The annual preseason AP Top 25 college basketball rankings were released last week, serving as a gentle reminder, like speed bumps before a stop sign, that the season is just around the corner.
Rankings provide great fodder, but let's face it: often times they are meaningless. You can rank teams on paper, but alas, games aren't played on paper. And in college basketball, the combination of culture, fit, experience, motivations -- all the intangibles you typically don't factor in to projections -- matter more than any other sport when projecting success (or failure) of a team.
Over the years, however, preseason rankings have forecasted outcomes quite accurately for the No. 1 preseason team. Since the NCAA Tournament's expansion to 64 teams, which includes 35 season's worth of data, six preseason No. 1 teams have gone on to win the championship, according to the NCAA. Seven lost in the title game. 17 reached the Final Four.
Going down the rankings, however, the likelihood of success -- and of accuracy with preseason rankings -- decreases drastically.