By Kevin York
I think I’m like a majority of American sports fans when it comes to college basketball. I follow the sport, but I don’t really follow it until the NFL season ends. At that point my sports watching time really opens up and I can dedicate more time to following the NCAA. Up to now, we haven’t really written much about college basketball. In fact, the one and only post that I wrote about it, wasn’t even so much about the game or season itself, but about conference realignment. I think the frequency with which we write about college basketball will start to change a bit. Now things are getting really interesting.
In case anyone didn’t notice, this past week was quite a week for college basketball. Four of the top five ranked teams lost last week – #1 Indiana (to Illinois), #2 Florida (to Arkansas), #3 Michigan (to Wisconsin) and #5 Kansas (to TCU and Oklahoma). The AP rankings were released today and Indiana remained in the top spot, yes, after a loss, largely behind their defeat of #10 Ohio State and the crumbling of the other teams around them near the top of the rankings. Duke and Miami are right on their heels though, trailing by only 44 and 60, respectively (that’s a very, very small margin of points).
Prior to Indiana holding onto its number one ranking, the AP Poll saw a change in its top team for five consecutive weeks. I look at this season’s college basketball landscape and have a feeling the NCAA tournament in March is going to be really interesting and possibly the most entertaining we’ve seen in years. For the first half of the season I’ve thought three teams stood out as better than the others – Indiana, Michigan and Duke. They’re the most complete, experienced and deepest teams in the game. However, over the past month, I’ve been getting the feeling more and more that there are a number of teams that could make a deep run in the tournament and reach the Final Four. Syracuse, Florida, Miami, Gonzaga, Ohio State, Arizona, Kansas, Louisville and Butler all fit in that group. But if you look deeper and analyze recent results and performance, teams like Wisconsin, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Kansas State, Georgetown, Pitt, Oregon and even the youngsters at Kentucky could find themselves playing in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta at the beginning of April. That’s 20 teams I just named…
If you haven’t been watching much college basketball, it’s time to start.