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Rankings & Polls | Message Board  | Kevin McNeill Archive

By Kevin McNeill

February 13, 2006

Poll Position: AP & Coaches Poll Discussion


The latest conference RPI standings has the depleted Conference USA rated 14th, the West Coast Conference 13th and the Atlantic 10 ranked as the 9th best conference.  Yet Memphis (#3 AP, Coaches)  has an RPI of 4, Gonzaga  (#5 AP, Coaches)  is rated 10th and George Washington (#7 AP, #8 Coaches)  sports an RPI of … 38.  The difference? The Zags have played against the likes of UConn, Michigan State, Maryland and Memphis before starting conference play.  The Tigers for their part played Duke, the Zags, UCLA, Texas and Tennessee.  The Colonials, however, only featured two somewhat difficult games on their early season schedule - beating Maryland and suffering their only loss of the season to NC State (#21 AP, #18 Coaches). 


Keep this in mind when someone tells you strength of schedule doesn’t matter.  The Zags learned their lesson the hard way in 2002, when – despite being ranked #6 in both polls – where handed a 6 seed on Selection Sunday.  Watch where the Colonials get seeded in the NCAA Tournament, and get ready to hear some howls of protest emanating from Washington, DC.    


Just like when it seemed we would have a reprieve from the never-ending soap opera that is Indiana Hoosiers basketball, Indiana goes and loses five of six, and now three straight, to drop out of the Top 25 – drumming up the “Davis on the hot seat stories” all over again.  Coach Davis did himself no favors in an interview with ESPN’s Andy Katz this week, where he all but blamed overzealous Hoosier fans for the team’s recent woes.  "I watched [Saturday's] second half and you could see we were playing with no energy. It's really a shame,” he said. “They have no idea what they've done to the players." 


In fairness to the coach, the loss of D.J White early in the season in all probability has more to do with Indiana’s struggles than anything Mike Davis has done.  But blaming the fans? C’mon.  He should be grateful he’s not coaching in Lexington right now.


Rock chalk Jayhawk.  Given up for dead a month ago after dropping games to Kansas State and rival Missouri, Kansas (#22 AP, Coaches)  re-entered the Top 25 this week after reeling off seven in a row in conference play to take second place in the Big 12 standings behind Texas.  This is an incredibly young team – now starting three freshmen and two sophomores.  The difference has been the development of Julian Wright and Darnell Jackson, gaining minutes at the expense of everyone’s favorite walk-on, Christian Moody.  This is a team that’s just going to get better.  Add in another stellar freshman class next season by Bill Self, led by Sherron Collins, and the future in Lawrence is very, very bright. 


Speaking of teams on the rise, how about those Ohio State Buckeyes (#12 AP, Coaches)?  They’ve just won their fourth in a row, the latest a statement win over Illinois (#14 AP, #13 Coaches).  They are now only a half game behind Iowa (#18 AP, #20 Coaches) in the Big Ten standings.  They start four seniors, who’s shot selection and deadly outside shooting has them leading the Big Ten in field goal percentage.  For Buckeye fans worried about next season when those players are gone, they have one of the best, if not the best, recruiting classes coming in for next season – led by superstar-in-waiting Greg Oden.  Suffice it to say, Thad Matta has done an incredible job in just his second season with the Buckeyes. 


Finally, congratulations to the Bucknell Bison (#24 AP, Coaches), who entered the Top 25 for the first time in their history.  After the upset of the year last season in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against Kansas, they have followed up this season with impressive road wins against Syracuse and DePaul, and an undefeated season so far in the Patriot League.  Anyone who is a fan of the Patriot League, or who has read John Feinstein’s excellent book The Last Amateurs, has to be cheering on Bucknell – the very definition of a Cinderella team. 

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





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