Blog Entry

The Poll Attacks

Posted on: January 16, 2012 3:29 pm
By Gary Parrish

We've got a Murray State problem that needs to be addressed.

And this is a good place to address it.

So let's do some Poll Attacks.

Associated Press poll: Louisville is 14-4 with two losses to unranked teams and zero wins over schools that are currently ranked. Take away everything you thought you knew about the Cardinals in the preseason, focus on what I just told you and then I think, you'll understand why we are no longer ranking Rick Pitino's team in the Top 25 (and one). The Cards have bad losses and no great wins to offset those losses. That's the bottom line. So Louisville does not deserve to be in the Top 25 (and one). Or 23rd in this week's AP poll.

And the Cards sure as hell don't deserve to be 10th.

But guess who has them ranked 10th?

Answer: Ron Morris.

Ron actually has Louisville 10th and Florida 11th even though both schools are 14-4 with two losses to unranked teams and zero wins over currently ranked teams. Meantime, he has Indiana 16th even though the Hoosiers are 15-3 with just one loss to an unranked team and three wins over currently ranked teams, specifically No. 2 Kentucky, No. 6 Ohio State and No. 20 Michigan. I genuinely have no idea how anybody could look at what Louisville and Florida have done and conclude it's A) worthy of a top 15 vote, or B) better than what Indiana has done.

But, somehow, Ron does.

I bet he couldn't explain why he does.

But, according to his latest ballot, he absolutely does.

Coaches poll: I don't think Murray State is one of the nation's 10 best teams.

If you do, that's fine.

I don't have an issue provided you really believe it. But what I do have an issue with is how the Racers are moving up the polls based on little more than the fact that they play in the Ohio Valley Conference and every other relevant team does not. They are advancing because they're spending each week playing grossly inferior opponents while a Big Ten team might host Ohio State one night and be at Michigan the next. Put another way, there are lots of weeks when a split should be considered a good week. But splits almost always move teams down in the polls while 2-0 weeks move folks up. And while that's somewhat OK in most cases because the power-conference schedules tend to balance themselves out over time, this simple approach to ranking creates issues when a solid team from a bad league gets involved.

That's what's happening here.

That's why the Racers are ranked 10th.

So my question is simple: When does it stop?

If Kansas loses to Baylor late Monday but then beats Texas this weekend while Murray State handles Morehead State and SIU-Edwardsville, are voters gonna move the No. 7 Jayhawks below Murray State based on the idea that KU went 1-1 while Murray State went 2-0? I hope not. Because weeks, like overall records, need context, and it's silly to continue to advance the Racers without considering the context of what their wins really show and what others' losses really mean.

That's why we've kept the Racers at No. 20.

Because that's about where they belong regardless of how many consecutive OVC schools they beat.

Since: Oct 21, 2007
Posted on: January 16, 2012 7:54 pm

The Poll Attacks

I am from Louisville and have been a UL fan for years . I also attended an OVC school that made it to the final 4 ( later vacated ) so I appreciate Murray St . I am also a HUGE UK fan , UL has been troubling all year and going into the game with Marquette I had them 39th in my ranking . I have Murray at 37th because of their schedule and hope they prove me wrong . I don't care where UK is ranked . I just want to see banner #8 hanging in RUPP .

Since: Jan 19, 2008
Posted on: January 16, 2012 7:40 pm

The Poll Attacks

As for Baylor's schedule, I'd characterize it as a blend of strong and weak. Victories over San Diego State, St. Mary's, BYU, West Virginia, Mississippi State, Northwestern (road blowout), Kansas State (road)--all those would enhance anyone's resume. The rest of the games? Not so much. Strength of schedule according to is currently at a middling 130, but it will improve dramatically as conference play continues. Having said that, I don't expect Baylor to wind up a #1 seed. A notch lower is more likely.

A minor complaint about all the polls, including CBS 25+1: Duke at number 4. Really? Could anyone who saw the beatdown OSU gave them really think they are a top 4 team? I'm not a hater; I like Coach K and root for the Dookies in most of their matchups. But I just can't see they've earned the four-spot. They are closer to eighth or tenth in my book.

But the great thing about basketball: it'll all be settled on the court over the next 12 weeks! 

Since: Dec 15, 2006
Posted on: January 16, 2012 7:29 pm

The Poll Attacks

I agree Matt.....Murray State could be ranked higher ....but SOS is why they are not higher...It's unfortunate that they can't get a chance to play better opponents in non-conference games...Look @ BOISE ST in CFB...Same issue.......I hate when Syracuse hater talk about their non-conference schedule...It's the same for ALL the big guys...They play lesser opponents and the school gets $$$ to help their program.At least CUSE plays in a tournament where they beat Florida I think.Hope i'm on point and ya agree with what I'm talkin' about.

Since: Jan 16, 2012
Posted on: January 16, 2012 7:03 pm

The Poll Attacks

As a graduate of Murray State I have witnessed 40+ years of lack of quality opponents.  Why?  For the same reason any other Mid-Division school has- the big boys have nothing to gain but everything to lose.  If you have any sayso in scheduling speak up and get whoever arranges those game in February to allow Creighton and Murray State to play each other.  You seem to think their a quality opponent so let's help settle the issue.

Since: Feb 7, 2011
Posted on: January 16, 2012 6:55 pm

The Poll Attacks

By Parrish's own logic, Duke shouldn't be ranked where they are. Compare them to IU, they have both one loss to teams not ranked, yet IU's wins are more impressive. Over on SI, Davis essentially breaks down the attrition argument with Duke as his example. Parrish doesn't get this, though, because he's busy pushing his own teams.

Since: Jan 15, 2012
Posted on: January 16, 2012 6:53 pm

The Poll Attacks

Parrish, nobody takes these polls seriously anyway.  Maybe you should get over yourself.

Since: Jan 9, 2012
Posted on: January 16, 2012 6:27 pm

The Poll Attacks

One could say the same thing about Baylor and their weak *ss schedule.<br />

Since: May 31, 2009
Posted on: January 16, 2012 6:08 pm

The Poll Attacks

Match up Creighton's season with Murray St and you'll see that Murray States schedule is just as good/bad as Creighton's. The only thing seperating them is that Creighton beat San Diego St. On the other hand, Creighton has two losses to St.Joseph and Missouri St. while Murray st. has a zero in their loss column. But there's Creighton at #11 in the top 25 & 1. San Diego St. gets the twelth spot for beating UNLV. Their best win before that was Arizona. If those two loss teams are worthy of #11 and 12, then a case can be made for unbeaten Murray St. as a top ten team.

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: January 16, 2012 5:48 pm

The Poll Attacks

Ric Flair said it best: if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.  Murray State is a big fish in a small pond.  Luckly, because of the way the tournament is set up, they will get their wish and they will be able to play the "big boys" and see how good they really are.  I am guessing they don't even make the second weekend.  That puts them somewhere between 17 and 32 in my book.  I guess that means I agree with Parrish on this one: sorta.  If they lose in the first round, though, it will poke a rather large hole in their top ten "resume."  

Since: Dec 6, 2010
Posted on: January 16, 2012 5:13 pm

The Poll Attacks

I've seen them in person, too.

And, I agree, they are really good.

But you're missing my point. I don't have an issue with Murray State being ranked 10th if you really believe Murray State should be ranked 10th. What I have an issue with is voters moving the Racers up the polls merely because other teams from power conferences lose games the Racers would almost certainly also lose if they had to play those types of games. -- Parrish

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