If you have the same sorts of mood-swings that college basketball showcases, please stay away from me.
Last Saturday epitomized this season. Wisconsin sent Michigan into overtime on a last-second Ben Brust heave from just beyond midcourt, then beat the Wolverines. Notre Dame defeated Louisville in five overtimes, with a backup center named Garrick Sherman scoring 17 points after not playing in the game’s first 43 minutes.
That was kooky enough, but the latest Associated Press Top 25 has enough unusual quirks to be a full season of Sheldon Cooper in “The Big Bang Theory.”
Miami, which had never been ranked higher than eighth in school history, is No. 3. College basketball had been about as important a part of Miami as snow plows.
Kansas State is ranked higher than Kansas.
Colorado State, led by former Iowa State coach Larry Eustachy, is 24th. That puts it ahead of Kentucky and North Carolina.
Only 15 of the teams ranked a year ago today are ranked right now, and just 11 of the teams that were ranked two years ago today are in the current Top 25.
In football, Alabama has won back-to-back national-championships. In basketball, Kentucky has gone from No. 1 last year to No. 25 now.
Nothing showcases the fluidity of college hoops better than the Big Ten. It wasn’t that long ago when the league was regarded as being down in basketball. Two years ago, it had three teams ranked in Week 15. Now? It has three teams in the top 8 alone, and five overall, with Minnesota just a few votes out of the Top 25.
Indiana was 3-15 in the final Big Ten standings just two seasons ago. Today the Hoosiers are tied with Michigan State for the league-league at 9-2.
Michigan was 9-9 in the Big Ten in 2011, tied with none other than Penn State, which reached the NCAA tournament that season. Today, Michigan is 8-3 in the conference and ranked No. 4. The Nittany Lions, meanwhile, are 0-11 in the Big Ten amd may finish 0-18 if they don’t beat Iowa at home Thursday night.
Some of the changes have come all of a sudden, with teams freezing up. Kansas was 19-1 overall, 7-0 in the Big 12. Now it’s 19-4, 7-3, with its first three-game losing streak in eight years.
Creighton was 20-3 overall and had been ranked all season long. Then it played unranked Indiana State and unranked Illinois State. Now the Bluejays are 20-5 and unranked themselves. They go to Northern Iowa Wednesday, and might be the underdog.
In positive surprises, Illinois had been wheezing at 2-7 in the Big Ten. So it beat No. 1 Indiana Thursday in Champaign, then won at Minnesota Sunday. Indiana, meanwhile, turned around three days after its upset loss by going to Ohio State and handling the then-No. 10 Buckeyes, 81-68.
Don’t rule out anything. For all we know, Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa will all power through the rest of February and the first two weeks of March to join the Field of 68 in the NCAA tourney.
Stranger things have happened, and just in the last few days.
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