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Who will be new No. 1 in the college basketball polls on Monday?

Jan 13, 2013, 5:00 PM EDT

Rick Pitino AP

With four undefeated teams teams losing for the first time this week (Duke, Wyoming, Arizona, Michigan), there will be some shuffling at the top of the polls when they are released Monday. Who will be the new No. 1? We take a look at the top contenders and some longshots below:


Rick Pitino’s Cardinals, coming into the week ranked No. 3 and getting decisive wins over South Florida and Seton Hall, are the most likely to move into the No. 1 spot when polls are released. The main argument against the 15-1 Cardinals, though, is that Louisville’s one loss of the season came to Duke in the Battle 4 Atlantis, a team also in the running to retain the No. 1 spot. But, in fairness, Louisville was without shot blocker Gorgui Dieng in its loss to Duke, who was sitting out with a wrist injury. Louisville has won 10 games in a row since the loss.


Of the four undefeated teams that lost this past week, Duke’s future is the most uncertain. The absence of Ryan Kelly played a role in the Blue Devils’ loss to No. 20 NC State on Saturday, but the timeline for his return is not clear. There have been reports that he could be out as little as two weeks, or perhaps as many as six. The Duke offense changes without him in the lineup because of his ability to spread the defense out and score the basketball, so are the Blue Devils really the nation’s best team if he can’t be on the floor for the foreseeable future?


Michigan is at a disadvantage having to play in the nation’s best conference, but missed out on an opportunity to be the undisputed No. 1 team in the country with its loss to Ohio State on Sunday. Despite that loss, Michigan will be dangerous because of its ability to shuffle in one of four legitimate scorers to carry the offensive load. Trey Burke, Glenn Robinson III, Tim Hardaway, Jr., and Nik Stauskas can all be the centerpiece on any given night, which makes the Wolverines dangerous. Depth and youth continue to be concerns.


The Wildcats lost to a tough Oregon team on the road this week, putting them out of play for the No. 1 spot, but they are still likely the class of the Pac-12. With UCLA creeping up from behind, though, the Wildcats might be looking over their shoulder. Coach Sean Miller will continue to work through senior leader Mark Lyons, but much like Michigan, youth will continue to be an area of concern that only time can fix. The young interior of Kaleb Tarczewski, Grant Jerrett, and Brandon Ashley is talented, but efficiency and experience will come as Pac-12 play goes along.


Indiana looked like it was going to dominate No. 8 Minnesota on Saturday, but lost a large lead to make it interesting at the end. The Hoosiers still got the victory, but likely don’t have enough to jump four spots and grab the No. 1 ranking. Though it has long been the conventional wisdom that Cody Zeller is the most important part of this Indiana team, forward Victor Oladipo is quickly showing that he could be just as important. The junior is shooting an astounding 68 percent from the field on the year, including 8-of-10 FG for 20 points against Minnesota.


Ben McLemore saved Kansas with a bank-shot three-pointer against Iowa State this week to continue the Jayhawks’ 13-game winning streak. McLemore’s continued emergence, along with All-American numbers from center Jeff Withey, makes Kansas the runaway favorite in the Big 12, but likely not the No. 1 team in the land. That doesn’t mean Kansas can’t make noise in March, as it did last season in its run to the Final Four.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

  1. mungman69 - Jan 13, 2013 at 6:16 PM

    There isn’t any #1, just a bunch of #2s.

    • joneildu - Jan 13, 2013 at 7:02 PM

      Louisville has one of the better cases. One loss to a top 5 team on a neutral court. And they had less than 24 hours to prepare a backup center to replace a preseason Wooden nominee to face who most consider the player of the year. The difference between Dieng and Louisvilles back up, Van Treese, is marked.

  2. karlton3 - Jan 13, 2013 at 8:17 PM

    1) Louisville
    2) Indiana
    3) Duke
    4) Michigan
    5) Kansas
    6) Arizona

  3. xli2006 - Jan 13, 2013 at 8:21 PM

    1) UL
    2) IU
    3) Duke
    4) Kansas
    5) Mich

    IU dropped 5 spots after losing in OT on a neutral floor at #1. There appears unwritten standard of at least a 2-3 minimal drop when losing in the Top 5.

    No way can a 1 loss IU team who is 1st in the top conference be below Duke who is now 3rd in their own conference.

    The normal “leap frog” rankings should yield a ranking similar to the above.

  4. blueballzny - Jan 13, 2013 at 8:35 PM

    This year’s tourny is going to be one of the best in years. There are so many teams that will be capable of getting hot and winning 6 games in a row. Plus, there are plenty of mid major teams who no one is gonna want to play. With the NFL playoffs goung on, it’s hard to watch all of the great games in college hoops. But it’s only January and I alrwady can’t wait for March. Hopefully my Johnnies can make a run and get in!!!

  5. prov1x - Jan 13, 2013 at 9:36 PM

    All I know is imforbigblue has been awfully quiet this season. Probably working for Cal’s next non-profit fundraising effort. Or trying to get a patent on retractable banners.

  6. xli2006 - Jan 13, 2013 at 10:47 PM

    Still hard to overlook Arizona’s last second “loss” to Colorado that was basically gifted as a win by the refs for reasons nobody has yet explained.

  7. creek0512 - Jan 13, 2013 at 11:32 PM

    1. Louisville
    2. Indiana
    3. Kansas
    4. Michigan
    5. Duke
    6. Arizona
    7. Syracuse
    8. Gonzaga
    9. Florida
    10. Minnesota

  8. tonyricemajorharris - Jan 14, 2013 at 8:38 AM

    Polls are lame. It just makes for petty conversation. Lets get to March and dance

  9. florida727 - Jan 14, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    I’m with #tonyrice… on this one. To me, basketball polls should fall into the same bucket as the football BCS poll in that one doesn’t appear until a certain point in the season. In football, every game matters because there are so few of them (relatively speaking). In basketball, a single loss in November, December, January or February, almost means nothing. Doesn’t mean we don’t watch every week, but with so many teams getting in to the tournament, who’s ranked #1 v. who’s ranked #5, at this point anyway, is irrelevant. I guess it’s nice for bragging rights (or for TV networks needlessly hyping an upcoming game), but there’s typically temporary bragging rights at best.

  10. critter69 - Jan 14, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    Daniel Martin is using logic. Since when has ANY sports poll used logic to accurately determine who is No. 1, No. 10, who wins and loses, or whatever?

    In 1969, how many points were the New York Jets underdogs to the Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl?

    In the 2013 NFL playoffs, how many points were the Baltimore Ravens underdogs to the Denver Broncos?

    Bob Knight claimed that his No. 1 rated 1974-75 Indiana University basketball team was better than his 1975-76 team, yet IU was not the NCAA champion in 1975, but was the champion in 1976. In fact, Kentucky, rated No. 2 didn’t win, but UCLA did in 1975.

    When I was in high school, the high school team I rooted for beat a rival by 30 points. That rival didn’t lose another game that season until the tournament. When the tourney came around, the team I rooted for (which had won more than 1/2 the regular season games) lost to another school that had not one a single game that season, and the Sectional title was between two teams (including the team ‘we’ had beat by 30 points) that had a combined record of 45-1.

    Since the first NCAA basketball tournament in 1939, how many teams ranked No. 1 in the polls have won the tourney? In fact, how many times have the last four teams in the tourney NOT been Nos. 1-4 (hint – more often than not)?

    Games and championships are NOT determined by polls, but on the field or court.

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