Power Ranking The Remaining 12 One-Loss Teams In College Basketball
Is No. 1 Louisville Truly The Best Team In The Nation?
As the Duke Blue Devils, Michigan Wolverines and Arizona Wildcats lost this past week, the possibility of an undefeated season in college basketball this season ceased. Now, 12 teams remain with one loss, and eight of them make up the top eight spots in the AP Top 25 Poll.
Thus, after the Wolverines’ loss, many were wondering who would be the next chosen No. 1 team in the country. After much speculation, the AP announced Monday afternoon that the Louisville Cardinals were now the top team in the land.
But, as Indiana, Duke, Kansas and Michigan all earned votes, 13, 14, 1 and 1, respectively, it begs to question if Louisville is truly the best team in the country.
With that, it’s time to determine which school is the best of the remaining one-loss teams.
Jake Fischer is the CAA Correspondent for Rant Sports-NCAA Basketball. Make sure to follow Jake on Twitter @JakeLFischer.
No. 12- Utah State Aggies
While this school is more commonly know as a football university, Utah State has gotten off to an incredible start this season. Now 5-0 in the WAC, the Aggies are by far the best team in their conference and look to maintain a top-100 RPI as NCAA Tournament hopes are growing more realistic with each game.
No. 11- Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
Despite playing in a relatively weak Southland Conference, the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks still rank 61st in RPI and are unbeaten in conference play at 5-0. The Lumberjacks are using a pretty great brand of basketball to win as well. Averaging 16.9 assists per game as a team, 16th in the nation, SF Austin has seven players scoring between 4.1 and 15.3 points per game. With a well-rounded offensive attack, this team looks like the clear top candidate for the Southland Conference.
No. 10- Wyoming Cowboys
The Wyoming Cowboys were undefeated until they fell to Boise State on January 9. If they scored three more points, and didn’t fall, 63-61, for the first time this season, the Cowboys would be the only undefeated team left in Division I men’s basketball. But, What holds Wyoming back from being higher on this list is their RPI and Strength of Schedule, of which they rank 40th and just 188th in the nation, respectively.
No. 9- Arizona Wildcats
While Arizona suffered their first loss of the season to the Oregon Ducks on January 10, the Wildcats arguably should have lost their three games prior to that defeat. In those three close games, all of which Arizona either won in overtime or by three points or less, were full on controversy and moments that seemed to scream a loss for Arizona. Most notably, the controversial buzzer-beater that wasn’t against Colorado comes to mind. Nonetheless, the Wildcats still only have one loss, but that might change soon in a very competitive Pac-12.
No. 8- Creighton Bluejays
The No. 12 Creighton Bluejays are another stellar mid-major this season. And, to many doubters’ chagrin, this team is truly well rounded. Outside of Doug McDermott, Creighton has 6 players averaging between 6.4 points and 10.4 points. Now, looking at McDermott’s 23.6 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists, you also are looking at the stat line of the leading candidate for National Player of the Year.
No. 7- Syracuse Orange
Even after losing Kris Joseph, Dion Waiters and Fab Melo to the NBA this summer, the No. 6 Syracuse Orange are absolutely killing it. Like all true college basketball programs, Syracuse has replaced those names with equally talented players. A true test to the Orange’s depth: a 72-61 victory over a quality Villanova team without senior James Southerland. However, Syracuse’s RPI is just 12th despite their AP ranking.
No. 6- Gonzaga Bulldogs
Can the No. 8 Gonzaga Bulldogs even be considered a mid-major anymore? They’re beating up on talented high major teams. This season, they’ve beaten West Virginia, Clemson, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Baylor and then No. 22 Oklahoma State by an average winning margin of 15.2 points per game. This team is legit.
No. 5- Louisville Cardinals
Entering the 2012-2013 season, the No. 1 Louisville Cardinals were predicted to finish the year better than their in-state rival Kentucky Wildcats, who ended their 2011-2012 season. Now, Louisville has looked absolutely dominant while Kentucky is no longer even ranked. Louisville’s one loss on the year? A five-point defeat at the hands of then No. 5 Duke at the Battle of Atlantis Tournament. Since that loss, the Cardinals are 10-0 and have been absolutely dominant, with a winning margin of 21.5 points per game. However, the nation’s new top team is just 9th in RPI.
No. 4- Indiana Hoosiers
The No. 2 Indiana Hoosiers are arguably the most complete team in the country. They boast an incredible lineup as well. Featuring sophomore sensation Cody Zeller, a rising star in Victor Oladipo, senior standout Christian Watford, sharpshooter Jordan Hulls and all-purpose forward Will Sheehey, the Hoosiers are sitting pretty. Their only loss was by two points, in overtime against storied rival Butler. They’re basically undefeated…
No. 3- Kansas Jayhawks
The No. 4 Kansas Jayhawks are hot. And, if you want to test the true heat of this team, just take a look at their success at home. Under head coach Bill Self, the Jayhawks have won 100 of their last 101 games in Allen Fieldhouse. Currently, Kansas is riding a 31-game winning streak at home. If you watched their overtime victory over Iowa State on January 9, you truly saw just how magical this team is at home. With 7 of their remaining 15 games at home, Kansas will definitely be singing the words of Dorothy, “There’s no place like home…”
No. 2- Michigan Wolverines
The No. 5 Michigan Wolverines had a clear-cut path to the No. 1 overall ranking following a certain ACC team’s loss down in Raleigh, N. C. However, the Wolverines fell to Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio. But, Michigan’s ability to make a run and truly compete in the second half in an adverse environment is definitely positive sign for things moving forward. What clearly separates Big Blue from the other teams in the nation is their abundance of talented wing players. Not many other teams can sport a lineup that can matchup with the likes of Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III. As the NBA is clearly on the horizon or these talented players, a Number 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament should also be in Michigan’s crystal ball.
No. 1- Duke Blue Devils
Here are some facts about No. 3 Duke: They’re first in RPI ranking and first in strength of schedule. A stat-line like that usually belongs to an undefeated team midway through the college basketball season. But, today, Duke’s flurry of injuries has them makes them simply mortal. Losing Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry are pretty devastating hits to a team, no matter how talented as a whole. While they’re not 100 percent healthy, the Blue Devils are still a powerhouse in the nation, but no longer the top dog.