CREAN WITH ENVY: Despite losing to Illinois, Tom Crean's Hoosiers are still the team to beat in the NCAA according to the AP. Photo courtesy Michael Hickey/Getty Images

CREAN WITH ENVY: Despite losing to Illinois, Tom Crean’s Hoosiers are still the team to beat in the NCAA according to the AP. Photo courtesy Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The best way to describe the AP Poll, specifically the Top 10, is like a water fountain.

Teams shoot up to the top, get upset, and fall back down. And, like a public fountain, much of that water is getting recycled.

Indiana stayed atop the poll this week despite losing to 17-8 Illinois but that wasn’t because they’ve been so dominant. In fact, the reason why they stayed in the #1 spot is because every other candidate has looked equally mortal.

For the last five straight weeks, the top team in college basketball has been upset. Just as water cannot fight the forces of gravity, the so-called NCAA elite appear to be unable to contend with the parity across the landscape of college basketball. Essentially since the start of this year, the league has proven that pretty much everyone can beat anyone, and that means the madness usually reserved for March has already been underway for quite some time.

BLOWING BUBBLES: Illinois' resume of regular season upsets will give them a cogent argument for a berth come tournament time. Photo courtesy Joe Robbins/Getty Images

BLOWING BUBBLES: Illinois’ resume of regular season upsets will give them a cogent argument for a berth come tournament time. Photo courtesy Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Will this be the sixth consecutive week a #1 loses? The Hoosiers have Nebraska and Purdue on the docket this week, and if I were the Cornhuskers or the Boilermakers, I’d be chomping at the bit. Nebraska is just 12-12 and has an RPI just inside the Top 100, but such numbers at times have meant very little this season. Either way, they should be a good warm-up game for Purdue, whose given ranked teams trouble this seasonalready.

Then there’s Duke, who dethroned Indiana in the less-important Coaches Poll, but they’ve proved equally inept as basketball’s aristocracy. The Blue Devils account for two of those five straight weeks of #1 upsets. They have their intrastate blood feud with UNC on Wednesday, and while the Tar Heels have been admittedly poor this year, far crazier things have already happened. Add in the fact that it’s a rivalry game, and anything goes.

Is there a better team out there? I don’t think so. Not a clear one, anyways. Go ahead, make a case, I dare you.

Miami surged to #3 in the AP Poll yesterday, but they lost to Florida Gulf Coast (I’ll wait for you to Google it) way back in November. Sure, they’re white-hot right now, but Top 5 teams have proved to be particularly vulnerable on the road, and this week the Hurricanes have to go to both Florida State AND Clemson. A hot team is only hot if they keep winning.

At #4, there’s Michigan, who figured to be the presumptive new #1 when Indiana lost to Illinois, but that was before Wisconsin’s Ben Brust hurled a half-court three as time expired, eventually leading to the Badgers ruining the Wolverines’ day. Besides, they’ve had THEIR shot at the top spot already, too.

So who else? Gonzaga? As long as we’re criticizing teams on losing to Illinois, they’re out of the conversation. Florida? That Arkansas loss was just a week ago. Arizona? They JUST took a loss!

You see, the farther you go down the rankings the more the evidence of chinks in the armor stacks up. Eventually, if you go far enough, you’ll even get to TCU, who had a nice win against Kansas and then absolutely nothing else.

SCORNED FROGS: Starting out 0-8 in conference put a chip on the shoulder of a lowly TCU team that took down #5 Kansas in one of the biggest upsets in years. Photo courtesy Sharon Ellman/AP

SCORNED FROGS: Starting out 0-8 in conference put a chip on the shoulder of a lowly TCU team that took down #5 Kansas in one of the biggest upsets in years. Photo courtesy Sharon Ellman/AP

And really, that Kansas-TCU game said everything about this season. Kansas could’ve been considered a team that’d get a #1 seed in a region come tournament time, but losing to TCU, a team WORSE than one that will probably end up in a #16 seed, has sufficiently put an end to that idea.

What we have here is a French Revolution of sorts in college basketball. The patricians of NCAA basketball can no longer rest on the laurels of what they HAVE done, and are being challenged by the lower echelons. And, once challenged, they continually fail to rise to the occasion. So we rotate them in and out hoping to find that one powerhouse to restore order. Duke, Michigan, Syracuse, Indiana, Duke, Indiana. So on and so forth. It’s a silly game of musical chairs that will deceive people come tournament time into believe that there are four “teams-to-beat” out there.

But nothing could be farther from the truth. As these last two months have proven, there isn’t even one let alone a quartet.

If the madness has already begun, March is going to be  something even less predictable. Athletic anarchy. The concept of favorites and underdogs may just die altogether. Is this the year a #16 finally beats a #1? Will a team seeded lower than the 1985 #8 Villanova Wildcats win it all? Will we have not one but two double-digit seeds in the Final Four for the first time ever?

Who knows?

At this point, I think the Vegas odds-makers are just shaking a magic eight ball.

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When Bryan isn’t writing, he is on Twitter! Make sure to give him a follow @bclienesch for NCAA updates and other shenanigans!