Commentary: The final Rewards ranking generated after all the conference tournaments were completed matched the polls fairly well, as indicated by the table above. Boston College ended up as the #6 team in the Rewards ranking, but finished as #14/#12 in the polls probably because they ended their season going 4-4 after starting 20-0. The only other team whose ranking by Rewards differed from their similar placement in the polls by more than five spots was Georgia Tech, who at 19-11, ranked at #35, ten spots lower than their poll position. The Yellow Jackets made a nice run in the ACC tournament, losing in the championship game by 5 to Duke (#3/#2 in the polls) and so it is possible that the voters rewarded Tech's improved play down the stretch a little too much.
Post season voters typically put the Final Four (UNC, Illinois, Louisville and MSU) as the top four ranked teams, and this year was no exception; Louisville's run moved them up from #8 to #5 in the final Rewards ranking, and Michigan State vaulted from #15 to #10 as well. Vermont showed they deserved to be in the NCAA tournament by defeating Syracuse, and Vermont's pre-tourney Rewards ranking (#42) was elevated to #31 with that win; the final polls "agreed", by ranking them as the #29 team. NIT postseason tournament champion South Carolina moved up from #88 to #68 in the Rewards ranking, and finished as #30 in the polls, where perhaps their strong finish influenced the voters more than the system, which objectively evaluated their entire season (which did include 13 losses) and did not focus primarily on how well they played in the said tournament.
(This page last modified July 31, 2009 .)