By Sam Cowan
It feels like Kentucky’s nearly-undefeated season in 2015 was a long time ago with all the top-ranked teams suffering losses this season.
Last year, the Kentucky Wildcats took college basketball by storm and came two tournament wins away from the first perfect season since the Indiana Hoosiers in 1976.
This year, it seems like we can’t go a week without a top-5 team dropping a game or two.
The most recent casualty was No. 3 Virginia who dropped a game to No. 12 Miami on the road Monday. Granted a loss like that is barely an upset, but it is still indicative of the atmosphere of this season which has featured teams sliding up and down the polls weekly.
In total, top-5 teams have suffered 33 losses this season and that number is only going to go up with conference schedules winding down. In total, 13 teams have been ranked in the top-5 this season.
With the beginning of conference tournaments seven days away, there have been six different teams to hold the No. 1 spot in the polls this season.
The longest-reigning No. 1 this season has been Michigan State at four weeks and the current-reigning No. 1 Villanova is right behind them entering their third week at the top. This could potentially be the first season since polls began in which no team holds the top spot for five consecutive weeks.
No. 1 teams have gone a combined 20-6 this season while ranked in the top spot. In neutral and home games, they are actually a perfect 14-0, but a mediocre 6-6 record on the road is what has doomed big name programs like North Carolina, Kansas, and Oklahoma.
The Villanova Wildcats have been one of the most consistent teams in college basketball winning their last seven games, but with a game on the road against No. 5 Xavier on Wednesday at 6 p.m. CST, they could be the next No. 1 to fall.
That game, which Xavier is a slight favorite in, actually represented a double whammy because if Villanova wins, we have another top-5 loss, but if Xavier wins, we will likely have yet another new No. 1 team.
What does all this mean for college basketball fans? Well, it means we could see one of the more intriguing NCAA tournaments in a while.
With no clear favorite, the debate over seeding will be interesting enough as it is and the potential for upsets in the early round is high.
There may not be a juggernaut in the NCAA like Kentucky last season, but the intrigue surrounding the tournament should still be very high.