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 8, 2007
Posted on: February 10, 2009 12:12 am

The Poll Attacks

I do put more stock into the total body of work than I do in how a team is "playing" at any particular time because I believe sometimes the way a team is "playing" -- good or bad -- has as much to do with a rough or easy part in the schedule as it does anything else. For instance, Gonzaga wasn't "playing" well early, but then it started WCC games and the Zags looked great. Then they stepped out of conference again (against Memphis), and they got smashed.

So does that mean Gonzaga isn't playing as well now as it was two weeks ago?

Or does that just mean that they ran into a better team Saturday night?

I think it's probably the latter.

Honestly, that's why I tend to hold on to ranked teams longer than some, because I can forgive losses to good teams if they are off-set with wins. I don't believe in punishing people for playing hard schedules or rewarding people for playing weak schedules. And if the byproduct of that is that I believe in Notre Dame a week or two longer than I should, well, I'm OK with it, because I'd rather give the benefit of the doubt to somebody playing a real schedule than somebody stacking wins against terrible competition.

Since: Jul 24, 2007
Posted on: February 10, 2009 12:05 am

The Poll Attacks

You're the man. I've taught my sons that what make a man is someone who takes responsibilities for their actions. Good job.

Since: Feb 4, 2009
Posted on: February 10, 2009 12:03 am

The Poll Attacks

Would you please explain why UCLA should be a top 10 team? They are 3-4 against top 50 rpi teams with the 67th ranked sos. Don't see top 10 there.

Since: Nov 12, 2006
Posted on: February 9, 2009 11:57 pm

The Poll Attacks


Do you put any stock at all in how a team is performing at the time, or is the body of work paramount?  Of course, I'm asking because my Huskies had a horrid loss to open the season but you can see where they turned a corner after being crushed by Kansas.  By the same token you seem to keep a lot of teams that played well early in the season but are failing of late in your 26.  For instance, you had Notre Dame ranked after they slid out of sight from other polls.  Just curious if that's why. 

BTW, way to man up about the 20-22 rankings.  Props. 

Since: Sep 19, 2006
Posted on: February 9, 2009 11:46 pm

The Poll Attacks

It's true you guys are a much better team with Hummell playing, but from what I've heard Hummell's injury will be affecting him the rest of the season, and that he's one unlucky bump from being done for the year. The Purdue team without Hummell is, unfortunately, probably the team that will be seem for most of the remaining season.

Since: Feb 8, 2007
Posted on: February 9, 2009 11:34 pm

The Poll Attacks

In hindsight, what I should've done is kept Illinois at No. 20, put Missouri at No. 21 and then make LSU No. 22.

If I could redo it, that's what I'd do.

Missouri clearly has a better resume than LSU, even before tonight's win.

Since: Jul 24, 2007
Posted on: February 9, 2009 11:14 pm

The Poll Attacks

Gary You didn't support your decision to rank LSU ahead of Missouri. I don't care for Missouri or the Big 12 for that matter, but the SEC this year is just bad. That Tennessee win isn't looking that great right now.

Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: February 9, 2009 11:12 pm

The Poll Attacks

Gary, I know the early season loss to the Gators may appear to give them a slight edge over the Dawgs but, I would be curious to see a rematch, again on a neutral court, with the maturity of Isaiah Thomas and the rotation that Romar uses now. Very curious.

Since: Jan 13, 2009
Posted on: February 9, 2009 11:12 pm

The Poll Attacks

MSU is the most underrated team in the nation.  First off, they play in the Big Ten and we all know everyone rides the Big East/ACC dominance thing.  People can point to the UNC and Mayland games, but as Parrish points out they were without our most valuable big man, and a severely underated player in Goran Suton.  Aside from the other two losses coming with Raymar Morgan out, anyone who actually watched those two games some the plethura of miracles threes from WAY downtown with 3 seconds on the shot clock when they were locked down.  Off the glass, practically fallin down, rim and straight up and back in.  It was nasty.  Its not excuse because they should have put them away but anyone who thinks a Tom Izzo coached team is not one that you want to steer clear of in the tourney, you are a fool.  Kalin Lucas will get his time to shine and garner the national attention he deserves.

Since: Feb 8, 2007
Posted on: February 9, 2009 11:06 pm

The Poll Attacks

For what it's worth, I had Washington 27th.

As for Washington vs. Florida, there's no doubt Washington has better wins. But Florida has two fewer losses (and no bad losses), and they actually beat the Huskies on a neutral court, you might remember. That's my thinking, uwhoop. But I can appreciate your way of thinking, too, and that you came with actual facts instead of stuff like "Parrish hates the Pac-10" or "Parrish loves Duke" is to be commended. I enjoy healthy debate, but I can't spend much time arguing with people who are just yelling to yell.

Remember, I never claim to be right all the time; I only promise to have a rationale for most everything I do, and to admit I'm wrong when I'm wrong. But I think I can make a solid case for Florida over Washington, and it starts with that neutral court game.

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