The Top Freking 10 gets a new No. 1, goes after a crybaby coach and examines where Doug McDermott stands among the NCAA’s greatest scorers. Guess what? March begins in three days. Get those office pools ready.
1. WICHITA STATE (last week: 2)
The bloviating over the Shockers potentially gaining a No. 1 seed over Kansas, a team that could add a Big 12 tournament crown to the share of the regular season conference championship it seized Monday night, has already begun. It’s fodder like this that makes me glad I don’t cover politics — the posturing and predicting of the 2016 election began the day after President Obama was reelected back in November of 2012. (Though, I am not totally immune from this practice — I am guilty of authoring ‘Way-Too-Soon’ top 10 exactly 10 days after the 2012-13 college basketball season ended in April). So, to recap: it’s way too soon to get worked up over Wichita State ‘stealing’ a No. 1 seed from Kansas.
2. FLORIDA (LW: 3)
Thanks to Syracuse’s stinker of a week, Florida was elevated to the Associated Press’ No. 1 spot for the first time since 2007, the year it repeated as national champion. With a victory at Vanderbilt Tuesday night, the Gators extended their school-record winning streak to 20 and moved within three wins of a perfect 18-0 run in SEC play. The three previous teams to run the SEC’s regular season slate loss-less are 1956 Alabama, 1996 Kentucky and 2012 Kentucky.
3. ARIZONA (LW: 6)
The Wildcats didn’t find sustained success until the late 80s, so it makes a little sense that their 88-61 shellacking of Colorado Saturday was Arizona’s first victory in Boulder since 1973. Coach Sean Miller surely appreciated the easy win away from home — his team’s previous two road games went into overtime.
4. SYRACUSE (LW: 1)
Unfortunately for Jim Boeheim, his team lost its second straight game Saturday at Duke. Unfortunately for the rest of us, Boeheim’s temper-tantrum-turned-ejection after the Orange caught the wrong end of a block/charge call in the closing seconds overshadowed what was nothing short of an awesome back-and-forth game in front of Cameron Indoor Stadium crowd that possessed an enthusiasm usually reserved for European and South American soccer venues. Boehim’s tirade was nothing short of child-like, and it was another example of college coaches acting their shoe size. Boeheim’s antics also reminded me of another clear double standard in college athletics. Defenders of Mt. Boeheim’s eruption pointed to the gravity of the perceived missed call as reason enough for the outburst, but can you imagine if a player reacted the way Boeheim did? There’d be all kinds of crusty old men phoning local radio shows lamenting for the old days when guys “just played ball.”
5. DUKE (LW: 5)
The Blue Devils downed Virginia Tech 66-48 Tuesday to finish 3-1 in their four-games-in-eight-days stretch. Rodney Hood scored 21 points to lead Duke. Freshman Jabari Parker gets all the national love for the Blue Devils, but Hood, a 6-8 redshirt sophomore, has turned himself into a possible first-round pick, averaging 16.1 points and shooting 43.6 percent from 3.
6. KANSAS (LW: 10)
Only UCLA and Gonzaga can match the excellence the Jayhawks achieved by garnering a share of their 10th straight regular season Big 12 championship Monday. The Bruins won 13 consecutive Pac-10 titles from 1967-79, and the Zags took 11 straight West Coast Conference crowns from 2001-11. And don’t look now, but in his last five games super freshman Andrew Wiggins is averaging 16.8 points on 56 percent shooting with just four total turnovers.
7. SAINT LOUIS (LW: 8)
The Billikens have won 19 in a row and are four victories away from going 16-0 in the Atlantic 10. Things haven’t been easy for Saint Louis, which has won its past four contests by two, two, four (overtime) and seven points. The team’s last victory came over George Washington, whose leading scorer is Indiana transfer Maurice Creek.
8. CREIGHTON (LW: 9)
Pete Maravich. Freeman Williams. Lionel Simmons. Alphonso Ford. Harry Kelly. Keydren Clark. Hershey Hawkins. Oscar Robertson. Danny Manning. Doug McDermott. Those are the top 10 scorers in the history of college basketball. Not a bad list for McDermott to be on, and he’s not done yet. Sitting at 2,917 points, Dougy McBuckets is 34 points behind Manning. McDermott is the nation’s leading scorer at 26 points per game, so 34 points in one game is barely breaking a sweat for the 6-8 senior forward. The Blue Jays have three regular season games left and at least two postseason (Big East, NCAA tourneys) contests remaining. In order for McDermott to bypass Kelly (3,066 points) and crack the top five, he’d need to average exactly 30 points in those five games.
9. VIRGINIA (LW: NR)
Just how good are the Cavaliers (23-5, 14-1 ACC)? I’m not sure anyone knows. Among the three other top teams in the ACC, Virginia owns a loss to Duke and a win over North Carolina. The Cavaliers haven’t played Syracuse yet, though that will change Saturday when the Orange visit John Paul Jones Arena. (I know what you’re thinking, and no, the seven-year old arena isn’t named for the Led Zeppelin bassist. Paul Tudor Jones, who donated $35 million to help build the place, requested that the edifice be named after his father, John Paul).
10. CINCINNATI (LW: 4)
Bearcat senior guard Sean Kilpatrick scored his 2,000th point in Saturday’s 58-57 loss to Louisville to become the only player in program history not named Oscar Robertson to cross the 2,000-point barrier. That achievement certainly aides Kilpatrick’s cause in becoming the fourth UC player to have his number retired once his career ends. The other three players are Robertson, Kenyon Martin and Jack Twyman.
Dropped out: San Diego State (7)
Grant Freking is a sportswriter for the Daily Reporter. Contact him at (317) 477-3230 or at firstname.lastname@example.org