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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 3, 2009
Posted on: February 9, 2009 10:22 pm

The Poll Attacks

All this talk means nothing.  Which is why I love college hoops.  The polls mean absolutely nothing, it doesn't matter who ranks where or why.  All that matters is the 65 that get in the tourney.


Although glad to see Nova at 13.  At least we get highlights all the time.

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: February 9, 2009 10:17 pm

The Poll Attacks

Dave Jones from The Patriot-News in Harrisburg and Ed Graneyworks at the Las Vegas Review-Journal along with every sports writer not named Shannon Shelton at the Detroit Free Press along with 95% of the sports staff at the Detroit News hates Michigan State basketball.  The Liberal Elite media at it again, wanting MSU to crumble and fall.  Last time I checked however, Spartans never give up, Spartans fight til the end!!!

Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: February 9, 2009 10:14 pm

The Poll Attacks

lol exactly!

Since: Jan 29, 2009
Posted on: February 9, 2009 9:38 pm

The Poll Attacks

how is missouri ranked in front of illinois? At the annual braggin rights game in St. Louis, Illinois blew out Mizzou, and Illinois plays in a conference that has 9 very competitive teams that are trying to get a berth. Mizzou plays in a conference where the bottom 6 teams are cupcakes. Oklahoma is the only team that can win outside their confrence in the Big 12.

Since: Feb 9, 2009
Posted on: February 9, 2009 9:34 pm

The Poll Attacks


While I have no problem with your inclusion of tOSU in your poll, I do take issue with your argument that they should be in at one of the Pac-10 schools' expense.

I just have to ask, why do you choose to use the RPI as your benchmark statistical tool as opposed to another rating system such as Sagari's or Ken Pomeroy's? Because I could make the same case that Ohio State has only three quality (top 50) win using the kenpom ratings, (Purdue, Butler and Miami) while ASU (SDSU, BYU, Arizona and UCLA) and UW (OKSt, ASU, USC & UCLA) each have four .

Ohio State
Overall Record:17-5
kenpom Ranking: 40
Wins against the top 50: 3
Losses outside the top 25: 1

Overall Record: 18-5
kenpom Ranking: 12
Wins against the top 50: 4
Losses outside the top 25: 4

Overall Record: 17-6
kenpom ranking: 16
Wins against the top 50: 4
Losses outside the top 50: 4

The losses are the biggest differentiators between these teams as as you pointed out, Ohio St. doesn't have any bad ones (outside top 25) except for Minnesota, which is only ranked 48 at kenpom, while ASU and UW each have four losses outside the top 25, but again I don't think it means as much to lose to good teams as it does to win against good teams, Notre Dame being my case in point. I could also argue that 3/4 of ASU and UW's "bad' losses came against bubble teams on the road or neutral sites.

If you want to pick on a school that should have been left off your top 25, I'm going to have to go with Florida. In keeping with this statistical analysis theme, and again using Ken Pomeroy's ratings, they look like:

Overall record: 19-4
kenpom Ranking: 37
Wins against the top 50: 1
Losses outside the top 25: 4

or using your own CollegeRPI numbers:

Ranking: 30
Wins against the top 50: 2
Losses Outside the top 25: 1

To me, Florida looks like a team that just hasn't been tested enough by feeding on cupcakes and a weaker SEC with their SOS of 100 vs 16 for UW and 77 for ASU.


Since: Mar 26, 2007
Posted on: February 9, 2009 9:04 pm

The Poll Attacks

What a shocker that Parrish is upset that other voters voted for two Pac-10 schools instead of his favorite East Coast/Midwest schools.  Talk about being biased.  Gary, please quit throwing so many stones when you live in a glass house (the basement of your Mom's glass house, that is).

Since: Jan 15, 2008
Posted on: February 9, 2009 8:40 pm

The Poll Attacks

And Illinois is ranked lower than Missouri and they beat them on a nutral site.  Illinois is also lower than Purdue who they have now beaten twice.

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: February 9, 2009 8:33 pm

The Poll Attacks

How do you have the Illini behind OSU though???

RPI of 15. SOS - 29 (OSU is 21.)

OSU got paddled at home agains a good West Virginia team. Illinois lost a 2 point game to Clemson at home - these count for the only home losses either team has.

Illinois also has 5 losses - 2 of which are against teams outside of the top 25 - Wisconsin (28) and Michigan (48) BUT...the Wisconin loss is kind of "picky" to say they are outside of the top 25 in RPI - close enough at 28, so really only ONE bad loss compared to OSU.

Illinois also has 6 wins against top 50 teams - Purdue (2), OSU, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin. 

And by the way...the Illini kicked the crap out of OSU.

Since: Feb 8, 2007
Posted on: February 9, 2009 8:32 pm

The Poll Attacks

I only detailed Michigan State's injuries in those particular games to help explain those particular losses. Either way, the 19-4 record (featuring eight top 50 wins) against the seventh-best schedule is strong, plenty strong enough to get the Spartans in the top 10 of any ballot. Count the losses however you like, and if you don't care about the injuries that's fine, too. Ignore the injuries. MSU still has a body of work to get it in the top 10, and that's my larger point.

Since: Jan 9, 2009
Posted on: February 9, 2009 8:22 pm

The Poll Attacks

I don't think Gary attacked anybody for ranking Utah St. What he said is that it's ridiculous to rank them ahead of a team with a vastly superior body of work and he explained it - Utah St. has 1 top 50 win. Wow! That's is impressive. I think he made a pretty good case and backed it up with stats - do you relly think Utah St. is better than Mich St.? Seriously?

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