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Rankings & Polls | Message Board  | Kevin McNeill Archive

By Kevin McNeill

January 30, 2006

Poll Position: AP & Coaches Poll Discussion

Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina and Arizona are all out of the Top 25.  Memphis, Gonzaga and George Washington are in the Top 10.  Welcome to parity –NCAA style.  Final Fours are no longer reserved for the BCS super-conferences.


#17 Georgetown finally has broken into the Coaches poll and it looks like they are really hitting their stride after their big upset of Duke.  Two solid victories over Notre Dame and Cincinnati have their confidence up.   Their toughest remaining opponents – Pitt and West Virginia – are at home, although they have a tough road game coming up against possible Freshman of the Year Dominic James and Marquette.  All this adds up to a potentially strong seed in the NCAA Tournament, their first tournament berth since 2001.   


Speaking of the Big East, two of its teams were mercifully bounced from the Top 25 and placed firmly on the NCAA bubble.  Syracuse is now riding a four game losing streak thanks to eight missed layups and three clanged dunks, not to mention a 5-27 performance behind the arc Sunday against Seton Hall.  Lose to Rutgers on Wednesday and the Orange could very well see that losing streak hit six, with a trip to Storrs scheduled after that. 


The poll voters also finally listened to Rick Pitino, who couldn’t figure out how his Cardinals could be ranked #7 in the preseason.  Louisville not only wouldn’t make the NCAA Tournament if Selection Sunday were held today, they are in serious danger of sitting out the Big East Tournament, which only takes the top 12 (out of 16) teams.    With road games at UConn, Villanova and West Virginia still looming, that looks more and more likely unless things turn around in a hurry.


Here’s a team you don’t want to play right now: #24 LSU.  They’ve now won 7 of their past 8, the lone loss being a one-point heartbreaker at #1 UConn.  Tyrus Thomas is making a strong case for Freshman of the Year, with Tasmin Mitchell right behind him.  This is a textbook case of a very young team struggling early in the season as they learn to play on the college level, steadily improving as the year progresses, and coming together at the right time.  Watch out for the Tigers come March.


How good is Michigan? Their only losses have come on the road against #6 Illinois, #22 Indiana, and a home loss to #14 UCLA.  They are tied for first place in the Big Ten, with a win recently over #12 Michigan State, and are back in the top 25 for the first time in eight years.  To think that Tommy Amaker was considered to be on the hot seat when the season began…


The PAC-10 has only two teams in the Top 25 – UCLA and #16 Washington – although the Huskies have now dropped two in a row after a promising win against the Bruins.  Four teams in the conference have only a .500 record or worse, and outside of UCLA, only Washington (vs. Gonzaga) has a win over a ranked out-of-conference opponent.  Stanford (10-7) has been a particular disappointment, losing to the likes of Montana and UC Davis.  Not a banner year for the league so far.


On the other hand, the Missouri Valley Conference is having its best season in years.  #25 Northern Iowa re-entered the Top 25 this week with Southern Illinois and Creighton also receiving votes.  Should some powerhouse programs like Kentucky, Kansas, Syracuse, Wake Forest or Louisville find themselves in the NIT this year, it will free up a lot of room for the MVC – who could send as many as three teams to the dance, (four, depending on how well Wichita State finishes the season.) 


Finally, we are only into week 11 of the college basketball season, it’s not even February yet, and already 10 teams that were in the preseason Top 25 polls are no longer ranked.  It will be very interesting to see how the final polls will eventually square up with the preseason ones. 


Kevin McNeill's Poll Position is a new weekly feature on CHN.





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