Fast Break: So who's really No. 1 now?
And now, at long last and just in the nick of time, college basketball season has begun for real.
They say an NBA playoff series never really begins until the home team loses, and there is a similar platitude we can apply to college basketball: It doesn't really start until we don't know who No. 1 is.
So this past weekend was the signal: College basketball is on.
Officially, we have a new No. 1 — The Associated Press and coaches went with Louisville, though four other teams received first-place AP votes — but we don't really know who the best team is anymore.
It should have been Michigan. Oh, Michigan, how it should have been you. You look like a No. 1 team. You have all the pieces. You have maybe the player of the year, and he happens to be your point guard. It's ideal. You've got swagger and shooting and energy. And, come on, you're a lot better than Ohio State.
But . . .
Here we are. So who deserves to benefit from the doubt?
Well, you know, Duke is still pretty darn good. The Blue Devils lost on the road to an NC State team that has one of the best 10 rosters in college basketball. Michigan is good too. It lost on the road to its archrival, which was a preseason top-five team.
Clearly, it was tempting to put Louisville in the No. 1 spot, but I can't do that here. Not when Louisville and Duke both have one loss, and Louisville's was to Duke.
Arizona, ranked fourth last week, would have had a good argument, given that it would have been the only remaining undefeated team. But it lost to Oregon.
And so that brings us all the way down to Indiana and Kansas, ranked fifth and sixth last week, respectively.
The Hoosiers lost almost immediately this week, falling to Wisconsin 64-59. Kansas, on the other hand, has not lost since Nov. 13, when it lost to Michigan State by three in Atlanta. The Jayhawks won decisively at Ohio State and beat an "every day is a new adventure" Colorado team by 36, but otherwise lack any rubbernecking wins.
It is my opinion that Michigan actually is the best team in the country, but I just can't reward a team for staring the No. 1 ranking in the eye and cowering against its power the way the Wolverines did on Sunday.
Given the immense doubt, I thought the right thing to do was go back to our default setting and re-install Indiana as the No. 1 team in the country. But the Hoosiers blew it.