NCAA Division I men’s college basketball’s first half of the 2017-18 season started in an interesting fashion. Only one of the preseason top five teams, according to the AP poll, remains in the top five. And of the original 10 teams, only five remain. For one reason or another this season, there seems to be no team that is willing to earn the top spot in the rankings and actually hold on to that spot for a significant amount of time. This is in stark contrast from years past, where college basketball heavyweights such as University of Kansas and Villanova University had maintained their dominance throughout the duration of the season.
While this season is a testament to the increased parity across the country, I think it has more to do with the rise of teams that have unexpected success, along with the unimpressive efforts by some of the traditional elite. No. 4 University of Oklahoma, for example, was not even on the preseason top 25 and now finds itself ranked fourth with a 14-2 record. The team’s electric play is due in large part to the efforts of first-year guard Trae Young, who has drawn comparisons to Stephen Curry. Behind Young’s incredible 29.5 points per game and 9.8 assists per game, he has the Oklahoma Sooners being a tough matchup any day and against any opponent.
One team with the consistency to stay at the top is the Villanova Wildcats. Behind young stars and savvy veterans such as third-year guard Jalen Brunson—with whom I attended high school—this Wildcats team is looking to stay consistent over the duration of the season. Teams such as the Kentucky Wildcats, sitting at No. 18 in the current rankings, have a lack of experience that Head Coach John Calipari has had a tougher time dealing with than in past seasons. It seems that for now, the one-and-done system that Kentucky is notorious for is finally starting to catch up with the team.
While this college basketball season is shaping up to be different than in years past, this should not be viewed as a negative thing. As a fan of the game, I enjoy the fact that there could be a reshuffled top five rankings that come out each and every week. Furthermore, while this will make things challenging for the selection committee, college basketball fans are going to have an exciting March Madness tournament this year.