Rayno's college basketball insider: Teams slip-sliding through the rankings

  • Updated: February 16, 2013 - 9:51 AM

  A lot of ranked teams have been rank in recent weeks, but that is not a rare occurrence over the past few seasons.

hide

Kansas players watch from the bench against Oklahoma.

Photo: Sue Ogrocki, Associated Press - Ap

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Perhaps everyone in and around Lawrence, Kan., breathed an overdue sigh of relief on Monday.

Kansas, by pounding conference rival Kansas State, looked like it would be just fine this college basketball season. And by all indications, Kansas will. The Jayhawks are not without their flaws, but they are just one of many examples of promising teams this season that have gone through momentary, even extended, bouts of less-than-stellar play --your local Gophers included.

The Gophers, Kansas, Oregon, Louisville and Illinois all have lost three consecutive games since the beginning of the calendar year while being ranked.

Not every team will pull out of that sinkhole -- the Gophers, for one, still have some work to do to get into out the NCAA tournament -- but for the good ones, a January or February slide can be simply part of the process that still leads to great things.

And although we have enjoyed talking about this season's craziness and unpredictability, these midseason slumps aren't really all that unusual.

According to STATS LLC, 10 teams combined in the previous two seasons (four in 2011-12 and six in 2010-11) lost at least three consecutive games while in the top 25: Georgetown, Michigan State, Washington, Texas A&M, Minnesota and Syracuse in 2010-11 and Creighton, Connecticut, Indiana and Wisconsin last year. All, except for the 2010-11 Minnesota team (sorry Gophers fans) went on to make the NCAA tournament and all, except for the 2010-11 Minnesota team (again, sorry) advanced to at least the second round.

Still, this season is distinctive with such high-ranking teams taking the nose dive -- including Kansas, which was as high as No. 2 in the AP poll, and Louisville, which went tumbling immediately after taking over the No. 1 spot. And these setbacks have only been magnified by the greater trend of wacky upsets happening all over college basketball, whether it be Arkansas trumping Florida by double digits or the completely unpredictable TCU rout of Kansas.

Those seemingly wild events, not to mention the rarity of road victories this year -- the Wall Street Journal reported that ranked teams had the lowest winning percentage in true road games in January and early February of the past six seasons -- have college basketball fans and media speculating about the strength of the sport and the uniqueness of this particular year.

But none of that is necessarily a predictor of eventual success, either.

Although the Gophers and Illinois have since fallen out of the rankings, all five of those ranked teams that have lost three consecutive games this season are still projected to be in the NCAA tournament, according to CBSSports.com bracketologist Jerry Palm, with Louisville and Kansas still holding 3 and 4 seeds, respectively, and Oregon occupying the lowest with a No. 9 seed.

That's right, Gophers fans. We're saying there's a chance.

RAYNO'S SHORT TAKES

• It's not very often that a court-rushing is justified in a Duke victory over North Carolina. But this week was one of those times. You don't remember fans piling down the bleachers after the Blue Devils' Wednesday comeback over the Tar Heels, you say? Nope, not that one. Before those teams went head-to-head, the team managers got after it, and the game's end, dare I say it, was more thrilling than the headliner. And perhaps even more stunning was the reaction. After Duke hit a buzzer-beater three-pointer to win, the fans in attendance -- fans in attendance at the managers' game? -- stormed the court. This is the depth of this rivalry.

• There's been plenty of renewed discussion contemplating the best strategy -- to foul or defend -- when up by three and an opponent has one final possession. Stats guru Ken Pomeroy comes down on the side of fouling even if he admits that his own numbers showed a slight advantage in the case of defending in that situation. Then Monday, we saw first-hand an example of how fouling could potentially work out in the favor of an opponent if everything works out just perfectly. In a Division III game between No. 2 Amherst and No. 3 Middlebury, Amherst's Willy Workman was fouled with 1.8 seconds left and his team trailing by three. He hit his first free throw, intentionally missed the second, then flew in for the rebound himself, laying the ball in and taking his team to overtime, where it eventually won. Tough to convert, certainly, but a good anecdote to continue the debate.

• There's a reason everyone is still stunned about third-ranked Miami (Fla.): this level of surprise doesn't happen that often. Since 1985, only 12 teams have advanced to the AP top 25 after starting the season unranked and spending the entire previous season unranked, CBSSports.com's Matt Norlander wrote this week. Michigan State in 1989-90 was one of those 12 teams. What's more, if Miami (11-0 in the ACC) reaches No. 1, it will be the first team with the previous qualifiers to do so.

BIG TEN POWER POLL

1. Michigan State: It's hard to say any team has more momentum than the Spartans right now.

2. Indiana: The Hoosiers didn't spend much time mulling over the Illinois loss, defeating Ohio State and Nebraska.

3. Michigan: The Spartans overwhelmed the Wolverines in the paint, a weakness that has been exposed a little more lately.

4. Wisconsin: A loss at Minnesota significantly hurt the Badgers' title chances, but their conference push has still been impressive.

5. Ohio State: The Buckeyes lost their first home game and had a difficult stretch this week, but are still very much in the hunt.

