What a time to be alive. That is, unless you're the coach of a highly ranked college basketball team. If you are, (1) thanks for reading this blog, (2) are you getting enough sleep at night since everyone and their mom is losing these days, (3) can I interview for a spot on your staff?
The month of January in the collegiate hoops landscape, has been bloodier than a wedding in Westeros. No one is safe. NO ONE.
Duke has lost three consecutive games to unranked teams--the last two at home--and more significantly, has been out of the Slippery Power Rankings for weeks. Not to be outdone, Michigan State is on a three-game losing streak of its own.
Kentucky has slipped out of the national conversation and could be headed to the NIT; and people are trying to fight the Monmouth Bench. The madness has started early folks, buckle up!
On the Bubble: Texas, Purdue, Iowa State
No. 11 - Indiana (16-3, LW: NR)
Congratulations to Yogi Ferrell on becoming Indiana's all-time assists leader! I feel like I've been watching Ferrell for the last decade, and the fact that he's notched over 550 career assists confirms that I have. After some early season stumbles, the Hoosiers have righted the ship and are 6-0 in Big-10 play. While they've yet to play the truly elite teams in their conference (are there actually truly elite teams this year??), the Hoosiers can score on anyone and are a team to watch moving forward.
Watch it again: @YogiFerrell11 breaks the #iubb career assist record... https://t.co/H7bOkBjBjj— Indiana Basketball (@IndianaMBB) January 20, 2016
No. 10 - Kansas (15-3, LW: 5)
The Jayhawks got blown out in Stillwater by Oklahoma State, and don't get a break this weekend when they play a Texas squad that just knocked off West Virginia. Bill Self is finally bringing Cheick Diallo back into the fold as the big freshman has logged 34 minutes in the last two games, after only playing 33 minutes total in the six games prior. While Kansas has arguably the deepest squad in the nation, they will need Diallo to be a contributor if they want to make the Final Four.
No. 9 - Louisville (15-3, LW: NR)
Have yourself a night, Donovan Mitchell! That dunk got me like
No. 8 - Baylor (14-3, LW: On the Bubble)
The Baylor Bears make their debut in the Slippery Power Rankings after rising to the top of a very tough Big-12.
It's not very often that the #1 team in the country is fourth in its conference. Despite the success of the Bears this season, they're still only the second best thing in Waco, Texas after Chip and Joanna Gaines.
No. 7 - Maryland (17-2, LW: NR)
The following statement is probably true about every team on this list, but it really feels like Maryland could make a Final Four run or get knocked out in the first game of the tournament. I've yet to watch this team and come away impressed by anything they do, yet they find ways to win most of the time. That ability will come in handy when the calendar turns to March. The continued development of Diamond Stone, paired with the steady play of Melo Trimble, gives Maryland a potentially devastating inside-out combo.
No. 6 - Texas A&M (16-2, LW: 11)
An ancillary benefit to the rise of the Aggies is that Gonzaga's loss to them during the Battle 4 Atlantis shouldn't hurt them too much in the eyes of the committee when it comes time for bracket selection. If only the Zags could notch some W's against the quality teams on their schedule...
No. 5 - SMU (18-0, LW: 7)
Please keep winning until February 13. PLEASE!
Signed, All Gonzaga Fans
No. 4 - Oklahoma (15-2, LW: 1)
Tough loss for the Sooners in Ames on Monday night just hours after being dubbed the nation's newest #1. The loss made Oklahoma the fifth #1 to go down before the end of January, which is notable since that hasn't happened since 1949. OU looked mentally and physically exhausted against the Cyclones, which is not surprising considering they've had to battle against Iowa State (twice), Kansas (3OT), West Virginia (that press defense), Oklahoma State (in-state rival), and Kansas State all since the start of the month. They don't get a break either as they have to play Baylor this weekend. Somehow, the Big-12 has become the murderer's row of college basketball.
No. 3 - Villanova (16-2, LW: 2)
Villanova stays near the top of the rankings, and their athletes are better at basic math than USC athletes.
Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan pic.twitter.com/Zzu1jQLe9D— NO CHILL SPORTS (@NoChiIlSports) January 20, 2016
No. 2 - North Carolina (17-2, LW: 6)
The arrival of Brice Johnson as a legitimate star ("it only took four years" - any UNC fan) has helped buoy the Tar Heels during a period of great turbulence for the rest of the top ranked teams. Roy Williams has a team full of experienced players. In an era where one-and-done players litter their rivals' rosters, the Tar Heels don't have a single freshman taking up significant minutes in their rotation. It may not be surprising then that a group that has played together for several years finds itself in position to re-take the #1 ranking when the next AP poll gets released on Monday.
No. 1 - Iowa (14-3, LW: 8)
Something is brewing in the fields of Iowa. Three different #1 teams have met their doom in the Hawkeye State (UNC lost to Northern Iowa in bufuville, MSU lost to Iowa in Iowa City, and Oklahoma lost to Iowa State in Ames). While the Hawkeyes can't take credit for all of that, I'm going to lump all of that state success into this paragraph because...I don't have a good reason, but there's no rhyme or reason to this season.