Top 25: Making a case for different No. 1
by Scott M Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
After a crazy weekend in college basketball in which the country’s last two undefeated teams — Duke and Michigan — were taken down, Louisville claimed the top spot in the latest USA TODAY Sports coaches poll, receiving 18 first-place votes.
The Cardinals looked like the best team in the country with their 73-58 road win at Connecticut on Monday.
But while the Cardinals are certainly worthy of carrying the torch as the nation’s best team, both No. 2 Indiana and No. 3 Duke received first place votes, while an argument can also be made for one-loss teams No. 4 Michigan and No. 5 Kansas.
Here’s a breakdown of each team’s resume that can help paint a picture for which team might take over next if Louisville were to lose in its top-10 clash against Big East rival Syracuse on Saturday:
Making a case for No. 2 Indiana: Back in December, it seemed like that loss to Butler was worth five losses for the aftereffect it had on the preseason No. 1 Hoosiers. But much like John Calipari warning the country that voters were ludicrous to put his Kentucky team at No. 3 to start the season, coach Tom Crean has been straightforward about where his team is at in a long season. “There’s no question with the long season, we’ve got to be a lot better,” Crean said after Indiana’s win against Minnesota on Saturday that showed flashes of brilliance (taking a 23-point halftime lead against a hot Minnesota team) and vulnerability (the Gophers stormed back with a 19-7 run but fell short of a comeback). Indiana’s ranking ahead of Duke is rather surprising considering the Hoosiers’ once-signature wins against North Carolina and Georgetown don’t look as good now that those teams have plummeted recently. A scenario in which the Hoosiers would ascend to No. 1 would be if Duke and Louisville lose once and they beat Wisconsin at home Wednesday and Northwestern on the road Sunday.
Making a case for No. 3 Duke: It’s tough to argue with the country’s best RPI and the fact that Duke has … [For more on Top 25 Stock Watch: Making a case for a different No. 1, click here.]