Although we haven’t even reached December yet, it’s never too early to see who is hot and who is not in the college basketball season.
So far through non-conference play and all of the early season tournaments, there are not many surprises at the top of the rankings. The biggest move in the rankings from the preseason has been Louisville, moving their way up from fifth to second in the first three weeks. They have mostly played sleeper teams, but they did get a test from our neighbors at Akron, winning 82-76. The Cardinals will play their first ranked team on December 10 versus #12 Texas Tech.
Blue blood Kentucky has had a shaky start to the season in their quest to finally get back to the Final Four, as the Wildcats have failed to make it in the last four seasons. Their last trip came in 2015. And in the SEC, the argument could be made they aren’t even the best program in a conference they have ruled for the longest time. On the contrary, the Auburn Tigers have been a real surprise the last few seasons from the SEC, even making the Final Four last year.
The biggest upset of the season up to this point is when unranked Evansville defeated, at the time #1, Kentucky, 67-64, on the Wildcats’ home court. Yes, Kentucky is talented, but they have a long season ahead of them if they want to play deep into March.
A huge surprise of the early season has come right here in Ohio. The Ohio State Buckeyes have found themselves in the top ten after not even finishing in the top 25 at the end of last season. The Buckeyes have cruised to an undefeated record through November, knocking off instate rival Cincinnati, 64-56, and beating, at the time #10, Villanova, 76-51.
Ohio State is the only Division 1 program to have both its basketball and football programs in the top ten of each sport’s rankings. That being said, the Buckeyes have a pretty tough schedule coming up. To start December, they have to travel to Chapel Hill and face fifth-ranked North Carolina. And then before Christmas, the scarlet and grey face off with Kentucky. Luckily for the Bucks, they are at home for that matchup.
The big question for the Buckeyes is if they can withstand their momentum and not take their foot off the gas. They had a nice run to the NCAA Tournament last season, but they bowed out in the second round. However, with the big start they have had, this could be the season Ohio State finally returns to prominence in college basketball.