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
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
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
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