March Madness has started a little early this year in college basketball. Through the first 12 weeks of the regular season there have been five(!) different teams at number one in the weekly AP Poll. In the last five seasons, the AP Poll has never had more than four different number one teams through the first nine weeks of the regular season.
So what makes this year different from the past five years? This year in college basketball there is no best team, just a lot of good teams that are capable of being a top ranked team. However, none have been good enough to stay a top number one for more than four weeks.
Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Michigan State, and Kansas have all had their opportunities at staying number one but can not seem to hold the top spot for very long.
Currently at number one in the AP Poll is the Oklahoma Sooners. With the outstanding play of Buddy Hield, the Sooners are looking as strong as any team in the country. Taking Kansas to triple overtime at Allen Fieldhouse and losing is nothing to complain about. It also helps when you beat a very good Baylor team on the road by a decent margin. Other Big 12 teams that have a shot at being atop the polls are the Iowa State Cyclones and Kansas Jayhawks. The league is stacked this year. That’s a good thing to see.
One team that no one expected to be in the conversation of a top team in the country coming into this year is the number three ranked Iowa Hawkeyes. The Hawkeyes are in sole possession of first place in the Big Ten and are beating conference opponents by an average of 12 points per game including double digit wins against preseason favorites Michigan State and Maryland. Jared Uthoff has been the big man on campus for the Hawkeyes this year. Iowa can go as far as Uthoff can carry them. A tough loss this week at number eight Maryland hurts their case, though.
Other teams such as Virginia, Butler, and Xavier have jumped around the top 25. Xavier has quietly been the most consistent team in college basketball this year despite not being ranked number one. The Musketeers have had quality wins over Butler, Michigan, and a hot Providence team, but have suffered bad losses at Georgetown and a 30 point loss against a solid Villanova team.
Having no dominant team is good for college basketball and the fans. Having a dominant team such as the 2014-2015 Kentucky team who were 38-0 going to the final four losing to a great Wisconsin team is no fun for college basketball fans. Everyone wants to see upsets, close ranked games, and small conference schools make a run in the NCAA tournament.
The madness won’t end here. Don’t change what you have been doing this year college basketball. Don’t change a thing. Is it March yet?!