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Tuesday April 8, 2014 The season's final poll ... and some very early looks at next season's polls

Updated: 4:56pm, April 8

UConn wins GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The final poll of the 2013-14 season was released Tuesday and I must say I was a little surprised with how the voters of the USA Today/Coaches balloting ranked the rest of the Top 25 field after Connecticut defeated Kentucky for the national championship Monday night.

That UK finished second and Florida third wasn’t a total surprise, though I can’t for the life of me see the reasoning for filling out a ballot that way. UF lost just three games during the season, with two of them to the team that won it all (UConn), and the third to the other team (Wisconsin) defeated in the national semifinal at the Final Four. Along the way, of course, the Gators beat the Wildcats three times (at home, on the road, on a neutral site; twice by double digits).

Yet, there was Kentucky, with its 11 losses, not only checking in at No. 2, but someone actually gave the Cats a first-place vote. That’s just wrong -- and probably the difference between UF finishing with its second-highest end-of-season ranking in school history (UF was second in 2000; fourth in 1994).

Note: The Associated Press does not do a final poll, rather lets the tournament stand on its merit. Good idea.

Wichita State actually got a first-place vote in the coaches poll too, but you an almost -- almost --  make a case for it, if you want to think the voter was making a statement to the Shockers, 34-0 heading into the year, drawing under-seeded UK in the second round, but even that’s a stretch.

A second-place vote? Sure.

But a first? C’mon, man.

Same goes for the Kentucky vote ... times 10.

Now, having gone on that mini-rant, allow me to put some perspective to it all.

Who cares?

I guarantee Billy Donovan doesn’t.

And he as long as we’re writing about who-cares stuff, that brings me to the ridiculously early preseason projections for the 2014-15 season, several of which were rolled out Tuesday. Some mentioned the Gators, who not only have some question marks on the roster as to returning players, but will have to replace four senior starters who accounted for 58 percent of the team’s scoring and 51 percent of its rebounding.

*’s Eamonn Brennan ranked the Gators No. 8, behind Arizona, Duke, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Wichita State, North Carolina and Virginia. His take on UF:

“Billy Donovan, as is his wont, has another strategically perfect class coming in. It's a group of four-star players who should be able to contribute and fill needs right away, but they won't necessarily need major minutes or lots of touches right off the bat. That's good, because losing Scottie Wilbekin, Casey Prather and Patric Young creates a need for a smooth, structured transition. The talent is here: Kasey Hill flashed brilliance in a backup role before wilting in the Final Four; Michael Frazier II is a knockdown shooter; Dorian Finney-Smith is a highly skilled forward; and rising sophomore center Chris Walker is a complete athletic freak whose late start to the season gave him no time to develop. When he does, look out. Florida may have some growing pains, but Donovan will get them there.”

* USA Today put Florida at No. 7, courtesy of Scott Gleeson, behind Duke, Arizona, Wisconsin, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina:

“Billy Donovan's Final Four squad will take a big hit — losing senior starters Scottie Wilbekin, Casey Prather, Patric Young, Will Yeguete. That doesn't mean the Gators won't be the Gators next fall. They'll bring back sharpshooter Michael Frazier II (12.4 ppg) and key reserve Dorian Finney-Smith (8.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg). Heralded freshmen Kasey Hill and Chris Walker haven't yet developed into NBA prospects, and if Walker comes back, both should have a pivotal roles. Rutgers transfer Eli Carter should be available as well. The crafty guard averaged 14.9 points in his sophomore year with the Scarlet Knights. Incoming freshmen wing players Devin Robinson and Brandone Francis have the skillset to play right away. Chris Chiozza is a smaller version of former Gators guard Jason Williams.”

* Seth Davis of did a video from AT&T Stadium after Monday night’s title game and picked his top five for next year. No Gators, but his 1-through-5 goes Duke, Wisconsin, Arizona, Villanova and North Carolina. Davis on Tuesday tweeted out a list of his top 25, where he placed Kentucky ninth and UF at No. 15 (just after UConn).

* didn’t provide any analysis, just a list of its Top 25 (plus 1) and who’s coming back. Gary Parish, Jeff Borzello and Matt Norlander combined notes and put the Gators at No. 5, the highest of any of these publications. Probably too high (and definitely, if you ask Donovan). The CBS crew had Duke, Arizona, Wisconsin and Kansas in the top four.

* gave a breakdown of its projected top 10, but the Gators weren’t in there. UF showed up at No. 14, which is probably more along realistic lines given the rebuilding job in front of the coaching staff.

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