October 17, 2017

POLLitically Incorrect – 11/29/16

Image credit: SI.com

We’re starting a new weekly college basketball piece here at TGS headquarters. Everyone sees the AP Rankings on Mondays and everyone seems to have their weekly gripes and complaints about why this team is better than this team, or “how can Team X be behind Team Y when Team X beat Team Y?”

See how dumb and exhausting this can get over a five month season? So we’re here to help. Me and my pal Austin Narber, are self proclaimed college basketball addicts. We watch a lot of it, and gamble on a lot of it. To be fair, having money on games forces us to sit and watch games we otherwise wouldn’t, like Missouri-NC Central. LOL Mizzou. It’s very much true that watching a lot of something immediately qualifies you as an expert, so we use our expertise to explain why the AP voters are dumb and why each team is poorly ranked.

You may be thinking that this is similar to Gary Parrish’s “Poll Attacks” over at CBS Sports, but we assure you it’s not. We don’t attack individual pollsters, we attack teams. Let’s get to it.

#1 Kentucky Wildcats – Is Big Blue good? Sure. Are they deserving of the #1 ranking? Absolutely not. Do number one teams have to falsify stat lines to get their star freshman a triple-double? No. (De’Aaron Fox #0 was given an assist on this play)

#2 Villanova Wildcats – The Wildcats feature the 316th slowest offense and just won a non-conference tournament over the powerhouses of Western Michigan (basketball not football), Wake Forest and UCF. Maybe they’ll be 2nd at some point this season, but they’re still riding last year’s coattails.

#3 North Carolina Tar Heels – The Tar Heels probably have a case for 2nd…best team in their own state. All jokes aside, the Tar Heels haven’t won by less than 15, and won the Maui Invitational. More impressive than Nova and should be switched.

#4 Kansas Jayhawks – This tweet is still valid.

#5 Duke Blue Devils – The Blue Devils are going to be really good if and when they finally get healthy. Having injured 5-star players should only go so far. Their best win is Rhode Island, and are we sure they’re good? Also, they may never be healthy. Are the voters prepared to detach themselves from the collective (probably injured) groin of the Tatum-Giles-Bolden trio if they never get fully healthy?

#6 Virginia Cavaliers – Virginia’s defense is otherworldly again, but they just kicked their 6’9″ center off the team and they’ve yet to play a Kenpom top 50 opponent. NEXT!

#7 Xavier Muskateers – The ‘X’ is 13th in Kenpom and two of their six wins have come against Northern Iowa. It also took overtime for the Muskateers to beat Missouri. Yes, the same Missouri that lost at home by ten to North Carolina Central.

#8 Gonzaga Bullodogs – The Zags are really freaking good and have three top-50 wins already. Why the hell are they below Virginia and Xavier? STOP THE MAJOR CONFERENCE BIAS!

#9 Baylor Bears – Bunch of bananas have crawled their way into the top ten after beating underperforming teams like Oregon and Michigan State, and needing a miraculous comeback against Louisville to take home the Battle of Atlantis title. 9th is probably fair, but seriously, their uniforms make them look like a bunch of bananas – or highlighters depending on the day.

#10 Creighton Blue Jays – No, no, no. You don’t get the early season benefit of the doubt if you’re coached by Greg McDermott and one of your best players is a Big 12 transfer that shot less than 40% in his last full season of basketball. Come back later in the season.

#11 UCLA Bruins – Boy, we could really just copy the above verbiage for UCLA. You’re coached by Steven Alford and one of your star players is his son – not unlike the McDermott scenario of a few years ago. The Bruins are good and Lonzo Ball is amazing, but everyone is too high on the Bruins, including Lonzo Ball’s dad.

#12 St. Mary’s Gaels – Ok remember earlier when we were shouting to stop the major conference bias? Well, we took it too far. The Gaels leave the state of California just TWICE in non-conference play. At Dayton (yuck) and they played UAB in Las Vegas. Wow, look at y’all. Now they camp out in Cali until WCC competition begins, fun.

#13 Indiana Hoosiers – I get that early season upsets happen, and the Hoosiers did beat Kansas, but y’all lost to Fort Wayne, and I can think of more teams than the twelve above Indiana that don’t have a loss that bad yet. They may well be #13 by season’s end, but they haven’t earned it yet.

