Saturday, February 27, 2010

Who is No. 1?

Kansas lost at Oklahoma State.

Kentucky fell to Tennessee.

Purdue's Robbie Hummel is done for the year and the Boilermakers lost to Michigan State.

And to top it off, Syracuse just waxed the floor with Villanova.

If you can't figure it out, those were the top four teams in the country last week. The question being asked by hoops fans across the country today is "Who's #1?"

At this time last season, UNC was ranked fifth.
(photo credit:

Before I get into it, with Kansas and Kentucky losing on Saturday, there probably would have been a big push for Purdue to move into the No. 1 spot had they beaten Michigan State. That argument was squashed when the Boilermakers lost in an ugly game at home on Sunday. Without Robbie Hummel, Purdue cracking the top ten may be generous.

That leaves us with Kansas, Kentucky, and Syracuse.

So who's No. 1?

Kentucky: The Wildcats probably have the weakest resume of the three schools, but it isn't necessarily their fault. Its not often that you can beat UNC, UConn, Indiana, and Louisville in the same season and not get a top 25 win out of it. Kentucky did sweep Vanderbilt and they do have a win against Tennessee, and while they may be the most talented of the three teams, they have the third best resume. Don't be surprised if everyone outside of the Commonwealth will have UK at third Monday morning.

Kansas: The Jayhawks are 27-2 overall and 13-1 in the Big XII. They are 6-2 against the RPI top 25, and 8-2 against the top 50. Even with the loss Saturday, it is fair to say they are rolling through the best conference in college basketball. Wins over Memphis, Cal, UCLA, and Michigan are no where near as impressive as they were expected to be, but a 30 point beatdown of Temple on the road, a win at home over Cornell, and league wins against, well, everyone except Oklahoma State is a pretty nice resume.

Syracuse: The Orange are also 27-2, but Syracuse has a resume that is slightly less impressive than Kansas. They are also 8-2 against the RPI top 50, but just five of those wins are against the top 25 while one of their losses came from outside the top 25. Semantics, I know, but it is the type of thing people look at when you are dealing with two teams that are so close. Unlike Kansas and Kentucky, who both lost both games on the road, Syracuse is undefeated away from the Carrier Dome, but they have lost two games at home. Isn't it usually the other way around for the Orange?

There are two ways to look at this. For starters, Kansas has the better resume. They are ranked higher than Syracuse in both the RPI (1 vs. 3) and by Kenpom (2 vs. 3). They have more top 25 wins and fewer losses outside the top 25. They have a better record in a better conference.

The other way to look at this is that Syracuse was fourth in the country, and the three teams above them lost. You lose, you move down in the polls. You win, you move up. Isn't that the way it generally works?


Well, I had Kansas as my No. 1 in the Blogger's Poll I vote in for Yahoo.


I just think Kansas is a better team. With everything these two teams have done this season, there really is not all that much to separate them. Except personal opinion.

And in my personal opinion, Kansas is the better team.

One wacky Saturday doesn't change that.

One week's ranking shouldn't matter, either. This season, every writer in the country has uttered, at least once, the phrase "there are no dominant teams in college basketball this year." We can debate that point all day, but what is a fact is that last season's "dominant" team, North Carolina, was 5th in the country on this date.

Keep that in mind, residents of Lawrence, Lexington, and Syracuse, when the rankings come out tomorrow.

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