College Basketball Midseason Report: Several Top Teams Make Their Run Toward March

If I could use one word to describe the current college basketball season, it would have to be volatile. Week after week the top 10 teams have been changing and with very little consistency throughout. Kentucky, a preseason favorite and perennial powerhouse, is currently ranked twentieth, which few people saw coming. Wisconsin, last years’ runner up, is 12-9 and is not in the Top 25. Surprisingly, teams like Iowa, Texas A&M, Xavier and Providence are all in the Top ten. Providence wasn’t ranked in the preseason polls and has jumped all the way to the No. 10 spot. This is largely due to the sensational play of Kris Dunn who is undoubtedly a top player in college basketball. These surprise teams of the first half will not last to the end. In my mind, there are six teams out there that will be contending for a No. 1 seed come March Madness. Those teams are Kansas, Maryland, Michigan State, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Duke. These teams have been historically great, and by the end of the season I believe they will largely represent the top 6 teams.

What has made this season particularly unusual is that very few teams have been able to hold a top five ranking on a consistent basis. In fact, this may be one of the worst years for top ranked teams in the history of college basketball. If we look at the statistics in the last five years, the average combined losses of the Top 10 teams through 12 weeks have been 17. This year, top ten teams have combined for 26 losses, which serves to reflect just how volatile and inconsistent this season has been. There really isn’t a standout pick for the No. 1 team in the country.

While there isn’t a clear pick for the top team in the country, it is pretty known who the best three players have been. There is the rookie sensation Ben Simmons, who Magic Johnson called the “best-all around player I’ve seen since LeBron James came out of high school straight to the NBA.” Simmons has taken the nation by storm and is a near lock for the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. He is averaging a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds per game. There is senior Denzel Valentine, who has led the Michigan State Spartans to a 17-4 record and is averaging 18 points per game. Finally, the best player in the nation has to be Buddy Hield. Not only has he lead the Oklahoma Sooners to the number one ranking in the country, but he is also averaging 26 points per game.  His ability to close games late in the second half is unmatched by Valentine and Simmons. All three of these players, as well as Dunn, have been absolutely tremendous to date.

From what I have seen through the first 12 weeks, I believe that UNC will be the national champions. What I like about them is their depth and that they don’t have one superstar player. It seems as if every night a new player is stepping up and scoring them the victory. In conclusion, the fact that there isn’t a clear Top 5 bodes well to make March as mad as ever.