Commentary: Rewards matched the top 15 in the polls very closely (the 1.67 ties with the 2007-08 season average as the lowest - so far), with seven teams appearing in the same, or almost the same, position in both rankings. Kansas appears in the polls as the #16/#14 team, but Rewards had them as #28 since their "best wins" were only over Texas Tech (22-10, #46 in Rewards ranking, #33/#29 in the polls) and Michigan State (18-11, #58 in Rewards, #30/#25 in the polls). Maryland was roughly #20 in the polls, but placed as the #30 team in Rewards for similar reasons while Michigan State, along with Arizona (20-9, #47 in Rewards, #22/#18 in the polls) were both placed quite a few places lower in these rankings, generating a much higher average in the table above for how far apart teams in the top 20 (and top 25) were this year. Arizona did defeat Texas (23-7, #13 in Rewards, #12/#11 in the polls), but their next best win was only over St. Louis (18-12, #71 as ranked by Rewards), while MSU did defeat DePaul (21-9, #33 in Rewards, #29/#27 in polls) and Michigan (18-11, #63 as ranked by Rewards), but these were not sufficient to significantly offset their eleven losses.
Connecticut won the NCAA tournament, and moved up from #9 to #5 in the final ranking produced by the Rewards system. They lost half of their six games when they were without the services of their All-American center (Emeka Okafor), and those three fewer losses might have placed them as the #1 team in the final Rewards ranking. NIT champion Michigan moved up from #63 to #51, as determined by Rewards (finishing as the 32nd best team in the final Coaches' poll), and most other teams stayed close to their pre-tourney positions except for Manhattan, which moved up from #38 to #28 in Rewards (likewise climbing from 42nd into a tie for 36th in the Coaches' poll) as well as Nevada, which moved up from #43 to #32 in the Rewards rankings, and from 40th in the pre-tourney Coaches' poll, and 33rd in the AP, to 21st in the final Coaches' pool.
(This page last modified July 10, 2009 .)