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: Jan 24, 2008
Posted on: February 9, 2009 8:13 pm

The Poll Attacks

I would argue the same thing about Purdue as your MSU arguement.  Granted we did lose the last 2, but you are probably well aware that 3 of our 4 B10 losses we played without Robbie Hummel.  Loss at PSU (w/o Hummel & Kramer), Loss at U of I and OSU(w/o Hummel).  So how do you justify dropping us 13 spots?

Since: Nov 30, 2007
Posted on: February 9, 2009 8:12 pm

The Poll Attacks

I totally agree, not necessarily where Missouri should be ranked, but all this love for LSU.  They have beaten no one out side of the conference, and are winning in a weak SEC.  Just because they are on top of SEC West does not automatically make them ranked worthy.  I hear all this talk of Utah State and their weak schedule but at least they are beating the teams they are playing.  LSU will probably end up getting a high seed and then lose in the first round of the tournament.  I am not a fan of either tiger teams (Missouri or LSU) or Utah State but I do believe Mizzo is definitely a top 20 team.

Since: Jan 26, 2009
Posted on: February 9, 2009 7:15 pm

The Poll Attacks

Gary, how do you justify ranking Syracuse? They have lost 4 out of 5. I guess losing games in the BE doesn't count. Their wins against Memphis and Kansas had more to do with playing them early in the year and both teams having to replace most of their starting lineups from last year. Syracuse would be no match for either one right now. Attacking someone for ranking Utah St is absolutely ridiculous. Have you actually watched them play? I'm sure you wouldn't rank Utah St even if you did a top 50, but ND and Wisconson would be ranked.

Minnesota is another team that should not be ranked, while UCLA should definetely be in the top 10. Just a few of your many mistakes this week.

Since: Sep 15, 2008
Posted on: February 9, 2009 7:08 pm

The Poll Attacks



Obviously Feinstein likes to have fun with that 325 slot and give a shout out to somebody he knows doesn't really belong, but whom he thinks did something worth noting that week.

Since: Mar 29, 2007
Posted on: February 9, 2009 7:07 pm

The Poll Attacks


This is why you are the best writer on this site. You make claims, but then actually use stats to back it up. I'm glad you expose some of these voters. I'd love to know how much college bball some of these voters actually watch, because I would bet anything some of these voters don't even watch more than one game a week. There is a Big 10 bias, and alot of it stems from Purdue and MSU getting spanked by the ACC, even though the Big 10 only lost 6-5 against the almighty ACC. The fact is, the Big 10 is arguably the most balanced conference in basketball. See in football the SEC screams of their 'balance' as showing as how deep their conference is, yet when it's translated to basketball the Big 10's balance is a sign of weakness, thus proving your point of a Big 10 anti-bias.

Since: Jan 27, 2009
Posted on: February 9, 2009 7:06 pm

The Poll Attacks

If your theory is "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," then how do you explain having LSU ranked 20th and Missouri 22nd? Note that my stats come from Kenpom...


LSU -- 20th

Overall: 19-4

Wins against top 50: 1 (Tennessee)

Losses outside the to 25: 3 (Texas A&M, Alabama, Utah)

Losses outside top 50: 2 (Alabama and Texas A&M)

Losses outside top 100: 1 (Alabama)


Missouri -- 22nd

Overall: 20-4

Wins against top 50: 5 (USC, Cal, Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma St.)

Losses outside the top 25: 2 (Nebraska and K. State)

Losses outside top 50 : 1 (Nebraska -- and only barely since Nebraska is 59)


Even if you look at the last four games for each team, Missouri has beaten the better teams. And Missouri has one more win overall, against a more difficult schedule... It doesn't add up.


Since: Feb 8, 2007
Posted on: February 9, 2009 6:52 pm

The Poll Attacks

We've been over this in the past.

This is what he does.

I stopped paying attention to it long ago.

Since: Dec 15, 2008
Posted on: February 9, 2009 6:43 pm

The Poll Attacks

What is John Feinstein smoking?

This week Feinstein voted Robert Morris the 25th best team in the nation.  They are 0-4 against teams in the top 100 in RPI and have losses to Marist and St. Francis (NY) which rank 263 and 268 in RPI respectively.

Looking at his rankings from previous weeks....

2/2/09 VMI #25

1/26/09 Virginia Commonwealth #25

1/19/09 George Mason #25

1/12/09 Harvard #25

Gary, please help me make sense of Feinstein's voting habits.

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