October 17, 2017

POLLitically Incorrect – 12/13/16

Image credit: SI.com

There’s so much proof that rankings are meaningless, but they’re fun and give us a talking point. So here we are. Baylor, having the best resume of any team to date, has six first place votes while Kansas has none. You’d think that would be enough for them to be ranked ahead of KU, but alas, the Bears are not the highest ranked team in the Big 12. You see, actually beating teams on the court matters not, having a household name matters.

There were no changes to the top-11 this week. My problem with that is that the top-11 wasn’t right last week! Keeping rankings the same just because everybody won, doesn’t fix problems you already had, just burys them deeper.

What that tells me is that there are incomprehensibly uneducated voters. The fact that a team is garnishing attention for the #1 spot can’t even get ahead of a team without a single first place vote tells you all you need to know about how low Baylor is on some people’s ballots. How can somebody have the Bears 9th? I don’t know but it happened. Let’s see where else these voters screwed up.

#1 Villanova Wildcats – I have no problem with the Wildcats retaining their #1 spot after their performances this past week. While I still don’t think they have the best wins or resume of any team, if you had them at the top previously, I can see why you still have them there. They’re one of three teams I could see with the #1 ranking right now, so at least it’s understandable.

#2 UCLA Bruins – Are the Bruins the second best team? Maybe. I think you could make an argument for ‘Nova, UCLA or Baylor at number one, so I’m not going to cause too much of a fuss here because at least the Bruins are above Kansas, unlike Baylor. UCLA has the single best win in college basketball this season, so for my money, I’d have them over ‘Nova, but possibly behind Baylor as the overall resume isn’t as strong.

#3 Kansas Jayhawks – Four top-100 wins and one single top-50 win. How in the world is that better than Baylor’s six top-100 wins and five top-50 wins? It’s not. Also, the Bears haven’t lost. Having Kansas ranked above Baylor is absolutely inexcusable. You can argue that you believe the Jayhawks are the better team, but teams move up and down based on results and performance. Baylor’s results and performances are better than KU’s. It’s as simple as that.

#4 Baylor Bears – See above. It may seem trivial that we’re debating one single spot in the rankings, but it’s the principle of the matter. Nobody in the country is undefeated with six top-100 wins and five top-50 wins. Nobody. So how can you have a team with a loss ahead of that resume? I don’t care how ‘good’ the loss is. So get out of here with that shit.

#5 Duke Blue Devils – If Duke hadn’t lost that game to KU without, arguably, their best three players, Duke would be the unanimous number one, and KU would actually be properly ranked. I would argue that even if the Blue Devils had beaten Kansas, their resume still wouldn’t have compared to others, but it’s quickly catching up. Duke should be #4, ahead of Kansas. Head to head matchups don’t always tell the full story (like Duke being down three players), but that doesn’t matter to the “educated” voters, right?

#6 Kentucky Wildcats – What exactly has Kentucky done to be ranked 6th? They have one, lone top-50 win (over 7-4 Michigan State) and only three top-100 wins. If John Calipari “wants a close game,” I have an idea. How about you play somebody? The SEC is certifiable trash, so do what the other bluebloods do and actually schedule somebody outside of conference. “But UCLA!!!” – yeah, you lost that game…at home.

#7 North Carolina Tar Heels – See, North Carolina has six top-100 wins and it’s only loss is a true road game at #9 Indiana. Can anybody tell me why the Heels are ranked below Kentucky? Anyone…Bueller…?

#8 Gonzaga Bulldogs – Speaking of better resumes than Kentucky. Gonzaga also has six top-100 wins (including three in the top-50), and they’re unbeaten. The only caveat? The Bulldogs haven’t played a true road game yet. I’d put a lot more stock in that had half their games not been neutral site, but they’ve played away from home, just not a true road game. They’ve played good teams, they’ve beaten more good teams than Kentucky. Keeping the rankings the same as last week is just lazy. If you were wrong last week, you’re still wrong.

#9 Indiana Hoosiers – Indiana may be the most polarizing team to me. Do you value good wins? Do you value wins in general? Do losses matter? Indiana sits at 10-1 with wins over Kansas and North Carolina. Great wins. Ready? They haven’t even PLAYED another top-100 team. That includes their loss at Fort Wayne. Their wins are great, but it’s just 20% of their body of work. The rest is trash. simply trash. I’d put them more in the mid-teens.

#10 Creighton Bluejays – Creighton has four top-100 and one top-50 win. They are undefeated. Is #10 the right spot for the Blue Jays? Probably. The problem lie with the teams ranked above and below them. So I’ll leave them alone for now.

#11 Louisville Cardinals – Well, hello Indiana #2. The Cardinals have played three top-50 games (going 2-1 in those) and have yet to play another top-100 team. Does that sound like a #11 resume? No. Louisville retained their ranking by not losing to Southern Illinois or Texas Southern. Way to go you guys.

#12 West Virginia Mountaineers – I’d really like to make a case for West Virginia being above Louisville, but all I have is that their best win (at Virginia) is better than anything Louisville has done. But other than that, West Virginia is just 1-1 in its other top-100 games and has played three teams ranked below #300! I’d probably still switch WVU and L’ville because @Viginia > home vs. Purdue. But woof.

