The reeeeeally big surprises are typically reserved for March, so if the first month or so of the 2012-13 college basketball season has been any indication, we’re going to be in for one wild ride come spring. Early –season tournaments and marquee non-conference matchups have not been kind to the usual suspects (Kentucky, North Carolina, Wisconsin), while unexpected contenders (Illinois, Butler, New Mexico, Oklahoma State) have proven their worth as they transcend the rankings. It’s far too early to even begin guessing how it’ll all end, but with league play right around the corner, let’s take a brief look back at how events have played out thus far.
*Note: To keep things consistent, the only poll referenced will be the Associated Press Top 25 as of 12/17.
In terms of sheer numbers, not much has changed in the top 10, however, it could be argued that the downfall of defending national champion Kentucky alone has been pretty huge in itself. As it stands in Week 7, the Wildcats, which opened at No. 3 in the first preseason poll, are 7-3 and have dropped out of the top 25 completely, while preseason No. 6, North Carolina State, has fallen to No. 25.
The rest of the top 10 teams have shuffled a bit, though it took until Dec. 15 for No. 1 Indiana to be ousted. The Hoosiers fell to 9-1 after being upset on a neutral court in Indianapolis by pesky, unranked in-state rival, Butler. It was the first time ever that the Bulldogs defeated the top-ranked team in the nation, and along with other notable victories over Marquette and North Carolina, the win helped propel Butler to 19th in the rankings.
In light of Indiana’s loss, the 9-0 Duke Blue Devils slid right into the top spot, followed by other unbeatens including Michigan, Syracuse, and Arizona, while one-loss squads Louisville, Indiana, Ohio State, Florida, and Kansas shifted to the lower half of the top 10.
One program rising quickly is a team that was not even ranked in the preseason. With a perfect 12-0 start, the Illinois Fighting Illini have perhaps been one of the biggest stories of the season. Big wins over Butler, Gonzaga, and Eastern Kentucky contributed to the Illini’s current No. 10 ranking, with a huge matchup against No. 12 Missouri on the horizon. The Big Ten as a whole has taken the rankings by storm in the early going, as six of its 12 teams are in the top 25, including four in the top 10.
There are still many more weeks to go in the young season, including the official start of conference play, which typically begins in late December and early January, so be sure to visit the Vivid Seats marketplace throughout the year for an always affordable stock of NCAA basketball tickets.
Notable Games Remaining in 2012
Xavier vs. Cincinnati (neutral site) | Dec. 19 | Tickets
Illinois vs. Missouri (neutral site) | Dec. 22 | Tickets
Kansas at Ohio State | Dec. 22 | Tickets
New Mexico at Cincinnati | Dec. 27 | Tickets
Kentucky at Louisville | Dec. 29 | Tickets
UNLV at North Carolina | Dec. 29 | Tickets
Michigan State at Minnesota | Dec. 31 | Tickets
Gonzaga at Oklahoma State | Dec. 31 | Tickets