#14 Louisville Cardinals – The AP might actually have gotten this one right. 14th sounds good for a team that gave up a 22-point lead to Baylor, went to overtime with Old Dominion tied at 49, and has three top-100 wins I suppose. Good luck in the ACC if you’re only going to score 49 in regulation.

#15 Purdue Boilermakers – Oh look, another overrated B1G team. I guess a three-point home loss to Villanova is impressive, but the Boilermakers haven’t played or beaten a top-100 team yet. They’re 15th for playing a close game with Nova and without a single quality win? Sure.

#16 Arizona Wildcats – Remember when that season opening win against Michigan State was impressive? Turns out the Spartans aren’t ready for primetime as you can see with their omission from this poll. Not only that, but then the Wildcats lose to Butler on a neutral floor. The same Butler that’s magically two spots behind them in the polls.

#17 Wisconsin Badgers – I can get behind Wisconsin at #17. All they’ve done is lose to two top-10 teams (UNC & Creighton), and beat a bunch of sub-100 teams and the bafflingly up and down Georgetown. The preseason B1G title favorites are now the third highest ranked team in their conference and that’s fine.

#18 Butler Bulldogs – So beating Arizona on a neutral floor, being undefeated, and having four, top-100 wins is apparently not enough to get the Bulldogs ranked above Arizona? That’s laughable. Butler has a top 10ish resume on the young season, but here they are at #18.

#19 Iowa State Cyclones – Way to go Cyclones, you’re 1-1 against the top-100 and outside of that you could have played while doing handstands to beat the rest of your schedule. Way to not have a bad loss six games in. I guess #19th is fine. Go lose to Fort Wayne and you’ll probably jump to 13th.

#20 South Carolina Gamecocks – Good job South Carolina, beating two Kenpom top-25 programs last week earns you a spot in the rankings this week. We now go live to Head Coach Frank Martin for his reaction

 

#21 Rhode Island Rams – Ah yes, every “expert’s” pick to click in the preseason. The Rams have never finished inside of Kenpom’s top-60 and are floundering at #39 this year. They beat Cincinnati and lost to Duke. That’s top-25 worthy? No, no it is not. Three of their next four are on the road. Can we take a wait and see approach before jumping a team 40 spots higher than they’ve ever finished or is that too much to ask?

#22 Syracuse Orange – Well the Orange have played a singular top-50 game, and as we already found out, they lost to South Carolina. They play at Wisconsin tonight in a game I won’t be watching or betting because I prefer some offense in my life.

#23 Oregon Ducks – Oregon is the perfect example of a team that does something unprecedented in March and is rewarded for it the following year. They’ve managed to drag their bandwagon full of national media pundits all the way to a 5-2 record and their best win is UConn. The same (2-4) UConn that has home losses to Northeastern and Wagner. Beat somebody and get back to me, Ducks.

#24 Florida Gators – Four top-100 wins, two top-50 wins and their only loss is by five to Gonzaga. Better resume than Iowa State, but five spots lower. Better resume than everyone behind Iowa State, so for me, the Gators deserve to be about 6-8 spots higher.

#25 West Virginia Mountaineers – How in the hell are the Mountaineers ranked? They lost to the highest ranked team they’ve played (#91 Temple). Neutral court win over garbage Illinois? Sure, rank ’em. I guess they did force 40 turnovers last night, so that’s cool. Actually I like this idea. Make the #25 spot a novelty spot. Probably should have had Fort Wayne here last week, but this column didn’t exist. I guess some good has come out of this exercise.

Speaking of novelty spots. Here’s the national expert with the most novelty. Fitting of this ranking and new tradition.

Tom Danielson 66 Articles
Managing Editor

Every family needs an adult figure. That's Tom's job on this ship. After graduating from Iowa State University, Tom headed down the ‘failed professional golfer' career path before heading back to his calling as an engineer in the great white north (Minnesota). He got his start in blogging, and continues to contribute at the critically acclaimed site, Wide Right & Natty Lite.  A student of the ‘you can't fail if you don't try' philosophy, there's no better way to describe Tom than a 'Jack of all trades, master of none'.

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