Around noon on Wednesday, the first coaches poll of the 2011-12 college basketball season was announced. North Carolina took home a well-deserved 30 out of 31 first-place votes with Harrison Barnes, John Henson, Tyler Zeller and Kendall Marshall all returning, while Kentucky comes in at No. 2 with another stellar recruiting class; the hype of Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague plus the returning Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones was enough to get the Wildcats the lone remaining first place vote. The top five is rounded out by Ohio State, UConn and Syracuse.
Who Is Overrated?
Memphis Tigers: For the record, I love Memphis, but No. 9 is a tad bit high for a team that lost six C-USA games and really needed to win the conference tournament (which they did) to advance into the NCAAs for the fifth time in six years. The potential is there, but the jury is still out on the Tigers in my mind. Do they have enough depth or any depth for that matter in the frontcourt? Can Joe Jackson be an effective floor leader? Can Will Barton take the next step offensively? Will Wesley Witherspoon fill out his high ceiling of NBA potential?
Baylor Bears: Quick- who has won the last seven regular-season Big 12 titles and nine of the last ten? Kansas. The coaches voting in this poll are apparently forgetting about Baylor's lack of guard play (losing the Big 12's highest scorer in history in LaceDarius Dunn) and their point guard play, even with JuCo transfer Pierre Jackson is far from settling. There is much love with the bodies in the frontcourt. Perry Jones, Quincy Miller, Quincy Acy are all NBA prospects and Anthony Jones isn't too shabby, but all of that means nothing when Baylor ranks 322nd in turnover percentage again in 2011-12.
UCLA Bruins: The Bruins, just like Baylor, has an astounding frontcourt (Joshua Smith, Reeves Nelson, Travis and David Wear, Brendan Lane), but their backcourt is more than questionable after losing their two best playmakers to the NBA Draft- Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt. And you thought this team was turnover prone before (275th in the country last season in turnover percentage)? Expected starting guard Jerime Anderson has been suspended for at least two games after being arrested on charges of grand theft.
Who Is Underrated?
New Mexico Lobos: Now, the Lobos didn't even make the official rankings (32nd in points), but they are the favorites to win the Mountain West this season with likely Player of the Year Drew Gordon and a pair of stud guard Kendall Williams and Phillip McDonald. Point guard Dairese Gary is the only loss in the rotation, and while, yes, he was a big component for New Mexico, Kendall Williams has shown promise and he'll be handed over the reins this year. If he comes into camp in better shape, Drew Gordon has All-American potential: he averaged a double-double (12.8 points, 10.8 rebounds), despite playing in just 51 percent of his team's minutes.
Florida State Seminoles: Another team that barely missed out on the Top 25, Florida State rarely plays sexy, but they can really dig in and make life difficult for opposing teams. Coach Leonard Hamilton's roster is stacked with long athletes, especially in the frontcourt with All-ACC performer Bernard James and a combination of Okaro White, Terrance Shannon and Xavier Gibson and Jon Kreft. The backcourt is the real wild card- Ian Miller is take over for the departed Derwin Kitchen, while Michael Snaer, who has yet to live up to the hype, and Deividas Dulkys, a threat only from the perimeter, will handle the scoring load.
Gonzaga Bulldogs: The Bulldogs have won at least a share of 11 consecutive WCC titles and this season is no different. The past few seasons, Gonzaga has relied upon its guard play (Steven Gray, Matt Bouldin, Jeremy Pargo, Derek Raivio, Adam Morrison, etc…), but this season Mark Few will beat his drum to a different beat. He has two work horses in the frontcourt with 7-footer Robert Sacre and versatile and skilled forward Elias Harris. The Zags will once again challenge itself with its non-conference schedule (Illinois, Michigan State, Arizona, Xavier), leaving little time for Few to develop his point guard of the future.