Commentary: Rewards agreed pretty well with the polls at the conclusion of the regular season as far as who the top three teams were. Syracuse and Mississippi State both made it to the Final Four, and then ended up being ranked as the #3 and #4 teams in the final Coaches' poll, but Rewards only moved the Orangemen up from #19 to #14, given their nine losses, and State moved from #15 to #11 (eight losses). (The top four teams, according to the final Rewards ranking, only suffered two or three losses, and the next three teams lost only five or six games, indicating once again how the final vote tallied in the Coaches' poll tends towards who the coaches thought were the teams that were playing the best at the end of the year, though I am sure they still consider the teams' "entire body of work" during that year.)
Georgia Tech lost twelve games, which is mostly why Rewards could only rank them as the #32 team after both tournaments, though the voters may have had a better handle on that team's ability level, since they did reach the Elite Eight, and ended up #13 in the postseason poll. Arkansas was unranked before the tournament, and #61 according to Rewards (a dozen losses at that time), but they "upset" #5 seeded Penn State (#18 in both regular season polls) and then defeated the #4 seed Marquette (who were #20/#22 in the polls) to reach the Sweet Sixteen, finally losing to the #1 in the country at that time (UMASS). The Razorbacks finished as the #18 in the Coaches' poll, moving up to be recognized as the team having had the 50th best season by Rewards (after the NCAA tournament).
(This page last modified July 30, 2009 .)