The first two months of the college basketball season are a nice tune-up for conference play. Power programs square off in November tournaments, followed by generally soft December schedules filled with cupcakes, regional rivals and lengthy breaks for final exams.
The season got going in earnest on New Year's Eve when conference schedules started to kick in. The conference season is where the competition picks up, the atmosphere intensifies, every shot is scrutinized, every coaching decision analyzed and league titles can turn on one pass, one foul or a 3-pointer. In short, the conference season is where champions are made.
Thus, it's too early to panic if your favorite squad isn't ranked No. 1 this week. NCAA championships aren't won or lost in November and December. With that in mind, we took a look back at the last 20 years of national polls and compared four data points from each season.