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November 2, 2009

Monday Tip: Where did the coaches go wrong?

The USA Today coaches' poll was released Thursday. What did the coaches get right? What did they get wrong?

We asked writers Jason King and Mike Huguenin for their thoughts.

JASON KING SAYS ...

For the most part I agree with the preseason poll, but I think Duke may be a bit too high at No. 8.

The Blue Devils lost their best player and leading scorer in Gerald Henderson, and emerging guard Elliot Williams transferred to Memphis. Making matters worse is that guard Andre Dawkins had to accelerate his high school graduation just to give the Blue Devils some depth behind Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith on the perimeter.

It will be interesting to see how Dawkins performs for coach Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils when he's thrown right into the ACC fray. Factor in the lack of a quality big man, and it's hard to see why the Blue Devils are ranked as high as they are - especially so early in the season.

MIKE HUGUENIN SAYS ...

If I didn't know better, I'd swear the coaches looked at our preseason top 25, as we differ on just three teams.

But there are a couple of things that made me say "hmmm."

First, why not more love for Kentucky, which is "just" fifth? The Wildcats are loaded with talent -- young talent, but talent nonetheless. There are just three SEC teams in the coaches' top 25, so it's not as if UK is in a stacked league. I would've thought the Wildcats would've been in the top three.

Second, where is Siena? The Saints are 28th, but belong in the top 25. They return four starters from a team that has gone to the second round in each of the past two NCAA tournaments. This is a veteran team, well-coached by Fran McCaffery. Ohio State, the team Siena beat in the NCAA first round, is ranked 17th. Siena easily could win 28 games, and it belongs in the preseason top 25.

I don't understand Mississippi State being 19th. If it was assured that talented true freshman Renardo Sidney would be eligible, then, yes, the Bulldogs should be in the top 25. Without knowing that for sure, though, I think the Bulldogs are overrated at 19th.

I think Syracuse is a bit overrated at 25th. The Orange frontcourt is going to be good, but I'm not sold on the backcourt. Let's see what Brandon Triche and Scoop Jardine can do before we anoint the Orange as a top-25 team.

And I would argue -- though not vociferously -- that Illinois should be in the top 25 instead of Big Ten foe Minnesota.

All in all, though, I think the coaches did a nice job.



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