Now who’s college basketball’s No. 1? Topsy-turvy week provides proof of parity
The college basketball week started with Jacob Pullen totaling 38 points, five assists and two steals to spark Kansas State’s double-digit upset Monday of No. 1 Kansas, and it ended Sunday with E’Twaun Moore totaling 38 points, five assists and two steals to lead Purdue to a double-digit victory against Ohio State.
In between those games, No. 3 Texas lost at Nebraska, No. 4 Pittsburgh fell to giant-killer St. John’s, No. 8 Notre Dame took a double-digit beating at West Virginia, No. 9 Georgetown lost at UConn, and No. 10 Wisconsin lost at Purdue.
And I’m expected to figure this all out and e-mail a Top-25 ballot to the Associated Press? I’m not even smart enough to figure out how Sherron Collins possibly could think it a good idea to wear a Cleveland Cavaliers cap to Saturday’s game in Allen Fieldhouse when the owner of the team that pays Collins, the Charlotte Bobcats, is Michael Jordan, one of the most competitive athletes of all-time. My guess is a Detroit Pistons cap never has made its way to the top of Jordan’s head. Shoe-company gear he wore unabashedly, but caps from competing teams? Sherron’s fashion choice isn’t the most remarkable thing he ever did in Allen Fieldhouse — last season’s performance against Baylor topped it — but it has to rank right up there.
Filling out the ballot this late in the season usually is about as relaxing as a long, sweet ride on Willie Nelson’s tour bus, which I would imagine is the closest thing we have on earth to angel’s wings, as far as modes of transportation are concerned. The music on those rides must sound amazing.
Now, the college basketball scene is so upside-down that Ohio State, which has lost two of its last three games, actually moves up on my ballot, from No. 2 to No. 1. It was more difficult for a school to hold its spot at the bottom of the rankings than at the top.
Parity, steadily creeping into college basketball ever since one-and-dones became so prominent, has reached an all-time high. This past week, the rich got poorer, the poor richer. The top 10 teams in the AP Top 25 went 11-7, and the bottom 10 nearly went undefeated, going 19-1.
Last week’s poll featured four different teams landing first-place votes: No. 3 Texas had the most with 23, followed by No. 1 Kansas (22), No. 2 Ohio State (14) and No. 4 Pittsburgh (6).
So who’s going to be No. 1 this week? Seth Davis, speaking on CBS after Purdue knocked off the Buckeyes, said he would put No. 5 Duke, which didn’t get any first-place votes, at the top of his ballot. Former Ohio State great Clark Kellog said he thought Texas was the most deserving of the top ranking.
One voter put Brigham Young No. 5 on his ballot last week. It’s conceivable he could leap-frog the Cougars all the way to No. 1. Five voters had San Diego State No. 5 a week ago. The Aztecs could wind up No. 1 on some ballots. As many as seven different schools could get a first-place vote.
The tightening of the field should make for a particularly interesting Selection Sunday and a riveting NCAA Tournament packed with buzzer-beaters and overtime contests. But I’m stalling at this point, procrastinating the torturous task of putting the teams in order. The top 10 on the ballot I’m about to e-mail: 1. Ohio State, 2. Kansas, 3. Duke, 4. Texas, 5. Pittsburgh, 6. San Diego State, 7. BYU, 8. Purdue, 9. Arizona, 10. Notre Dame.