Weekly Top 5 for College Basketball
From a young age, I have always been in love with college basketball. Despite the feeling not always being mutual, college basketball has more or less been faithful to me over the last eight years. Therefore, I’ve decided to pass on my opinion by ranking my Top 5 teams every week. My rankings may differ from the AP rankings, Coaches poll, and even Mark Titus’ Top 12 Power Rankings, also known as the powerful power rankings in college basketball. A lot has changed from my preseason Final Four picks: my original locks and teams with a shot.
With more clarity in the title race, I’ll give it another go around.
5. Michigan – As an Ohio State student, it pains me to even see Michigan in my Top 5, but the Wolverines are for real this year. After sleeping way past noon this past Saturday, I flipped on the Ohio State-Michigan game and was ecstatic to see my Buckeyes up by 2. Then the announcers had to kill my excitement by saying something like, “And it’s incredible that Michigan has cut what was once a 21 point lead to 2.” Really? On the road against a Top 15 Big 10 team, Michigan had the guts to come back and nearly win. Trey Burke’s shot at the end was like your sex life freshman year of high school: doing everything possible without actually going in. It dipped below the rim, rolled around the edge, before eventually popping out. Michigan fans shouldn’t worry though. With a schedule loaded with ranked teams, I think at some point this season the Wolverines will be #1.
4. Syracuse – When I was little I liked to watch Syracuse because I thought they had good jerseys. Now I like watching them because 1) Boeheim is an incredible coach 2) Michael Carter-Williams is one of the top PG’s in the country (behind Burke and next to Mizzou’s Phil Pressey) and 3) because they have cool jerseys. The Big East always has contenders along with middle of the pack teams that can notch a good win here and there. I don’t think the ‘Cuse will be undefeated in conference play, but I don’t see why they shouldn’t finish with a #1 seed in the Big East tourney (which history has shown is usually as good as a #1 seed in the Big Dance.) In conclusion, the play of Carter-Williams (and their jerseys) will carry them this season.
3. Louisville – I know Louisville is #1 in the country. I know that their only loss is against Duke. I know that they were shorthanded in that loss. But I just can’t get over the fact they only have one quality win. They beat a Memphis team that has underachieved and narrowly blew a game against an underperforming Kentucky team whom (despite getting better) Louisville should have beaten by double digits. Louisville does have three things going for it. The first is that their next game is against Top 10 Syracuse, which could be the statement game the Cards are looking for now that they are at full strength. Second is that the game is home at U of L’s own Yum Center. Third: THEY PLAY IN A VENUE CALLED THE YUM CENTER! This Saturday will be a big day for Louisville to earn their recent ascension to the #1 spot in the AP (and could shoot them up in my poll as well.)
2. Kansas – I’ve decided that I am going to stop doubting Bill Self ever again. If he said he could walk on water or breath in outer space without oxygen, I would believe him. I wouldn’t be phased if he fixed the fiscal cliff and brought together the Bloods and the Crips together in the same week. He is INCREDIBLE. To constantly exceed expectations is ridiculous. “Oh, I’ll just lose my Player of the Year Candidate from a year ago, graduate my player with the most experience, and I think I’ll still have a top 3 team by conference play,” thinks Self to himself somewhere on a coast enjoying the summer sun and sipping on a margarita. Since their 3 point loss to Michigan State, Kansas has been on a tear, most notably in their game against Ohio State where they simply dominated the Bucks in Columbus. Unless Kansas absolutely tanks in conference play (which I can’t imagine even in the most bizarre scenarios,) they will be in the Final Four.
1. Duke – I know Duke just recently lost to NC State but 1) it was an away game, 2) senior leader Ryan Kelly was injured, and 3) Coach K probably had the idea that it would be “cute” to let NC State win the first meeting before demolishing them the next time the two meet. Duke is too much like the team that won the national championship in 2010. That Duke team was loaded with seniors, experience, and players that liked playing with each other. Nothing could have helped this team more than Austin Rivers leaving after his freshman year for the NBA (where, I’ll note, he is barely getting playing time and I love it.) Kelly is out indefinitely and Seth Curry (another senior) had a scare at the end of the game. If Duke can get Kelly healthy and Curry to a playable condition, this team will regain their #1 spot and be the team to beat.