Thursday, October 29, 2009

Preseason Poll Madness

The first Coaches Poll of the 2009-2010 NCAA basketball season was just released and as usual, it serves as further evidence of why we shouldn't have preseason polls.

The first thing that jumped out at me was Kentucky at 5. I am not sure how a team can go to the NIT, lose their best player (Jodie Meeks), hire a head coach who just had his Final Four appearance vacated due to rules violations for the second time (that just blows my mind, two final fours, two final fours vacated), and somehow they leapfrog to the #5 ranking. Someone please explain this to me.
Patrick Patterson is a good player, and they have John Wall, one of the top recruits coming in, but there is no way that Kentucky gets anything above a 5 seed come tourney time. Mark it down.
It's not like Calipari is a good X's and O's coach. His offensive set at Memphis consisted of letting his players do whatever the hell they wanted for the most part. The part that really baffles me is that it is a coaches poll. Don't other coaches know that Calipari is a cheater and not a good coach?
Then again the coaches that vote include San Diego State's Steve Fisher (vacated a Final Four of his own at Michigan), someone named "Fang" Mitchell of Coppin State, and the Tommy Amaker of Hahhhverd.

Another thing that I thought was interesting was UNC at 4. This team lost Danny Green, Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson, and Tyler Hansbrough (although I'm not convinced that Tyler won't come back pretending to be a new freshman in hopes of prolonging his basketball glory, and I think that would make a sweet movie along the lines of Juwanna Mann. Where Tyler, played by Channing Tatum, disguises himself - possibly in blackface -  and convinces everyone he is Zeke Feldman freshman basketball player, and the only person who realizes the truth is his best friend Bobby Frasor - played by Jason Swartzman, but it gets dicey when he falls for a girl he knew before and never connected with as Tyler, but now as Zeke is madly in love with, but he knows that in order to be with her, he has to tell her the truth, and he is torn between exposing the lie and being with the girl or continuing on his basketball glory as Zeke. I'll post the screenplay in its entirety sometime in the future).

The point is that I feel like UNC has lost an awful lot of talent and putting them at #4 seems a little ridiculous. It is so annoying how they are able to just reload with the top talent every year.

Kansas grabbed the #1 ranking.  Not much to argue there.  I can't imagine Kansas not coming out of a weak Big 12 with a 1 seed this March, with Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich anchoring Bill Self's team.

Another thing that jumped out at me was the return of the Big Ten. There are 5 teams in the top 25, and two in the top 10, with Michigan State at 3, and Purdue at 7. They actually have more top 25 teams than the ACC (4) raising the question - Will this be be the year the the Big Ten finally breaks through and wins the ACC-Big Ten challenge?
The series has been going since 1999 and the Big Ten is 0-11. You really can't call it a challenge until the Big Ten wins one. The overall record is 66-40 in favor of the ACC.
Last year the Big Ten came close and went 5-6. This year they need to win. It's getting to be sad.

The Illini are on the outside looking in, landing at #27 -  if you expand the rankings. That is about where I would put them, and it is a good place to be. If the Illini start beating people, they could springboard into the top-25 pretty easily.
There are 4 reasonably difficult, but definitely winnable games in the non-conference, at Clemson, home vs. Vanderbilt, at the UC vs. Gonzaga, and the border war game vs. Mizzou. If the Illini can win 3 of 4 in these games and easily win the rest of their games ( they actually play a team called Presbyterian, their nickname - The Blue Hose, more on this at a later date) they should be in the top-20 going into Big Ten play.
But of course, a lot can happen between then and now, and we haven't seen Illinois play anyone other than themselves yet, but I am pretty sure that I have thought about this more than Tommy Amaker has.

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