Blog Entry

The Poll Attacks

Posted on: November 28, 2011 2:28 pm
Edited on: November 28, 2011 2:44 pm
By Gary Parrish

Associated Press poll: Thanksgiving weekend is tricky.

Lots of family time.

Lots of shopping.

Good football on television.

It's easy to lose track of things in college basketball, I know. But my god. There are websites all over the place -- including, of course, -- where box scores from every game played can be found, and it just seems like AP voters ought to take a few minutes and look at them before submitting their ballots. If they did, the Poll Attacks would be much more difficult to file every week. As it is, this is simple stuff.

So thank you, Mark McCarter of the Huntsville Times.

You've made my job simple on this Monday.

And I hate that it's you because I like you and we go way back. But come on, man. You put Cincinnati 25th on your ballot despite the fact that the Bearcats are 3-2 with home losses to Presbyterian and Marshall. That's two home losses. To Presbyterian. And Marshall. What does Cincinnati have to do to get off your ballot? Would a loss to Miami-Ohio this week do it? What about two losses this week -- to Miami-Ohio on Tuesday and Georgia on Friday? Surely that would be enough, right?

Also, why no UNLV on your ballot?

The Rebels are 7-0 with a win over North Carolina.

That's slightly better than 3-2 with home losses to Presbyterian and Marshall.

Obviously, I could go on for another 300 words. But that's enough. Because the Houston Chronicle's Sam Khan voted Villanova 24th, and that's similarly silly and needs to be addressed. The Wildcats are 4-2 with neutral-court losses to Saint Louis (by 12 points) and Santa Clara (by one point). I suppose that's better than home losses to Presbyterian and Marshall, but not much better. I genuinely have no idea how Sam could still be ranking Villanova, but I also have no idea how Sam can rank Memphis seventh -- 12 spots of the Michigan team that dominated the Tigers and at least sixteen spots ahead of the Georgetown team that he didn't rank despite it also beating the Memphis team he still believes belongs in the top 10.

In fact, I don't even know why he'd rank Memphis at all right now.

I'll explain that next ...

Coaches poll: Memphis will win Conference USA.

The Tigers are too talented to do anything but win Conference USA.

But at some point, to some degree, the results have to matter, and the Tigers' results through four games don't suggest they are, at this moment, the top 10 team most believed they'd be in the preseason ... or even worthy of the No. 21 ranking the coaches gave them Monday. Memphis is 2-2 with a home win over an Atlantic Sun team (Belmont) and a double-overtime win on a neutral court over a team picked 11th in the SEC (Tennessee). The Tigers' losses are a double-digit defeat on a neutral court to No. 15 Michigan and an overtime loss to unranked Georgetown, also on a neutral court. Simply put, that's not good enough.

Now I know what you're thinking: How can rank two-loss FSU but not two-loss Memphis?

Answer: Florida State's two losses are better. And FSU deserves more of the benefit of the doubt. The Seminoles are 5-2. Their losses are an overtime loss to a team we have ranked 11th (Connecticut) and a five-point loss to a team we have ranked 22nd (Harvard). Beyond that, FSU's ranking isn't based on potential nearly as much as Memphis'. The Seminoles were good last season -- third in the ACC with an 11-5 league record and a trip to the Sweet 16 -- and they returned the bulk of that roster. Meantime, Memphis was awful last season. The Tigers went 10-6 in Conference USA, basically played well for just one week in El Paso, won the C-USA tournament and got the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. So their preseason ranking was always based more on recruiting rankings and the idea that they'd this season be more like the team that pushed Arizona to the buzzer in their postseason opener last season than the team that finished fourth in C-USA, and, again, I think they will eventually. But through four games, they haven't. And that's why I can't make sense of Memphis still being ranked this week when so many other teams deserve it more.

Like Harvard.

The Crimson are 6-0 with a win over Florida State.

Or Georgetown.

The Hoyas are 4-1 with the lone loss being a close loss to No. 14 Kansas.

And Georgetown beat Memphis.

How could anybody rank Memphis but not Georgetown right now?

That's baffling.

Either way, again, Memphis will be fine in time; I still believe that. The roster remains really, really talented. But should the Tigers be ranked 21st on Nov. 28 -- ahead of Saint Louis, FSU, Harvard and Georgetown? No, absolutely not. It really can't be justified by anything that's ever happened on a basketball court.

Since: May 11, 2007
Posted on: November 29, 2011 9:55 am

The Poll Attacks

The real problem is that you have individuals (humans) trying to guess, predict, analyze, etc.  They aren't good at it, regardless of how long they have been around the game.  They have biases, they base things on past year's play and the preseason polls, and some are just dumb.

