This poll aint about who looks good in November, or who comes out on top in the EA Sports Great Hawaiian Punch Shootout. This poll is about March! This poll is about which teams are best equiped to win games come tournament time. This poll, ladies and gentlemen, is about which teams have the game to leave the friendly confines of their home court, and to win ballgames away from home. This IS the RiverNation Real Top Ten.<o:p></o:p>
- North Carolina - The nation's best mix of talent, depth, and experience. Forget about Roy Williams, Roy from Siegfried & Roy could win 30 games with this roster!<o:p></o:p>
- Louisville - The Cards lost (arguably) their most valuable player from last season, yet they've somehow managed to get even more talented! Jerks! Rick Pitino might be the best coach in the nation in terms of getting his teams to peak at the right time.<o:p></o:p>
- Pittsburgh - The Panthers roster often times resembled a M*A*S*H unit last season, thus explaining their chronic bouts with consistency. If healthy, this Pitt team has Final Four caliber talent and experience. <o:p></o:p>
- Michigan State - Rumor has it, the NCAA rejected Drew Neitzel's attempt at an eight year of eligibility. Nevertheless, count us among those who believe Drew's departure will make for a more athletic and better defensive Spartans club.<o:p></o:p>
- UConn - The Huskies probably should be a bit higher, but the RiverNation has chosen to impose further punishment on them for last season's first round tournament loss. Thabeet is the nation's most imposing big man, but the key will be how A.J. Price bounces back from offseason knee surgery.<o:p></o:p>
- UCLA - How do you lose two players to the NBA Draft Lottery, and still debut in the RiverNation Real Top Ten? Why you bring in the nation's most ridiculously talented recruiting class, of course! Collison will be the glue that allows the newcomers to blend in. If the kids are as good as advertised, a fourth straight Final Four is a real possibility.
- Purdue - Matt Painter's Baby Boilers snuck up on a lot of teams last season. This year's squad, which returns all five starters from last year, could be Purdue's best since the Big Dog days of Glenn Robinson.<o:p></o:p>
- Gonzaga - The poster boys for mid-major success haven't won a tournament game since Adam Morrison and his porn star mustache led the Zags to the Sweet 16. Led by floor general Jeremy Pargo, this could be Mark Few's best team yet.<o:p></o:p>
- Miami (Fla.) - Since when did The U become a basketball school? Since the arrival of head coach Frank Haith, that's when. The Canes return 4 starters from a team that made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season...and they're our pick to finish second in the ACC.<o:p></o:p>
- Notre Dame - Though do-nation refers to them as the Toronto Blue Jays of College Basketball, I like their experience...nearly every player, including Big East POY Luke Harangody, returns...as well as their ability to knock down the 3. Playing in the brutally difficult Big East will toughen them up come tournament time too.<o:p></o:p>
10.5 Duke - Their lack of success in the past two NCAA Tournaments keep them out of the Real Top Ten. They're a great regular season team, but, in recent years, they've relied too much on the 3...and that's hurt them in the postseason. If their bigs produce, they're a serious March threat once again.<o:p></o:p>
10.75 UNLV - Before crying "homer," let it be known that this pick is ALL do-nation. Wink Adams is one of the best clutch players in America, and the Rebels put a ton of senior leadership on the court. If Tre'Von Willis can flourish at the point, and if the center position can produce at all, the Runnin' Rebels will be an extremely difficult out come tournament time.