Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.

With Football Over, College Basketball Takes Center Stage

To all football fanatics who need something to turn their attention to after the Super Bowl, college basketball welcomes you. Here is a primer on what you need to know for the last month of the regular season, as the sport hurdles towards the greatest month of the year. 


The biggest story of the season is its historical level of parity, as highly ranked teams are losing at an unprecedented rate. The stat that best portrays this is that top 10 teams in the AP poll are 29-33 on the road versus unranked teams, as of the morning of February 13th. That is a winning percentage of 46.7%, shattering the previous worst from the 2015-2016 season of 62%, per Andrew Weatherman. The gap between these teams has never been smaller, leading to all these upsets. However, UConn and Purdue have clearly separated themselves from the field and have been mostly immune to these upsets. 

Familiar Powers

UConn (22-2) is dominant once again. They reloaded after losing their three best players from last season’s national title team (Adama Sonogo, Jordan Hawkins, and Andre Jackson) with a mix of key returners like Tristan Newton, Alex Karaban, and Donovan Clingan, transfers like Cam Spencer from Rutgers, and freshmen like Stephon Castle. The most impressive part about their success is that they have only had their full roster for 3 games this season, and it has hardly affected them at all. UConn has had the most dominant stretches of any team this year, and they have proved with these stretches that they have the highest ceiling of any team. When they turn it on, it is hard to imagine anyone beating them. 

Meanwhile in West Lafayette, Purdue (22-2) has by far the best resume of any team in the country, as they own wins over the 4th, 5th ,8th, 14th, 15th, and 20th ranked teams in the country, and they have a 15-2 record in the first two quadrants, with no losses outside of quadrant 1. Purdue returned 4 starters and 71.1% of their minutes from last year, including the 7’4 reigning national player of the year Zach Edey. He is the presumptive national player of the year yet again, putting up a 23.2 ppg and 11.7 rpg statline that is as monstrous as he is.  

However, the book on Purdue will be largely written in March. After the most disastrous loss in a string of NCAA tournament disappointments to 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson, coming after a loss to 15 seed St Peters and 13 seed North Texas the two tournaments before, Purdue knows they must break this trend of floundering when it matters most. Their biggest flaw last season, their guards' inability to handle athletic, fast, pressing teams has been greatly improved this year with the maturation of second year starters Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer, as well as the addition of Southern Illinois transfer Lance Jones. Purdue’s quest to avenge last season, similar to 2019 Virginia, has been the most interesting storyline in the sport this year. 

Blue Bloods

The typical powers this season have been a mixed bag. Duke, North Carolina, and Kansas are fielding top 10 teams with national title aspirations, while Kentucky has an explosive, young team that scores in bunches, but struggles mightily on defense. Other historical brands like UCLA, Indiana, and historically bad Louisville, are set up to miss the tournament unless they go on a championship run in their respective conference tournaments.  

Bubble Talk

The bubble this year is shaping up to be pretty compelling too, with preseason top 5 Michigan St, a Gonzaga program who has made 24 straight NCAA tournaments, Hall of Famer Rick Pitino’s first team at St. Johns, Penny Hardaway’s recently top 10 Memphis Tigers, and Kyle Neptune’s second straight disappointing Villanova team all fighting for their lives to make the Big Dance. It is rare to get this many big brands and coaches scratching and clawing to just get in the NCAA tournament, which adds a heightened sense of urgency to every game these teams play for the rest of the regular season. 

Jonathan Pierre dunks, as Penny Hardaway's Memphis Tigers fight to get on the right side of the bubble.

Conference Title Battles

During the final weeks of the season, the must watch power conference races are the ACC, Big 12, SEC, and the Mountain West, who should be included in this classification for this season. In the ACC, it is a three-way battle between the usual suspects of the league, North Carolina, Duke, and Virginia, with North Carolina currently a game up on the competition. In the Big 12, metric darling Houston and relative surprise Iowa State lead what is clearly the best and most competitive conference in the nation. The SEC is lead by Alabama and South Carolina, who was ranked as the worst team in the SEC by league coaches this preseason. They are trailed closely by Tennessee, led by Zach Edey’s best competitor for player of the year, Dalton Knecht, and a tenacious Auburn Tigers team. Finally, the Mountain West is potentially a six bid league this year and has the most convoluted conference race. Utah St leads the league, but Boise State, Colorado State, San Diego State, New Mexico, Nevada, and UNLV are all just one game back, which is utter insanity. 

As for the other power conferences, UConn has effectively wrapped up the Big East, Purdue controls the Big 10, and Arizona likely has the final Pac-12 regular season title won.  

Cinderella Radar

Finally, this year, like any year, has a breadth of interesting mid-major teams that are under the radar to most, but will likely break out, as the unheard teams always do in March. The hot shooting Indiana State Sycamores are the best of this group, lead by the predestined breakout star of the tournament, Robbie Avila. However, Will Wade’s McNeese State team, two loss Grand Canyon, a UNC-Wilmington team that owns a road win over Kentucky, whoever comes out of the Ivy League, and the Sun Belt’s leader Appalachian St, who owns a win over Auburn, could all make some serious noise in the tournament.  

The Sprint to March

The sport known for the most chaos, is at an all time high in craziness this year, and it is only February. Get invested in these teams and these storylines now, as March, as always, is certain to deliver. 

Similar Posts