By Brad Thompson–
After fans stormed the court twice in the span of three days in wins over No. 1 ranked teams, who is college basketball’s best team? Ohio State went down at the Kohl Center to Wisconsin on Saturday and Kansas, after being ranked No. 1 for less than 24 hours, got thumped by Kansas State on Monday.
Now who belongs atop the polls…Texas, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Duke, San Diego State or Kansas? Let the experts and analysts crunch the numbers, compare the records versus ranked opponents and determine who’s the best team.
For the record here’s each team’s performance against the Top 25:
Kansas 2-1 (loss at home to Texas)
Texas 6-2 (losses at home to Pitt and at a neutral site to UConn in OT)
Ohio State 5-1 (loss at Wisconsin)
Pittsburgh 5-2 (losses at home to Notre Dame and at a neutral site to Tennessee)
San Diego State 1-1 (loss at BYU)
Here’s what I say…WHO CARES? Enjoy the games.
The fact that rankings don’t matter much is one reason why college basketball is great. The true No. 1 team and national champion will be crowned on the court from a field of 68. No matter who’s atop the polls next Monday, it won’t factor into a BCS ranking or determine whether a team will play for the national title like in college football. Teams with four, five and even 14 losses have a chance to win it all. Arizona made the tourney in 2008 with a record of 19-14.
The month of February is full of competitive basketball games between conference foes. It’s the final stretch of conference games when schools face each other for the second time and make their final push for a NCAA tournament berth. College basketball gives a team like Kansas State the chance to resurrect their season and avenge an ugly loss to the Jayhawks in Lawrence.
Wisconsin handed Ohio State its first loss on Saturday and beat the #1 ranked Buckeyes in football and basketball in the same school year. The difference for the Buckeyes is that their basketball team still has a chance to play for the national championship. In football their loss to Wisconsin all but ended their hopes for a national title.
Critics of college hoops say that the games are meaningless. Kansas and Ohio State will probably still receive a No. 1 seed in the tourney, so their losses this week don’t mean much, but don’t tell that to the players, coaches or fans of the Badgers or Wildcats.
I, for one, enjoyed the NCAA championship game last year. Duke versus Butler. David versus Goliath, even though Butler was ranked all season. It was an intriguing matchup and came down to the final shot. This type of matchup isn’t possible in college football. Ask TCU and Boise State if they enjoy football rankings.
So as teams shuffle up and down in the polls for the rest of February and into March, spare me the analysis over who is the best. I know seeding in the tournament matters, but history has proven that if you’re in the tourney you’ve got a chance. And that’s what is great about college basketball…by the end of the NCAA tournament there’s no debate about who’s No. 1.
Do you agree with Brad? Post your comments below.
Brad M. Thompson, a former college football player and coach, made his return to the Midwest in 2009 after fighting wildfires out West. He earned his master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and covers the Big Ten Conference and Chicago sports. Find more of Brad’s blogs here.