If you want to assert college basketball is down this season, I'll buy some of the argument.
Scoring is off, headed to its lowest totals since the early 1950s with teams averaging about 68 points per game. Did you catch Northern Illinois' act on Saturday? The Huskies scored four in the first half, made one of 33 three-pointers and fell at Eastern Michigan 42 -25.
The game seems to be played at a slower pace, with defenses more in control. Offensive skill level has dipped with top underclassmen leaving early and the very best making college a one-season stop. The game could use more Doug McDermotts and fewer 19-16 halftime scores, like Purdue-Iowa on Sunday.
By that measure, yes, college hoops overall seems a bit sluggish.
But in other ways, the game is as healthy as ever, more inclusive and diverse. Unpredictable, especially at the top as the sport prepares to announce its third different top-ranked team in three weeks today. It might even be a split-decision between Kansas and Michigan, poised to ascend after being ranked second in separate polls last week.
The opportunity presents itself because of the loss by Duke. Had the Blue Devils lost at North Carolina by 27, it would have been stunning but accepted as an oddity of the rivalry. But losing by four touchdowns at Miami didn't easily compute even though the Hurricanes have the lone perfect league record, have already won in Chapel Hill and are perhaps the nation's most experienced team with 282 career starts among their regulars.
We've been asleep on Miami all season. Same with Mississippi. The idea of the Rebels as no worse than the second-best team in the Southeastern Conference is difficult mind wrap considering the program hasn't played in the NCAA Tournament for more than a decade. But here's how quickly fortunes can turn: Kentucky visits Oxford, Miss., on Tuesday with the Wildcats needing a confidence-building, signature victory.
If you haven't seen Ole Miss play, surely you've heard them, or at least newcomer Marshall Henderson. The 6-2 guard is enrolled at his fourth school in four years, and has unleashed an all-conference game and mouth as he delights in confronting opposing fans. Henderson, who spent a year at Texas Tech but sat out as a transfer, backs it up by leading the SEC in scoring.