College hoops polls might be inconsequential noise, but that doesn't make the arguments any less fun. In that spirit, I present the creatively named Poll Thoughts, which you can expect every Monday until the season is over.
I’m substituting for Eamonn Brennan for this week’s Poll Thoughts. But I’m sure we share the same views on the most recent developments in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll.
For the fifth consecutive week, we have a new No. 1. They call them the Hoosiers. The recent movement is an extension of the parity that college basketball has this season. We don’t have a truly dominant program.
This is the first time we’ve had five different No. 1 teams in consecutive weeks since the 2008-09 season. That year the last five polls featured new No. 1 programs: Connecticut, Pitt, Connecticut (again), North Carolina and Louisville.
Indiana, which has won five in a row, deserves this. The Hoosiers’ big win over then-No. 1 Michigan on Saturday ended any arguments about their status as the top team in the country.
But they’ll travel to Illinois on Thursday and Ohio State on Sunday. The Wolverines were the presumed No. 1 team in America and then, they lost in Columbus. No guarantees.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Hoosiers have been No. 1 for six different weeks, a stretch the program hasn’t matched since its undefeated season in 1975-76. Another interesting fact? The Hoosiers were never No. 1 when they won national titles in 1980-81 and 1986-87.
But with all of the chaos at the top, we know we can’t make any assumptions. Let’s see how long the Hoosiers hold onto this spot.
Other thoughts on this week’s poll:
Florida is climbing. The Gators are No. 2, a two-spot change from last week’s poll. The Gators have been the most dominant team in America in recent weeks. They’ve defeated their last 10 opponents by 14 points or more. Yes, the SEC is the country’s weakest “power” conference. But the Gators just smashed an Ole Miss team that appeared to be its toughest competition in the league entering last week.
I think the voters made the right move in dropping Michigan to No. 3. Anyone who watched that game could see that two of the top three or four programs in America were on that floor in Bloomington. The Hoosiers were the better team that night, but the Wolverines were good, too.
Ditto for Kansas at No. 5. That’s reasonable for a team that had won 18 games in a row and 33 consecutive matchups at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks have some issues that can’t be ignored. Bill Self isn’t even sure he has a point guard. But they lost to an Oklahoma State squad that played out of its mind on Saturday. Kansas is still king, however, in the Big 12.
Miami (FL) is the real deal. The Hurricanes jumped eight spots after a last-second road win over NC State. Reggie Johnson’s return was another boost for a program that’s playing like the best team in the ACC right now. It’s been an amazing ride for a squad that lost to Florida Gulf Coast (without Durand Scott, who was serving a suspension) on Nov. 13.
I have Butler at No. 14 in my power rankings this week, same slot the Bulldogs occupy in the new AP poll. But I wouldn’t have had a problem with a lower slot somewhere in the top 20. Last week’s lopsided loss to Saint Louis was a major disappointment for a team that had a chance to prove it was the frontrunner for the Atlantic 10 crown.
Minnesota is way too high at No. 18. I’m not even sure the Gophers deserve a ranking. They escaped Sunday’s win over Iowa via Austin Hollins’ 3-pointer in the final seconds. But the Gophers were outplayed for the bulk of a matchup against a 3-6 Big Ten team. They’ve lost to Northwestern and Wisconsin in recent weeks. And they should have lost to the Hawkeyes. I watched the game Sunday. The Gophers didn’t look like the 18th-best team in America. That’s too high in my book.
Welcome Oklahoma State (No. 22) and Pitt (No. 23) to the polls. Both teams earned spots in this week’s rankings after wins over Kansas and Syracuse, respectively. Welcome … Notre Dame? Is that the proper reward for an overtime win over a DePaul team that’s lost seven of its first eight Big East games?
Just waiting to hear more on Missouri’s case for this No. 21 slot after last week’s road loss to LSU. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t figure it out. Maybe you all can help me understand this one.
Saint Louis beat Butler by 17 points. Crushed Dayton by 29. The Billikens are a versatile team that’s lost two games since November. It’s OK to rank them. Just saying.