While the Super Bowl will deservingly take the spotlight from the weekend that was in the sports world, we just had another weekend of college basketball that once again shows the championship is pretty much up for grabs this season with March Madness creeping up.
Six of the top 10 teams in the country took a loss on Saturday, which leads to another shakeup in the rankings as we get the week started. The Big 12 was the conference with much of the drama going down, with No. 2 Baylor and No. 3 Kansas each losing close games at home to unranked Kansas State and Iowa State (respectively) and No. 7 West Virginia going down at home against unranked Oklahoma State, 82-75. In the SEC, No. 8 Kentucky got swamped in Gainesville by No. 24 Florida, a 22-point blowout in favor of the Gators. The ACC also had a top 10 team go down with No. 9 Virginia losing on the road against unranked Syracuse, with the Orange showing they may be a team that can cause some trouble after blowing the doors open on the Cavaliers in the second half of a wild comeback. Out on the west coast, No. 5 Arizona was dominated by No. 13 Oregon, 85-58.
Outside the top 10 saw No. 22 Creighton get edged by Xavier, 82-80, and on Sunday No. 20 Notre Dame took a loss in Chapel Hill (although UNC is No. 12). Not to be overlooked was the performance by No. 15 Florida State at home against Clemson. The Seminoles blasted the Tigers in the first half and never looked back en route to a 109-61 victory to improve to 20-4. Don’t look past Florida State in the ACC the way things could be going in that conference.
In brief, it was a good weekend for No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 4 Villanova to pick up a win over the weekend. Gonzaga remains undefeated at 24-0 while defending national champion Villanova is at 22-2. Still, neither looks to be a true no-doubt-about-it favorite right now.
So, with roughly one month to go until tournament time, where exactly do we stand? As far as the power conferences are concerned, there is still plenty to decide with no clear favorite in any of the conferences, including the SEC where Kentucky is struggling to live up to the Kentucky hype. There is no runaway favorite in the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 or SEC, and that feels a little strange at this juncture. And Gonzaga may be undefeated, but they also have a history of failing to go deep into the tournament when they are expected to play well.
A weekend like the one we just saw also helps to suggest there may be no more pointless exercise by the selection committee than to preview their top 16 tournament seedings prior to Selection Sunday, as is currently scheduled. The selection committee will break down its top 16 teams in five days (February 11) to provide an inside look at how the committee is viewing the current season to date. It’s a neat idea in theory, but it is totally useless for a number of reasons. Not only do we all have a good sense that the top 16 teams at this point in the season are going to be in the tournament regardless of what happens between now and Selection Sunday, but we know that there is still so much that could change on the court to affect the way this committee views the bracket when it comes time to make it.
This wasn’t the first weekend to see a good handful of teams in the top 10 take a loss at the same time, and it may not be the last.
As we approach the end of one wild calendar year of championship drama, college basketball is hitting its stride to keep the run going right where it all started.