If only to get Giant Kiffins off the top of the damn page, I present to you this fascinating factoid I came across from the fabulous college hoops writer/statistician Ken Pomeroy, in a post titled "The Pre-Season AP Poll Is Great":
As things stand, the in-season polls are not very useful in this regard. During the season, the AP poll isn’t a ranking of the best teams at that moment. If you doubt me, here’s an example.
Tournament performance of AP #1 ranked team since 1990Win CH F4 E8 S16 R2 R1 Preseason #1 6 10 12 14 16 20 21 Final #1 3 6 10 13 17 21 21
Six times the preseason #1 has won the national title compared to three for the top-ranked team at the end of the regular season. The preseason #1 has made it to the title game a total of 10 times compared to just six for the final #1. It’s stunning to me that armed with 25-30 games of additional information, the writers’ ability to identify the nation’s best team* gets worse!
It'd be interesting to look back at this on a season-by-season basis, in particular to look for commonalities among the teams ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll at the conclusion of the regular season. What, if anything, about the way they finished the year might have had an effect on their tournament performance?