Syracuse Basketball

Take My Ranking, Please: Who Wants to Be No. 1?

WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 18:  Jim Boeheim, head coach of the Syracuse Orange, argues a call during a college basketball game against the Georgetown Hoyas on February 18, 2010 at the Verizon Center in Washington DC.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
Derek PooreContributor IFebruary 28, 2010

Does any team really want to be No. 1 right now? So far college basketball squads have played hot potato with the top ranking. No. 1 has changed hands four times since before the season started.

First Kansas held the ranking for nine weeks. Then Texas took over. Then Kentucky earned No. 1 and lost two days later. Back it went to Kansas which lost Saturday at Oklahoma State.

With Kansas, Kentucky (which lost to Tennessee) and Purdue (which lost its second-leading scorer plus a game against Michigan State) all headed downward in the rankings, Syracuse will be the No. 1 team come Monday. 

Kansas and Kentucky probably won't fall more than a couple of spots. Purdue will fall further.

There are two weeks left in the season including the conference tournaments. The top overall team in the NCAA Tournament hasn't fared well lately.

Florida in 2007 was the last No. 1 overall seed to cut down the nets. But other No. 1s have struggled.

Last season Louisville earned that top overall tournament ranking and didn't even make it to the Final Four.

In 2008, North Carolina was the top overall seed and it watched Kansas beat Memphis in the national title game.

In 2003, Kentucky rode a 23-game winning streak into the NCAA Tournament and was the top overall seed. The Wildcats ran into Dwayne Wade and Marquette in the regional finals.

The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds are in the best position to win a national championship. There isn't much of a competitive difference between a 15 or 16 seed, nor a 7 or 8 seed.

But because the top No. 1 seed is supposed to be placed opposite the last-ranked team in the tournament, the worst No. 2 seed is theoretically supposed to play the best No. 15 seed. So there is a difference between the top seed facing the worst rated team in the tournament and the eighth-ranked team facing the 57th-rated team. 

The gap only closes from there as the tournament turns toward its second weekend.

Maybe No. 1 isn't so important as finishing as close to the top of the selection committee's overall seedings list as possible.

Follow Derek on Twitter: @derekpoore

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