The new college basketball season is finally up and running. Last season was stopped short due to the COVID-19, resulting in college basketball fans missing out on the season’s culminating event of March Madness. So, with the new season underway, fans are hyped for an exciting season.
While the threat of another COVID-19 shutdown is hanging over this young season, the competition for the final four is going to be fierce. The currently ranked number one team in the nation is Gonzaga, who has beaten Kansas, Auburn, and West Virginia. Led by Drew Timme, Joel Ayayi, and Jalen Suggs, this team is just getting started with its strong start to the season.
The Baylor Bears are currently number two, after destroying Louisiana, Washington, and S.F. Austin, while also posting an impressive 82-69 win over Illinois in the Jimmy V. Classic. Jared Butler is looking great this season so far, averaging 15.3 points per game. Iowa, is at three and has come out swinging at 6-0. They have won every single game by double digits, even against North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. They will be matching up against top-ranked Gonzaga this Saturday, so look forward to seeing a showdown between two of the top teams in the country.
The fourth spot in the poll belongs to Michigan State, after taking a win versus Duke in the State Farm Champions Classic. On Christmas Day, the Spartans will go head to head with Wisconsin, looking to jump Iowa in the rankings and claim the top spot in the Big Ten Conference.
Kansas looked a bit rattled in a loss to Gonzaga in the first game of the season, but they bounced back with wins over Kentucky and Creighton and are currently ranked at the five spot. They will continue with this winning streak going into big games, playing Texas Tech on Thursday and West Virginia on Dec. 22.
Illinois might have lost to Baylor, but they beat Duke to prove they belong at least in the number six spot. Ayo Dosunmu has been putting in the work this season, averaging 24.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
Houston is making a great case for themselves this season, as they are sitting at 4-0, taking out Texas Tech in a showdown at the Southwest Showcase in the process. Guard Quentin Grimes is looking like the team leader right now, putting up impressive numbers in his junior year, as the Houston Cougars sit at number seven in the AP poll.
Creighton sits at the eight spot, with a 4-1 start to the season. Creighton has looked like a strong team, but the one point loss to Kansas, the toughest team they’ve faced so far, takes a bit of the shine off the start to the season.
Villanova, the 2018 National Champions, sit at number nine and are looking to win it all again this year. Sophomore Jeremiah Robinson-Earl looks to be the team leader, averaging 15 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.
Rounding off the top 10 is Duke, with an un-Duke like record of 2-2. As always, they are a strong team, but they have fallen to both Michigan State and Illinois. Even with a bit of a rocky start, never sleep on Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) and his team.
Other teams in the mix of being ranked but not getting to the top yet are Florida State, Ohio State, Rutgers, and Tennessee, all currently undefeated. It is very early in the season to look ahead to March Madness, but as long as the season goes as planned, it should still happen. If we had to make an early prediction on the Final Four, it would be Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan State, and Houston.
By taking a quick look at the conferences overall, the Big 12 and the Big Ten look like the strongest conferences across the nation. The Big 12 contains many powerhouse teams such as Baylor, Kansas, Texas Tech, Texas, and West Virginia. The Big Ten also has many contenders in Michigan State, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio State, Michigan, Rutgers, Purdue, Indiana, and Minnesota. The ACC should be up next, with Duke, Clemson, Florida State, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Louisville, NC State, and Virginia. Those are the three conferences that mainly make up the top teams, but conferences such as the SEC, Pac-12, Big East, Atlantic 10, and the American also hold a pretty big importance.
The big question this season deals of course with the COVID-19 pandemic and what impact that will have as the season plays out. Not even being three weeks into the season, it is already becoming an ongoing issue for teams all across the country. We were expecting to see a game between Gonzaga and Baylor, but because of issues within the facilities due to the virus, that game, and many others were also either cancelled or postponed.
Many coaches and players have responded after Duke head coach Krzyzewski opined, “I don’t make excuses. We need to get a lot better. But for the good of the game, and the good of the safety and mental and physical health of our players and staff and whatever, we need to constantly look at this thing. And I think that’s, I think that’s a smart thing to do.” Some people went after him after making these comments, but others backed him up and agreed that things need to be reassessed before the season continues.
The road ahead for this college basketball season is a tenuous one, but there is one thing that is guaranteed: if it plays out through March Madness, it is going to be a very good season of basketball.