We may not see a week the rest of the season with this much uncertainty when it comes to the No. 1 team in college basketball.
Hell, it may be a long time before we see another Monday morning in February with this many questions marks. Because the way I see it, there are at least six teams that can legitimately be discussed at the No. 1 team in college basketball this week.
It starts with Oklahoma, who was so far ahead of the field, at least in my mind, that they can legitimately be ranked No. 1 in the country again this week despite having lost a road game in each of the last two weeks. But there’s a big difference between losing at Iowa State and losing at Kansas State, so the Sooners probably need to drop.
Then there’s Iowa, who we had slotted in at No. 3 last week, behind two teams that, you know, lost on the road to unranked teams. So in theory, they should be able to scoot up to that No. 1 spot, but are we really ready to call Iowa the best team in college basketball?
Villanova continues to cruise along at the top of the Big East, as does Xavier, who is the only team in the top ten with just two losses to their name. Kansas is still in the mix as well, as is Maryland, who beat Iowa just ten days ago.
And that doesn’t even include Virginia, who has nine top 50 wins, or Oregon, who has eight. And it doesn’t factor in West Virginia, who is currently sitting all alone in first place in the toughest conference in college basketball.
That should just go to show you how wild and uncertain and open this season is.
The NCAA tournament No. 1 seeds are a crapshoot right now, and they probably won’t even matter. I can’t help but wonder what round of the tournament will be the first where a No. 1 seed is the underdog; my money would be on the Sweet 16.
Anyway, if you’re just tuning into college basketball now that football is over, you’re in for a fun and wild ride, because you probably know just about as much as we do when it comes to trying to figure out a power structure this season.
Here is the NBC Sports Top 25:
1. Iowa (19-4, LW: No. 3): Iowa is the hottest team in college basketball, and while they’re not exactly a trendy pick here, there’s a very strong argument to make that they have the best profile in the sport. They’ve won 11 of their last 12 games, the only loss coming by six at Maryland in a game where there All-American Jarrod Uthoff shot 2-for-13. In that span, they’ve beaten Michigan State twice (in East Lansing by 19) and Purdue twice. They haven’t lost to a team that isn’t ranked in my top 25 this season. They’re all alone in first place in the Big Ten and, given their schedule down the stretch, could very well not lose until postseason play kicks off. This team is the real deal. Get used to it.
2. Oklahoma (19-3, LW: No. 1): I was tempted to leave the Sooners at No. 1 this week. They have the nation’s best player, they’ve been the nation’s best shooting team, they blew out Villanova and all of their three losses have been in true road games. But losing two of their last four is not a good look, especially when one of those losses comes by 11 at Kansas State.
3. Kansas (19-4, LW: No. 4): That loss at Oklahoma State doesn’t look quite as bad now that the Pokes nearly knocked off Iowa State in the same building while playing without Jawun Evans. My issue with Kansas — their lack of a true go-to guy — is a bigger issue for the NCAA tournament than it is in the regular season. I think given Oklahoma’s loss on Saturday, they’re once again the favorite to win the Big 12.
4. Villanova (20-3, LW: No. 5): Their are going to be shouts for the Wildcats to be ranked No. 1 in the country, especially since they’ve won 12 of their last 13 games. They’re shooting better from three and, at the moment, they are currently sitting at No. 1 in KenPom’s efficiency rankings. There’s a valid argument to have them No. 1 overall, but personally, I’m just not ready to buy this team as the best in the country. Maybe it’s because they’ve burned me before, I don’t know. I’ll leave them at fourth for now.
5. Xavier (21-2, LW: No. 6): To me, Xavier is arguably the most complete team in the country in the sense that I’m not sure there is anyone that creates a bad matchup for them. That said, their best wins this season are against USC and Dayton (albeit by 29) and when they lost to Villanova, they lost in spectacular fashion, going down by 31 points.
6. Maryland (21-3, LW: No. 7): Like the Musketeers, I love the makeup of this Terps roster, but it just feels like they aren’t quite clicking yet. They’ve beaten Iowa and Purdue in the last ten days, but those are their only two top 50 wins this season. They’ve lost three true road games, but one of them was to Michigan and they haven’t show the ability to blow out opponents they’re better than. They might be the best team in college basketball when they’re rolling, but I can’t rank them there right now.
7. North Carolina (19-4, LW: No. 2): The Tar Heels biggest flaw was exposed by Notre Dame on Saturday. I wrote about that here.
8. Michigan State (20-4, LW: No. 9): Sparty’s got it rolling again. They’ve won three straight blowouts following that win over Maryland, and I think it’s safe to say now that Tom Izzo figured out what was ailing his team.
9. West Virginia (19-4, LW: No. 12): Who had West Virginia leading the Big 12 outright the morning after the Super Bowl? If you say you did I’m calling you a liar.
10. Virginia (19-4, LW: No. 13): Virginia might have arguably the best collection of wins of any team in the country this season. They’ve also lost to George Washington, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Florida State and needed a prayer to be answered to beat Wake Forest.
11. Oregon (20-4, LW: No. 18)
12. Miami (19-4, LW: No. 14)
13. Louisville (19-4, LW: No. 22)
14. Purdue (19-5, LW: No. 19)
15. Kentucky (17-6, LW: No. 17
16. Texas A&M (18-5, LW: No. 8)
17. Iowa State (17-6, LW: No. 16)
18. SMU (20-2, LW: No. 11)
19. Baylor (17-6, LW: No. 15)
20. USC (18-5, LW: No. 21)
21. Providence (18-6, LW: No. 11)
22. Texas (16-7, LW: UR)
23. Notre Dame (16-7, LW: UR)
24. Dayton (19-3, LW: UR)
25. Wichita State (17-5, LW: No. 20)
DROPPED OUT: No. 23 Utah, No. 24 Indiana, No. 25 Saint Mary’s
NEW ADDITIONS: No. 22 Texas, No. 23 Notre Dame, No. 24 Dayton