Hoop Thoughts

College Basketball commentary with Seth Davis

  • 02:12 PM ET  11.03

This is my fourth year as a voter in the Associated Press college basketball poll. Last week, my fellow voters and I submitted our preseason rankings and All-American teams. Throughout the season, I will reveal my weekly ballot on this blog and compare my assessments with the final tally. This first installment will also include my All-America choices.

Here are my preseason team rankings. The actual rankings of the teams in the AP’s preseason poll are in parentheses:

1.      Kansas (1)
2.      Michigan State (2)
3.      Kentucky (4)
4.      Texas (3)
5.      Villanova (5)
6.      Purdue (7)
7.      Duke (9)
8.      North Carolina (6)
9.      Connecticut (12)
10.     West Virginia (8)
11.     Tennessee (10)
12.     Washington (14)
13.     Butler (11)
14.     Georgetown (20)
15.     California (13)
16.     Georgia Tech (22)
17.     Siena (NR)
18.     Ohio State (16)
19.     Louisville (19)
20.     Michigan (15)
21.     Maryland (NR)
22.     Dayton (21)
23.     Oklahoma (17)
24.     Xavier (NR)
25.     Mississippi State (18)

Teams in the poll but not on my ballot: Illinois (23), Clemson (24), Minnesota (25).

The top of my ballot fits pretty closely with the actual result. A couple of the differences have implications in the conference races. I have Duke over North Carolina in the ACC, and I have Washington ahead of Cal in the Pac 10. I also have UConn second in the Big East ahead of West Virginia, even though a lot of people are picking the Mountaineers to win the conference. I suppose I’m not as high on West Virginia as some other experts, but if Devin Ebanks plays like a lottery pick I’ll be proven wrong.

The two teams that I have overrated the most in comparison to my fellow voters are Georgetown and Siena. It’s understandable why people might sleep on the Hoyas after they failed to make the NCAA tournament last season, but I’m a little surprised the Saints weren’t given more love.

Yes, they face a challenge in replacing their heart and soul guy, Kenny Hasbrouck, but the rest of the team that reached the NCAA second round returns essentially intact. Keep track of the battle that Siena and Niagara are going to wage for supremacy in the MAAC. It will be the best mid-major chase this season.

As for the three teams that ended up ranked without my help, I have no qualms with anyone who put Illinois, Clemson and Minnesota in their top 25. I gave all of them serious consideration. The truth is, there isn’t much difference between a team ranked 15th and a team ranked 30th, especially in the preseason.

Now, for the All-American teams. I freely admit that I did not take a lot of time or pore through reams of statistics when putting these together. I simply grabbed a list of prominent players, double-checked the Wooden and Naismith candidates, and went with my gut. Here is the first-team ballot I sent to the AP:
Sherron Collins, Kansas; Willie Warren, Oklahoma; Luke Harangody, Notre Dame; Cole Aldrich, Kansas; Kyle Singler, Duke

And here is how the vote came down:
Collins, Harangody, Aldrich, Singler, and Patrick Patterson, Kentucky.

The rules for selecting an All-American team are not well-defined. The AP asks us only to put together a team that can take the court. That’s why I gave Warren the nod over Patterson -- otherwise, my team would have included four forwards and one guard. But before the Big Blue Nation rises up in outrage, take a look at my next 10:

Second team: Kalin Lucas, Michigan State; John Wall, Kentucky; Robbie Hummel, Purdue; Greg Monroe, Georgetown; Patrick Patterson, Kentucky

Third team: Scottie Reynolds
, Villanova; Talor Battle, Penn State; Craig Brackins, Iowa State; Matt Howard, Butler; Evan Turner, Ohio State

So I’ve got Wall on my second team, making him the only freshman to be on any of my All-American squads. Imagine my surprise when he didn’t even make the preseason SEC first-team, which includes eight players.

I inserted Wall because I believe both him and his team will be that good.  Aside from Wall, all of the guys I nominated have demonstrated they can put up great individual numbers while still helping their team win. They have established records, not unfulfilled potential. That’s why, for example, I nominated Matt Howard for my third team even though I think Gordon Hayward will end up being the better player on that team. But Howard has done it in the past and Hayward hasn't, so Howard got my nod.

My emphasis on experience also explains why I did not include North Carolina sophomore forward Ed Davis on any of my teams. The only reason to nominate Davis is because many of the so-called mock drafts out there have him pegged as a top-three pick in next year's NBA draft. If he has that kind of season, he'll make my postseason ballot for sure, but the reality is, Davis played just 18.8 minutes per game as a freshman and averaged 6.7 points and 6.6 rebounds. Those numbers show great promise, but they do not represent great accomplishment.

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