#13 Virginia Cavaliers – The Kenpom darlings are properly ranked as far as I see it. They’re 2-0 against the top-100 and 1-1 against the top-50. They’re schedule starts to pick up towards the end of the month, but I have nothing really to say. Try not losing at home to West Virginia.

#14 Wisconsin Badgers – Let me be the first to say that I’m shocked…SHOCKED…that the top two, two-loss teams are from the B1G. Any chance voters get to pump up the B1G, they take. I say that, to say this. I have no problem with Wisconsin as the top, two-loss team. Their only losses are @Creighton and to North Carolina in Maui. They also have five, top-100 wins including three in the top-50. I’d probably have them above any of the three teams ranked ahead of them to be honest. Just because a team has two losses, doesn’t mean they have to be behind that many one-loss teams.

#15 Purdue Boilermakers – Here’s where I have a problem. Purdue has played three top-100 games. Lost at home to ‘Nova, @L’ville and beat #88 Arizona State in MSG. That’s it. If your best win is #88, maybe you should play (and actually beat) somebody good. What on earth about one top-100 win means you’re deserving of the #15 ranking? Not only that, prior to last week, Purdue didn’t have ANY top-100 wins. So naturally they jump three spots by beating Arizona State and Cleveland State. What the hell are the AP voters doing?

#16 South Carolina Gamecocks – You know who has three times as many top-100 wins as Purdue? South Carolina. Two of those are even top-50 wins. Yet the Gamecocks are still below the Boilermakers. What’s worse is South Carolina lost by three at MSG against top-50, Seton Hall last night, and didn’t have their best player. So naturally, I’ll bet the Gamecocks fall out of the top-20 – even if Purdue would never be punished like that.

#17 Butler Bulldogs – Butler should probably be ranked above either of the two teams that precede them in the rankings. Five top-100 wins, including three in the top-50. The only loss is at Indiana State. Both of those numbers are better than Purdue or South Carolina. Butler is simply better than either of those teams, and they’ve proved it on the floor. It just isn’t sexy to put the 2nd best team in the Big East above the 3rd best in the B1G or 2nd best in the SEC, is it?

#18 Xavier Muskateers – The Bulldogs are 4-2 against the top-100 and with their best win being a neutral court tilt with Clemson. Two of those wins are over Northern Iowa. They had chances to pick up good wins at Baylor and Colorado and lost both. #18 feels right until you look and see that their resume is better than either South Carolina’s or Purdue’s. I know there’s some unwritten rule that requires three B1G teams in the top-15, but the B1G doesn’t have three top-15 teams. Voters need to get over that.

#19 Arizona Wildcats – Can someone tell me why Arizona is still ranked? Is it because they have the 2nd longest ranking streak in the country? They have one top-100 win (their first game of the season). That’s it. The other two top-100 games they played, they lost. Their second best win is at home over Cal State Bakersfield, and no, that’s not a typo. Not hard to find 25 better resumes through 1/3 of the season than that trash pile.

#20 St. Mary’s Gaels – Ah, yes. My favorite MWC team that loves to rack up wins against technical and directional schools. I’ve said before that the Gaels do everything they can to not leave the state of California in the non-conference. They did play and won @Dayton and against UAB in Vegas, but that’s it. Then they lost at home to UT Arlington. I get it. UT Arlington isn’t trash, but if you can’t beat the 58th best team on your home floor you probably don’t deserve to be ranked. If you’re going to play this game where you rack up mediocre wins all year, you can’t lose those games. Simple as that.

#21 Notre Dame Fighting Irish – 2-0 against the top-100; 1-1 against the top-50. Notre Dame is probably adequately ranked. Similar resume to teams ranked 15th and 16th which is dumb. Those teams should be down here.

#22 Oregon Ducks – The only reason the Ducks held on to their ranking in the first place is they were ranked so high in the preseason, people just don’t want to be wrong about them. So they can’t drop out unless they do something embarrassing. That will be hard to do when their next three games are home against Montana, UNLV and Fresno State. Enjoy holding on by the skin of your teeth, Ducks. You’ll probably even move up because reasons.

#23 Florida State Seminoles – The Seminoles leap into the rankings after beating Florida on Sunday. That’s cool, they’re now 4-1 against the top-100 although wins against Iona, Illinois and Minnesota don’t really impress anyone. The Seminoles also haven’t played a true road game. So welcome to the rankings for the sole reason of being 10-1. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year. Now go play Manhattan and Samford. Not on the road, of course. Wouldn’t want you to be challenged at all.

#24 USC Trojans – The second new team to this week’s top-25 is undefeated USC. They’re only 3-0 against the top-100, but at least they’ve won a true road game (at Texas A&M and at San Diego). It’s a minor qualm, but I’d probably put them above either Oregon or Florida State.

#25 Cincinnati Bearcats – So the Bearcats lose to Butler, but hold on to their ranking. That’s all well and good, but Cincinnati is just 1-2 against the top-100. Their second best win is on a neutral floor against Penn State. Drop. Them. Out. The next four teams receiving votes are Florida, Wichita State, Virginia Tech and Maryland. I’d take any of those four over Cincinnati.

Good job, good effort. Let’s do it again next week.

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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