Five teams that are way overrated or way underrated in the first AP college hoops poll
You know we're hitting the peak of fall when the leaves start changing, the apple cider starts flowing and where we put aside football for a second to talk hoops when the first college hoops Top 25 of the year drops.
Well, that's exactly what happened on Monday, as the AP released its first poll of the season. Gonzaga is at No. 1, UCLA at No. 2, Kansas at No. 3 on and on, you can see the whole poll below.
Still, just because the poll is out, doesn't mean that voters got everything right - quite the opposite actually, since as best I can tell, there are a handful of teams that are either completely mis-ranked, or not ranked at all.
So who are the most overrated and underrated teams in the first AP Poll. Below are a few teams that I believe are mis-ranked in the initial Top 25.
Also, before we get to that, a few things:
One, you can read my recent Top 25 here.
Two, if you're the gambling type, DraftKings just updated its national title odds.
Three, before we get to who is overrated, and underrated, here is the full Top 25:
17. Ohio State
19. North Carolina
20. Florida State
23. Saint Bonaventure
Alright, now let's get to a little overrated and underrated, and I'll give AP voters credit: They had the same Top 5 as me, and nine of the same Top 10 I did. So clearly, they are doing their homework and reading the opinions that matter.
With that said, let's get into a few rankings I'm not a fan of:
Overrated: Memphis Tigers
It's funny because if you go on social media, Memphis fans are convinced I hate their team, when in reality, if you listen to my podcast or read any of my work, you know that I have actually been quite praiseworthy of Penny Hardaway.
At the same time, he isn't above any criticism at all. When you say "I want all the smoke" and your biggest win is in the NIT title game, what I am supposed to say? Congrats on hanging that NIT banner?
As for this year's team, well, there is obviously insane talent, but plenty of questions too. And most of my concern is based on a few things. It seems pretty obvious that while there is plenty of returning talent (I'm a huge DeAndre Williams guy), most of this ranking comes based on the reclassifications of Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren. And while both are insanely talented, are we really convinced that a team should be ranked this high based on a 17-year-old kid and 18-year-old, back to the basket forward who just showed up in August?
Beyond that, are we sure the whole "let's try to turn Emoni Bates into a point guard on the fly" thing is going to work out? And finally, there's this: Is it possible Memphis has too many good players? All 13 scholarships are filled, mostly with high-profile recruits, big-time transfers or guys who contributed on last year's team. That's a lot of guys to keep happy.
It's something I talked about at length when Bates committed to the Tigers back in August.
Underrated: Arkansas Razorbacks
AP Rank: No. 16
Can anything stop the big pig invasion?! Ok, that's an inside Twitter joke that many of you probably don't get. At the same time, the Hogs are ranked way too low in my opinion.
Let's never forget, they are coming off an Elite Eight run, in which they were one of the best teams in the country over the final few weeks, including a stretch where they won eight in a row to close out the regular season. Also, unlike most Eric Musselman teams, they actually return quite a bit off that Elite Eight team, including guards Devo Davis (my preseason SEC Player of the Year) and JD Notae and forward Jaylin Williams. All three contributed big-time during that NCAA Tournament run, including Davis who hit one of the biggest shots in school history against Oral Roberts.
Oh, and on top of that, the Hogs reloaded in the transfer portal, with two guys who averaged 15+ points per game in the ACC (Chris Lykes from Miami, Au'Diese Toney from Pitt) and Stanley Umude, who averaged 20+ per game at South Dakota. The summer ended with the addition of Trey Wade from Wichita State as well.
In my final Top 25, I had the Hogs at No. 10. They are vastly underrated at No. 16.
Overrated: Ohio State Buckeyes
AP Rank: No. 18
Coming out of last season, I had the Buckeyes in my preseason Top 5 in my "Way Too Early Top 25" - but then they unexpectedly lost their leading scorer Duane Washington to the NBA Draft. At that point I dropped them completely out of my Top 25 all together, and assumed everyone else who did these rankings would do the same.
Instead, the Buckeyes fell. But at most it was to the mid to late teens, where they are ranked by the AP.
I've got to be honest, I just don't see a Top 25 team here. They are a team full of talented wings and forwards (EJ Lidell, Justice Sueing, Zed Key, Kyle Young, Malachi Branham), but are thin in the backcourt Unfortunately with Washington and CJ Walker gone, they lose their leading scorer and play-maker and top assist man as well.
At best, I could see a team on the fringes of the Top 25, maybe in the No. 23-25 range. But Top 20? No way, no how.
Underrated: North Carolina Tar Heels
AP Rank: No. 19
It's not often that you see the words "North Carolina" and "underrated" together, but in this case I think it's justified.
Yes, there is concern about Hubert Davis as a first-year head coach, which is valid. But I also think voters are underappreciating what Davis did in the transfer portal, and more importantly, how young players could develop in his system.
As a matter of fact, the one thing I have repeated all summer is how impressed I am with Davis and his willingness to his own stamp on this Carolina program. Out, is the "two bigs down low" look that Roy Williams once ran, and in, is a modern offensive strategy that plans on using transfers Dawson Garcia (formerly at Marquette) and Brady Manek (Oklahoma) as pick-and-pop forwards. That should open up driving lanes for point guard Caleb Love, who I expect to have a big second year.
Outside of unranked teams, the Tar Heels have the biggest discrepancy from where I have them ranked (No. 12) and the AP (No. 19) of any team in the poll.
Underrated: UConn Huskies
AP Ranking: No. 24
Look, maybe this is a homer deal here, but I quietly like Dan Hurley's roster a lot.
Yes, they lost their best player off last year's team (James Bouknight), but it's worth noting that they return just about everyone else that contributed last season. More than anything however is that they got a bunch of experience playing without Bouknight when he went down with an injury, and seemed to play well after a few games of adjustment.
Well, now everyone who played during that stretch is back, and I expect big things from them. Tyrese Martin has All-Big East potential, while RJ Cole is a solid, veteran point guard. Also, Hurley has always run a developmental program, so expect to see big leaps from forwards Adama Sanogo down low and Andre Jackson on the wing. Also, forward Akok Akok should continue to improve as he is now a full year removed off a freshman season that ended with a major injury.
I had the Huskies at No. 19 in my final poll, and admittedly that felt a little low.
A reminder - you can read my full rankings here.
Also, if you want to get in on the action, DraftKings has recently updated their 2021-2022 college basketball national title odds. You can see them here.