The coaches' poll did get something quite right at the top: The first seven teams are likely the seven that may win the national title.
Of course, there will be teams that can make a deep run in March and get a sniff of the Final Four with a magical Elite Eight run. But based on the current performances the first seven teams: Texas, Kentucky, Kansas, Villanova, Syracuse, Duke and Michigan State are playing well enough, have at least one to two stars, a system that is working and consistent, and a coach that has been there before in this situation to make a Final Four run.
A few other thoughts:
*Kansas State coach Frank Martin has done a tremendous job, overcoming a major slight when he received the nod after Bob Huggins left for West Virginia. For him to be No. 9 heading into Monday’s home game against top-ranked Texas is quite remarkable.
*Pitt is No. 11. That’s amazing in itself since the Panthers looked lost in December without Gilbert Brown and Jermaine Dixon. Once again, it’s a credit to the Panthers’ staff for racing out to a 5-0 start.
*Gonzaga is No. 10. The Zags have emerged as the best team in the West.
*BYU is No. 13 and you can make a strong argument for the Cougars to be No. 1 in the West, but having them as No. 2 is fine.
*Purdue dropping to No. 15 from six is about right since the Boilermakers have lost three straight and are about to take themselves out of the Big Ten race. But I would push them to 16 and put Ohio State ahead of them at No. 15 instead of No. 25. The Buckeyes are a Big Ten contender with Evan Turner back. Ohio State won at Purdue and beat Wisconsin last week.
*I have no issues with Tennessee currently at No. 8, although I don’t think that will hold, West Virginia still at No. 12 and Clemson, Temple, Georgia Tech, Wisconsin and Butler 16-20, although with Ohio State in there that would push these back a slot.
*I don’t get how Connecticut can still be ranked. The Huskies’ best win is over Notre Dame. That’s it. Yes, the Huskies look like a top 25 team for stretches of games, especially against Kentucky, Cincinnati and Georgetown. But they didn’t win the games.
*Northern Iowa has shaken the coaches in the power six conferences to get noticed and found its way into the poll at No. 22. The Panthers haven’t lost since, gulp, DePaul (it’s only loss of the season) in a sun-burned moment at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands in November.
*North Carolina is still ranked at No. 23. If you were to base this on how the Tar Heels are currently playing then they don’t get ranked. But the Tar Heels still have wins over Ohio State (with Turner) and Michigan State at home. Lose one more in this streak and the Tar Heels won’t be ranked next week.
*Ole Miss is ranked at No. 24. Mississippi State is not ranked. I’d have to switch these two. The Bulldogs have more nonconference losses out of the power six (Rider, Richmond, Western Kentucky) but the Bulldogs won at Ole Miss and is atop the SEC West without a blemish.
*Of the teams receiving votes, Virginia would be higher up on the list and on the verge of sneaking in if it can win at Wake Forest this week. Not sure I understand how San Diego State, Saint Mary’s or Old Dominion could have received a vote this past week.