The first USA Today Coaches Poll has been released with the top five spots going to Kentucky, Arizona, Duke, Wisconsin and Kansas. Defending champion UCONN find themselves at #15, while Final Four participants Kentucky, Florida and Wisconsin find themselves at #1, #7 and #4 respectively. The Big Ten had the most members in the poll with 6, followed by the ACC with 5, Big 12 with 4, American with 2, SEC with 2, and PAC 12 with 1.
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ANALYSIS OF THE POLL:
Where they got it right:
The voters seem to be giving the earlier Final Four members some recognition, not only for their run last year, but also the returning talent that they have. Kentucky and Wisconsin return a large part of their Final Four teams from last year, while Florida and UCONN lost some major players, but gained some extra talent through the off season. Look for those teams that were in the top-tier last year to be making a repeat appearance this season. Kentucky has a chance to go undefeated twice in the past four years with a weak SEC and a younger Florida adversary. Wisconsin will run through a weaker Big Ten as well and will have a great chance to make it back for Bo Ryan’s second Final Four Appearance.
Where they went wrong:
The PAC 12 and BIG 12 conferences are not very strong this year, and having Arizona, Kansas and Texas as high as they are seems a bit flawed. Arizona under Sean Miller have under-achieved, considering the talent they keep receiving, and 2014 will be no different. With a PAC 12 conference that has no other ranked teams, Arizona looks to go unopposed this season before faltering in the NCAA Tournament as they’ve done under Sean Miller his first four years there. Texas and Kansas prove to be another issue as Kansas once again reloads with another recruiting class and Texas tries to gain its footing since the Kevin Durant era. Neither team seems very convincing against deeper and more experienced teams in Kentucky, Wisconsin, Duke, Florida and Virginia. I see both teams proving to be a disappointment with Iowa State picking up the slack with the only Elite Eight appearance for the conference.
Teams Rated Too High:
Arizona, North Carolina, Texas, Michigan State and Nebraska.
Teams Rated Too Low:
Wisconsin, Iowa State, UCONN, SMU and Michigan.
WAY Too Early Final Four Teams:
Kentucky, Wisconsin, Iowa State and UCONN