In January of 2016 alone, top-10 teams in Division 1 college basketball have lost 14 times. The current No. 1 ranked team in the country, Oklahoma (18-2) has lost twice in the month of January (109-106 to Kansas on 1/4, 82-77 to Iowa State on 1/18). In all, five No. 1 teams have already lost during the 2015-2016 college basketball season, the first time such a case has occurred since 1949.
All of the current top-10 teams in Monday’s newly released poll have at least two losses. With all the losing going on, some may argue that there still is no clear No. 1 team in the country even with Oklahoma being ranked atop the polls. However, if you had to put a little math into the college basketball equation, both of the Sooners’ losses are a tad bit more acceptable than the losses by No. 2 North Carolina: unranked Northern Iowa (10-11), unranked Texas (12-7) and other such top-10 teams. Buddy Hield and the Sooners have been far more impressive over the entire course of the 2015-2016 college basketball season to this point, and therefore, deserve to be the No. 1 team in the country despite having two losses. However, several more losses for the Sooners could drop them from their No. 1 spot and allow North Carolina (18-2) or Kansas (16-3) to creep back in. That is, of course, assuming KU or UNC is able to not drop a couple more games as they already have this season.
The team that has been able to stay unbeaten the longest during the 2015-2016 college basketball season is currently No. 13 SMU, who was 18-0 heading into their game on Sunday against Temple (11-7). The Mustangs were defeated 89-80 by the Owls, ending their perfect season. The most insane part about this, however, is that even though SMU was able to stay unbeaten longer than any other team in college basketball this season, the Mustangs will not be going to the NCAA Tournament or the AAC Tournament due to sanctions posed by the NCAA for multiple recruitment and academic violations. So, arguably, one of the best teams in college basketball and the only team to make it to the last week of January undefeated still will not be playing in this year’s college basketball postseason, which is almost a perfect metaphor for the turmoil that has occurred in the college basketball landscape throughout this season.
Things We’ve Learned:
The State Of Iowa Is Cursed
Maybe the craziest part of this so far-chaotic 2015-2016 college basketball season is how much the state of Iowa has been a Native American burial ground for No. 1 teams, as three AP No. 1 teams have lost while playing on the road in the state of Iowa (No. 1 Oklahoma to No. 19 Iowa State, No. 1 North Carolina to unranked Northern Iowa, No. 1 Michigan State to unranked Iowa). It may be something in the water out on the plains, but No. 1 teams haven’t had any luck when traveling to the Hawkeye State.
Duke/Kentucky Have Fallen Off
Yes, Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils are coming off of a National Championship in 2015, but this is a completely different team than the one that was cutting down nets in Indianapolis last April. Without Jalil Okafor, the Dukies have not been anywhere nearly as dominant as they were on the glass a season ago and enter Monday night’s tilt against No. 15 Miami (15-3) losers of three out of their last four, including two home losses, as Duke (14-5) losing at Cameron Indoor has been almost unheard of over the last several decades. Obviously, a lot of basketball still has to be played and Duke could very well turn things around in a heartbeat and make a long tournament run. But right now, Grayson Allen and the Blue Devils need to get back on a winning pace before they are respected enough to earn back a spot in the top-10, as the Blue Devils have dropped all the way to No. 24 in the rankings.
Kentucky (15-4), meanwhile, looks like a completely different team than they were a year ago, but maybe that is because, well, they are. In fact, none of Kentucky’s starting five in 2015-2016 were starters during Big Blue’s run to the Final Four last season. The Wildcats are still ranked No. 20 in the country, and play in a SEC which is having yet another weak season in terms of producing top-level teams. Other than Kentucky, No. 5 Texas AM (18-2) is the only ranked SEC team in college basketball right now. Despite Kentucky’s early season struggles, if they can end the season with a group of wins (especially Feb 20th against AM) and run the table in the SEC Tournament, John Calipari’s team will still likely receive either a two or three seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Bracket Pools Are Going To Be Mayhem
If you thought your bracket pool was chaotic over the last several years with teams such as Davidson, Dayton, and Florida Gulf Coast cracking the Sweet 16, just wait until this spring. If all of this regular season losing by top-10 teams has meant anything, it is that no team in the country is safe, especially not in the NCAA Tournament. Looking ahead, an 11-seed over a 5-seed doesn’t even seem like it would be that big of an upset in this year’s tournament with all of the early season upsets the college basketball world has already seen. It could very likely not even happen at all, but do not be shocked if multiple No. 2 or No. 3 seeds are taken out in the first round of this year’s March Madness. Get ready for the most chaotic bracket pools of your life this season.