Commentary: The two polls agreed exactly as to who they thought were the top nine teams, and Rewards placed 18 of their top 20 teams into its own top 21; almost half of those teams ended up in the same position as where they were voted in the polls. Five of the nation's top eight teams held the same spot in all three "systems", and only the eventual NCAA tournament winner (NC State) was off by more than five positions in Rewards' ranking in relation to the polls. With 10 losses, it was difficult for Rewards to promote the Wolfpack any higher than #26, though they were #16 according to the AP voters, and #14 in the UPI poll. Illinois was the next highest team (#33) in Rewards' list, with 10 losses, and the Illini were not ranked in either poll's top 20. Even though they were assigned a #6 seed, NC State was really quite a long shot, since only a few teams had won the NCAA tournament with similar confidence by the voters: e.g. the unrated CCNY team in 1950, and both the 1958 Kentucky and 1977 Marquette teams were ranked #14 by the UPI. Given that the Wolfpack were playing the #1 "Phi Slamma Jamma" team from Houston made their winning seem more "miraculous". (Since then, two unranked teams have won the NCAA tournament - Villanova in 1985, and Kansas in 1988 - and two other teams with rankings as high as NC State have done so: Arizona, in 1997, was ranked #15/#13, and Syracuse, in 2003 was ranked #13/#12, though Rewards had the Orangemen ranked as the #4 team in the nation!)
NIT Champion Fresno moved up from #57 to #46 in the final Rewards ranking, and Final Four participant Georgia, moved up two slots to #19; they were ranked #18/#15 before the tournament began, and like NC State, their ranking was bolstered by wining their conference's end of season tournament, earning them a spot in the NCAA tourney.
(This page last modified April 11, 2012 .)