Observations: Parity has reached an all-time high in college basketball

There’s been plenty of discussion so far this season about how there’s no dominant teams like we saw a year ago in the mold of Kentucky, Wisconsin or Duke , but the overall parity level of the sport has reached new heights.

No. 19 Iowa State’s 82-77 win over No. 1 Oklahoma on Monday at Hilton Coliseum was the fifth time this season that a top-ranked team was beaten and that’s only a precursor for what people should expect in March during the NCAA Tournament.

If rankings mean this little in January, you better believe that they’ll mean just as little in March when seeds take center stage during the field of 68.

This is the type of season where two No. 4 seeds, a No. 5 seed, and a No. 7 seed could reach the Final Four.

The unexpected becoming the ordinary?

You better believe it.

Tyler Roberson single-handedly willed Syracuse back into the middle of the ACC: The Orange had arguably their biggest win of the season Monday night against Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium and Roberson was the major reason why.

The 6-foot-8 junior had 14 points and 20 rebounds — 12 on offense — in the 64-62 triumph.

Roberson has now grabbed a combined 45 rebounds in his last three games and has become terrific at passing the ball out of the post after an offensive rebound for an open 3-point shot.

Syracuse is 3-1 since Jim Boeheim returned from a nine-game suspension and is now a respectable 3-4 in ACC play.

The Orange are 12-7 overall and next face Virginia on Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The best game Tuesday is in College Station: Ben Simmons is always appointment television, but Tuesday the SEC’s best player will have the task of going against arguably the best team in his conference.

Texas A&M has quietly gotten off to a 15-2 start with a 5-0 mark in conference play and can take a two game lead over LSU in the conference standings with a home win Tuesday.

The Tigers are 7-2 since they got both Keith Hornsby and Craig Victor into the lineup and they’ll need both of those players to produce on Tuesday if they hope to beat the Aggies on their home floor.

Billy Kennedy’s team doesn’t do anything flashy, but they’ve got depth, balance, and a fifth-year senior in Jalen Jones (17.2 points, 7.0 rebounds) that’s playing the best basketball of his career.

Tuesday, the epicenter of the college basketball world is College Station, Texas.

When was the last time somebody could say that?

Syracuse's Tyler Roberson had 14 points and 20 rebounds vs. Duke on Monday. (USATSI)
Syracuse’s Tyler Roberson had 14 points and 20 rebounds vs. Duke on Monday. (USATSI)

This and That

  • The most underrated part of Jarrod Uthoff’s game is how well he’s able to protect the front of the rim. The 6-foot-9 senior has blocked 18 shots in Iowa’s first five Big Ten games and continues to look like an All-American candidate. Uthoff is averaging 18.6 points and 6.2 rebounds for the 14-3 Hawkeyes, who next travel to Rutgers on Thursday.
  • Clemson’s Jaron Blossomgame is playing like an All-ACC player. The 6-7 junior is averaging 17.8 points and 7.4 rebounds in five ACC games and scored 25 in Saturday’s home win over Miami. Brad Brownell’s squad is now 4-1 in conference play heading into Tuesday’s game at Virginia.
  • Andy Enfield told CBS Sports on Monday that he’s excited about USC’s 15-3 start, but he’s also a realist. “We’ve got 13 more league games to go,” Enfield said. “It’s nice to be recognized, but we go to Oregon and Oregon State this week and there may not be two harder places to play in our league.”
  • Xavier’s James Farr is quietly having a monster senior season. The 6-10 big man has already had six games this season with 10 or more rebounds and had 19 boards in Saturday’s win at Marquette. Farr is averaging 10.3 points and 8.3 rebounds after only tallying 4.2 points and 5.3 rebounds last year as a junior. The Musketeers are 16-1 and will host Georgetown on Tuesday at the Cintas Center.
  • The most impressive part of Auburn’s win over Kentucky on Saturday? The Tigers did it without two of their projected perimeter starters — T.J. Dunans (knee injury) and Danjel Purifoy (ineligible) — as well as reserve guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen (shoulder).
  • Rhode Island’s Jarvis Garrett is starting to play like an all-league caliber layer. The sophomore point guard is averaging 15.6 points and 4.8 assists in five Atlantic 10 games while shooting 49.0 percent from the field. This guy has stepped up big time since the Rams lost E.C. Matthews for the season with a knee injury.
  • San Diego State is off to a 5-0 start in Mountain West Conference play and as expected it’s because of its defense. The Aztecs are only giving up 59.8 points during that span after surrendering 70 to Kansas in a 13-point loss on Dec. 22. Steve Fisher’s squad next hosts underrated Fresno State on Tuesday.
  • Colorado may have gotten a steal in 6-2 freshman Thomas Akyazili. A native of Belgium, Akyazili plays with great pace and impacts the game with his ability to make good decisions within the confines of the Buffaloes’ offense. Akyazili has just 14 turnovers this season in 293 total minutes played and is averaging 4.1 points and 2.0 assists. This is a good program piece for Tad Boyle.
  • Missouri transfer Stefan Jankovic has found a home at Hawaii. The 6-11 forward is leading the Rainbow Warriors in scoring (15.2 points) and is shooting 43.8 percent from 3-point range. First-year head coach Eran Ganot impressed people at the Diamond Head Classic and now has Hawaii off to a 4-0 start in Big West play.
  • We’re officially just 54 days away from Selection Sunday — it’s coming folks.

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