Duke, last year’s national champs, opened No. 1 in both major polls and remained there while stretching its winning streak to 25 games until losing 66-61 at Florida State on January 12. When the polls came out on January 17, Ohio State was the nation’s new No.1 team. The latest polls were released February 7 and the Buckeyes remain atop the two major polls for the fourth straight week, unanimously in the coaches’ poll for the third consecutive week and for the second straight week in the AP. The Buckeyes remain the only unbeaten team in Division I, improving to 24-0, the second-best start in school history. The 24 straight wins also represent the nation's longest active win streak and also mark the second-longest winning streak in Ohio State’s history, as well.
Following Ohio St in both major polls are two Big 12 schools, Kansas (No. 2) and Texas (No. 3). The highest-ranked Big East school is Pittsburgh at No. 4 but the conference has six of the the top-12 teams in the AP poll and six of the top-13 in the coaches’ poll. Eight Big East schools are in the AP top-25 and seven rank in the top-25 of the coaches’ poll. No. 2 Kansas was in action Monday night and ‘spanked’ No. 19 Missouri 103-86 in Lawrence. No. 3 Texas (more on the Longhorns in part 2 of this article on Friday) will play at Oklahoma on Wednesday. No 4 Pittsburgh, even with leading-scorer Gibbs (16.3 PPG), beat No. 25 West Va (unranked by the coaches) at Blacksburg, 71-66.
Ohio State is the nation’s only unbeaten team overall but the Buckeyes (11-0 in the Big 10) are joined by four other schools still unbeaten in conference play. Coastal Carolina is 13-0 in the Big South, Princeton is 4-0 in the Ivy League, Texas 8-0 in the Big 12 and Utah State is 11-0 in the WAC. Two schools deserve special mention, Coastal Carolina and Utah State. The Chanticleers own the nation’s second-longest active winning streak at 20 in a row and the Aggies own the third-longest streak at 17 straight. Coastal Carolina plays next at Presbyterian on Thursday while Utah State plays at Idaho on Wednesday. Princeton puts its modest 4-0 mark on the line Tuesday night with a home game vs Penn. The Buckeyes don’t play until Saturday but must play at Wisconsin (No. 13 in the AP and No. 14 in the coaches’ poll), which has won 16 straight home games as well as 34 of its last 35 at the Kohl Center.
While Ohio State is the lone unbeaten team among Division I schools, Centenary is the lone winless team at 0-25. The Gentlemen are members of the Summit League and maybe the school’s nickname is a good indicator as to why the team hasn’t won since an 80-78 win at IPFW on February 6, 2010, a stretch of 30 games. Centenary plays at Southern Utah (7-16) on Thursday and joins five other schools still winless in conference play. Alphabetically the list includes DePaul of the Big East (0-10), Fordham of the A-10 (0-9), Georgia Southern of the Southern Conference (0-12), Texas-Pan American of the Great West (0-7) and Towson of the CAA (0-13).
It’s hard not to comment on DePaul and Fordham. The Big East is arguably the strongest conference in college hoops but DePaul is clearly misplaced. The Blue Demons host Cincinnati on Tuesday having gone 1-45 since the beginning of the 2008-09 season in the nation’s toughest conference. Fordham is 1-40 in the A-10 since the beginning of the 2008-09 season and will take a 35-game conference losing streak into its Wednesday game at Temple. As for the other still winless schools in conference play, Georgia Southern plays at 17-7 Furman Thursday and Towson plays at 8-16 Northeastern on Wednesday. Texas-Pan-American hosts 3-19 Houston Baptist on Wednesday and the Broncs may actually get their first win as the Huskies are 0-12 on the road this year, having gone 6-43 on the road the last two-plus seasons.
I’ll return Friday with part two of this article, taking a closer look at the polls and whether any attention should be paid to them when handicapping games.