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Blog Entry

The Poll Attacks

Posted on: January 10, 2011 3:29 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2011 4:04 pm
I thought the Poll Attacks would inevitably create enemies.

And they might still.

But they also create relationships, which means I'm bringing people together (while ripping apart AP ballots). For instance, Dave Mackall (previous Poll Attack victim) now emails me his Top 25 every Sunday, and David Jones (previous Poll Attack victim) sent a note over the weekend to tell me I was right to clown him for ranking KSU No. 1 in the preseason. (He added that I'm an idiot for continuing to rank Michigan State, but let's not get into that.) And then there's Lindsey Wilhite, last week's Poll Attack victim. Upon reading my assault on his ballot, Lindsey came at me via Twitter. Then I went back at him. Then we went back and forth for a minute, and now I think we might be friends.

In other words, the good guys don't take the Poll Attacks personally.

Because they're never personal.

I don't make fun of people's hairstyles or tans.

(How could I, right?)

I just make fun of their AP ballots, and I'm about to do it again.

Let's go!

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of

Associated Press poll: Readers often ask my philosophy on ranking teams. Here it is: I believe what I believe until on-the-court results force me to change. If I start from the position that the San Diego State Aztecs will be good (which I did) then I operate under that assumption until they prove me wrong (which they haven't). Similarly, if I start from the position that the Cincinnati Bearcats will be a team that finishes in the bottom half of the Big East (which I did) then I operate under that assumption until they prove me wrong (which they haven't). I believe whatever I believe until reality forces me to change my beliefs, and then I change. And I never try to predict the future. I rank in the moment with the information available at the time. Then I watch a week's worth of games and adjust, and it really is that simple.

Clearly, ranking teams is a subjective process. I know that. But what I've found is that my way is the smartest way (if you don't mind me saying), and it's precisely what moved me off Memphis weeks ago. I can't begin to imagine what's preventing 16 AP voters from doing the same.

Yes, 16 AP voters somehow put Memphis on their ballots this week despite the following:
  1. The Tigers have been routed by every good team they've played -- specifically Kansas (neutral), Georgetown (home) and Tennessee (away).
  2. The Tigers' best win is a four-point win over a Miami team that has also lost to Rutgers and Clemson
  3. The Tigers have gone to OT with Austin Peay and Arkansas State, and been pushed to the final minutes by Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Tennessee State and East Carolina.
You have to not watch an incredible amount of basketball and completely ignore box scores to still rank the Tigers. They don't pass the resume test or the eye test, and the truth is that they aren't even playing like a top 50 team. Injuries (Wesley Witherspoon) and departures (Jelan Kendrick and Angel Garcia) deserve some of the blame, and the overall youth of the roster is also a legitimate excuse for the uneven start. And just so we're clear, no, the uneven start does not suggest Josh Pastner is in over his head, nor does it mean things can't get better. Pastner was and still is the best hire Memphis could make at the time the hire was made, and he'll have this young roster competing at an elite level when it's a tad bit older (and not quite so skinny). That said, there isn't a single thing that's happened on the court to make anybody think it's reasonable to rank Memphis this week.

So shame on the 16 voters who did it.

(You want all 16 names? Click this link to read them. Too many to name here.)

The rankings range from 19th for Roger Clarkson to 25th for Marcus Hunter, Dan Wiederer and Whitelaw Reid. I have no idea what Roger is thinking. Marcus lives in Memphis and really should know better. Dan lives in North Carolina but still should know better. And Whitelaw is just being Whitelaw. He has Memphis 25th and Texas A&M unranked even though the Aggies are 14-1 with wins over No. 17 Washington and No. 19 Temple, and their lone loss came on Nov. 25 by two points to Boston College. But that's not a body of work that deserves a ranking, according to Whitelaw, who has Texas A&M unranked, Memphis 25th and Washington -- the same Washington team that Texas A&M beat last month -- all the way up at No. 13.

Did you get that?
  • No. 13 Washington
  • No. 25 Memphis
  • Uranked Texas A&M
That's what Whitelaw came up with.

Make sense of it, my loyal readers, if you can.

(Editor's note: You can't.)

Coaches poll: Penn State is 9-6 with double-digit losses to Ole Miss, Maryland, Virginia Tech and Maine. Seriously, Maine. The Nittany Lions got worked by the Black Bears last month. So while I acknowledge Saturday's win over Michigan State was a nice moment for Ed DeChellis' program, it wasn't nice enough to offset a resume featuring six losses, five of which are to unranked teams. You can't just rank a team because it got a nice win. (If that was the case, where's Houston's votes?) The body of work must be considered, mustn't it? All along I thought that was common sense. But apparently not. Because Penn State got two points in this week's coaches poll, and Maine must feel like it got totally screwed. (If you're gonna rank Penn State, at least rank the Black Bears, too!)

Since: Jan 12, 2010
Posted on: January 12, 2011 12:34 pm

The Poll Attacks

"Readers often ask my philosophy on ranking teams. Here it is: I believe what I believe until on-the-court results force me to change."

Ok, you're either a liar, or a complete moron.  Has Purdue not FORCED you to believe that they should be ranked higher? (In your meaningless poll, not the actual polls....I think the real polls are about spot on.)

Of course you're going to go back to their "weak" non-conference schedule, or that one 'not so bad' loss to Richmond.  But also take a look at the pounding they've put on the Big Ten so far (albeit the bottom portion).  Let's not forget that they dominated PSU, who turned around and beat MSU and Illinois.

I believe in keeping high-ranking teams up there until they no longer deserve it, but I also believe in moving teams up when they've earned it.

