July 24, 2017

POLLitically Incorrect – 12/20/16

Well last week we bitched and moaned that Baylor needs to be ahead of Kansas. Guess what? The voters still screwed it up, but I firmly believe we got through to a few. Baylor was 16 votes behind the Jayhawks yesterday, and they closed the gap to 11 votes this week – yes I’m taking credit.

So what am I most upset about this week? We’ve reached the point in the season where you move down, often far too much, simply because you lose. Voters don’t care who you lost to, or who teams that moved up beat, they just drop you for losing because they refuse to pay attention. This week’s case centers around the Indiana Hoosiers, who dropped seven spots for losing on a neutral floor to Butler. Wow.

#1 Villanova Wildcats [56] (LW: 1) – Super proud of you ‘Nova. You’re going to be #1 for a couple more weeks. Then you play at Creighton and at Butler back to back. So enjoy this ride while it lasts.

#2 UCLA Bruins [3] (LW: 2) – The Bruins are next in line to be number one. They really should be there now, but we’ve tackled that issue. So let’s play a fun game. When will the Bruins lose? Kenpom gives the Bruins at least a 50% or better win probability for every remaining game this season. Even the games at Arizona and at Oregon (really the only other good Pac 12 teams). I’ve pushed the Bruins for #1 for a while, and they go to Oregon the same week ‘Nova goes to Creighton/Butler. If they win that game, they may be #1 for a long time.

#3 Kansas Jayhawks (LW: 3) – I’m not going to rehash the entire KU/Baylor argument, but if the Bears have 4 first place votes, KU has zero and the Jayhawks are still above the Bears, you know people are voting strictly on name recognition instead of actual results.

#4 Baylor Bears [4] (LW: 4) – The Bears are not at all building on their 6 top-100 wins by easing into conference play with 194th or worse, but you can’t take away the wins. That’s tied with Villanova for most of anyone to this point.

#5 Duke Blue Devils (LW: 5) – I’m honestly a bit surprised that Duke didn’t move up. They’re finally getting healthy and their win over Florida was better than any win a team above them had last week. Oh wait, no I’m not. Voters only move teams based on losses at this point, I forgot.

#6 Kentucky Wildcats (LW: 6) – Beating North Carolina on a neutral floor is far and away the best win for the Wildcats this season. It’s also their only top-50 win. At least Kentucky is finally earning their stripes instead of relying on name recognition.

#7 Gonzaga Bulldogs (LW: 8) – The ‘Zags are the beneficiaries of the UNC loss, which makes sense. Gonzaga has 6 top-100 wins to the Heels’ 5. The Tar Heels had two other chances to add to their total and they failed. Wow, the voters did something smart and correct, I’m shocked.

#8 North Carolina Tar Heels (LW: 7) – Keep this ranking in mind. This is how you properly drop a team for losing a game to a top-15 opponent on a neutral floor. What they did to Indiana is a classic case of overreaction.

#9 Creighton Blue Jays (LW: 10) – I’m fine with moving Creighton above Indiana with the Hoosiers’ loss. Creighton has more top-100 wins and no losses yet. While I’m not sure the Blue Jays end up in the top-10, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be there now.

#10 Louisville Cardinals (LW: 11) – This is the first team I have a quasi-issue with jumping Indiana. The Cardinals are 3-1 in top-100 games with their best win being Purdue. Indiana is 2-2 in top-100 games with two top-10 wins (Kansas, UNC). Kind of a toss up if you ask me.

#11 West Virginia Mountaineers (LW: 12) – Based on the same criteria, West Virginia is 2-1 against the top-100 with their best win being at Virginia. At least this win is comparable to either of Indiana’s two wins. For my money, West Virginia has more of a case to be above Indiana than Louisville.

#12 Virginia Cavaliers (LW: 13) – 3-1 against the top-100 and a best win of Ohio State (38). Sound like a better resume than Indiana? No.

#13 Butler Bulldogs (LW: 18) – 6 top-100 wins including Indiana on a neutral floor. They should be above Indiana, but should they be behind teams like the three before them? No. You see part of the problem that resulted in Indiana being dropped so far is because Butler was underrated at the time of the game. Butler didn’t have the 18th best ranking resume last week. It was probably top 10-12, and now the market corrected itself on Butler and overreacted on Indiana.

