What team becomes No.1 if Indiana falls?
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
Once again, there’s a new No. 1 team in college basketball. And once again, we could see a No. 1 team fall.
Indiana’s return to the top spot of the Coaches Poll could be short-lived with Tuesday’s 7 p.m. matchup at No. 5 Michigan State, a team coming off a 23-point victory over Michigan. The Hoosiers (23-3) and Spartans (22-4) are both 11-2 in a heated Big Ten Conference race.
If Indiana falls, since it is indeed highly probable, what team would vault its way into the No.1 spot?
Miami, Gonzaga, Florida and Michigan State all round out the current top five and all four No.1 candidates.
The case for Miami (seven first-place votes) at No. 1: The Hurricanes (21-3) barely escaped Clemson with a 45-43 victory that helped them leapfrog Gonzaga to become the nation’s No. 2 team in the Coaches Poll. Miami is still undefeated in Atlantic Coast Conference play at 12-0. Remember, the Hurricanes throttled the same Duke team that was No. 1 last week by 27 points. It wasn’t just an upset, it was a domination. Miami, which holds the second-best RPI in the country, has two daunting losses (Indiana State, Florida Gulf Coast) that make it difficult to picture as the No. 1 team, but zero losses in ACC action, regardless of the year, is impressive. Miami plays Virginia on Tuesday and then faces ACC doormats Wake Forest and Virginia Tech before a rematch with the Blue Devils on March 2.
The case for Gonzaga (three first-place votes) at No. 1: The Bulldogs (25-2) have won eight consecutive games and their only two losses came against respectable opponents (Illinois and Butler). Still, it’s difficult to foresee a team from the West Coast as the No. 1 team in the country, even if it is Gonzaga. The Zags RPI of 11 doesn’t make a strong argument and neither does its strength of schedule. Gonzaga plays Santa Clara on Wednesday, but almost every team in the top five would have to lose for the top team title to go to the Bulldogs.