It took the Louisville Cardinals 11 weeks to seize control of the No. 1 ranking and all of 30 seconds to lose it. A frenetic finish by Syracuse star Michael Carter-Williams handed the Cardinals a home loss that pretty well guarantees a changeover at the top of the polls on Monday.
Whichever team takes over the top spot—most likely current No. 3 Duke—shouldn’t get too comfortable. Next week’s poll will be the third one in a row with a new No. 1, and it will be far from the last.
There isn’t a team in the country good enough to run away with the top ranking the way Kentucky did a year ago. Those Wildcats sat atop the polls for the final eight weeks, a span that could easily see six or seven different No. 1 teams in 2013.
Duke might not even last one week at the top this time around. Wednesday’s visit to Miami, and the Hurricanes' behemoth frontcourt, will be a daunting test for the undersized Blue Devils.
Not that Duke’s leading competitors are any more invincible than Coach K’s squad. Veteran Kansas would have been another prime candidate to step into the No. 1 ranking on Monday, but the Jayhawks’ shaky offense needed a late rally to dodge an upset by unranked Texas.
Even if Syracuse rides its momentum to the top of the polls, the Orange—who have their own offensive problems—will barely have time to get back home before they host dangerous Cincinnati on Monday afternoon.
There will be plenty of other teams in the mix for No. 1 over the next several weeks—Indiana, Michigan, Louisville, Arizona—but all have their own flaws to work around. One week of relatively easy conference games will be enough to crown a new top team, and one week (or one night) of tougher opponents will send that team tumbling back to the pack.
With so much parity in the power conferences, there’s only one certainty about the top ranking in 2013: It isn’t done changing hands.