Commentary: All five top teams in (both of) the polls were placed in the Rewards top five as well, albeit in a somewhat different order (except for who was #1) and besides those five, another four of the next ten teams were also placed by Rewards to be within one position of where they were ranked in the polls, before the post season tournaments began. Arizona, the eventual NCAA champion, was #15 and #13 in the polls, but Rewards had them as #22, mainly due to their nine losses. After winning their next six games, Arizona moved up to #8 in the final Rewards ranking; they were crowned as the #1 team in the final Coaches' poll, which is historically how those people vote. (The Wildcats were playing really well at the end of the year, but may not have necessarily completed the "best season".)
Arizona became the only team to defeat three #1 seeds in the NCAA tournament, and NIT champion Michigan moved up from their #38 position in the Coaches' poll to #24, whereas Rewards moved them up from #51 to #39. (The Wolverines did have 11 losses.) The team from (the College of) Charleston was ranked as #16/#18 in the polls, with a record of 28-2, but surprisingly they fell to #21 in the final Coaches' poll, even though they defeated then #22/#19 Maryland in the NCAA tournament - before losing to Arizona 73-69. (Rewards had them ranked as #14, and after their quality win against the Terps - who finished as the #32 team in the final Coaches' poll - Charleston was promoted up to #7.) Providence also moved up from a tie for 41st in the Coaches' poll to 15th after going 3-1 in the NCAA tournament, but with 11 pre-tourney losses, possibly due to some key players being injured during the season, they were ranked as #62 by Rewards, and only moved up to #59 even though they beat #2 seed Duke. The Friars also beat #14 seed Chattanooga, who upset #3 seeded Georgia, and the Moccasins moved from #114 to #100 in the Rewards rankings (given their pre-tourney 11 losses), and were voted as the #28 team by the coaches, after earning their way into the Sweet Sixteen by defeating #6 seed Illinois. Coppin State, who lost eight games during the regular season, began only the 3rd #15 seeded team to defeat a #2 seed (South Carolina), though a fourth team has since also accomplished this feat: Hampton over Iowa State in 2001. This win moved Coppin State up from #130 to #108 in the final Rewards ranking, and earned them the coaches' recognition as the #36 team (at the end of the postseason).
(This page last modified July 30, 2009 .)