With the Super Bowl being a thing of the past, college basketball is now getting a lot more attention than it had over the first couple months of the season. We’ve already seen some great games, some shocking upsets, and some new faces emerging. The big boys, for the most part, are doing big boy things. These are the teams that are in the top 10 each year; the teams that other fan bases love to hate.
We have some new blood in the top 10 as it currently sits. Who saw Tennessee being the #1 team in the country? This team is solid in every facet of the game. They will be tough to beat in March. Marquette is sitting at #10 right now and look to give Villanova a run for their money in the Big East. Nevada is at #6, but they have looked shaky at times. They play with a lot of energy and just need to establish some consistency on the court.
The top 10 also has familiar faces among its ranks. Duke is Duke, we know what they bring to the court each season and this season is no different. They have had a few mental lapses this year so court discipline is the key to a run in March. Virginia is looking to make people forget about last March. They actually have an offense this year. This is what they were missing last season, so I see them making a strong run. Gonzaga is at #4, but I think Kentucky should be there. Over the last couple weeks, no team in the country is playing better. Even when they had an off game, they still beat Florida by 11 points.
Michigan and Michigan State are the big boys from the Big Ten. Sparty is struggling as of late, but Izzo will have these guys ready come tournament time. The Wolverines are one of the most athletic teams in the country. They play at a fast pace and can wear you down. They got in foul trouble early against Iowa and had their lack of depth exposed a bit. North Carolina hasn’t been dominant, but we all know they’ll be there when it matters.
Looking past the top 10 we have a nice mix of teams. Kansas and Villanova, usually at the top of the rankings, have struggled at times. Both of these teams need to fix some problems if they are to make a difference in March. The Big Ten is represented here as well with Wisconsin and Purdue making some noise. Ethan Happ gives the Badgers a strong inside advantage. Purdue has a scoring machine in Carsen Edwards. Iowa State has been very impressive this season. I feel a lot of people may be overlooking them. Watch out for them come tourney time.
We have 3 schools from mid-major conferences that are playing well. Buffalo, Cincinnati, and Houston have all been making splashes on the national scene. It’s hard to really get a feel for these teams as their schedules aren’t exactly stellar. If you look at how they have fared against major conference, it gives you a peek at what we can expect in March. Buffalo is 2-0, Houston is 3-0, and UC is 2-2. Again, weak conference strength makes it hard to put your finger on these teams, but they’re playing well right now. Jarron Cumberland has been carrying the Bearcats over the last few weeks, but he can’t do it alone once we get to the tournament. I think Houston and Buffalo are for real and can hang with some of the top teams.
The next 5 weeks of basketball will be exciting. As we get nearer to the conference tournaments and ultimately the NCAA tournament, the picture will become clearer. I’ve already got rooms booked in West Virginia where my buddies and I will be gambling. I haven’t thrown Vegas away and I never will. It’s just that this March trip is nothing but sitting in a sportsbook and gambling as opposed to seeing some of the sites. Why not save a grand or so? A three hour drive is nothing, so count on me going there for the Sweet 16 too. Bet wisely and enjoy the games.