John Klein: Expect the unexpected in college basketball
BY JOHN KLEIN Senior Sports Columnist
Monday, February 11, 2013
2/11/13 at 7:20 AM
Go to John Klein's Blog Original Print Headline: Expect the unexpected this season in college basketball
Oklahoma State started its Big 12 Conference schedule by losing three of its first five games.
Now, the Cowboys have won five straight, including a victory at Kansas.
The Jayhawks lost just once before February. Then, OSU won in Lawrence and the Jayhawks lost at TCU, the equivalent of a No. 1 seed losing to a No. 16 seed. KU then suffered a rare third straight loss, at Oklahoma on Saturday.
Get used to it. This is college basketball these days.
There have been six No. 1 teams beaten this season. It's been a weekly occurrence the past five weeks.
There is no consensus among college basketball experts about the nation's best team.
In fact, there isn't much consensus among the experts over a top 10, or top 25.
The lack of marquee teams may be hurting college basketball, but some believe the wide-open nature of college basketball will be great for the sport in March.
Perhaps. But, right now college basketball is suffering through not only a scoring drought but a drought among fans, too.
Attendance isn't just bad in Oklahoma. It is bad everywhere. There are thousands of empty seats all over the country, including some legendary arenas like UCLA's Pauley Pavilion.
There is little consistency in college basketball. Kansas may be as good as any team in the country, but the Jayhawks lost to a team in TCU that wasn't even in the top 200, according to the computer rankings.
Oklahoma State has enough ability to win just about any game. The Cowboys have beaten two top-10 teams away from home this year (at Kansas, and on a neutral court over North Carolina State). But the youthful Cowboys looked shaky in losses to Baylor, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech.
KU and OSU are typical of teams that will be highly seeded in the NCAA Tournament. These are teams capable of winning all the way to the Final Four or losing in the first round.
It should make for a fascinating NCAA Tournament. It also makes for a frustrating season.
The Conference USA tournament will be in Tulsa next month.
No question that Memphis looks like the team to beat. However, all it takes is one big upset, something that is happening at an alarming rate this season, and the C-USA tournament will be wide open.
If the Tigers are beaten, there would be absolutely no favorite in the tournament. At times this season, Tulsa has looked as good as the second-best team in the league. TU also has played poorly enough to think it might be the worst team in the conference.
Among the nation's elite, you might be able to blame it on one-and-done players.
Now you can leave for the NBA after one year of college basketball.
In college football, you have to stay three years. In college baseball, you can go straight out of high school or you have to stay three years.
There appears to be no common sense for the one-and-done rule. It is obviously an awful rule for college basketball. But, as long as it is good for the NBA, there isn't much incentive for the NBA to change it.
The rule has a huge impact on college basketball, stripping the sport of its best players after just one year on campus. Thus, every year is a rebuilding year for the best teams.
Then, there is a trend toward less offense. Or, better defense. However you want to describe it, it has resulted in less offense.
Scoring was down more than a point last year and is down again this year. Scoring in college basketball has dipped to levels not seen since the 1960s. And, this is with a shot clock and 3-point shot.
OSU's 85-80 victory at Kansas is the exception these days. The norm is more like Kansas State's 52-50 victory at Oklahoma.
How about Georgetown's 37-36 victory over Tennessee earlier this year?
Or 16th-ranked New Mexico scoring 34 points in a loss at San Diego State.
It all makes for some strange results. Louisville, a team many believe could win the national title, went through a three-game losing streak earlier this season.
Duke, another serious national title contender, lost by 27 to Miami.
Florida, another serious national title contender, got hammered at Arkansas.
Miami, the surprise leader of the ACC, has lost to Florida Gulf Coast and Indiana State.
Creighton, at the top of the tough Missouri Valley Conference, has lost to Drake and Indiana State.
In other words, everything and anything seems possible this season.
That may not be good for some traditional basketball powers.
However, it has opened up all kinds of possibilities in March and that should be good for the NCAA Tournament. Until then, expect the madness to continue.