Crazy week, with half of last week’s dozen picking up losses. Complicating matters, some of those same teams had notable wins to balance the losses. Thank goodness I know what I’m doing and can make sense of all of this for you.
12) Michigan State. Will cracking my poll jinx them for their battle with Illinois Tuesday? Quietly playing some very good ball.
11) Oklahoma State. A brief drop, as I think they’ll be fine.
10) Oklahoma. Only here because they beat OSU and per my rules, they win the tie-breaker. A real downer to lay an egg in Ames after their performance last Monday.
9) Duke. I told you they weren’t that good. How about another loss so I can drop them even further?
8) Syracuse. Looked absolutely awesome in the first five minutes at Pittsburgh. I don’t know what happened after that.
7) Louisville. Another team that’s benefited from a loss. On fire since the Kentucky game.
6) Wake Forest. Even though it took overtime, the loss to Georgia Tech doesn’t look so good considering Tech’s circling of the tank over the last three weeks.
5) Kentucky. The SEC is horrible, so if Kentucky picks up more than one loss the rest of the season, we’ll know they’re not very good.
4) Boston College. Eagerly awaiting the games with Syracuse and UConn to see if they’re the real deal. Why do college basketball writers dust off the same tired “Can they go undefeated??” stories each January? Didn’t we go through this, oh, 12 months ago with St. Joe’s and Stanford?
3) Kansas. The alarm clock was answered, with authority. I hope it wasn’t just a case of hitting the snooze button.
2) North Carolina. Safe to say they rebounded from their loss to Wake. It was delightful to see Mr. Williams screaming at his walk-ons when UNC was up 40 Saturday. Yes, the move to Chapel Hill has really mellowed the little redneck. That’s going to do wonders for his starters’ psyche if they find themselves trailing someone in March (See Billy Thomas, 1995-98).
1) Illinois. About the only team I haven’t jinxed yet. Got through Wisconsin ok; Michigan State is the last true threat on their schedule. Some of my St. Louis friends might know the answer to this question: does Illinois have an arch rival in conference? Mizzou is obviously a huge rival, but that’s non-con and the football game is only played periodically. My best guess would be Iowa, but most people I know who spent time in Iowa City made it sound as though Hawkeye fans focused their Big 10 attentions on Michigan. Northwestern ain’t it, because Illinois has been waxing them for 80 years or so. Indiana has at least two other rivals more important than the Illini. Strange that schools like Kansas and Oklahoma have two arch rivals that are in conference, and Illinois has none. Interesting only to me?