Rayno's college basketball insider: No clear favorites

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO
  • Updated: February 2, 2013 - 9:22 AM

 The top team in college basketball this season has been a game of musical chairs. With no dominant team emerging, the run for No. 1 could be an exciting one.

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Louisville head coach Rick Pitino talks with guard Peyton Siva, left, guard Russ Smith, guard/forward Wayne Blackshear, and center Gorgui Dieng.

Photo: Alex Brandon, Associated Press

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At this time last season, we already were pretty sure about the favorite to win the national championship and the supposed Player of the Year.

Kentucky and its star forward/center, Anthony Davis, took over college basketball and led the way from the start of January all the way through the NCAA tournament, with Davis and the Wildcats winning all the trophies they were supposed to win.

This year, however, is a much different story. The No. 1 team in the land already has changed four times, most recently with the elevation of Michigan to the top spot for the first time this season on Monday.

The best player in the country is an argument encompassing a handful of candidates, none of whom is without flaw. The conversations will undoubtedly continue to bend and fluctuate as upsets keep shaking up the top of the rankings.

So basically, this season has become incredibly up for grabs. But does unpredictable equal bad? Does the fact that no team or player has really taken the reins mean it's a down year for college basketball?

"Some people think that parity means bad," CBSSports.com bracketologist Jerry Palm said. "But I don't think that's necessarily true. It just means the talent is spread out. ... We haven't had a team like last year's Kentucky team. We haven't had anybody out there like that, that's that good, that dominant. But that's just going to make things exciting."

Some analysts, though, have hypothesized that teams are playing at a slower rate in general. On Saturday, Northern Illinois made headlines after managing to score only 25 points -- and only four in the first half -- against Eastern Michigan. In another game this season, at Dayton on Dec. 1, the Huskies managed only five points in the first half.

Palm, who enters every Division I score into his database by hand, said he's noticed more low scores than usual this season.

"I cannot believe how many scores I see in the 30s and 40s this year," he said. "I'm always saying, 'Gosh, that's another team that scored in the 30s and they won!'"

But even if that's true, along with the lack of a dominant team, college basketball isn't losing any fans in a season that figures to be unpredictable right up until the end.

With Indiana, Duke, Louisville and Michigan all taking turns at the top spot, Kansas -- which is currently Palm's No. 1 seed overall -- might make its move soon as it dominates its Big 12 opponents.

But the field of potential champions is much wider than that. Syracuse, Florida, Arizona, Miami, Michigan State and a handful of others all could probably be in that conversation.

"This year? Good luck filling out a bracket for your pool," Palm said. "You legitimately don't know who's going to win this thing. I mean, Gonzaga? Gonzaga is good enough to win the tournament this year."

SHORT TAKES

• What, exactly, is allowed on the back of a basketball teams' jerseys got some attention recently when the NCAA turned down requests from Iowa -- which wanted to put the name of a former player who died on the back of the jersey of every player -- and Akron, which wanted to use the team's Twitter handle for all its players.

According to the NCAA rule book, which states that the jersey must "identify the school, the school nickname or mascot, or the player's name," the second could actually be allowed (but wasn't). In light of the recent conundrums and obvious institutional desire for creativity, John Infante of the Bylaw blog suggested each team should get to ignore the limitations for one night each year, which could get interesting.

• When Michigan's drought between No. 1 appearances in the AP poll ended Monday after more than two decades, no doubt many Wolverines fans thought their wait was unbearable. But in reality, of all the teams that have been No. 1 at least twice (56 teams have reached that pinnacle overall) since the poll was started in 1949, Michigan's 20-year, one-month, 29-day stint ranked only eighth on the list of longest breaks between that achievement (first reported by the Wall Street Journal). Ohio State is first with 44 years, 11 months and 14 days in between 1962 and 2007. Bonus info: The Gophers are ranked 37th (out of 198 teams) in terms of number of poll appearances with 223.

• Gophers fans have nothing to complain about with Mo Walker's 1 1/2-year absence because of knee and ankle injuries. St. Mary's guard Paul McCoy hadn't played in more than three years before Jan. 19 after undergoing four surgeries on his right knee. The 22-year-old Oregon native is playing limited minutes for the Gaels, writes Paul Buker of the Oregonian, but it's hard not to admire the determination to (finally) make a return.

BIG TEN POWER POLL

  

1. Michigan: Trey Burke is playing out of his mind, plus the Wolverines had only two turnovers against Northwestern on Wednesday.

2. Indiana: I can't really wait for Saturday night's matchup against Michigan at Assembly Hall.

3. Michigan State: Despite a Jan. 27 loss to the Hoosiers, the Spartans are playing their best basketball right now.

4. Ohio State: We've been wondering all year who else is going to score for the Buckeyes, but so far Deshaun Thomas -- even as the only major threat -- cannot be stopped.

5. Wisconsin: The Badgers still have three victories over ranked teams within the past month.

6. Minnesota: We saw some hints of the early 2012-13 Gophers against Nebraska, which might be enough to pull the team out of its recent slump.

7. Iowa: At least we know the Hawkeyes can win the tempo-altered games.

8. Illinois: I'm not saying the Illini couldn't potentially beat anyone -- when a team has that type of shooting, it can -- but otherwise this team is off the tracks.

9. Purdue: A 37-point loss to Indiana? Yikes.

10. Northwestern: Their style will always make them sticky. But right now, the Wildcats don't have the talent to consistently compete.

11. Nebraska: It's a bad night when a team shoots 63.6 percent in the first half, as the Huskers did against the Gophers last Tuesday, and still loses by 19 points.

12. Penn State: D.J. Newbill is doing everything he can, but it's just not enough.

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Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia 0 Top 5th Inning
Oakland 0
Toronto 1 Bottom 4th Inning
NY Yankees 2
Arizona 0 Bottom 4th Inning
Colorado 4
Boston - R. De La Rosa 6:05 PM
Baltimore - C. Tillman
Milwaukee - M. Garza 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez
Washington - J. Zimmermann 6:10 PM
Miami - J. Cosart
NY Mets - J. Niese 6:10 PM
Atlanta - M. Minor
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - C. Archer
Cleveland - T. House 6:10 PM
Minnesota - T. May
Seattle - C. Young 6:10 PM
Houston - D. Keuchel
Cincinnati - M. Leake 6:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Wacha
San Francisco - Y. Petit 7:40 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Texas - C. Lewis 8:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 4th Qtr 1:08
Colorado 21
Marshall 41 4th Qtr 4:15
Akron 10
Army 21 3rd Qtr
Wake Forest 14
Virginia 16 3rd Qtr
(21) BYU 13
(6) Texas A&M 38 3rd Qtr
SMU 3
Rutgers 24 3rd Qtr
Navy 14
Central Mich 3 3rd Qtr
Kansas 7
Utah 13 3rd Qtr
Michigan 10
North Carolina 20 2nd Qtr 1:48
East Carolina 28
Florida 14 2nd Qtr 1:23
(3) Alabama 21
Louisville 7 2nd Qtr 13:31
FIU 0
Texas State 14 Delayed 13:35
Illinois 6
Fla Atlantic 6 3rd Qtr
Wyoming 10
San Jose St 7 3rd Qtr
Minnesota 17
Indiana 14 2nd Qtr 2:50
(18) Missouri 14
Massachusetts 0 2nd Qtr 1:53
Penn State 27
Georgia State 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 4:00 PM
Portland
Houston 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
New England 6:30 PM
Columbus
San Jose 6:30 PM
Montreal
Seattle 6:30 PM
Red Bull New York
D.C. 7:30 PM
Chicago
FC Dallas 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

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