#14 Wisconsin Badgers (LW: 14) – Hey, voters. Good job bumping Wisconsin, who doesn’t have a win against a ranked team, ahead of Indiana this week. Real smart.

#15 Purdue Boilermakers (LW: 15) – You know who has two top-10 losses? Purdue. You know who has two top-10 wins? Indiana. FOH.

#16 Indiana Hoosiers (LW: 9) – And here we have the Hoosiers. Dropping seven spots for losing on a neutral floor to Butler. Don’t tell me this is because of the Fort Wayne loss (who happens to be top-100 now) because that was weeks ago. Indiana has better ranking material than Louisville, Virginia, Wisconsin and Purdue. It should go:

  • #11 Butler
  • #12 West Virginia
  • #13 Indiana
  • #14 Virginia
  • #15 Purdue
  • #16 Wisconsin

But they don’t care.

#17 Xavier Muskateers (LW: 17) – The Muskateers have racked up wins against the top-100 (6-2), but don’t have any real signature wins. Their best is on a neutral floor against Clemson. I’m fine with the ‘X’ at #17, but I wouldn’t put them any higher until they beat someone of magnitude.

#18 Arizona Wildcats (LW: 19) – It’s remarkable that ‘Zona is ranked. They’re just 2-2 against the top-100 and their best win is Texas A&M at #37. They’re hanging on based on an arbitrary preseason ranking, but there’s a lot of teams with two losses that can boast better wins than that.

#19 St. Mary’s Gaels (LW: 20) – The Gaels are only going to play eight, top-100 games this season. There’s teams that have already played that many. Considering they got beat by 14 at home to UT-Arlington, I’m not sure they should even be here, but they will have a gaudy record for most of the year, so they’ll stick around.

#20 Oregon Ducks (LW: 22) – Oregon has been playing much better since the return of Dillon Brooks. Going 5-2 against the top-100 should be enough to put them ahead of Arizona and St. Mary’s, but here we are. A couple of early losses caused voters to overreact and now the Ducks won’t be properly ranked until the teams above them stop playing bottom-100 teams as they prepare for conference play.

#21 Florida State Seminoles (LW: 24) – Florida State joins West Virginia in the random teams whose only loss is to 8-4 Temple. With only three top-100 wins, I’m not sure I’d have the Seminoles in the top-25, but they don’t have any bad losses, so what are you going to do?

#22 South Carolina Gamecocks (LW: 16) – The Gamecocks have gone 2-1 without leading scorer Sindarius Thornwell with a three-point loss to top-50 Seton Hall on a neutral floor. That’s the conundrum, do you rank the Gamecocks based on how they perform with or without their indefinitely suspended best player? If you rank them with him, they’d still be undefeated, without him, they’re not really ranking worthy. That’s how you get a six spot fall. Voters are just as confused as we are.

#23 USC Trojans (LW: 24) – The Trojans are undefeated with three top-100 wins with their best being Texas A&M. Oh look, another Pac 12 team with a better ranking resume than Arizona that’s ranked behind them. Don’t tell me name recognition isn’t a thing. Do I think USC is better than Arizona? Probably not in the long term, but based on what they’ve actually done this season, you can’t tell me they’re definitively five spots worse.

#24 Cincinnati Bearcats (LW: 25) – Let’s bring this piece full circle. You know who only dropped three spots after losing to Butler? Cincinnati. So what the hell are we doing with Indiana? The Bearcats are just 1-2 against the top-100, so you’re telling me that a team with a better resume falls four spots farther losing to the same team. Fail.

#25 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (LW: 21) – Notre Dame fell four spots after losing to two ranked teams last week (Purdue, Villanova). That’s probably appropriate. Which really makes me wonder what the hell we’re doing with Indiana even more. Also, Notre Dame’s best win is Colorado (57). Here’s a list of the other teams receiving votes that have an equal or better record with better wins.

  • Wichita State
  • Virginia Tech
  • Maryland
  • Valparaiso
  • Middle Tennessee
  • Minnesota
  • Pittsburgh

So yeah, name recognition is still a thing.

 

Tom Danielson 65 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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