The Charleston Gazette-Mail is home to the state’s lone representative in the Associated Press poll for football (Mitch Vingle) and basketball (me). The preseason AP top 25 poll for men’s hoops dropped yesterday (Monday), and one of my favorite websites, College Poll Tracker, has logged the 65 individual ballots for our perusal.
A neat thing the website does is chart the most and least popular ballots, and the most and least extreme ballots. Among the preseason ballots, mine falls under none of those categories.
Here, however, are a list of what the website characterizes as my most extreme preseason selections.
No. 4 Gonzaga — The Bulldogs are No. 9 in the actual poll, so I’m five spots off. That’s the minimum requirement to be considered “extreme” by the website. No one else has Zags ranked as high, but I love their front line. They’ve got a challenge non-conference schedule, so we’ll find out a lot early.
No. 7 Kentucky — The Wildcats are ranked No. 2, so I’m five spots off here, too. UK received 10 first-place votes, third-most to UNC (35) and Maryland (14). Look, I love Coach Cal and talent funnels into this program every year, but I’ll wait and see before nudging the Wildcats up the ladder. I’ll have my eye on that Nov. 17 clash with Duke.
No. 12 Duke — Uh oh. The Blue Devils came in at No. 5 in the AP poll, so I’m seven spots off the mark. Actually, I have Duke ranked the lowest in the country by two spots.
No. 14 Notre Dame — The Irish are No. 19, so unlike UK and Duke, I have Notre Dame overvalued in comparison to others. The highest ranking was 12 and 15 voters left ND off their ballots, so there’s a wide range of opinions here.
No. 18 Butler — I love the Bulldogs’ defense, and so do others. Butler is No. 24 overall, so the six spot differential isn’t too extreme. One voter has Butler No. 13 and 19 voters left the Bulldogs off the ballot entirely, so fellow Indiana school Notre Dame, the opinions vary here.
No. 19 West Virginia — The Mountaineers are unranked, but officially compiled the 28th-most points from the 65 voters, so technically I’m nine spots off. This was a tough call for one of the Mountain State’s two Division I hoops programs. Juwan Staten and Gary Browne were huge pieces from a Sweet Sixteen team, but Esa Ahmad is a huge addition and the backcourt of Jevon Carter, Dax Miles, Jaysean Paige and Tarik Phillip is going to get better. The front line can be downright scary. If WVU can make it to New York City in early December undefeated, it’ll set up an intriguing matchup with Virginia.
No. 21 Providence — I was surprised I was so alone on the Friars. They’re not in the top 25 (technically No. 40 overall), so I’m 19 spots off. I, obviously, had Providence the highest of anyone in the country. Of the 65 voters, 62 left Providence outside the top 25. We’ll see.
No. 24 Wisconsin — I didn’t initially have the Badgers in my top 25, but the more I read, the more I liked. I’m seven spots off the Badgers’ No. 17 national rankings, so let’s see if my tune changes as the season progresses.
No. 25 Boise State — This team intrigues me, but I was only one of two voters to rank the Broncos (the other, Jerry Carino, slotted them No.2 3). Boise State technically ranks No. 44 overall, so this is tied with Providence as my most extreme pick of the preseason.