Top Ranking No Big Deal
Does anybody want to be No. 1? No. Does it matter? Not really.This isn't college football, where falling behind in the polls could mean BCS death. This is college basketball. There are rankings, but they are mostly for show. For the sixth time this season, the nation's No. 1 team lost. Tuesday night, top-ranked Pittsburgh was beaten by Providence 81-73, likely meaning another shake-up at the top when the Associated Press and USA Today release their top 25 teams Monday. "We've got high standards, and we didn't live up to them tonight," Panthers coach Jamie Dixon said after Tuesday's game. Welcome to the club. Here is the turnover at No. 1 since 2009 began: •Jan. 4: No. 1 North Carolina loses to Boston College, 85-78. •Jan. 17: No. 1 Pittsburgh loses to Louisville, 69-63. •Jan. 21: No. 1 Wake Forest loses to Virginia Tech, 78-71. •Jan. 28: No. 1 Duke loses to Wake Forest, 70-68. •Feb. 16: No. 1 Connecticut loses to Pittsburgh, 76-68. •Tuesday: No. 1 Pittsburgh loses to Providence, 81-73. It's always a big deal for an opponent to defeat a No. 1-ranked team. At Providence, fans rushed the court and players were swept up in the euphoria. For the first time since 1976, the Friars had defeated a No. 1 team. Providence solidified its status as an NCAA Tournament team. And Pittsburgh likely fell from a No. 1 seed at the NCAA Tournament to a ... No. 1 seed at the NCAA Tournament. College basketball is all about establishing momentum for March, then getting the right matchups. Pittsburgh, Connecticut and North Carolina - the deposed or soon-to-be-deposed No. 1-ranked teams - are solid shots for No. 1 seeds. Oklahoma, which would have risen to No. 1 had it not been for last Saturday's loss against Texas (when OU star Blake Griffin suffered a concussion), is also in the running. Regardless of who sits at No. 1 when the wheel stops spinning and the tournament begins, the ranking should be viewed with perspective. Since NCAA Tournament seeding began in 1979, only six teams ranked No. 1 in the pre-tournament poll finished as the national champion - 1982 North Carolina, 1992 Duke, 1995 UCLA, 2000 Michigan State, 2001 Duke and 2007 Florida. So if the new No. 1 team falls again next week, let's remember what that means. Nothing. Not in the long run.
Reporter Joey Johnston can be reached at (813) 259-7353.