Blog Entry

The Poll Attacks

Posted on: January 26, 2009 5:07 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2009 5:14 pm

UCLA being in the top 20 of both polls makes no sense.

And how did the AP voters shun Minnesota?

Here come the Poll Attacks .

AP poll: More than half of the AP voters -- i.e., too many to name -- didn't include Minnesota on their ballots.

That means more than half of the AP voters missed badly on Minnesota.

Seriously, what's the deal?

The Golden Gophers are 17-3 overall with wins against No. 7 Louisville, Wisconsin and Ohio State. Furthermore, none of their losses (to Michigan State, Purdue and at Northwestern) are bad considering all three of the schools that beat Minnesota are ranked in the top 40 at

Is that body of work not better than No. 21 Villanova's body of work? The Wildcats have one top 50 win (Minnesota has three) and four total losses (Minnesota has three). Is that body of work not better than No. 22 Saint Mary's body of work? The Gaels have no top 50 wins (Minnesota has three) and a loss to a school well outside the top 50 (No. 99 UTEP). Is that body of work not better than No. 23 Washington's body of work? The Huskies have two top 50 wins (Minnesota has three) and four total losses (Minnesota has three), including one to a school well outside the top 50 (No. 125 Portland).

I'd argue Minnesota should be ranked ahead of each of those schools.

Which is why I ranked Minnesota ahead of each of those schools.

Anyway, like I said, there are too many AP voters who didn't rank Minnesota to list them all. But because you guys like it when I single-out voters (or at least you tell me you like it), what I did was click on the very first voter on the alphabetical list who didn't vote for Minnesota and examined his ballot.

His name is Andrew Aragon.

He works at the Deseret Morning News in Utah.

He has Washington, Saint Mary's and Villanova (the three schools I referenced above) ranked 16th, 18th and 20th.

He has UCLA ranked 19th.

And now I'll explain why that's crazy, too.

Coaches poll: The 16th-ranked team in the Coaches poll is UCLA, and I understand why, I guess. It's because UCLA has some talented players (Darren Collison, Jrue Holiday, etc.) and Ben Howland has proved worthy of the benefit of the doubt. But at some point voters should care about results more than anything else, and there's no way to rank UCLA 16th (or even 25th, honestly) if you're paying attention to results.

Don't believe me?

Just look at UCLA's body of work ...

-- UCLA --

Overall record: 15-4
Record against the Top 25 at 0-1
Record against the Top 50 at 1-4
Record against the Top 100 at 4-4

Now I ask: Does that look like the body of work of a team that should be ranked 16th?

Or 19th?

Or 25th?

I mean, more than half of the season is over and UCLA's best win is against Miami-Ohio! So while I agree that the Bruins have potential and could be a team to watch in March, they've done nothing in November, December or January to deserve the ranking they got on this Monday. Put another way, the coaches goofed this up. But to their credit they have Minnesota ranked 24th. So if nothing else, they're doing better than the AP voters, at least this week.

Category: NCAAB

Since: Jan 25, 2008
Posted on: January 28, 2009 11:56 pm

The Poll Attacks

Rankings mean nothing. The selection committee could give two rats about them... and since that group decides who gets to play in the championship that's what I think matters the most. Get fired up about some other team's seeding in the tourney, not a subjective poll created by drunk sports writers or coach's assistants.

Since: Jan 3, 2007
Posted on: January 28, 2009 10:18 pm

The Poll Attacks

twinsfan stole my thought.

dblj, the Spartans, the one 'elite' team in the Big 10, loses to Northwestern on the home court. The Wildcats are a streaky good team. They employed a 1-3-1 zone that disrupted the Gophers offense, which still is avergaing over 70 points a game in the hard to score Big 10. They have Kevin Coble and the 3-point specialist in Craig Moore, who together average 30 points a game. The fresh Michael Thompson looked good too, giving NW 3 scoring options. They are 2-5 (should beat Indiana to go to 3-5) in conference, but 10-7 overall. I was very impressed with their defensive effort against my Gophers. They may not reach the NCAAs, but I would put them up against any bottom team(s) in any other conference.

