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Blog Entry

The Poll Attacks

Posted on: February 9, 2009 6:18 pm

There's an anti-Big Ten bias going on.

Or something.

I'll explain in the Poll Attacks.

AP poll: There are a lot of goofy ballots out there this week. But today I want to focus on the 23 AP voters who have Michigan State ranked outside their top 10, because once I breakdown the Spartans' body of work I think they'll see the error of their ways and react accordingly, which is sort of the point of the Poll Attacks.

Here's Michigan State's key information ...


Overall record: 19-4
RPI ranking: 7
Strength of Schedule ranking: 7
Wins against the top 50 (at 8

Looks pretty good without any explanation, doesn't it?

The Spartans are 19-4 against the nation's seventh-toughest schedule (according to, and only Oklahoma has more top 50 wins. That's strong. But it's even stronger when you consider that two of the losses (Maryland and North Carolina) came during a five-game stretch where Goran Suton was injured and unavailable, and that the other two (to Northwestern and Penn State) have come while Raymar Morgan battles pneumonia. Ailing, Morgan scored just one point in 18 minutes against Northwestern and no points in three minutes against Penn State, the latter performance being enough to convince Tom Izzo to sit Morgan until he fully recovers, which is why the junior has missed the past two games and isn't expected to play Tuesday night at Michigan.

Bottom line, there's no way to have Michigan State outside the top 10 with that body of work.

And would you believe it if I told you one AP voter actually has the Spartans all the way down at 19?

(It's true)

The voter's name is Ed Graney.

He has one of those goofy ballots I was talking about.

Ed works at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which is kind of close to Utah. I point this out because that's the only explanation for having Utah State ranked 15th, i.e., four spots ahead of Michigan State. Seriously, Ed has a team with just one top 50 win (against Utah) and a misleading overall record ranked ahead of a team with eight top 50 wins and a two-game lead in the Big Ten (which is the second-toughest league in the country, according to

That's insane.

On the other hand, perhaps he's just into win totals and loss totals, and that's how he makes sense of having Utah State so high, because he really likes the 23-1 record and doesn't care that it's a direct result of playing a schedule rated 189th nationally. Fine. Whatever. But then how could he explain having Gonzaga ranked 18th, i.e., one spot ahead of Michigan State when the Zags have two fewer overall wins than Michigan State, one more loss, five fewer top 50 wins and a schedule rated 51 spots worse?


Coaches poll: When I ranked Ohio State 17th I assumed I'd have the Buckeyes higher than either poll.

And I was OK with it.

Because I can defend the ranking.

But do you think the coaches can defend not ranking OSU at all?

If you saw the Dear Gary entry from earlier today you should have a better understanding of how I rank teams. Sure, I look at how a team is playing now, what it just did, etc. But more than anything I focus on bodies of work, and Ohio State's body of work is pretty damn solid by any measuring stick.


Overall record: 17-5
RPI ranking: 21
Wins against the top 50 (at 6
Losses outside the top 25 (at 0

So to summarize: Ohio State is 17-5 with six top 50 wins and no losses outside the top 25.

Also, the Buckeyes are on a four-game winning streak.

But somehow the coaches chose not to rank OSU and instead rank two Pac-10 schools I did not rank.

Here are the bodies of work of those two schools ...

-- No. 18 ARIZONA STATE --

Overall record: 18-5
RPI ranking: 39
Wins against the top 50 (at 3
Losses outside the top 25 (at 4

-- No. 24 WASHINGTON --

Overall record: 17-6
RPI ranking: 18
Wins against the top 50 (at 4
Losses outside the top 25 (at 5

So, again, to summarize: Ohio State has roughly the same record as Arizona State and Washington, but more top 50 wins and fewer losses outside the top 25, and for the life of me I can't figure out how anybody could digest all this information and reach the conclusion that Arizona State should be 18th, Washington should be 24th and Ohio State should be unranked. But that's precisely what the coaches did, which is why the Poll Attacks work every single week.

Category: NCAAB

Since: Feb 5, 2009
Posted on: February 10, 2009 2:44 pm

The Poll Attacks

I'm having a hard time trying to figure out how people can justify teams losing due to some unforeseen obstacle(s).

So let's talk about Michigan St. 

First, I would like to say that they are 1 of the top 10 teams in the country when one couples their roster talent with their coaching.  Top notch.  I'll give them that.  I, personally believe that this team is strong enough and probably will make a run to the Final 4.

However, The Spartans have lost 4 games and three of those were to opponents not ranked in the top 25.

People can complain and find all of the excuses they want to make a case for Michigan St. being in the top 10.  But the FACTS show, as of now, that they haven't the merited being ranked amongst the top 10.

Let's approach this another way. 

