College Basketball: Preseason Top 50 Expectations vs Reality

March 18th, 2012

With a three day gap before the Sweet Sixteen, it seemed like an opportune time to reflect on my preseason Top 50 ranking. Who lived up to expectations? Who didn't? Who exceeded all hype?


Sweet Sixteen teams are in yellow font. Indiana, NC State and Ohio are Sweet Sixteen teams that didn't make the preseason Top 50. 10 of the eventual Sweet Sixteen teams were in my preseason top 17.


1 North Carolina Not #1 worthy regular-season, but perhaps they can still meet this goal

2 Kentucky Despite lofty 2nd ranking, Kentucky was substantially better than I expected

3 Ohio St Ended up lower in polls, but not by much

4 Syracuse Battled for #1 ranking much of season, but this prediction was about right

5 Duke Peaked in November and then slowly faded

6 Louisville Never this good, but did win Big East tourney due to impressive D

7 Florida Despite Sweet Sixteen trip, Florida not quite as good as I expected

8 UCONN Despite a high talent level, UCONN never played close to this level

9 Pittsburgh Okay, this pick looks really, really bad

10 Vanderbilt Bounced back after horrendous start to the season

11 Memphis RPI says Tigers not much worse than this, but reality says otherwise

12 Xavier Never lived up to these expectations, but find themselves in Sweet Sixteen

13 Kansas Snuck into Sweet Sixteen, had slightly better season than I expected

14 Texas A&M Never got on track after coaching change and Middleton injury

15 UCLA Like Pitt and A&M above, one of the handful of preseason Top 50 disasters

16 Wisconsin no complaints with this preseason call

17 Cincinnati Season had some very low moments, but there they are in Sweet Sixteen

18 Florida St A season with many ups and downs, this prediction doesnt look bad at all

19 Michigan Lost to Ohio in tourney first round, 19th ended up being about right

20 Arizona Never got over hump, Arizona is looking towards the future

21 Gonzaga Like Temple below, Gonzaga had the season expected of them

22 Temple Overall season almost precisely met these expectations

23 Marquette Emergence of Jae Crowder made them even better than this prediction

24 Alabama Struggled at times and did not live up to this ranking

25 Baylor Had a better season than I expected, still alive in tourney

26 Washington One of many disappointing Pac-12 teams. Never had a big win

27 New Mexico Fell 3 points short of Sweet Sixteen. Feel good about this call

28 Michigan St Exceeded my expectations due to Draymond Green's monster year

29 California The computers say this ranking was right on, but sometimes numbers lie

30 Missouri Had a fine regular season before embarrassing tourney loss to Norfolk St

31 Butler Considering all they lost, not surprised they didnt mean this lofty ranking

32 Purdue Just a basket or two away from Sweet Sixteen.

33 Texas Snuck into tourney, but never lived up to my expectations

34 UNLV Spent much of season in Top 20, but this ranking was not far off

35 Mississippi St Hung around this number for most of season, not a bad projection

36 Miami Fell just short of tourney, and fell short of this top 40 ranking

37 Villanova One of a handful of preseason Top 50 teams that absolutely stunk

38 Notre Dame At times were way worse than 38th, at times way better, but in end 38 is about right

39 Creighton Played their way into Top 25 due to McDermott's monster season

40 George Mason Had fine season, but 3rd best in CAA didnt warrant this ranking

41 West Virginia This ranking basically held true throughout the season

42 Marshall Hung around the bubble, but were more like the 60th best team

43 Drexel This ranking looked ridiculous early in season, but they caught fire

44 Belmont This ranking held relatively true, but Belmont never broke through

45 Wichita St Played their way into Top 25, but struggled in postseason play

46 Illinois After great start, collapsed, and now looking for a new coach

47 Saint Mary's Won WCC title, but fell short in disappointing Tourney loss to Purdue

48 Kent St Competed for MAC title, but never met these expectations

49 Kansas St Solid and steady season throughout, earned an 8 seed in tourney

50 VCU After a slow start, found their way back into the Tournament once again