The Gophers may or may not belong in the Top 25, but losing on the road to NW should not be the reason they are not. The losses to the Spartans and the Boilermakers at home were honorable. Both are good, Purdue being a little unsettling. Winning at Wisconsin, beating the Louisville Cardinals on a neutral court, solid wins over Ohio State (14-5) and Penn State (16-5) should be enough to allow the Gophers a few votes at least. 

And we are only getting more experienced. There are only two seniors, Jonathan Williams and Jamal Abu-Shamala, both who are only spot players. I would not put either in out top 8. Lawrence Westbrook and Damian Johnson are the two of four juniors that play significant minutes. Devron Bostick and Travis Busch are role players like the seniors in Tubby Smith's vast depth chart. Sophomores include Blake Hoffarber, Al Nolen, and Paul Carter. Nolen is one of the best defensive guards in the country, as well as a capable assist man. Blake is cold right now, but already famous for his ESPN highlight shots in wins in high school and the Big 10 tournament. Carter, a JC recruit, is very athletic, and will be much bigger the next two years. Then, add freshmen centers Ralph Sampson III and Colton Iverson, and a solid back-up point guard in Devoe Joseph, and Minnesota looks to be able to to have depth at center and point guard.

Tubby plays 12 every game (it seems). We are young, deeper than ever, and look to a great upcoming recruiting class. Get ready to put Minnesota in the Top 25 a lot more.

Thanks for Tubby, Big Blue

Since: Jan 12, 2007
Posted on: January 28, 2009 12:02 pm

The Poll Attacks

wow i can't believe a sports writer stood up for the gophers...that never happens especially in minnesota, thank you

Since: Mar 6, 2008
Posted on: January 28, 2009 8:40 am

The Poll Attacks

I'm a huge Xavier fan, and I partially agree with your comment.  Butler beat X so Butler should be higher from that point of view.  The reasons that I can see X being ranked higher at this point are:  1.  RPI,  2.  relative ranking of the A10 vs Horizon.  Also, I'd say that X has several "good" wins, not just over Memphis.  Over LSU on the road, over VT, over Mizzou.  I don't see any of Butler's wins to be in the same class as those four wins.  The one thing that Butler doesn't have is a bad loss.  X's loss to Duke might be ignored as Duke is really good, but it was such a blow out loss, that it should be considered a bad loss.  Still, I think its a toss up as to which team should be higher in a poll.  The good news is that at this point, the poll rank doesn't mean a whole lot.  In fact, Jerry Palm predicts X will be a 6 seed and Butler a 5 seed in the tourney.  (I don't see how Palm gets X as a 6 seed though, they are on pace to be better than last year when they were a 3 seed).

Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: January 28, 2009 4:37 am

The Poll Attacks

Purdue also needed a shot right at the end to beat Wisconsin by 1 pt.  Maybe it's just me, but I think most of the teams Linsay thinks Purdue is better than would beat Wisconsin more handlily than that right now the way the Badgers are struggling (and yes illinifan I know Illinois already has).  Also, I don't think it matters much where the game would be played either as Wisconsin has had trouble getting a win even in Madison lately. gb. 

Since: Mar 21, 2008
Posted on: January 27, 2009 9:08 pm

The Poll Attacks

When you play 9 teams that are rated better than 100, you are more likely to have as you say "have multiple nights off", when you play only 3, you are less likely to have multiple nights off. I look at all of the information available to me. The Zags have played a much tougher schedule than the Gaels, and no they haven't been perfect against it, or we wouldn't be trading posts about the relative strengths of these two schools. Fortunately, this is not college football and these two teams will actually play twice, which means that the two games against the Zags will almost double the tough games that the Gaels have played. Hope the Gaels don't have multiple games off, since they will playing so many more tough games.

