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12:45 AM Thu, Jan. 17th

Arizona may be the best men's college basketball team

No one wants to be No.


A few weeks ago, Duke was the top men's basketball team in the country.

They lost, handed the title over to Arizona.

The Wildcats lost to Stanford and turned the title over to Florida.

The Gators promptly fell to Southeastern Conference rival Kentucky in their first game on top and will more than likely hand the title back to Arizona, who needed overtime to dispose of unranked Washington Thursday night.

This week, four of the top ten teams fell; three, No.

3 Texas, No.

8 Maryland and No.

10 Notre Dame, lost unranked opponents.

Although Arizona is the frontrunner, there are a few teams who could make a case for the top spot.

Fifth-ranked Louisville is one of them.

At 17-1 the Cardinals are the only team in the top 25 with only one loss and they just got a quality win over perennial conference powerhouse Cincinnati.

Coach Rick Pitino has his team playing great basketball.

Kentucky fans could also claim their sixth-ranked Wildcats deserve to be No.


After all, they did just beat the top-ranked team in the nation.

At 17-3, they're playing basketball as well as anyone in the country right now.

Kentucky is a legitimate contender.

But Arizona may be the best team outright.

So the 'Cats lost to Stanford, who is ranked 25 by the way, but they bounced back and won the next game to a better team in Cal.

Besides, the PAC-10 may be the toughest conference in the country right now.

The conference could send as many as six teams to the NCAA tourney with Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon, Oregon State, Cal and Stanford all playing for a postseason bid.

With all of these teams playing each other twice, upsets are inevitable.

The telling tale that Arizona is the best team in the nation came a couple of weeks ago.

The Wildcats went into Kansas – who at 16-5 is ranked 12 – went down by 20 points and rallied to win by 17.

You will hard pressed to find another team who can do that.

While Arizona is ahead of everyone else, they're not that far ahead.

You want to talk parity, the NCAA has it.

The Big XII conference could send as many as six teams to the post season as well - five are ranked in the Top 25.

Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Missouri and, to a lesser degree, Texas Tech are all playing good basketball.

The SEC has two teams in the in top 10 and two more, Alabama and Mississippi State, in the top 25.

And don't forget about Creighton.

This team surprised a lot of people early in the season and hasn't dropped off at all.

Kyle Korver could start for any team in the country.

The Atlantic Coast Conference has Duke, Maryland and Wake Forest.

Although the Blue Devils and Terrapins aren't living up to preseason expectations, they're still quality teams.

Pittsburgh and Notre Dame are having a ball in the Big East, while Connecticut and Syracuse are putting together some wins themselves.

In the Big Ten Purdue and Illinois are dominating, while Xavier and St.

Joseph's are emerging out of the Atlantic 10 to surprise some people.

There are great ball clubs across the nation, from top to bottom.

The truth is, it's anyone's game.

Come NCAA tournament time, anyone of the top 32 teams could end up in the title game.

It'll all come down to the seedings, which should make the conference tournaments all that more meaningful and exciting.

Arianne Scarnecchia is a sports writer for the Miner.

She can be reached at 753-6397, ext.

229 or via e-mail at