Sunday, February 13, 2011

College Basketball's Race To The Top

On Saturday afternoon Ohio State lost their first game of the season. Wisconsin welcomed the Buckeyes into Madison and stormed the court after knocking off the number one team in the country. This leaves the us without a single undefeated team, and without a consensus number one overall team. Who should be number one? Kansas, Texas, Pittsburgh, and Ohio St are all viable candidates

Ohio State (24-1, 11-1 Big Ten): The Buckeyes first and only loss of the season came yesterday, a 71-67 road battle against fourteenth ranked Wisconsin. The Big 10 is loaded with talented teams and outstanding players, which makes Ohio State's resume even better. Four teams are currently ranked in the AP Top 25: Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. In addition Illinois, who has been in and out of the rankings, will certainly re-enter this week. Teams such as Penn State, Michigan, Northwestern, and Indiana have been putting up fights night in and night out. Plus, who could forget Michigan State (preseason top 5) sitting in the middle of the pack, waiting to make its March run. Ohio State was 5-0 against the top 25 coming into this weekend and faces off against rival Michigan State on Tuesday. The newly crowned numbered one has a very good chance of maintaining it's position. A loss to #14 Wisconsin on the road is very respectable. Jared Sullinger, along with seniors Jon Diebler and David Lighty, will lead this team deep into the bracket.

Kansas (22-1, 9-1 Big 12): After a crazy week in a college basketball, where we saw almost all of the top 15 teams lose, Kansas moved up the ladder into the number two slot. Kansas is the most efficient team in the country: 1st in field goal percentage (.523), 2nd in assists per game (18.6), and 6th in points per game (83.9). The Jayhawks have done all of this without their best offensive player, Josh Selby. The freshman missed the first three games for Kansas and has sat out the last nine, but Kansas is still 12-0 without Selby. Seniors Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed, and Mario Little have provided experience and leadership all year long. In addition Kansas is stacked with future NBA stars, juniors: Tyshaun Taylor, Markieef Morris, and Marcus Morris are all seeing their draft stock sky rocket. Their only loss came back on January 22nd against Texas, who is currently ranked one slot behind Kansas at number three. But Kansas has only beaten one top 25 team: #20 Missouri by 17. The Jayhawks did win against Memphis (ranked 14) by thirteen back on December 7th but Memphis is now out of the top 25 (19-7, 7-3 C USA). The Big 12 conference is very top-loaded, but the bottom half of the teams are very mediocre and not seen as quality victories. Like Ohio State, Kansas has only one loss, and the Jayhawk's loss came to a tougher opponent (#3 Texas) as opposed to Ohio State's loss (#14 Wisconsin). But the Buckeyes have beaten five ranked teams, four more than Kansas, and the Big 10 is a more talented conference than the Big 12.

Texas (22-3, 10-0 Big 12): People may wonder how Texas is in the conversation for the number one rank with three losses, and in all likelihood they probably won't move up the ladder this week, but few people will argue with the fact that Texas is an elite team. In my opinion the Longhorns are the best team in the country and their early losses will only help them come tournament time. Texas has had the hardest schedule of any team, playing nine teams currently in the AP top 25. They are 7-2 in those games, and their two losses were by a combined three points. Texas went on the road and knocked off Kansas by nine, won against Missouri by 13, and beat Texas A&M twice by twenty each time. Their first loss of the season came against #4 Pittsburgh, 66-68 where Ashton Gibbs scored 19 of his 24 points in the second half to lead the Pitt Panthers. Then early in 2011 the Connecticut knocked off Texas on a Kemba Walker game winning shot in overtime, a heart breaking loss for Longhorn fans. And their third loss was to USC, a 17 point defeat where Jordan Hamilton was held to 12 points on 4 of 13 shooting. Nikola Vucevic had a career game for USC, scoring a career high 24 points. The most impressive parts of Texas' resume is their perfect in conference record, and strength of schedule. The Longhorns rank 6th in the nation with 41 rebounds a game. In all likelihood we will see teams like Ohio State, Kansas, and Pittsburgh accumulate more losses as their schedules get more difficult and towards the end of conference play. The loss to USC is a big blemish on their record but both Pitt and Uconn will finish the season in the top 10 and Texas deserves consideration for the number one seed.

No comments:

Post a Comment