Thursday, October 28, 2010

Duke is No. 1 ... but how is UNC No. 8?

The fact that reputations play a critical role in preseason polls, especially in basketball, was obvious Thursday when the Associated press released its preseason men’s rankings.

That Duke is No. 1 is no surprise, although the Devils face a distinctly different challenge this time if they want to repeat as champs as they did in 1992. What is a surprise is that North Carolina is ranked No. 8 – a leap of faith in a program that was only 20-17 overall and 5-11 in ACC play in 2010.

Carolina should be toughened by last year’s embarrassing effort and the hard running Roy Williams is feeding the team this preseason. Freshman Harrison Barnes may be one of the ACC’s best players, and the rest of the young roster should grow. But this doesn’t project as a great defensive team, with real stoppers on the wings. Duke didn’t become a great team last year until  Brian Zoubek emerged late in the season and rivals struggled to score.

The second-best team in the ACC should be Virginia Tech, despite Seth Greenberg’s concerns about lack of experienced depth. The Hokies return five starters – almost unheard of in this era – and one of them is sweet scorer Malcolm Delaney. Yet Virginia Tech, despite a 25-9 record, landed at only No. 21 in the AP poll.

Only three ACC teams made the rankings, a surprising snub for a league that annually puts half a dozen into the Top 25. That won’t last, as you’ll see Florida State, Clemson and, yes, N.C. State push into the rankings this season. 

You can get to the rankings by clicking here.

1 comment:

  1. Surely these rankings each year go by teams' reputations. But I also wonder if sometimes the people that put them together are thinking more about how it will end up in March rather than where the teams are right now.
    I suspect that if the team chemistry is there - and that's a big 'if' - the Tar Heels will be better than the Hokies at the end of the year, even if Virginia Tech finishes higher in the regular season race.