Does Anyone Want To Be No. 1?
The last time a team went wire-to-wire as the top ranked team in all the land was the 1991-'92 season, when Duke pulled it off. Even then, they needed some luck to do it, as they dropped two games along the way.
But both times, the teams just below them in the rankings lost in the same week, so they never fell off that top spot.
In the 17 seasons since, no one has been able to do it again. This season, it has seemed like nobody wants to do it.
The consensus No. 1 in the preseason, the North Carolina Tar Heels, stayed on top for the first seven weeks of the season. And in those seven weeks, only one other team so much as received a first-place vote (UConn got one in the Week One ESPN/USA Today poll).
But then Boston College came calling in Chapel Hill, and the Heels dropped to third. In their place stood the Pittsburgh Panthers.
Pitt kept their first ever number one ranking for two weeks, before they lost to Louisville on the road, dropping them to fourth and propelling Wake Forest to the top.
Wake, in its first No. 1 ranking since Chris Paul took his game to the professional level, only managed to hold on for one week. They fell to Virginia Tech, a loss that dropped them as far as sixth in the polls.
The next contender was Duke. In Duke's very first game as the nation's number one, they faced newly deposed Wake, and lost. The loss dropped Duke to fourth, and allowed UConn to take the top spot.
UConn held the top spot for a staggering three weeks, before being upended (literally, in the case of Hasheem Thabeet) by DeJuan Blair and Pitt. This would have paved the way for Oklahoma to become the first non-Big East or ACC team to top the rankings, but Blake Griffin had to go and get concussed, and the Sooners missed their chance.
This would have opened the door for North Carolina to reclaim the top spot, but they dropped to Maryland, so the new rankings shook out with Pitt as the new NO. 1 (again).
But it didn't take long to see that Pitt, having tasted it once already this season, had no desire to be on top for long, as they dropped their first game after the polls came out, losing to the Friars of Providence.
So that leaves us with this recap.
In the last eight weeks, the top team has lost six times. Six times. We all know that being number one puts a bulls-eye on your back, but this seems a little much.
Of course, this all speaks to the parity that now exists in college basketball. The traditional basketball powers—UCLA, Kansas, UNC, Duke, to name just a few—are no longer the only teams that attract the elite players.
As the talent level across the country increases, it's only natural that there will not be any clear-cut top program in any given season. This attrition at the top will become the norm, rather than an aberration worthy of being remarked upon.
But for now, it is still noteworthy, and begs the question: Who's next?
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