The first USA Today Top-25 Poll was released on Friday, and North Carolina has just edged UCLA and Memphis for the top spot. This is the closest preseason poll at the top that I can remember in quite some time, and illustrates the lack of a dominant team this year in college basketball. Additionally, both the teams that played for the national title last year, Florida and Ohio State, did not make the poll. However, as always, there were some head-scratchers in this poll. Follow me after the jump for some good ole poll bashing.
At the top, I actually have no problem with UNC. They will probably be a consensus favorite to get to San Antonio. Actually, I was surprised at how close it was with Memphis. Memphis needs to prove it before they get a top three spot. Go further down the poll, however, and problems begin to emerge.
First off, Indiana at number 9? Really? Nothing they did last year warrants that ranking, even with the addition of Eric Gordon. The media has swung too far towards favoring stud freshman because of the display put on by Kevin Durant and Greg Oden last year. While kids like Eric Gordon and OJ Mayo may be good, they are not going to single-handedly carry their respective teams to the Final Four. Additionally, now that Kelvin Sampson is again in hot water over phone calls (you’d think he would learn the first time), there will be intense pressure on the team to succeed. To put it simply, I don’t think Indiana is a top 10 team right now.
But even more glaring than Indiana’s overranking is Texas A&M being ranked 14th. Not only did A&M lose their All-American in Acie Law III, they also lost their coach, Billy Gillespie, to Kentucky. Their best returning player, Joseph Jones, is not the type of player to take over the game as Law did so many times over the past two seasons. While they do have a good recruiting class coming in, Texas A&M has 7-seed, second round an out of the NCAA tournament written all over it. I have some other minor quibbles with the poll, such as Pitt being ranked, and Davidson not being ranked, but they can be easily rectified. We can rip the polls apart once we see some actual games.