Sorting out surprising college basketball year
by Mike Lopresti, USA TODAY Sports
Kentucky on the bubble? Wisconsin alone in the Big Ten lead? The RPI power ratings being flooded by that brute of a basketball conference … the Mountain West?
And did the hottest team in the Pac-12 really once lose to Cal Poly?
Just what’s going on out there?
In two months the NCAA will announce the cast for its little tournament, and much must be sorted between now and then. March Madness has to beware January judgments.
For instance, we need to find out …
Kentucky is 64th in one latest RPI ranking, nine spots behind North Dakota State. John Calipari is to playing freshmen as McDonald’s is to selling cheeseburgers, but getting the kids to gel this year is obviously going a tad slowly. He’s been starting four, and that hasn’t happened in Lexington since 1944.
“In the last seven, eight years, I have coached teams that absolutely womped on people,” Calipari told reporters after beating Tennessee on Tuesday. “And this ain’t one of them.”
Meanwhile, North Carolina is seventh in the early Atlantic Coast Conference standings and 47th in the RPI — eight spots behind Bucknell.
But they’ll both be there at the end, right? Right?
One of the great anomalies of this sport, given the Cardinals’ lush tradition, is this being only the second week they have ever been at the top of the polls. Defense is driving the surge; nearly 33% of Louisville’s points have come off turnovers. The ranking might one day go, but the defense shouldn’t.
Here’s another Cardinal stat that has nothing to do with getting to No. 1 – or maybe it does. The team GPA for the fall semester was 3.41.
The preseason No. 1 Hoosiers have moments when they are the Indiana Juggernauts. But they were also beaten by a Butler walk-on, nearly blew a 23-point lead at … [For more on Sorting out a surprising college basketball season, click here.]