The updated polls came out today and Kansas is now ranked no. 5 in the coaches poll and no. 4 in the AP poll. While I'm not one who cares about rankings, particularly in college basketball, I sit here somewhat amazed that we're deservedly in the top 5 on February 13th.
I went into this season thinking we were the class of the Big 12 and probably a top 12-16 type of team. The Final Four never really entered my thought process. But I sit here somewhat amazed that we're deservedly in the top 5 on February 13th. With that in mind, I thought it was time for us to discuss the national landscape.
Tier 1: Kentucky
And right now, it's not even close. Despite some top-heavy opposition early, they haven't had to endure a very arduous schedule. I suppose that could come back to haunt them. But when you watch that team click, it's hard to imagine them losing. If they are to get toppled, it will be the product of youth, and specifically, Marquis Teague. This is their title to lose.
Tier 2: Syracuse
I'm not completely sure I believe they belong here, but with only one FabMelo-less loss on their rsume, I'll hold them here for now. Love to watch them in transition, but make them play in the half court and you'll be in good shape.
Tier 2B: Ohio State, North Carolina, Kansas, Michigan State, Missouri, & Duke
I'm grouping these six, because at this point, we've exhausted the contenders. I should be careful about saying that, considering the teams that were in last year's Final Four (far and away the worst of my lifetime), but I will be utterly shocked if a team not yet listed cuts down the nets.
Ohio State is trending downward, but I like Sullinger too much to ignore them. UNC has the talent, but maybe not the chemistry, to beat anyone. Kansas and Michigan State wouldn't have made any sense around Christmas, but both of them just keep getting better. Neither Missouri nor Duke plays any defense, but Missouri is a pesky matchup and Duke has a coach who has been there before.
Tier 3: Georgetown, Florida, Baylor, Wichita St., Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, & Louisville
I see almost no difference between these eight teams. For the sake of argument, leave them in this order and tell me with certainty that Georgetown is better than Louisville. Hell, tell me that Georgetown is better than any of them.
After these 16, there are some teams I like, some that would be atrocious matchups, and a whole lot of mediocrity. But that's college basketball ever since 2008 ended.