Breaking down the ballot: Sam Blum discusses his AP Poll (10/21)
The argument that you always hear from coaches is that the polls don't matter. Being ranked doesn't matter. From their standpoint, it is mostly correct. What a bunch of reporters think of them has no true bearing on what happens on the court.
But from a fundamental standpoint, they are wrong. The polls do matter. They matter for who gets put on television, who gets written about, who gets talked about. It matters for how history remembers teams, and it matters because it's an accurate reflection of the national perception.
The preseason AP Poll for men's basketball was released on Monday. And it's always the most interesting poll of the season. There's no consensus, no results. There are 13 teams that received 10 points or fewer in this preseason poll. The likes of Colgate, Liberty, Alabama, and Vermont --- a team we'll get into later.
This is my first season voting in the AP Poll. Every week, I'll be posting about my picks, discussing why I voted the way I did, and breaking down the actual Top 25, as well.
Here are the full rankings:
1. Michigan State
9. North Carolina
12. Seton Hall
13. Texas Tech
17. Utah State
18. Ohio State
20. St. Mary's
Here were my selections:
1. Michigan State
9. Seton Hall
14. North Carolina
16. Texas Tech
19. Ohio State
21. St. Mary's
22. Utah State
25. VermontBiggest Top 25 Takeaways:
-- The Top 4 will change within the first week, as No. 1 faces No. 2 and No. 3 faces No. 4 to start off the season.
-- All four Final Four teams from last year are ranked, despite three of the four - Virginia, Auburn and Texas Tech - losing significant amounts of talent.
-- Two teams that had objectively bad seasons last year made the Top 25: Arizona and Xavier.
-- There were some significant outliers from this poll to how highly-respected rankings guru Ken Pomeroy ranked the Top 25. In his poll, Purdue was No. 7, Kansas was No. 10 and Oklahoma was No. 25. The Sooners didn't get a single vote from any AP voter.Why I voted how I voted:
-- I selected Seton Hall in the Top 10 because of Myles Powell, as well as an experienced returning core. Powell is an All-American, and he showed in the NCAA Tournament last year that he can will his team to winning games.
-- I selected Virginia at No. 5 because every single year, voters will underrate a Tony Bennett-led Cavaliers squad at their own peril. It's pretty fair to say that for as many years as I vote in the poll will be as many years as I put whatever team Bennett coaches in the preseason Top 5.
-- Memphis is getting a lot of hype, and for good reason. Simply put, they have the best recruiting class in the country. James Wiseman might be the best NBA talent in the country.
-- Washington might be unranked, but I believe they'll be a Top 20 team. They're starting to fill out a west-coast mold of a Kentucky or Duke-type team that can consistently reload. Heck, they're even bringing in a Kentucky transfer this year in PG Quade Green. Mike Hopkins is a proven recruiter.
-- On principle, I like to recognize a low-major team in this poll. Very reasonable minds could disagree that Vermont is not a Top 25 team this year. But I truly think that Anthony Lamb is one of the best mid=major players in the country. The Catamounts consistently compete with Top 25 teams, and might be better this year than the great teams of the last few seasons.Teams I considered putting in my poll:
-- Auburn, Harvard, South Florida, Purdue, Arizona, Marquette, Liberty
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