Each week, The Herald-Whig sports staff and a member of the WGEM sports staff will debate a pertinent topic. Here is this week's question:
"Which college basketball team deserves to be No. 1?"
Matt Schuckman, Sports Editor
Pity the team that ends up ranked No. 1 when the newest Associated Press Top 25 is released Monday.
For the last five weeks, the No. 1 team has lost after ascending to the top of the pile. It's been much more of a curse than a reward. Just ask Indiana coach Tom Crean.
The Hoosiers were the latest team to fall victim to the No. 1 curse. That doesn't mean the Hoosiers aren't the best team in the nation. They are, and although they will drop from the No. 1 spot, I firmly believe Indiana will be the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament in March.
The bodes well for Illinois, which will have a marquee victory over the nation's best team on its tournament resume. Should they meet again in the Big Ten Tournament or the NCAA Tournament, I'd still give the edge to Indiana.
In fact, with Michigan losing to Wisconsin and Kansas mired in a three-game skid, I'd give the Hoosiers the edge over everyone.
The Hoosiers have one of the nation's best frontcourts, a difference maker in Cody Zeller and the best player you don't hear enough about in Victor Oladipo. And since Crean is the brother-in-law to the Harbaugh brothers, isn't he destined to coach his team to a Final Four?
The Hoosiers may not want to be ranked No. 1, but it's where they deserve to be.
Blake Toppmeyer, Sports Writer
When people say "University of Miami," if you're a sports fan it probably leads to thoughts of powerhouse football in the 1980s and Jimmy Johnson. Or maybe you think about athletic corruption and Sports Illustrated's 1995 open letter to the university titled "Why the University of Miami should drop football."
This year, however, you should be thinking about Shane Larkin and Miami basketball. The No. 8-ranked Hurricanes are 19-3 after whipping North Carolina on Saturday, and I believe they deserve to be the nation's new No. 1 team.
Miami has won 11 straight games, is undefeated in the ACC and hasn't lost since Dec. 25. Miami thumped Duke --- then ranked No. 1 -- 90-63 on Jan. 23.
Larkin is probably college basketball's best player that you've never heard of. His game is as electric as the bright yellow shoes he likes to wear. The sophomore point guard can do it all. He's a prolific 3-point shooter, can get to the rim, is a great distributor and can defend. Plus, he's got a couple of very solid sidekicks in seniors Durand Scott and Kenny Kadji.
In this era of college basketball, the top teams are usually loaded with freshmen and sophomores. Miami is an exception. Other than Larkin, all of Miami's starters are seniors. This is a team that is as experienced as it is explosive.
Times have changed. Right now, "The U" is all about quality hoops.
Josh Rizzo, Sports Writer
At this point, the best basketball team doesn't reside in the Big Ten, which is the best basketball conference this season. It lies in a conference that is going through a tough season.
The Duke Blue Devils' body of work makes them the No. 1 team. While the Atlantic Coast Conference is down this season -- No. 8 Miami is the only other team in the Top 25 -- Duke has assembled an impressive resume.
The 20-2 Blue Devils own out-of-conference wins over Kentucky, Minnesota, Virginia Commonwealth, Louisville, Ohio State and Minnesota. That passes the eye test.
Both of the Duke's losses come to teams that were ranked at the time. Miami is still ranked, while N.C. State has tumbled out of the polls.
Duke averages 78 points per game and is led by forward Mason Plumlee, who averages 17.6 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. The Blue Devils don't lack balance as Seth Curry (16.3 points per game), Ryan Kelly (13.4), Rashee Sulaimon (11.8) and Quinn Cook (11.5) also average in double figures.
This group appears to be one motivated by a stunning loss to Lehigh University (Pa.) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Expect Mike Krzyzewski's bunch to be very competitive come tournament time.
Josh Houchins, WGEM SportsCenter Host
Not sure any team wants to be No. 1. They just lose a week later anyway.
But, the best team in the nation is still Indiana. But after losing in Champaign on Thursday, they will drop.
Kansas was looking good, yet lost to TCU, who I didn't even know had a basketball team.
Florida? Last thing I want to do is please Blake Toppmeyer and Bill Connell.
Let's go with Michigan.
The Wolverines have lost only to Ohio State, Indiana and Wisconsin on Saturday. They got a little revenge by knocking off the Buckeyes last week in overtime after falling to the Hoosiers.
But what's amazing is the fact even though it's a really young team, they can shoot. A top five team in the nation hitting shots at a 50-percent clip, tough road games in the Big Ten don't seem as daunting.
The best player in the nation, Trey Burke, resides in Ann Arbor. Two of the top freshmen in the nation, Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III, call the same place home. That's good enough for me.