February 7, 2006
Poll Position: AP &
Coaches Poll Discussion
Not to boldly state the
obvious, but UConn (#1 AP/Coaches’) is really, really good. The Huskies had
six different players score in double digits, and five players with 5 or
more rebounds, in their road win against Indiana (#24 AP). In fact, they
have six players averaging better than 9 points a game this season. Duke
may have the best player, but their post-season will only go as far as J.J.
Redick can carry it. UConn has the best team. It’s not hard to see them
cutting down the nets in April.
Question: What is keeping
Florida (#7 AP) from being the best team in America? Answer: Randolph
Watching Florida put on a
scoring clinic against Randolph Morris and Kentucky on Saturday, one can
only wonder how good these Gators would be if Anthony Roberson and Matt
Walsh were still in Gainesville. They could have been teammates playing on
national television this weekend, leading one of the best teams in America
over Kentucky in front of 12,000 screaming fans. Instead they are teammates
on the NBDL’s Arkansas RimRockers, who this weekend played in front of a
raucous announced crowd of 874 – in Florida.
I really have to question
the bottom 5 of the two polls this week. Roy Williams has done an
incredible job this season after losing his top seven – seven! – players
from last year’s championship squad. But are the Tar Heels (#23 AP) among
the 25 best in the nation? No way. Colorado (#25 Coaches’) gets hammered by
Iowa State, and hasn’t beaten anyone with an RPI under 90 this season.
Washington (#21 AP) has now lost three straight, the latest coming against
lowly Washington State (10-9).
Meanwhile, Northern Iowa has
won 6 of their last 7 games (and 10 of their last 12), but loses to a very
good Creighton team and gets knocked from the Coaches’ Poll. Kansas has now
won five in a row after Bill Self tweaked his starting lineup, including a
16-point second half comeback win against Oklahoma (#20 AP) on Sunday. LSU
gets bounced from both polls after dropping a close one on the road against
Alabama, their first loss in 8 games.
Fans of the Missouri Valley
Conference have every reason to be excited this season, however some of them
seem to be taking for granted the notion the conference will send four teams
to the dance. Besides the aforementioned Northern Iowa, it is true that
Creighton, Wichita State and Southern Illinois are all in the “Others
Receiving Votes” category in the latest AP poll. However, Florida State,
Stanford and Louisville are there as well. Should just one of those teams
close the season strong and make the NCAA Tournament, that more than likely
means one of the deserving schools from the MVC will be crying foul on
Speaking of teams outside
the Top 25, how about Notre Dame? My goodness. They have now lost five in
a row – by a combined 11 points. Think about that, 11 points separates a
10-10 Irish team that probably won’t make the Big East Tournament, or even
the NIT, from a 15-5 team that would be a lock for the NCAA Tournament.
Where’s that luck of the Irish? (besides that ridiculous 4-point play at the
end of regulation against Georgetown).
Three examples of why polls
should always be taken with a grain of salt: Pittsburgh dropped 5 places in
the AP (#9 to #14), after Ronald Ramon just missed a 3 at the buzzer that
would have tied it against Georgetown. Before that the Panthers took #1
UConn to the wire on the road. Illinois dropped from 6th to 10th
in the AP poll, after Rich McBride’s game-winning three turned out to be
about a tenth of a second late. West Virginia is now in the Top 10, and
undefeated in the Big East, thanks to Chris Quinn’s game winning shot that
rimmed out at the buzzer last week. It really is a game of inches.
Kevin McNeill's Poll
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