You said...

So, you are telling me that the two losses to Arizona and Portland State are somehow better than a loss to UTEP? No, I'm not saying that. What I'm saying is the 6 more games that the Zags have played against better competition, which they have won about the same percentage against as the Gaels have against their 3 tough opponents means that probably the Zags can at this time be thought of by a reasonable person (Who isn't a particular fan of either team) as a better team. Again, I like basketball so much more than football because we usually get to actually play games and not let the computers or sportswriters, etc decide which is better. But until they do play, I think there is an argument for saying that the Zags are better. 


By beating virtually all of their opponents, St. Mary's is showing that they know how to put games away. It isn't their fault the rest of the competition isn't up to snuff. I have to disagree with the second sentence. The Gaels make their non-conference schedule and could have scheduled better competition.

My credo is you have to beat someone to be someone. Step up to the plate Gaels!

Since: May 1, 2008
Posted on: January 27, 2009 8:33 pm

The Poll Attacks

Michigan State lost to NW at home.  Should we drop them from the poll too?

Since: May 1, 2008
Posted on: January 27, 2009 8:30 pm

The Poll Attacks

Have to totally agree on Minnesota.  I had to look twice when I looked at the AP and saw the Gophers in the also ran section.  WTF?


Since: Jan 27, 2009
Posted on: January 27, 2009 8:06 pm

The Poll Attacks

See, this is the problem when people rely strictly on RPI and standard schedules, but don't look at anything else.  Sure Gonzaga has higher SOS and RPI numbers, but when you ignore the other peripheral stats such as individual play, team defense, shot %, etc, you are unjustly punishing a team because of the percieved quality of their opponents. 

There is a reason the AP poll has teams like Gonzaga higher.  Gonzaga is more of a household name and they have spent the last few years playing good basketball.  It is the same BcS type stuff where the better known schools like Ohio State and Florida play for a national championship while the team with the seemingly lesser opponents, Utah, is left out.  Just because a school is less well known or a computer says their opponents are not as good does not mean they are somehow less deserving.  Utah had every right to be in the championship game just like St. Mary's has every right to be in the ranked in the top 25.

The Zags actually have an RPI rank of 48, St. Mary's is at 54.  You basically want to throw out the Zags losses since their SOS is stronger and they have played better teams.  Fine, lets throw out the losses to Conneticut and Utah as they are clearly good teams based on their RPI's.  So, the Zags have two losses: University of Arizona and Portland State

University of Arizona's RPI is 84, Portland is 113 (SOS of 271)

UTEP is 97 (SOS 81).

So, you are telling me that the two losses to Arizona and Portland State are somehow better than a loss to UTEP?  Again, this is a case of someone looking at one or two numbers and thinking they know the whole story.  Sure they have beaten some better teams, but they have also lost to some teams that are not so good.  Looking solely at RPI/SOS numbers, since that is what you seem inclined to do, Portland is the worst loss of any for either school.  Anyone can have one off night.  Only one of the schools has had multiple nights off their game.  A lot of times, even good teams can get in the habit of playing down to bad competition.  By beating virtually all of their opponents, St. Mary's is showing that they know how to put games away.  It isn't their fault the rest of the competition isn't up to snuff.  The Gaels have held up their end by winning the games they should win and, with one exception, not losing games they should win.  Gonzaga has lost multiple games they should win.

Regardless, we will see what happens Thursday night.  I think the play of Patty Mills coupled with the rebounding of Simpson/Samhan will be too much for the Zags and maybe then peolple will stop looking solely at RPI numbers and pay more attention to the basketball actually being played on the court and not in the SOS rankings.

Since: Nov 14, 2008
Posted on: January 27, 2009 7:53 pm

The Poll Attacks

Notre Dame is always over-rated in football, looks like it's starting to carry over to basketball too. Good post.

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