All Quiet on the NCAA Front
It’s a Friday, which means there are no Top 25 teams playing tonight. We all need a night off after what the last few weeks have wrought on the college basketball landscape. Let’s take a look at what has happened:
The number one team in the country has changed the last five weeks, which of course means the number one team has been defeated four weeks in a row. Duke got the ball rolling with a loss to North Carolina State during week 10. Week 11 gave us Louisville losing to #6 Syracuse at home in one of the most bizarre finishes as Peyton Siva and his zero points stood at Rick Pitino’s side for about twenty seconds with Lville down one and took a shot despite his zero points fading away from the basket….but I digress. Week 11 gave Duke on top before being slaughtered by Miami Florida in one of Mike Krzyzewski’s most embarrassing moments. Michigan jumped to the top spot for a week, but lost to #3 Indiana. Indiana was in the number one spot this week…but they recently lost to Illinois (who was 2-7 in the Big Ten)….Michigan looks prime for the top spot again this week from the #3 spot…because.
Our five week adventure begins with Michigan at 15-0, but they lost at Ohio State and dropped in the polls. The next week, Indiana lost at home against Bo Ryan and f*@%^&g Wisconsin with their God awful playing style. Finally, Michigan won in week 12 and leaped to #1 the following week! (They lost, of course, as number 1, but hey, #2 won!). Kansas picked up the slack and lost the following week against Oklahoma State. Finally, this week Florida (who had looked soooo good in the past) continued the trend by losing to (wait for it)………Arkansas.ll t
#1 and #2 teams are 10-9 in the past five weeks of college basketball. The lone team to go undefeated during the span for a week was Michigan who went 2-0 when they were ranked #2. Also, an unranked team has victimized the #1/#2 ranked team 6 of the nine times (Louisville lost to Syracuse, Michigan lost to Ohio State, and Michigan lost to Indiana). Meanwhile:
Since its miracle against Gonzaga, Butler is 3-2 with losses against unranked Lasalle and St. Louis. The bulldogs (despite those two losses) are still ranked 14th in the country.
Remember when Illinois was one of the nation’s last undefeated teams at 12-0 and had wins over Butler and Gonzaga? Well that was following week 7 and now the Illini aren’t quite faring as well at 16-8 and 3-7 (9th place in the Big Ten) in conference. Illinois still has a solid tourney resume despite its firm bubble standing with wins over Gonzaga, Butler, and Indiana, but they’re flailing in conference and if their awfulness is permanent they’ll be missing out on a dance invite.
Some were calling this Creighton team the best mid-major ever…pardon my 2010-2011 VCU, but the Bluebirds have a 3-3 record in the Missouri Valley (hardly “best ever” material). The first loss at Wichita State is beyond acceptable (the Shockers are a good team), but losses to under .500 Drake and a 19-point thrashing at Indiana State should cause tremors in the heartland.
It was just last week the Ducks were one of the nation’s biggest surprises at 18-2 and a #10 ranking. Since? Try 3 straight losses to unranked teams (at Stanford, at Cal, and home against Colorado). Wins against Arizona, Arizona State, and UCLA had people talking big things in Eugene…well the brakes were pumped about as fast as the football programs with Chip Kelly’s departure.
I couldn’t stay negative for too long. The Zags (aside from the debacle against Butler) are 7-0 and running through the abysmal West Coast Conference again. The Zags are sleep-able come March with its best win being at Oklahoma State, but they are currently #6.
In our oft used timetable in this article (beginning week 10, or Monday January 7th), Miami is 8-0 with victories over North Carolina, Duke, and Florida State. The U may be the hottest team in the country and are likely to win the ACC regular season crown even with a visit to Durham left on the schedule.
North Carolina State:
Remember when we mentioned NC State’s victory over Duke? It catapulted the Wolfpack from 20th to #14 in the AP. Since? NC State is a horrifying 2-5 with losses to unranked Wake Forest (a terrible team), Maryland, and Virginia (mediocre teams). NC State is currently unranked and (due to tiebreakers) 7th in the ACC. The Wolves were a common pick to win the conference at season’s conception…oops.
Why am I saying all this?
The fact of the matter is without any dominant (or even semi-dominant) teams this year, the tournament is looking to be one of the greatest, most upset-rich volumes is history. Last year we saw two 15’s beat 2’s (Lehigh over Duke and Norfolk State over Missouri), but this season could yield a larger plethora of upends. Here’s a final run through:
#1 Miami Florida-they’re beating everyone at the moment. No one else seems to even be trying on a daily basis.
#2 Michigan-A win over Ohio State and the Wolvs will be #1 in the AP again so long as they don’ t flop against Wisconsin Saturday.
#3 Syracuse-Duke and Arizona have done a fine job running through ACC and Pac-12 bottom feeders. Meanwhile, Cuse has to deal with the ever potent Big East schedule where the only easy games are South Florida and DePaul.
#4 Duke/Arizona-They’re both playing basically the same little nonsense against little nonsense teams. Duke plays UNC on February 13th and Arizona is at Colorado on Valentine’s Day for bigger (but not much) tests.
#5 Gonzaga-The WAC is so bad, but at least they aren’t losing.
The Big Ten is the popular pick, but in my mind the Big East is still the hardest to navigate. For now, I’ll say the Big Ten is the best (Michigan, Indiana, and Michigan State could all be in the top 10…but we know what rankings mean). The Big East is close behind as the 1-10 teams are extremely solid and 7 teams are likely to be ranked come Monday.
A Cinderella to Watch:
Call me crazy for calling them a cinderella, but Memphis has been so far off the radar since losing its spot in the AP top 25. Undefeated in Conference USA and the only three losses are to ranked or previously ranked teams (Minnesota, VCU, and Louisville).
The Most Overrated Team:
It has to be Butler. The Bulldogs were throttle by an average Xavier team and an average Illinois team. Sure, wins against Gonzaga and Indiana look pretty, but both were at home and by a combined 1 point in regulation (both wins came off buzzer beaters). Without the win over Indiana, Butler is not even ranked.
The Most Underrated Team:
At this point? It has to be a team from a “power conference”, right? I’m going to go with a team not so “underrated” and say Miami Florida. The teams ranked ahead of them have all lost (Arizona twice, Gonzaga once, Kansas twice, Duke twice, Michigan twice, Florida once, Indiana twice) since Miami’s last loss. The Canes should be #1 so they can finally lose.