The More Serious Stuff

Breakdown: This Season in College Hoops

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Grant Anschuetz
Slump Sports Blogger

The latest men’s college basketball rankings were released today, and one thing is clear. There is no Goliath. At least not in the way that Kentucky was last year. The Wildcats ran the show of college hoops last year and it made for great debates about whether or not they could have a perfect season. The only team that has the chance to not lose a game this year is the Larry Brown led SMU Mustangs, but they are suspended from postseason play, so they have flown under the radar this season. Almost everyone has a shot at cutting down the nets this year. This is an interesting change from last year for college basketball fans to get used to. Let’s try to break down this season of hoops for the confused fan.

Accompanying the change of dominant teams is the change in rules. This season introduced the new 30-second shot clock as well as a number of rules implemented to allow players to move more freely on the court. To summarize their effect on the games played this season – barring a few outliers – is that scoring has increased and so have the number of fouls called. Whether or not the rule changes have had a significant impact on the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a dominant team is beyond me, but they are too influential on the style of play this year to overlook.

Back to the absence of elite teams this year, there is only one team that has found itself in the top 5 of the AP Top 25 rankings each of the 11 weeks it has been released. That team is Kansas who has losses on the year to Michigan State and West Virginia. Michigan State is 11th in the latest poll while West Virginia is 6th. That is not a bad resume by any means, but the team that is currently number one is a team that Kansas beat in a triple overtime thriller: Oklahoma.

It just goes to show that there are plenty of good teams and some great teams, but there isn’t a big separation in the quality of teams in the Top 25 rankings. There isn’t a team this year that – as a fan – you fear your favorite team playing. To simplify things: there isn’t a Kentucky. So hope that your team survives this up and down season and finds themselves in a slot on the March Madness bracket because that’s half the battle. From that point, it’s a wide-open race to see who will be left standing as champion.

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