Thanks for playing, Kentucky. John Calipari's team lost their No. 1 ranking almost as soon as they got it Tuesday night. This is nothing to be ashamed of: Texas did the same at Kansas State last week (though Texas' loss did come to a top-15 team). It doesn't end Kentucky's season. It's just a minor blip.
It does, however, mean that a new No. 1 is in the works. There are three candidates: Kansas, Syracuse and Villanova. Who ya got?
If you're interested in new blood, Syracuse is probably your choice. The Orangemen have played a top-five strength of schedule, are No. 1 overall in the RPI (Rating Percentage Index), and are coming off an impressive blowout of a good Georgetown team at the Carrier Dome Monday night. Villanova is likewise enticing; Scottie Reynolds and company are rolling at 18-1 and have one of the best offenses in the country. The downside is that Villanova is merely 2-0 against the RPI top 25, while Syracuse is 4-0 and has, all things considered, conquered a much more difficult schedule to get to their lofty record. Syracuse will play DePaul Saturday, while Nova's only game this week is tonight's matchup with Notre Dame.
But none of that is likely to matter if Kansas handles business this week. The Jayhawks are currently No. 2 in both polls, are coming off a blowout of a good Missouri team at home Monday night, and are the most efficient team in the country. (You'll notice, meanwhile, that Syracuse is No. 3 while Villanova is all the way down at 14, lower than Kentucky. Given a choice between the two, isn't Cuse a slam dunk?) Even before Kentucky lost, many voters might have admitted (off the record, of course) that they thought Kansas was still the team to beat. It is. And if the Jayhawks win at No. 13 Kansas State on Saturday, they probably deserve their No. 1 ranking back.