Ranking the top title contenders
Arizona, Syracuse among teams playing at a Final Four level this season
If you've been reading along here for a while, you may know that I've been tracking every possession in conference play in the top third of Division I for a few seasons now. As the season progresses, I tend to put more and more trust in what those results are revealing.
Then again, since it's still January, I'm not yet to the point where I'm listening to what all those possessions are telling me without significant objections. Still, I've found that this information comes in handy -- even at this point in the season -- as I evaluate the nation's top teams.
So this week, I thought I'd share my admittedly early thoughts on which teams are serious contenders for the national title based on which teams are playing at a Final Four level statistically. Consider this a detailed explanation of the very top of my Power Rankings ballot for this week.
I had occasion to heap praise on Arizona's defense last week, but in case you were too busy to catch that, here's a quick synopsis: Sean Miller has what appears to be one of the best defenses the college game has seen in recent seasons, at least from what we've seen through January. The Wildcats have held Pac-12 opponents to just 0.87 points per possession. It's true that Miller's D received the statistical benefit of 40 minutes against a strikingly inept Washington State offense, but even when you make the necessary adjustment there the defense in Tucson rates out as excellent.
To read the full list of John Gasaway's top six national title contenders, you must be an Insider.
MORE MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL HEADLINES
- Seton Hall loses Whitehead to stress fracture
- UNLV pulls upset to ruin No. 3 Arizona's run
- Stanford knocks off No. 9 Texas in overtime
- No. 11 Shockers escape Hawaii with putback
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
College Hoops on Insider
Jay Bilas ranks his top 68 teams in the latest installment of the Bilas Index