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Rankings & Polls | Message Board  | Kevin McNeill Archive

By Kevin McNeill

Match 6th, 2006

College Basketball: AP & Coaches Poll Discussion


The NCAA Selection Committee often places a lot of weight on the final 10 games of the regular season when deciding who gets in and what seed they get once they get there.  In almost every case, a team that is playing well down the stretch is far more likely to play well and make a run in the NCAA Tournament than a team that stumbles at the end of the regular season – no matter how much more talented on paper that team may be. 


This is a big reason why at least 3 schools will more than likely not be too pleased with their seed on Selection Sunday.  Michigan State has now lost 5 of 7 and dropped out of the top 25.  They are really missing Matt Trannon and Marquise Gray.  NC State has lost 4 of the last 6, including 3 in a row to close the season.  They too dropped out of the polls this week. 


Georgetown also has the dubious honor of finishing the season 2-4, including a jaw-dropping loss to South Florida.  Until that game the Bulls were 0-15 in conference in their first Big East season.


On the flip side, UNC (10 AP/Coaches) has now won seven straight after their amazing victory in Cameron Indoor on Senior Night. Since dropping 3 of 4 in January, they have won 10 of 11, the lone loss coming against Duke.  In the past three weeks, they have jumped from 22 to 13 to 10 in the polls today.  In fact, one lone coach voted them #1.  They finish the season in sole possession of second place in the ACC and have the overwhelming favorite for Freshman of the Year in Tyler Hansbrough.  Simply amazing for a team that lost its top seven scorers – including 4 NBA Lottery picks - from last year.


Ohio State (7) closed the season winning 9 of their past 10 and is the improbable Big Ten regular season champion – their first season title in 14 years.  They haven’t lost a game all season by more than 5 points.  With Duke (3) now on a losing streak (did I just write that?) and a Texas (8) loss to Texas A&M, the door is open for the Buckeyes to earn a #1 seed next Sunday.  Thad Matta is simply one of the best coaches in America. 


Big East rivals UConn (1) and Villanova (2) will both likely earn #1 seeds and are simply on a roll.  The Wildcats have won 13 of their final 14 games.  The Huskies have won 16 of 17.  Their only losses have come against each other. 


It’s hard to believe the regular season is already over.  It seems like just yesterday that the preseason polls were released.  Those polls are always fun, because they not only signal that the season is about to begin, but it marks the first time that sportswriters and coaches collectively weigh in on the great debate over which teams are the very best in the nation.


How’d they do? Some of their picks have held up, others not so much.  For example, Louisville, Kentucky and Arizona were all ranked in the top ten.  Other teams making the grade as one of the 25 best teams in America include future NIT participants Syracuse (#16), Wake Forest (#18) and Stanford (#13).  Among those who did not see their names in the polls include Ohio State, Florida (16/14) and Pittsburgh (15/16) – who did not get a single vote. 


I bring this up not to pick on poll voters, but to simply make the points that A) this isn’t college football, where the opinions of the experts actually decides the postseason fate of schools, and B) there’s no such thing as an expert. 


In other words, don’t take these polls too seriously.  They do not have any influence over the Selection Committee, who is much more concerned with the RPI, strength of schedule and quality wins.  In truth, no team really cares about where they are ranked this time of year, only where they are seeded.


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





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