Blog Entry

The Poll Attacks

Posted on: November 23, 2009 9:19 pm

I still have North Carolina ahead of Duke in the Top 25 (and one).

I'll explain why in the Poll Attacks .

AP poll: Do we suddenly believe Duke is better than North Carolina?

If so, I'm fine with it.

It's a reasonable opinion.

But most people didn't believe that in the preseason, and the majority of AP voters didn't believe it last week. Still, Duke jumped North Carolina in Monday's AP poll even though the only thing that happened between last week and this week is that North Carolina played Ohio State and Syracuse, i.e., two teams far superior to any team Duke has played. That's it. Thus, I kept UNC ahead of Duke in the Top 25 (and one) because I'm not going to vault the Blue Devils ahead of the Tar Heels -- who beat OSU but lost to Syracuse -- and rearrange the ACC's predicted order of finish simply because Duke's schedule didn't require it to play tough games before Thanksgiving.

Honestly, where would the Tar Heels be with Duke's schedule?

They'd be 4-0, right?

And where would Duke be with UNC's schedule?

Maybe 5-0. But probably 4-1. And perhaps as bad as 3-2.

Either way, if you had UNC ahead of Duke last week, and you moved Duke ahead of UNC this week despite agreeing with me that Duke would probably be no better than 4-1 against UNC's schedule, then your change atop the ACC is based on how the schedule makers at Duke and UNC did their jobs, and little more.

Again, if you think the Blue Devils are better than UNC, that's fine.

They might well be.

But if you only moved Duke ahead of UNC because Duke won last week and UNC lost last week, then your rankings have more to do with the schedules than the teams, and that's crazy.

Coaches poll: So what do you think California has to do to drop out of the rankings?

Losing a key player (Theo Robertson) to injury didn't do it.

Looking awful in two games in NYC didn't do it.

Being 2-2 with no good wins didn't do it.

So what will it take?

No question, Cal could end up being one of the best 25 teams in the country, at which point ranking the Bears 24th might make sense. But the coaches ranking them 24th now makes no sense unless what happens on the court doesn't actually matter. And it's not just that Cal lost; the nation's 24th-best team could reasonably lose to Syracuse and Ohio State. But Cal had no shot in either game, losing to the Orange by 22 points and falling behind by 24 points in the second half of an eventual loss to Ohio State. And though the absence of Robertson is a solid explanation, it's not like Robertson is back this week.

He's out indefinitely.

California should be, too.

Since: Dec 23, 2008
Posted on: November 24, 2009 10:32 am

The Poll Attacks

Gary's point is that ranking should not be adjusted just because one team loses in November and another team loses in January, which is fair.  If anything, the team that loses in January should end up dropped more because it's closer to dancing time, and that's really what we're trying to stack teams up for.  He also acknowledged that it's fair to put Duke ahead of UNC if the pollsters actually thought Duke was a better team, which he then kind of throws out the door with his speculation of how many losses Duke would have with UNC's schedule.  What all of the posters so far have been saying is that Duke IS a better team, not simply because of wins and losses, but because of the level of play, execution, and talent they've shown compared to what UNC has put out on the floor (as KAGBlueDevil pointed out).

Now that we're on the same page, I wanted to throw out another issue at the heart of all of this (see, I wasn't just recapping for no reason).  If you make the argument that a team should not be dropped solely because of a loss (whether it's in the national polls or in a conference finishing order), you must also buy in to the concept that a team should not hold on to its spot simply because it does not lose.  I've seen far more teams stay in their current ranking despite a horrible showing and a close win than good teams get overly dropped just for a loss.  This includes Duke, remember that nail biter against Rhode Island last year?  I couple inches off on a shot or two and it would have been a loss with the exact same team, ability, and effort, and they would've dropped heavily because of it.  I watched more close games within the top 10 teams the past two weeks than I can ever remember in a November, but only UNC actually took the loss, and only UNC really dropped.

At least there's a light at the end of the tunnel, we always have March.  I'd rather be trying to figure out the top 10 in November and the middle 30-40 in February knowing it'll all get played out on the court than fight over the top two spots and the only chance of a title, which is college football right now (what's with Alabama and Florida taking these late season cupcakes?).  Granted, if it was the same as college football, JJ would've played in a title game his senior year, the same year we saw Duke handle a #2 that season (Texas).  But instead, Florida goes home with the crown (the same Florida that has benefited from the BCS system the past few years, now that's ironic).