One last note...Cody Zeller...a LOCK for Freshman of the Year.  If you don't believe it, just look up his stats already...and he's played better than the stats show, and he's even better than he is playing so far too! 

Overall I thought your post was good (although obviously a homer post), and the part about not having any rankings until the 2nd or 3rd week is great and something I've advocated for a long time myself. 

Still though, you've got to kind of be missing the point when you say that humans aren't good at predicting, and then say Zeller is a LOCK for freshman of the year.  He's obviously on track to be a big-time player and has the pedigree and was a top recruit, but playing the likes of Gardner-Webb, Stony Brook, Savannah State and so on hasn't really proven anything quite yet.  If anything, getting into foul trouble against some very weak competition is a sign of immaturity that might take awhile to overcome.

Kind of hard to predict freshman of the year at the end of November.

Since: Jun 22, 2009
Posted on: November 29, 2011 9:42 am

The Poll Attacks

I love this column, as it does a better job than any other in calling out writers who make bogus votes.  I am totally on board, up to the point where these (more than) questionable votes are chalked up to ignorance and oversight.  I think that is naive, and would instead offer up the theory that there is a reason for everything.  Maybe it's done to keep a writer's favorite propped up over teams like SLU, Harvard, etc., that historically have had no place at this level and are therefore easily dismissed.  Or, maybe Rick Majerus once had a cross word for one of these writers, and now they're utilizing their opportunity to give him a little something back.  Or, maybe a writer has a cousin whose husband coaches one of these teams, and is doing him a solid by ranking his team where it's not justifiable.  In any event, I doubt it's based on ignorance, but instead something nefarious, where there's an axe to grind or something to gain.

Since: Sep 10, 2006
Posted on: November 29, 2011 9:16 am
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Since: May 27, 2008
Posted on: November 28, 2011 11:17 pm

The Poll Attacks

Don't you all understand!  If you're not in a BcS conference, you're not in college sports.  The "Big Boys" are all that matter!  Basketball won't let you arrogant assholes hide behind the money!!!!!!

Since: Sep 10, 2007
Posted on: November 28, 2011 10:34 pm

The Poll Attacks

So again.  Why is San Diego State University with on,y a loss against Baylor and at Baylor not on your poll? They won at Arizona snappng their nonconference at home win streak at something like 26. they beat Long Beach State which beatPittsuburg. They won at UCSB. they beat USC?  What do they have to do to get some respect? They have Creighton and California visiting them. If they win those games will you respect them a little?

Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: November 28, 2011 9:27 pm

The Poll Attacks

Rankings in basketball are useless since they have a playoff to determine the champ.

Since: Oct 14, 2006
Posted on: November 28, 2011 8:43 pm

The Poll Attacks

IU fan here....and you are way off base.  We need to beat NC State, Notre Dame and keep it close with Kentucky at Home.  If we do these, we should be in the top 25 but not before.  Who cares how they have you ranked....makes you sneak up on teams. 

Since: Dec 29, 2006
Posted on: November 28, 2011 8:10 pm
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Since: Aug 28, 2006
Posted on: November 28, 2011 7:40 pm


Kansas people are all about receiving participation ribbons just for playing.   They put trophies in their trophy case for just showing up to games, and it doesn't matter if they win or lose.

Great post Bludgeon.  I gave it 5 stars, and the post of the day.  I'm sure now they will want to talk about history.  Of course, history condemns the red-legged terrorist for the monsters they were, but they will want to talk about their purchased players and the championships they bought with them, as though that means something to a True Son.  It doesn't of course, but they will babble on anyway.

Since: Nov 4, 2007
Posted on: November 28, 2011 7:05 pm

The Poll Attacks

Trying really hard to be a hack, but I'm not quite understanding why so many have Kansas dropping this week. We beat a pretty good Georgetown team, UCLA, and came extremely close to beating a team considered by many to be in the Top 5. Maybe not a jump forward either, but I certainly think Kansas should at least stay in place, not drop.

You're 3-2 and have no wins against any ranked opponents.   Just because you played two ranked opponents and failed to beat either of them doesn't mean you should see positive results in the polls.   I am amazed that your team is ranked at all.   Anyone else probably drops all the way out of the polls.

Yeah, you guys barely beat Georgetown but there are dozens of other schools that barely beat other schools from a major conference as well.   Big deal.   What have you done at all that's impressive?   Lose two games, that's not very impressive.    There are a couple hundred other teams that could lose to Duke and Kentucky as well.   Should they all be ranked too?

Wow, just wow.

Kansas people are all about receiving participation ribbons just for playing.   They put trophies in their trophy case for just showing up to games, and it doesn't matter if they win or lose.

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