Commentary: The 1.5 average difference between the polls' top 10 and Rewards' top 10 is right behind the lowest such value see so far: 14. in 2007-08. In fact, the eleven highest ranked teams in the final Rewards ranking was comprised of (mainly) who the voters thought were the top eleven teams in the country. Only Kentucky (2nd in the polls, 6th according to Rewards), Arkansas (6th versus 9th) were off by more than one in that particular group. The next fourteen were ordered with somewhat less similarity, raising the averages in the table above fairly significantly.
Speaking of Kentucky, the #1 seed in the Southeast of the NCAA tournament, the Rewards system thought that North Carolina's performance during the season was slightly more impressive than the Wildcats, and so it placed the Tar Heels as the #3 team, whereas they were ranked fourth and fifth in the polls, and were assigned the #2 seed in the (same) Southeast region. UNC defeated Kentucky 74-61 in that regional final, vindicating Rewards some, though early on, the Wildcats were in control of that game, and seemed to have the Tar Heels "on the ropes" - until an elbow was thrown on a rebound by a Kentucky player, and the ensuing confusion allowed (then) UNC coach Dean Smith the time to regroup and calm his players while coach Pitino was confronting the officials. After that lengthy "break", UNC had little trouble getting past the Wildcat's frenetic press - and pace - due in a large part to the players' regained composure after following the successful strategy for handling the intense Kentucky, full court pressure that coach Smith relayed during this "unscheduled" time-out (for his team). UNC then lost their opening Final Four contest, in a close game, to the 1994 NCAA champion Arkansas team, who then lost to the eventual 1995 champion - UCLA. Rewards agreed with both polls that UCLA had the best season - both before and after the tournaments were completed.
Stanford (19-8) was voted as the 25th best team in the Coaches' poll (#24 according to Rewards), but was only given a #10 seed, and they defeated the #7 seed UNC-Charlotte, who was unranked, and who Rewards had as the #39 team. Texas (22-6) was unranked as well, and a #11 seed, while Oregon (19-8) was their opening opponent (#6 seed) and though Oregon was ranked #24 by the Coaches', Rewards did not observe that there was that large a different in their overall performances that season, ranking Oregon #20 and Texas #27; Texas defeated Oregon 90-73, and finished as the #24 team in the postseason Coaches' poll, and Oregon dropped into a tie for 39th. NIT champion Virginia Tech moved up from #52 to #41, and finished as the #28 team.
(This page last modified November 23, 2009 .)