This season marks the 20th anniversary of the last time that a Big Ten men’s basketball team won the national championship and the last Big Ten program to cut down the nets, Michigan State, debuted at No. 1 this fall.
Now more than a full month into the season, the Big Ten has three teams ranked in the top five of the men’s basketball AP Top 25 poll after undefeated Ohio State (9-0) climbed to No. 3 in the latest poll on Monday. The Buckeyes sit just ahead of No. 4 Maryland and No. 5 Michigan, which means the preseason No. 1 Spartans, now No. 16, are currently the fourth-best team in the conference in the eyes of the AP voters.
Purdue and Indiana are third and fourth among others receiving votes, respectively, meaning the Big Ten doesn’t only have potentially elite teams atop the conference but respectable depth as well.
Louisville held its No. 1 ranking this week with Kansas at No. 2 in the AP poll.
Here’s at look at this week’s poll.
The AP Top 25 men’s college basketball rankings
Through Dec. 8
|25||San Diego State||197||10-0||NR|
Others receiving votes: Utah State 160, Washington 144, Purdue 130, Indiana 13, Marquette 11, Liberty 11, Saint Mary’s 8, Texas 6, Florida 5, Penn State 5, Georgia 4, West Virginia 3, Richmond 3, LSU 2, Duquesne 1, DePaul 1, Virginia Commonwealth 1
The Big East bunch
Similarly to the group of Big Ten teams ranked in succession near the top of the poll, the Big East’s best teams are narrowly separated. Butler leads the way at No. 18 after climbing six spots from No. 24 last week, followed by No. 20 Villanova, No. 22 Seton Hall and No. 23 Xavier.
Since the Big East restructured, this has been Villanova’s conference to lose. Even in an apparent down season in 2018-19, Villanova still swept the conference’s regular season and tournament titles. This season, Villanova doesn’t just have competition in the Big East but there are multiple other contenders and they reside in Indianapolis, Indiana, South Orange, New Jersey and Cincinnati, Ohio.
Notable games this week
Louisville backed up its No. 1 ranking last week with a 15-point win over then-No. 4 Michigan. In a game featuring two of the strongest defensive head coaches in the country — Louisville’s Chris Mack and Texas Tech’s Chris Beard — the No. 1-ranked Cardinals will face the Red Raiders in Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night as part of the Jimmy V Classic.
Remember last December, Texas Tech faced No. 2 Duke in Madison Square Garden and the Red Raiders controlled that game for the middle 20 minutes before fading in the final five minutes. Even though they lost, it was proof that Texas Tech could compete with the best teams in the country and four months later it played for the national championship.
You can still learn things about teams in losses.
Tuesday night also gives us No. 18 Butler at No. 11 Baylor, Thursday provides the latest installment of the Cy-Hawk Series between Iowa and Iowa State (both teams are 6-3 as of Monday morning) and Friday gives another notable game of significant regional interest with No. 24 Colorado traveling to Colorado State.
It’d be understandable if you don’t leave your couch Saturday with No. 10 Oregon at No. 5 Michigan at 12 p.m. ET, No. 13 Memphis at No. 19 Tennessee in a spicy rivalry game at 3 p.m. ET and No. 6 Gonzaga at No. 15 Arizona tipping off at 10 p.m. ET.