6. Illinois: Quite a turnaround for the Illini, who again look tournament-bound.

7. Minnesota: With a tough three-game stretch ahead, the Gophers notched a huge one against the rival Badgers.

8. Purdue: When the Boilermakers lose, they lose badly.

9. Iowa: The Hawkeyes won consecutive games for just the second time this season. Next up: The Gophers.

10. Northwestern: With four losses in five games, the shorthanded Wildcats are in need of a spark.

11. Nebraska: The Cornhuskers make every game sticky with their clock management, but they're not there yet.

12. Penn State: The schedule is looking less and less favorable for even a single victory in this conference slate.

  • related content

  • Big Ten power poll

    Friday February 15, 2013

    1. Michigan State: It's hard to say any team has more momentum than the Spartans right now.

  • Amelia Rayno's college basketball short takes

    Saturday February 16, 2013

    • It's not very often that a court-rushing is justified in a Duke victory over North Carolina. But this week was one of those times. You don't remember fans piling...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tampa Bay - WP: J. McGee 6 FINAL
Toronto - LP: B. Morrow 5
Cleveland - LP: B. Shaw 4 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 6
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: E. Volquez 7
Miami - WP: A. DeSclafani 5 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: J. Papelbon 4
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 2 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: M. Garza 9
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 8 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 4
Minnesota - WP: T. May 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 4
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 4
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 3 FINAL
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 10
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 6 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago 1
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 4 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: Y. Petit 2
San Diego - LP: O. Despaigne 6 FINAL
Arizona - WP: Z. Spruill 8
Oakland - WP: J. Lester 4 FINAL
Seattle - LP: C. Young 0
NY Yankees - LP: D. Robertson 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: D. O`Day 3
Miami 10 FINAL
Buffalo 29
Jacksonville 10 FINAL
Washington 41
Dallas 26 FINAL
Tennessee 10
Arizona 25 FINAL
NY Giants 14
New England 30 FINAL
Minnesota 7
New Orleans 24 FINAL
Cleveland 26
Atlanta 10 FINAL
Cincinnati 24
Detroit 7 FINAL
Carolina 24
St. Louis 19 FINAL
Tampa Bay 17
Seattle 21 FINAL
San Diego 30
NY Jets 24 FINAL
Green Bay 31
Kansas City 17 FINAL
Denver 24
Houston 30 FINAL
Oakland 14
Chicago 28 4th Qtr 6:55
San Francisco 20
Philadelphia 9/15/14 7:30 PM
Indianapolis
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
Boise State 38 FINAL
Connecticut 21
Indiana 42 FINAL
Bowling Green 45
Ga Southern 38 FINAL
Georgia Tech 42
Syracuse 40 FINAL
Central Mich 3
UCF 10 FINAL
(18) Missouri 38
Massachusetts 31 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
Ohio U 14 FINAL
Marshall 44
West Virginia 40 FINAL
Maryland 37
Kent State 0 FINAL
(23) Ohio State 66
Pittsburgh 42 FINAL
FIU 25
East Carolina 28 FINAL
Virginia Tech 21
Louisville 21 FINAL
Virginia 23
Wyoming 14 FINAL
(2) Oregon 48
Air Force 48 FINAL
Georgia State 38
(13) Georgia 35 FINAL
(14) So Carolina 38
Arkansas 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 28
Iowa State 20 FINAL
Iowa 17
Miami-Ohio 10 FINAL
Michigan 34
Kansas 3 FINAL
Duke 41
NC State 49 FINAL
So Florida 17
Arkansas State 20 FINAL
Miami-Florida 41
Miss State 35 FINAL
South Alabama 3
Louisiana 15 FINAL
(10) Ole Miss 56
Minnesota 7 FINAL
TCU 30
Illinois 19 FINAL
Washington 44
Army 0 FINAL
(16) Stanford 35
Western Mich 45 FINAL
Idaho 33
Eastern Mich 3 FINAL
Old Dominion 17
Southern Miss 12 FINAL
(3) Alabama 52
Northern Ill 48 FINAL
UNLV 34
Tulsa 21 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 50
ULM 0 FINAL
(8) LSU 31
Wake Forest 24 FINAL
Utah State 36
Western Ky 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 50
TX-San Antonio 13 FINAL
(25) Oklahoma State 43
Purdue 14 FINAL
(9) Notre Dame 30
Kentucky 30 FINAL
Florida 36
New Mexico St 24 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 42
Tennessee 10 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 34
(17) USC 31 FINAL
Boston College 37
Navy 35 FINAL
Texas State 21
(12) UCLA 20 FINAL
Texas 17
Penn State 13 FINAL
Rutgers 10
Rice 10 FINAL
(6) Texas A&M 38
(15) Arizona State 38 FINAL
Colorado 24
(24) Nebraska 55 FINAL
Fresno State 19
Nevada 28 FINAL
Arizona 35
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
San Jose 1
Montreal 16 FINAL
Edmonton 33
Toronto 33 FINAL
Calgary 40
Winnipeg 9 FINAL
Brt Columbia 26
Saskatchewan 3 FINAL
Hamilton 28
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close