Commentary: The top five matched the final regular season polls quite closely, placing #2 Connecticut over #1 Duke, with #5 Gonzaga positioned as #7 by Rewards (and the other two in agreement). One large disagreement occurred with #7 Boston College, who was only ranked as #18 by Rewards, since besides their two wins over North Carolina, their next most impressive win was over NC State (21-9 and ranked #29/#27 in the polls), and BC did have 7 losses. Pollsters probably pushed them up in the rankings given their impressive performance in the ACC tournament, losing in the championship game to #1 Duke by 2 points. However, late season surges tends to impress the voters more than an objective system like Rewards. This occurred with Syracuse as well, who won 4 straight games to earn the Big East tournament crown (and the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament) and ended up as #21/#22 in the two polls; Rewards ranked the Orangemen as #35, since eleven losses was one or two more than those teams ranked higher than them, and only one team with double digit losses was ranked higher than them by Rewards (West Virginia, 20-10, at #27, finishing as #22/#23 in the polls).
Some folks were questioning George Mason's invitation to the NCAA tournament, as a #11 seed, but Rewards thought they deserved to be there (illustrated by a pre-tourney ranking of #30), and after making it to the Final Four, there were elevated to #18 in the post tournament Rewards ranking, and 8th in the Coaches' final poll, going against a popular trend of having the Final Four teams finishing as the top four teams in that ranking. National Champion Florida also moved up (from #10 to #5 in Rewards), as did second place UCLA (from #14 to #10), and the other Final Four team - LSU - rose from #22 to #15 in the final Rewards ranking.
(This page last modified July 31, 2009 .)