Last year, college basketball fans across the country were treated to seeing the most dominant college basketball team in 10 years in the Kentucky Wildcats. John Calipari’s squad ran legitimately 10 deep and now seven of those players are on NBA or D-League affiliate rosters, with the other three still in school. They were ranked number one the whole year, from start to finish. The Wildcats finished the season 38-1, with the only loss being in the Final Four to the Frank Kaminsky led Wisconsin Badgers. This year, however, there has been an ongoing rotation at the top of the rankings.
Through the first twelve weeks of the season, there have been five teams ranked number one, leading to a debate as to whether who is the best team in the country. But is all this turnover good or bad for college basketball?
To me, this is great for college basketball. Last year it was fun to see how far Kentucky could go and see if they could have a undefeated season. They were must watch TV and for the most part, people tuned in to see them dominate whoever stood in their way. But everyone loves to see the big dogs lose. When the Yankees lose, everyone loves it, especially Sox fans. When the Pats lose, people love it. Not to mention, whenever LeBron James loses, NBA fans from all over the world rejoice.
What else do people love? Upsets. The last two weeks have provided plenty of them.
Usual powerhouses like Duke, Michigan State and Kentucky have all struggled this season. Kentucky and Michigan State were two of the teams to hold the number one spot, but now they stand at 23rd and 11th in the nation, respectively. Duke was ranked as high as fifth, and now stand at 20th. In contrast to the usual blue bloods, some new members have joined the NCAA’s elite. SMU was expected to be a good team, but nobody expected them to stand at 18-0 and be the only unbeaten left. Iowa has now been a surprising upstart team in two sports, as their football team shocked the country and made it to the Rose Bowl. But USC has been the biggest surprise at all. Just a 12 win team last season, USC already has 15 wins under their belt. Whether these teams can turn it around or keep up the pace is also another storyline to look forward to, as we are in the middle of conference play.
Seeing new blood among the elite always brings new fans to the forefront. It intrigues normal college basketball fans to guess why and how to sudden turnarounds can happen. Last season, Kentucky ran through elite teams like Kansas, UNC, Cincinnati and West Virginia. But this season, the top 25 match ups have been much more even, from bottom to top.
The lack of a number one shows how balanced the NCAA is. All these upsets could forecast what’s too come in March Madness. Each team has showed a weakness and given the right matchup, an upset could occur. Everyone loves upsets, especially in March Madness (unless it’s your champion getting upset). The balance could also show some surprises on the recruiting trail. New upstart teams could get a couple of great talents, just due to the fact that they knocked off a top team. Teams on the downswing could certainly see a drop off in interest from the upperclassmen in high school.
The consistent change at the top of the rankings is great news for NCAA basketball. After seeing Kentucky run the gauntlet for 38 straight games, nobody wants to see another team dominate night in and night out. They want to what new teams can step up to the tall task of being number one. As of right now, nobody seems to want the distinguished honor. Despite the fact that there seems to be no team looking like a true national title contender, this is the best case scenario for college basketball.
Cover photo via ReviewJournal
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