On Monday we tackled five teams which are unranked in both the AP and USA Today polls who have a high likelihood of finishing the season ranked. Today it's the opposite, or close to it. Here are five teams which the polls really love, and maybe too much. I'm not arguing that these teams will finish out of the polls, but rather that I'll be shocked if they finish as high as they're currently pegged.
NC State (No. 6 in both polls). Eight months ago this was a bubble team which ended up winning four of their last five to earn a 11-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Now they're going from a bubble team to a potential No. 1 seed? I'm not buying it. Mark Gottfried has never once coached a defense ranked better than 50th nationally (last year No. 65, and No. 6 in conference-only games), and they lost arguably their best defensive player (CJ Williams) as well as a valuable piece off the bench (DeShawn Painter). Replacing those minutes with freshmen is not the recipe for high-level defense.
Michigan (No. 5 in both polls). The Wolverines are another defensively average team (No. 60) who will be turning over significant minutes to freshmen. The return of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. will bolster the offense (as well as a fabulous freshmen class), but they also lost the only two players who made more than 35% of their threes. Evan Smotrycz (43%) transferred to Maryland, and Zack Novak (41%) graduated. And that was a team which attempted 44.2% of their shots from beyond the arc – 8th most nationally.
UCLA (No. 13 in both polls). Until Shabazz Muhammad is cleared to play, UCLA is staying on this list. Yes, they'll have tremendous talent and depth, but two of their prime contributors are a big man who's never been in a shape, and a turnover-prone point guard who was a roster cancer on his previous team.
Arizona (No. 12 in AP, No. 11 in USA Today). Sean Miller lost of lot of talent. Sean Miller found a lot of talent. How will that talent measure out on a balance beam? This team needs to find more consistent scoring (less than a point per possession in three of their final four games). And how is Mark Lyons going to fit in? He took 28% of the shots at Xavier – a number no Sean Miller coached player has ever exceeded.
Creighton (No. 16 in AP, No. 15 in USA Today). Back to the theme of defense. Creighton had the 178th rated defense in the nation, giving up nearly 1.02 points per possession. Their offense – as long as they have Doug McDermott – will be elite, but they're going to have to get stops. I'm still hesitant to put them on this list. I certainly don't think they're the 15th best team in the nation, but they're currently projected to be favored in all but four of their games and these two polls rely more on W-L than on who those W's and L's came against.