Indiana makes a case to stay at No. 1
by Mike Lopresti, USA TODAY Sports
COLUMBUS, Ohio — What if nobody is No. 1?
Maybe college basketball overflows this season with a lot of No. 2s and 3s, and we wait for someone’s signature victory to give us a clue, as they come and go at the top. A sign that karma might indeed choose a frontrunner by March.
Sunday, it looked like Indiana.
Here, at last, was a No. 1 team playing like a No. 1 team, dominating No. 10 Ohio State 81-68. A day when three players — Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and Christian Watford — all had at least 20 points and missed only 10 of 32 shots. A day when the Hoosiers beat a top-10 team on the road for the first time in more than 12 years.
Finally, an unimpeachable argument for a No. 1 team to stay No. 1. Finally, you begin to see the makings of a team comfortable with its burden.
“I really don’t think we’ve scratched the surface on how good we can be,” Oladipo said. “We want to be the last one standing.”
Except the Hoosiers will probably be voted out of the top spot Monday because of a stunning loss at Illinois. The curvy road in the rankings.
“The only one that will matter is the one at the end of the season,” Zeller said Sunday. “So we don’t worry about it too much.”
Lots of bad things have happened this season to lots of good teams.
Duke went from No. 1 to losing by 27 points to Miami.
Louisville and Kansas went from No. 1 to three-game losing streaks.
Three days ago, the No. 1 Hoosiers blew a 10-point lead in the last minutes, and left an Illini player alone in his own ZIP code for a game-winning layup at the end.
Two days ago, Tom Crean began Indiana practice with a homily on the need to put teams … [For more on Indiana makes a case to stay at No. 1, click here.]