Since: Jan 26, 2007
Posted on: November 24, 2009 9:14 am

The Poll Attacks


It's obvious he hasn't seen Duke play. You can't blame him because I'm sure he doesn't have time to say all the teams. Those that have seen both Duke and UNC know Duke is far and away the better team. Duke has absolutely stomped its competition. UNC struggled vs. Valpo (I believe Mich St. didn't have the same problem) and got blown out by Syracuse. UNC has obvious problems on the perimeter. 

The thing that makes Duke UNC similar this year (thin on the perimeter) also is what separates them. UNC has a thin AND weak backcourt. Duke has a thin but EFFECTIVE backcourt. You honestly believe Larry Drew is the answer to their problems? The guy had like 4 points vs. Gardner Webb. Do not try and tell me that he will put up the numbers that Nolan Smith, Dawkins (a freshman that was 6-8 from 3 last game) and Schyeyer (scorining with ease and yet to have a turnover).  

Duke is simply better this year. Its hard for people to realize that because its hard to wrap your mind around the concept of Duke actually being underrated. But they will prove it this week against Az. St. and UConn. 

Since: Sep 14, 2009
Posted on: November 24, 2009 9:05 am

The Poll Attacks

Here would be my AP college hoops poll vote for the week. Struggled with how high to place Syracuse, which had an extremely impressive week, dusting Cal (which was missing some injured players) and North Carolina.

I settled on seventh.

Here you go:

1. Kansas.
2. Michigan State
3. Kentucky
4. Purdue
5. Texas
6. West Virginia
7. Syracuse
8. North Carolina
9. Villanova
10. Michigan
11. Washington
12. Louisville
13. UConn
14. Duke
15. Tennessee
16. Illinois
17. Tulsa
18. Georgetown
19. Gonzaga
20. Mississippi
21. Maryland
22. Memphis
23. Xavier
24. Ohio State
25. Clemson

Since: Jan 19, 2009
Posted on: November 24, 2009 2:16 am

The Poll Attacks

Hi Gary, big fan of your blog.
I think it's worth pointing out that the ACC media picked both teams as co-favorites to win the ACC.  So if you want to look at it in-conference, then you should recognize that UNC was NOT a favorite to start the season.  Moreover, the bad loss to Syracuse, shaky perimeter shooting, poor guard play and underwhelming production of Henson shows that UNC has bigger problems than expected.  It doesn't matter who they played against -- you can tell certain things just by looking at the team play.
Contrast that with Duke.  The front line is producing; Smith is playing on another level; Scheyer is turning out to be a good guard with no turnovers and a decent number of assists; and Singler looks like a stud.  Oh yeah, and that Dawkins kid can really shoot it too.  Even against worse competition, you can tell that Duke is a better team than expected.

Since: Feb 8, 2007
Posted on: November 24, 2009 12:31 am

The Poll Attacks

My point was more along the lines of teams from the same league.

We can argue whether the best from the ACC is better than the best from the Big East, or whether the third best from the Big Ten is better than the second best from the SEC. But I guess what I'm saying is that to totally rework the order at the top of the league based on scheduling bothers me. To put Duke ahead of UNC to me suggests you think Duke is the best team in the ACC. And, like I said, Duke might be. But I wasn't interested in changing my ACC pick based on the fact that UNC played two tough opponents and Duke played none.

Either way, it's early.

The Poll Attacks are pretty subjective right now.

But that was my point, to not change the order at the top of a league based on schedules.

Since: Nov 29, 2008
Posted on: November 24, 2009 12:23 am

The Poll Attacks

Gary, by your argument, Connecticut and Purdue probably shouldn't have jumped North Carolina either. Neither of them have played any big games, and yet you put UNC behind them. Your point has some flaws to it.

Since: Mar 18, 2008
Posted on: November 23, 2009 10:48 pm

The Poll Attacks

Parrish you are so anti DUKE cant wait till your Baby blue boys drop a couple more so you can blame your schedule some more. Noone with half a brain would look at Duke and put them under UNC. Duke is far better than the heels in every aspect of the game. Cant wait to see what you write when we sweep the heels this year you moron

Since: Mar 4, 2009
Posted on: November 23, 2009 10:31 pm

The Poll Attacks

UNC didn't just lose, they were blown out by Syracuse in the second half.  If UNC had put up a good fight and lost in the last minute or two, I would agree that Duke should not necessarily have jumped them.  But it wasn't close, and Duke has looked really, really good so far - even if it is against teams like Coastal Carolina and Charlotte.  Either way, I don't think it was the loss that dropped UNC below Duke; I think is was the magnitude of the loss.  That game was over 6 minutes into the second half.

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