Duke and Michigan are not No. 1 this week because they did the same thing that has happened to 94% of teams this year – they lost when visiting a Top 50 team. Louisville defended their new No. 1 ranking by handily beating a Top 50 team on the road for the second time this year even after half of the best backcourt in the nation (only team with two top 50 guards) sat most of the fiirst half with two fouls.
Rick Pitino’s teams usually get better as the season goes on, and if that is true this team has a great chance at the national title. While five other teams have more than one top 50 player in Value Add (Baylor, Duke, Kansas, Indiana and Murray State), only Louisville has two guards. They played the first half without one of them, Peyton Siva, but he came back to score 11 points of 5 of 7 shooting in addition to his four assists and three steals against what ESPN commentator Jay Bilas called the second best backcourt in the country, UConn.
There is a reason NCAA tournament games are always on neutral sites. In almost 500 road trips to Top 50 teams this season, teams have only won six percent of the time including Duke losing at NC State and Michigan at Ohio State this weekend. Louisville’s 73-58 win at UConn last night followed an 87-78 win at Memphis December 15 to set them apart with two road wins vs. Top 50 teams.
Louisville backed up their new No. 1 ranking with the win. The only other team two win two road games against teams that are in the Top 50 of either RPI Forecast or ratings by Ken Pomeroy is a very impressive Boise St., which won at Wyoming and Creighton.
A few years ago Kansas just missed a No. 1 seed in a season in which they did not beat a Top 50 team on the road all year. While certainly other national contenders like Indiana will win some Road Top 50 games in the loaded Big Ten and the percentage will increase some from 6 percent. In a study I ran a few years ago, teams won 8.5 percent against Top 25 teams on the road, and 73.1 percent all teams visiting a top 50 team lost by double digits. Lousville’s 73-58 final last night turned teh tables as a double digit win on the road vs. a Top 50 team.
The following is a list of all teams that have defeated a Top 50 team on the road this year (top 50 in either RPI Forecast or Pomeroy):
|Road Win by||Top 50 Victim|
|College of Charleston||Baylor|
|Oregon||Nevada Las Vegas|
|Santa Clara||St. Louis|
|South Dakota St.||New Mexico|
|Stephen F. Austin||Oklahoma|