There are few things in this world that you can trust in, but one of mine has always been – if I travel forward in time any number of years and pick up an AP poll, one of the blue bloods of college basketball will be in the top ten. So for the first time in a long time, my world has been turned upside down. That’s all to say – the generally accepted ‘Top Seven” basketball programs historically are struggling so far this season. So I figured it’d be a good time to check in and see how each team is trending.
On the season: 13-4
Past 6 games: 5-1, with the one loss coming against San Diego State at home.
Trending: Kansas gets the top rank in our power rankings. They came in with lower expectations than Duke, Kentucky or Louisville, but it is starting to look like Bill Self is rounding them in to shape. With Joel Embiid emerging as a top NBA prospect, there’s a good chance Kansas joins Kentucky in the list of only schools to have players drafted #1 and #2 overall. That said, they aren’t world beaters yet… just the furthest along right now.
On the season: 14-4
Past 6 games: 5-1, with the one loss coming against Arkansas on the road.
Trending: The polls would disagree with me, but what do they know. Kentucky has looked better every game, and how they are doing it is what has been impressive. Instead of seeing slight improvements from the pieces that aren’t Julius Randle, we have seen different players step up big every game. They are still working on putting together a complete game consistently, but when they do, look out.
On the season: 15-4
Past 6 games: 4-2, with losses at Notre Dame and at Clemson.
Trending: What Kentucky has, Duke doesn’t. That is, an ability to win without their star player. As Jabari Parker goes, so go the Blue Devils, and that’s not the worst problem to have. But for as good as Jabari is, he’s not the kind that can win a title on his own – especially this year in college basketball. Duke will be a tough out in the tournament, but I can’t see them making it to the final weekend.
On the season: 17-3
Past 6 games: 5-1, with the one loss coming against Memphis at home.
Trending: For some reason the Cardinals are ranked higher than Kentucky in both polls. Fewer losses and more wins, sure, but Louisville has lost every game against a ranked opponent so far this year. Still, Louisville is looking better than they did against Kentucky (and Memphis), so while they are a far cry from challenging for the title this year, don’t expect a total collapse.
On the season: 15-4
Past 5 games: 4-2, with a close loss to Arizona and a loss at Utah.
Trending: As a program, not too badly. Steve Alford has UCLA fans excited, at least. They have lost to most of their quality opponents this year, but they just about beat Arizona the other day, and are sitting at third in the Pac-12. Don’t look for them to make a sudden resurgence, but with Alford at the helm, they may just make some noise in a year or two.
On the season: 11-7
Past 6 games: 2-4, with losses at Virginia, Syracuse, Wake Forest, and one at home against Miami.
Trending: As Wolken put it on twitter, when do we stop asking about UNC’s struggles and start accepting that they are a bad team with some good early wins? From a top twenty team to 13th in the ACC and firmly on the bubble with an academic scandal on the horizon. It’s not the best time to be a tarheel fan, but simply by default it’s better than rooting for the next team.
On the season: 12-7
Past 6 games: 2-4, with two losses to Michigan State, a loss at Illinois, and at home vs Northwestern (Indiana students still rushed the court).
Trending: No one expected much out of Indiana this season with the departure of Oladipo and Zeller, and no one has gotten much. They beat a suddenly questionable Wisconsin team, though, and with that have their popcorn boxes set for the year. It has to be just awful, having Tom Crean as your coach and still having a terrible team.