Why Kansas, Syracuse could be No. 1 soon
by Scott M Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
Now that Duke reclaimed the top spot in the USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll after spending a mere week off its mantle as the nation’s top team, it’s time to examine teams that have the potential to replace the Blue Devils.
No. 2 Kansas, No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 Syracuse received No. 1 votes. Here’s each team’s chances of becoming the nation’s top team.
Kansas’ case for No. 1: The Jayhawks’ 15 consecutive wins helped their cause to be No. 2 this week and their only loss, against Michigan State in November, isn’t a big stain considering the Spartans’ recent poll rise to No. 11. Kansas’ RPI of 3 is a bonus, too. A 64-59 win against a tougher-than-advertised Texas team likely didn’t help KU’s case. If Duke loses, No. 1 is Kansas’ to take. Ben McLemore continues to look like one of the best freshmen in the country.
Syracuse’ case for No. 1: The Orange proved they belong in the conversation with a 70-68 road victory against then-No. 1 Louisville last week, but a four-point non-conference loss to Temple wasn’t exactly a good loss and Syracuse’s other Big East wins aren’t all that impressive. An RPI of 11 also doesn’t help. Michael Carter Williams leads the nation in assists and carried the Orange in their big win against the Cardinals down the stretch.
Michigan’s case for No. 1: The Wolverines’ recent road win against Minnesota was a perfect bounce-back from their first loss of the season to Ohio State. But Wisconsin’s win against Indiana and Michigan State’s win against Ohio State prove there’s no room for a slip-up in a heated Big Ten. Michigan’s one loss came on the road against a top-20 team in Ohio State, but upcoming games against weaker Big Ten teams will make it difficult for the Wolverines to surpass Duke or Kansas. Trey Burke is a legitimate player of the year candidate.
The Butler vs. Indiana debate:
The Hoosiers and Bulldogs find themselves in the top 10 for the first time this season. No. 8 Indiana is one place ahead of No. 9 … [For more on Top 25 Stock Watch: Why Kansas, Syracuse could be No. 1 soon, click here.]