Since: Jan 26, 2009
Posted on: January 11, 2011 8:57 pm

The Poll Attacks

The problem with Parrish and his logic is he is too inconsistent with hit. He refuses to move Mich. St out of the top 25 because of the tough schedule they played but he removed Gonzaga after they lost to some tough teams. Gonzaga has better wins than Mich St. and no bad loses while Mich St has a bad loss to Penn St. He doesn't move a team down if they lose to a higher ranked, this week he removed UNLV from the top 25 after losing to BYU. If Parrish was a little more consistent with his logic and not only use it when he's trying to defend his rankings he might be a little more believable.

Since: Sep 13, 2006
Posted on: January 11, 2011 2:56 pm

The Poll Attacks

What say you Gary?

Since: Mar 1, 2009
Posted on: January 11, 2011 1:25 pm

The Poll Attacks

Gary Gary Gary:

Let's look at your rankings darling Michigan State. I understand that even a loss tonight to higher ranked Wisconsin, even though in East Lansing, will not remove the Spartans from your list. OK they beat Washington in a close game in the last minute and they beat Oakland by 1 and Northwestern with a put back in the last minute. And they have a couple of quality losses (Uconn and Duke). But they were blown out of the gym by Tx and Syracuse and had difficulty with Chaminade and a few other sub 200 teams.  They lost to an average Penn St.  team even when Taylor Battle had an off game. Why? For the same reason that they have been playing poorly ALL SEASON. They can't shoot free throws (how can Summers who can hit 3 pointers not be able to hit an uncontested free throw?). They don't have any sembelance of what to do with the ball other than run around in circles and telegraph obvious passes cross court. They drive with no idea what to do when someone is in front of them, they don't really play defense, and they can't control the boards even when tehy have the ball in their hands. Delvon Roe appears and disappears without notice. And they settle for three point jumpers and higlight reel plays instead of playing the game and WORKING for the good shot. They will win some games this year when their threes are falling. But those are 30% shots on average over the year. So for the most part they are going to lose when they don't shot 35-40% from long range.

That other school down the road has been much more impressive, even when losing, than the Spartans. (Oh--- there are a couple of schools down the road, but I was referring to UM not Oakland- they played with Syrracuse, pounded Oakland and took KU to OT-Maybe they are under the radar still)

Unlike what others say I think you are a MSU hater. By continuing to rank this middle of the pack Big Ten team, you allow the players to continue to think they are good instead of having a chip on their shoulders and having to PROVE IT. When they fall from the rankings and aren't on the front pages every day maybe they will learn/remember that it is what they do ON THE COURT not their press clippings that matter. Maybe then they will start playing up to their potential as a TEAM.

Since: Sep 4, 2008
Posted on: January 11, 2011 12:36 pm

The Poll Attacks

I don't agree that he is biased because he ranked Mich. St. and was making a point out of Memphis.  Of the 2 Mich. St. is a much better team...

Since: Feb 26, 2007
Posted on: January 11, 2011 11:36 am

The Poll Attacks

As usual, Parrish makes sense. A lot of it--in how he ranks weekly.  But the X factor is that teams evolve over the season. You can't just read a box score if you're ranking--you've got to watch how they're playing--even when they lose to Marquette by a ton.

Wisconsin is not the same team in January it was in November. Today's team probably would have beaten Notre Dame in the Old Spice final in December.  Tonight against Michigan State we'll really see if Bo Ryan has yet again made a team of more value than it's individual parts. Within the next two weeks we'll know the same about Mr Lavin and the Red Storm. 

Why do these teams evolve and others don't?  It turns out there's one more element besides Recruiting. It's called Coaching.

Since: Feb 28, 2007
Posted on: January 11, 2011 10:32 am

The Poll Attacks

Shameless plug for The People's Poll here - Gary, have you seen our weekly poll based on CBS poster's votes?  We had 39 voters this week and we select comments from someone every week.  Check it out.  And feel free to attack it... it tends to move closer to actual results (fans seem to follow events more closely):


Since: Sep 3, 2006
Posted on: January 11, 2011 9:58 am

The Poll Attacks

Terry Hutchens of the Indianapolis Star didn't even rank Kentucky on his ballot.  The same Kentucky team that has wins over #9 ND, #17 Washington, and #18 Louisville (at UL), with their losses to UConn (November game in Maui - it was their 4th game in six days), at UNC by 2 points, and at Georgia (which is now ranked, by the way).  That's just irresponsible and shows pure bias and homerism for the local team - IU.

Since: Nov 8, 2008
Posted on: January 11, 2011 9:04 am

The Poll Attacks

Almost everyone of the writers is overly subjective instead of being more or less objective.  Unfortunately it is the same in so many things humans do.  While it may in the end affect the seeding of some of the teams in the Tourney, which is also subjective, overall it only shows how biased many of these writers are and the real lack of knowledge they have about sports, specifically Mens College Basketball.  So rate how you wish writers for many of us do not really care about your opinion.

Since: Nov 29, 2006
Posted on: January 11, 2011 12:51 am

The Poll Attacks

Parrish, you are a hypocritical moron. How can you take issue with ANYBODY, when you continue your man crush on Michigan State? Seriously, Dude. You've either got some kind of weird thing going on for Izzo, or you're just a shill for the Big Ten. Is there anything that Michigan State could do that would cause you to drop them out of the top twenty five. How many games must Sparty lose, before you open your eyes. And you criticize Memphis? You are the most biased of anybody out there right now. It's laughable.

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