending their season in disappointing fashion last year, they are hungry to prove to their fan base that they can be a threat again. Purdue has a lot of talent with Vince Edwards and Caleb Swanigan leading the way and could make a tournament run.

West Virginia Mountaineers

West Virginia hasn’t been viewed as a basketball school for quite some time, but they are now. Last season, the Mountaineers went 26-9 last season but ended up falling to Stephen F. Austin in the tournament. Bob Huggins couldn’t be more excited about the future of his program and the 2016 season could be very entertaining in Morgantown.

Wisconsin Badgers

Another team from the Big Ten to keep an eye on is the Wisconsin Badgers. They were in the National Championship just two short years ago. Wisconsin has had a long history of solid all-around teams and they are a team to watch this season from a darkhorse perspective.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are a sleeper team in 2016.
[Photo by Robert Franklin/AP Images]
Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Mike Brey and the Notre Dame basketball team are a squad to keep an eye on this season. They won three games in the tournament last season and are hoping for more this year. Notre Dame could be a threat, although they will have to find leadership after losing a couple seniors last season.

Indiana Hoosiers

That’s right, three teams from the state of Indiana made this list and rightfully so. Tom Crean’s Hoosiers are going to be a tough team to beat next season. Indiana could very well make a run in the tournament if their young talent lives up to their full potential.

Expect the 2016-17 college basketball season to be full of twists and turns. These five teams are going to be very competitive, although there are going to be other teams that will compete as well that aren’t among the elite programs. It will be interesting to see whether these five teams make some noise or whether they end up going away silently.

Do you think one of these five teams have a chance to win a National Championship this season? Who else do you think could fall into the “darkhorse championship contenders” category? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!

[Photo by Orlin Wagner/AP Images]