The Kentucky Wildcats, Ohio State Buckeyes and Syracuse Orange have all proved to be worthy of their high rankings during the first month of the college basketball season.
Kentucky has beaten two ranked foes this season, including Saturday's dramatic one-point win over the fifth-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels. Earlier last month, Kentucky soundly defeated the Kansas Jayhawks by a margin of 10 points, and have hardly been challenged outside of these two games.
The Wildcats will continue to play against a relatively weak schedule. A date against the Louisville Cardinals on December 31 is the only game against a currently-ranked team remaining on Kentucky's schedule in 2011, but John Calipari's squad will have to take on an up-and-coming Indiana team on December 10.
Ohio State expects Jared Sullinger to be back in action when the Buckeyes take the court against the Kansas Jayhawks on December 10. While Ohio State may be one of the deepest teams in the nation, it would be difficult to expect anyone but Sullinger to go up against Kansas standout Thomas Robinson.
The Buckeyes defeated the Florida Gators by seven points in November, and recently beat up on Duke in a 22-point drubbing of Coach K's Blue Devils. Ohio State has been nothing but impressive thus far, and running the tables is a legitimate possibility for Thad Matta's team.
The Syracuse Orange have only faced one true test this season, but Jim Boeheim's squad was able to defeat the ninth-ranked Florida Gators this past weekend. The Orange won't really be tested again until January 7 in a matchup against the Marquette Golden Eagles, although Marshall, led by DeAndre Kane, could put up a fight in the Carrier Dome on December 6.
For the most part, all three teams have easy schedules until conference play kicks off, and the powerhouses all have a great shot at finishing their non-conference schedules with unblemished records.
Despite that, Ohio State will lose first (against Kansas). While Jared Sullinger will be back in action, Thomas Robinson has been a force so far this season and will cause the Ohio State big men problems. Tyshawn Taylor has had a breakout senior season and Jeff Withey has improved vastly and is now an impact seven-footer for the Jayhawks.
Kansas, having lost to Kentucky and Duke, is in need of a signature win and Bill Self will have his team prepared to take down the Buckeyes. This game should be an instant classic, but the Jayhawks will be victorious.
Then again, I thought that Duke would challenge Ohio State, which obviously didn't happen, so the Buckeyes may again prove me wrong.
If they do, all three of these teams will remain perfect until conference play begins.