Would Pitt lose to UNC by 35 at Mellon arena without DeJuan Blair?  (I actually think that Pitt without Blair would be a bigger loss than MSU without Suton)  But no, I don't think they would.

Would they lose to Maryland without Blair?  No.

Would we be able to justify Pitt losing to Northwestern and Penn St. at The Pete without Sam Young?  No.

Would they even lose to Northwestern and Penn St. in Pittsburgh without Sam Young?  Absolutely not.

They wouldn't lose these games because they ARE a Top 10 team.  Top 10 teams find ways to win games when they are faced with adversity, they don't sit around and conjure up ways to make their losses seem acceptable to the rest of the college basketball world.


So, why are we so quick to dismiss the losses that the Spartans have incurred over the course of the season with excuses?  Do we simply exclude the games from Michigan State's record as if they didn't even happen?  Why don't we just crown them and make them 23-0?  Would everyone in college basketball be okay with that?

Furthermore, do we take credit away from all of the teams that beat The Spartans because Michigan St. has a good reason for losing?  We could issue letters of apology to all of the schools telling them why their win against Michigan St. doesn't actually count.  We could just tell the fans of these respective schools that Michigan St. "...just wanted to perform exhibition games without a key player to see how well we could fare..."

Not to pick on Memphis but John Calipari is trying this right now, "We lost early in the season because the stupid coach didn't play Tyreke at point guard..."

I'm sorry did I miss something, is that everyone else's fault John?  Would it even be a factual statement to make (to assume that they would have won even one of these games had made this change to his line up)?

He's doing this because he knows that THIS SEASON his team isn't worhty of a top seed, so he's trying to play politcs for one because he realizes just how important seeding is during March Madness.  Especially when your team is not of the elites for that season.

You play your games and you either win them or you don't.  End of story, put all of these assinine statements about your failures on the back burner and find ways to win the games that you play.  Like a Top 10 team does.

Since: Nov 17, 2008
Posted on: February 10, 2009 2:23 pm

The Poll Attacks

Damn Parrish you must really hate the Pac-10

CT Sports Picks
Since: Oct 6, 2008
Posted on: February 10, 2009 1:59 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Feb 10, 2009
Posted on: February 10, 2009 1:33 pm

The Poll Attacks

The Big Ten Blows so getting credit for beating and/or losing to mediocre teams within conference should not count.  Michigan State should be ranked (Top 15) but really no other team has shown enough.


Since: Oct 24, 2008
Posted on: February 10, 2009 1:07 pm

The Poll Attacks

When you lose to UNC by 35 in Michigan and then follow that up later in the year with losing to Penn St and Northwestern, you don't deserve to be in the top ten. It's that simple.

Since: Oct 24, 2008
Posted on: February 10, 2009 1:02 pm

The Poll Attacks


Please define "body of work". You make the case for OSU but don't mention that they got crushed at home to WVU by 28 or the 18 point beatdown courtesy of Illinois. Should I be impressed by squeeking out wins over Notre Dame, Purdue, Miami, and Minnesota? IMO the best team of that bunch is Miami and that win was way back in the beginning of December. You mentioned the woes of MSU, why couldn't OSU pull off the victory at home against the ailing Spartans? Sorry, I'm not impressed either.

Since: Jul 8, 2007
Posted on: February 10, 2009 1:01 pm

The Poll Attacks

please alert me as to who michigan state has beaten...

texas... wow, that looks impressive now.

kansas... a young team that is only looking decent now because they play in the awful big-12.

a few other mediocre big10 teams.



Since: Feb 20, 2008
Posted on: February 10, 2009 12:09 pm

Wins and losses aren't the final word

Gary, don't forget that wins and losses aren't the final word.  Vegas does an amazing job of picking future winners because they barely consider past wins and losses.  They consider ratings based on point differential within the context of your schedule (a fancy way of saying, "how good has this team actually played overall--not just won and lost").  This is why pollsters kept Louisville rated for so long when they were "struggling" early.  They lost a couple, but they bludgeoned people in the games they won.  Point differential ratings like Sagarin, Lunardi, and Vegas keep reflected this all along and the wins and losses eventually showed what we already knew if we watched the games--Louisville was a great team.

Arizona St. and Washington do really well in rankings like this (around #15), and Ohio St. is really bad (about #40). Pollsters see that ASU and Washington look better than Ohio St., even though the RPI resume doesn't match it at the moment.  Vegas would have ASU favored over OSU by about 5 points in a neutral court game right now.

Since: Jan 14, 2009
Posted on: February 10, 2009 10:40 am
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Since: Jul 10, 2008
Posted on: February 10, 2009 9:38 am

The Poll Attacks

who cares about the polls...   They'll make March madness and of course the committee will look at everyone's schedule and seed them accordingly..   What's the point of this article?

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