A discussion similar to many breaking out across the country took place on ESPN between Mike Patrick and Len Elmore during their call of a Big East game Sunday.
Patrick asked Elmore for his opinion on which school should be ranked No. 1, now that Ohio State, the last of the unbeaten, lost Saturday on the road to Wisconsin.
“Well, I mean, obviously Kansas is the probable No. 1 when you take a look at their record, 24-1,” Elmore said. “But how fair is that to Texas, who went to Kansas and wound up beating Kansas?”
Countered Patrick: “How fair is it to Pittsburgh, with a 23-2 record after knocking off Villanova, in the Big East, not to have them No. 1?”
Elmore: “Yeah, I would say that, but if you’re looking at records, 24-1 versus 23-2, OK, you give the benefit of the doubt to the team that’s lost only one game. But when you’ve got the team that’s right behind them, has already beaten them at their own place, now there’s an argument to be made.”
Based on that logic, UConn should be ranked ahead of Texas, having won an overtime game in Austin. Or, Pittsburgh should get the nod over Texas because the Panthers defeated the Longhorns at Madison Square Garden.
And why give Texas a pass on losing by 17 points at USC?
Head-to-head matchups can’t determine rankings because of conflicting results. So what do I do when filling out my ballot? Look at the entire season and put more emphasis on recent results than early season ones.
As did the conversation between Patrick and Elmore, most discussions of No. 1 exclude Ohio State. Somehow, there seems to be an unwritten rule that if No. 1 loses a game, it’s almost always treated as if the heavyweight champion has been knocked out to lose his crown. Strange.
In fairness, the who’s-No. 1-conversation at this point in the season — a meaningless point in the season in terms of rankings, except that it spurs enjoyable arguments — centers on two schools and two alone: Kansas and Ohio State.
San Diego State, which lost by 13 at Brigham Young, joins the Jayhawks and Buckeyes as the only one-loss teams in Division I. The Aztecs don’t face as tough a schedule playing in the Mountain West, so eliminate them from contention for the top spot.
Losing to Wisconsin on the road pretty much equates to losing to Texas at home, so both Kansas and Ohio State have strong arguments for the top spot. Nobody from either fan base has a legitimate gripe if the other school is voted No. 1.
The top five on my ballot: 1. Kansas, 2. Ohio State, 3. Texas, 4. Pittsburgh, 5. Duke.
Why KU? It has won six in a row, the last five by margins of 17 points or greater.
Kansas likely will be voted No. 1, which will add fuel to the always entertaining Kansas State student body tonight. That’s a good thing for Kansas. The tougher the road to the postseason, the better prepared the team.
Should Kansas and Texas win out and face each other in the Big 12 title game, it’s possible both schools could earn a No. 1 bid. At the moment, the battle shapes up as five heavyweights from four conferences battling for four top seeds.