Blog Entry

Dear Gary (on Duke's ranking)

Posted on: February 9, 2009 3:53 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2009 4:54 pm

Here's Monday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: How is Duke ranked fifth? They lost by 27 to Clemson!

-- Harry

Yes, Duke did lose by 27 to Clemson.

That was terrible.

But when I rank schools I mostly try to look at the big picture and not get swayed too much by any one game, and here's why: The majority of college basketball teams play about 35 games, which means any one game amounts to less than 3 percent of a total body of work. Obviously, some games are bigger than others; I get that. But I've never understood why it makes sense to move one team down and another up based solely on the fact that one team took a loss in a particular week while another did not, especially if the team that lost still has a better body of work than the team that didn't lose.

Anyway, I say all that to say this: There aren't five teams with better bodies of work than Duke.

The Blue Devils are 20-3 overall, 7-2 in the ACC and in possession of the best RPI in the country. They have eight top 50 victories -- nobody has more except Oklahoma, it's worth noting -- and 12 against the top 100 while playing a schedule that is ranked fifth nationally at Furthermore, they have no losses outside the top 50 (i.e., no bad losses, except for the margin against Clemson), and no losses at home.

So I repeat: There aren't five better bodies of work in the nation than that.

But if you want to try to find five, by all means make your case.

I'm listening.

(Poll Attacks , coming up)

Category: NCAAB

Since: Sep 25, 2007
Posted on: February 10, 2009 12:25 am

Dear Gary (on Duke's ranking)

Hey Gary, Carolina @ Duke, who you got and why?

Since: Sep 15, 2008
Posted on: February 9, 2009 6:17 pm

Dear Gary (on Duke's ranking)

I agree with your assertion that rankings should be based the whole body of work. Certainly a team should not be overly penalized for one bad day at this point in the season. I do however offer this caveat. Sometimes a team's most recent games may be an indicator of the direction that team is headed. Trying to determine that is the hard part. Duke looked even worse in the first half of their Miami game than they did against Clemson. They picked it up in the second half, but there still might be some room for doubt about Duke's current direction. The good part of all of this is that there's plenty of time yet to move teams around based on the games to come. Wink

Since: Feb 26, 2008
Posted on: February 9, 2009 6:08 pm

Dear Gary (on Duke's ranking)

Dear Gary,

I'm not so concerned about your ranking of Duke as your drop of Xavier by so much.  I'm not sure many teams would have beaten Duquense that day.  81% from the field in the first half?  True, Xavier dug itself a hole with 7 turnovers in the first ten minutes and that was compounded by the fact that Duquense went 8 for 10 from behind the arc during that same time.  Still Xavier lost by 4 pts, and that was due to the 2nd best free throw shooter, Derrick Brown, going 1 for 3 from the line on a 3pt play and 8 for 15 from the line for the game.  At any rate, I'd encourage you to watch that game, look closely at the stats.  Xavier's to margin was not bad.  Duquense was just out of their minds, shooting a field goal percentage more comparable to a team's leading freethrow shooter's percentage.  That said, if you maintain Duke's rating, you have to consider not dropping XU's percentage because I would argue that Duquense would have also beat Duke as well.  Moreover, if you consider the Clemson game as Duke's mulligan, you might want to consider the Duke game as Xavier's mulligan, because that is certainly not the same team as the one playing today.  One thing for sure, the Duquesne game was not a mulligan for the X-men.  While they certainly could have played better, one could argue that the Dukes could not have played better.

Since: Jan 21, 2009
Posted on: February 9, 2009 5:58 pm

Dear Gary (on Duke's ranking)

I could not agree more with you on how you rank your teams. Fans and to be honest AP voters overreact to one result almost evry week. Duke played poorly against a very prepared Clemson team. Playing on the road in the ACC is not easy. The Duke resume is the best currently in the country and people who root for other teams should try to compare their team to Duke. Even Connecticut has played a fairly pedestrian version of the Big East and the Big 12 is turning out to be the Big 2. We'll know what Duke is truly about after Carolina and a rematch vs. Wake.

Since: Jan 31, 2009
Posted on: February 9, 2009 5:49 pm

Dear Gary (on Duke's ranking)

I agree with the Blue Devils ranking but what I don't understand is why teams like Xavier, who by the way is #5 in the RPI, and Butler never get a ranking to go along with their RPI index. These programs have had quality teams and the Musketeers have wins this year against LSU, Missouri and Memphis.

If teams like Xavier and Butler ever got the ranking that matches their RPI they might get the chance to go deep into the NCAA Tourney but they always end up playing the top teams in the first or second rounds.

Since: Oct 22, 2006
Posted on: February 9, 2009 5:41 pm

Dear Gary (on Duke's ranking)

I really like the format for RPI as done on ... the way each school is broken down numerically for W's and L's from strongest to weakest and also against each quartile of the top 100 then vs. 2nd 100 and 3rd 100. Really gives great info at a glance...although the conference strength of schedule #'s confuse me a bit.

Since: Nov 15, 2008
Posted on: February 9, 2009 5:31 pm

Dear Gary (on Duke's ranking)

  1. Connecticut
  2. Oklahoma
  3. North Carolina
  4. Pittsburgh
  5. Clemson


Since: Feb 8, 2007
Posted on: February 9, 2009 4:57 pm

Dear Gary (on Duke's ranking)


Eight vs. the top 50 at As for the Michigan State thing, that was bad wording by me. What I meant was that only Oklahoma has more top 50 wins, and I've change it to reflect that.

Since: Oct 22, 2006
Posted on: February 9, 2009 4:38 pm

Dear Gary (on Duke's ranking)

I am curious Gary. Which poll did you use to determine Duke had eight victories vs the top 50? or did you mean the top 51? BTW Michigan State has eight victories vs top 50 teams on the RPI.

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