Commentary: Rewards agreed with the polls, regarding which team was #1, both before and after the NCAA tournament this year. Regarding how closely the Rewards system matched the Coaches' poll, before the tournament, this year's performance was about average. Rewards ranked Xavier quite highly after the tourney, even though they only won their opening round game. However, since they only had 6 losses, and did defeat #1 Villanova, that boosted them to #3, versus the #11 spot they were voted into, in the final Coaches' poll. (Likewise for #29 Seton Hall, who Rewards ranked as #12 - given they had defeated Villanova as well.)
Syracuse reaching the Final Four improved their ranking from #67 to #58, but 14 losses prevented this approach for moving them up any further in the final ranking, whereas the Orangemen finished as #7 in the final poll. Some high seeds who won their opening round game did make some movement in the final Reward ranking: Yale moved up from #55 to #42 (tied for 40th in final poll) after defeating #5 seeded Baylor (#24 in final poll); 15th seeded Middle Tennessee State's upset over Michigan State promoted them from #105 to #80 in the final Rewards ranking; Hawaii (tied for 40th in final poll) defeated #4 seed California, which bumped them up from #36 to#27; Arkansas/Little Rock's win over #5 seed Purdue (#19 in final poll) helped them to finish as Rewards' #21 team (up from #29) - and they also tied for #40 in the final poll; and finally, Stephen F. Austin tied for 34th in the final poll, and moved up from #57 to #41 in the final Rewards ranking with their win over #3 seed West Virginia, who ended up as the 14th team in the final poll. NIT champion George Washington Univ. tied for 34th as well (in the final poll), and they moved up from #45 to #37, while NIT runner-up Valporaiso raised itself 6 spots (#40-#34) in the Rewards ranking generated after the tournament was completed.
(This page last modified April 06, 2016.)