With the college football season winding down and the calendar turning the page into 2021, the first men’s basketball AP Poll of the year was released. Let’s take a look at some of the trends and where the Big Ten ranks:
- Last week I mentioned maybe this is the year that Kansas loses the Big 12 title (even though we say that every year) but the Texas Longhorns tried to prove my point this week. Their emphatic 84-59 win over the Jayhawks last weekend is the largest loss by Kansas at Phog Allen Fieldhouse in their history! Plus, the other high ranking Big 12 team, Baylor, is still sitting pretty at No. 2 and undefeated.
- Let’s talk about some Big Ten surprises. Everyone knew heading into the season that Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin were likely to be major players in the conference title race and among the best teams in the country. Not as many thought Michigan would get off to as hot a start, but the Wolverines are now in the top-10 after a 85-66 thrashing of another surprise team Northwestern (now only receiving votes) and are undefeated in this short season with one of the best freshmen in the country, Hunter Dickinson.
- Minnesota also is ranked much higher than I thought. While Wisconsin took care of the Gophers this week, Marcus Carr and their slew of transfer players have played well and moved up the most spots in this week’s rankings alongside Michigan. Sadly for those two, they both play each other this week. Has anyone ever said the Big Ten is a gauntlet?
- Where is the ACC? Normally considered the premier basketball conference in the country, the ACC’s highest ranked team is No. 19 (actually, it’s a pair because Clemson and Virginia Tech are tied) and the usual suspects — Duke, UVa and UNC — are not currently considered in the elite teams. Some of that obviously has to do with Duke taking a pause because of understandable COVID concerns, but the Tar Heels are only 1-2 in conference with a loss to Georgia Tech. Maybe this is just a down year or it’ll get sorted out in conference play, but it must be a weird feeling for ACC fans to have to hear about how they might only be the third best conference this year.
- Spare a thought for poor ole Michigan State basketball. Tom Izzo’s Spartans had a three-game losing streak that they finally busted out of with a win against a struggling Nebraska side. Now, they have to play No. 15 Rutgers tonight with Gio Baker and Ron Harper Jr. really starting to cook together. Currently, the Spartans sit at No. 11 in the Big Ten, which is pretty bad considering their *very mockingly regal voice here* illustrious pedigree and the brilliance of Tom Izzo. Obviously a lot of season left and it’s no where close to when “Mr. March” gets his stuff done, but it’s a yet another storyline to look for in this wacky Big Ten race.
AP Poll → No. 19 Clemson, No. 23 Saint Louis
AP Poll → Northwestern, Ohio State