It’s getting crazy at the top of the college basketball world.
Ask Syracuse. They were rolling along at No. 1 in the weekly polls. Coach Jim Boeheim’s team was undefeated and looking as if they could run the table.
But they decided to wear some slap ugly throwback uniforms when they played Boston College. So the Eagles saw an opportunity and sprung the upset.
Going to Duke’s Cameron Indoor arena last Saturday was certainly no way to cure a hangover. Syracuse lost for the second straight game and Boeheim got ejected at the end of the game for pitching a hissy fit about, what else, a call he was convinced was wrong, wrong, wrong.
It was the old block-charge call, this one made by SEC official Tony Greene. Needless to say, Boeheim thought Greene kicked the call. Replays indicated otherwise.
Syracuse’s stock dropped like a lead balloon. It is the first time a top-ranked team lost two games in a week since Texas in 2009. The Orangemen now occupy the No. 7 spot in the RealTime RPI ratings. Their strength of schedule is 64. Hopefully they have burned those throwback uniforms, as even Goodwill would probably turn down a donation.
Kansas sent Syracuse a thank-you card and jumped up to No. 1, where the Jayhawks now occupy the hot seat. With a strength of schedule ranking of the toughest schedule in the sport, it will not be a cakewalk for Coach Bill Self’s team.
Bracketologist Joe Lunardi skipped Kansas and projects Arizona as the top No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament.
Meanwhile Florida has maintained a steady pace, remaining at No. 3. They are perfect in an imperfect SEC season. Coach Billy Donovan’s team is playing a schedule ranked No. 24. That’s because after Florida and Kentucky, the SEC’s cupboard is bare.
Going into this week’s games, seven of the SEC’s 14 teams have 7-7 conference records. Keeping the number 7, that’s where the SEC is ranked among all the conferences.
It’s almost impossible to tell how strong Florida is, as their strength of schedule (24) is the highest of the top six teams in the SEC.
They do have two significant advantages. One is Donovan. He evolved from the Rick Pitino tree, playing for Pitino at Providence and coaching beside him at Kentucky. Donovan has emerged as perhaps the most underappreciated elite basketball coaches, especially for a coach that won back-to-back national championships.
He is the most grounded coach you will find among college basketball’s coaching fraternity.
They don’t have a deep bench, but teams rarely go past their top eight players in the NCAA Tournament.
But the NCAA Tournament is shaping up as a field that will have a lot of upsets. How good is undefeated Wichita State and Coach Gregg Marshall? He once wanted the Tennessee job, but was passed over.
You have to consider Villanova, Wisconsin, Creighton, Virginia and other teams that have been impressive, teams not known for recently winning national championships.
Kentucky’s team is a wild card. They could go out early, or stay late. This is not one of John Calipari’s best teams since he opted to stack his teams with the best freshmen players in the country. He won one national championship with primarily a one-and-done roster.
This team is too inconsistent to go on a long winning streak in the tournament, but you can never predict which way the ball bounces in March.
Fasten your seat belts.
Contact Wilson Post Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at firstname.lastname@example.org.