I hope everyone had a Happy Holidays and a good Christmas weekend and hopefully will have a good end to a horrible year. I ate enough cookies and donuts to make me realize I really do need to work out more.
On the opposite end of that spectrum, lots of college basketball teams played during the holiday with the Big Ten having a fun little showcase on Christmas. And hoooo boy did those games change some rankings and mean some things. Let’s take a look at this week’s AP Poll.
- Last week, I said to the fine readers of Bucky’s Fifth Quarter to “point and laugh at Sparty” for losing to Northwestern. Turns out, that did the Wildcats a disservice, who are now undefeated in Big Ten play including a thrilling comeback win against the Ohio State Buckeyes. Northwestern catapulted up into the rankings and looks like yet another very good Big Ten team. As if we didn’t have enough
- As I think is the B5Q stance, Iowa’s defense is not good. That showed against Minnesota as the Hawkeyes gave up 102 points in a loss to the Gophers on Christmas. While Luka Garza is still clearly very good, it was the Gophers who shone and also crept up into the rankings. Meanwhile, Iowa will play Northwestern and Rutgers this week, and I guess we’ll see how far their offense can take them this year.
- While I think it’s been clear with the rankings and level of play that the Big Ten is the #best and #deepest conference in the NCAA, it looks very clear that Gonzaga is the best team in the nation. The Bulldogs played and beat Kansas, West Virginia, Iowa and Virginia — who they thwacked 98-75 this past weekend. While that kind of tough schedule will slow down — this week, they’ll play 1-5 Northern Arizona and something called “Dixie State” — I think the Bulldogs made their point, and look very likely that they’ll enter the NCAA Tournament unbeaten barring a disaster.
- If there’s gonna be a year when Kansas finally loses a Big 12 title, it might be this one. No. 2 Baylor, No. 7 West Virginia and No. 10 Texas have looked good so far and could give Kansas a tough time. Texas plays the Jayhawks this weekend, so we’ll see if this year will be any different, but the Big 12 looks like the most interesting conference outside of the Big 10.
AP Poll → No. 19 Northwestern, No. 21 Minnesota
AP Poll → North Carolina, Xavier