Blog Entry

The Poll Attacks

Posted on: February 21, 2011 2:49 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2011 3:12 pm
Pittsburgh is fourth in the AP poll and sixth in the coaches poll.

And two AP voters ranked the Panthers ninth.

I won't stand for any of it.

I'm about to get my Poll Attack on.

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of

Associated Press poll: For the AP portion of this week's Poll Attacks, let's play blind body of work.

You ready?

Let's go!

----- TEAM A -----

Record: 24-3
Record vs. RPI Top 25: 6-2
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 7-3
Losses outside RPI Top 25: 1
Double-digit losses: 0
Wins over teams currently ranked in the AP poll: 5

----- TEAM B -----

Record: 23-4
Record vs. RPI Top 25: 0-2
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 2-3
Losses outside RPI Top 25: 2
Double-digit losses: 2
Wins over teams currently ranked in the AP poll: 0

Team A is Pittsburgh and Team B is Arizona.

Is there any question which team has the better body of work?

Pittsburgh has more wins, fewer losses, better wins and better losses than Arizona, and the Panthers have beaten five currently ranked teams while Arizona has topped zero. Still, Jerry Tipton and Myron Medcalf both have Arizona ranked No. 8 and Pittsburgh ranked No. 9. This is proof that it's possible to be a great beat writer and still slip on your Top 25 ballot every once in a while. They're wrong, but I forgive them. As for the coaches ...

Coaches poll: The Duke Blue Devils are No. 1 in the AP and coaches polls even though they have just one win over a fellow Top 25 team (North Carolina). Even though they have a loss to an unranked team (Florida State) and another by 15 points to a team (St. John's) that just broke into the rankings this week. Even though they are sixth in the RPI. And even though they are still projected as a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament by everybody who understands how to project such things.

So the top of both polls are silly.

But what bothers me most is Pittsburgh at No. 6 in the coaches poll.

I don't care if you rank by body of work or quality of play, there's no way to conclude that five teams deserve to be ranked ahead of Jamie Dixon's Panthers. As I told you earlier, Pitt is 24-3 with five wins over teams also ranked in the coaches poll -- specifically No. 5 Texas, No. 11 Georgetown, No. 14 Villanova, No. 15 Connecticut and No. 20 Syracuse. For the purposes of comparison, No. 1 Duke (25-2) has one win over a team also ranked in the coaches poll. No. 2 Kansas (25-2) has two. No. 3 Ohio State (25-2) has two. No. 4 San Diego State (27-1) has zero. No. 5 Texas (23-4) has five.

In the loss column, obviously, Ohio State is best. The Buckeyes' only two losses are at No. 8 Purdue and at No. 12 Wisconsin. They're the lone team with at least six wins over top-50 RPI schools and zero losses to schools unranked in the latest coaches poll, which is why I put Ohio State No. 1 in the Top 25 (and one). For the purposes of comparison, No. 1 Duke has lost to one currently unranked team (again, Florida State), No. 2 Kansas has lost to one currently unranked team (Kansas State), No. 4 San Diego State has lost to zero currently unranked teams and No. 5 Texas has lost to two currently unranked teams (Southern California and Nebraska).

Got all that?


Here's what it means: Texas might have comparable wins to Pittsburgh, but the Longhorns have worse losses (not to mention a loss to Pittsburgh). And Duke, Kansas and San Diego State might have better (and by better, I mean fewer) losses than Pittsburgh, but the Blue Devils, Jayhawks and Aztecs can't touch Pitt in terms of quality wins. Ohio State? Yes, OSU is rock-solid; that's why I have OSU No. 1. But it's difficult to justify having anybody besides Ohio State ahead of the Panthers, and it's impossible to justify having a total of five schools ahead of Pittsburgh.

That said, know this: Pitt would without question be a No. 1 seed if the NCAA tournament started today

So take solace in that, Pitt fans.

The selection committee is smarter than the men who vote in the coaches poll, I assure you.

Since: Jan 26, 2010
Posted on: February 22, 2011 10:39 am

The Poll Attacks

Parrish has the same problem that all analysts do:  he compares numbers way too much, and he selects which numbers to compare, the talks like those are the only numbers anyone would ever look at.

I determine how good a team is by watching them play.  So, last year Gary went on and on about Kentucky all year and he had all of the evidence in the world to back himself up.  Great players, tremendous speed, huge athleticism, big exciting wins, amazing record, lots of NBA draft picks ... surefire national champion.  Of course, he was wrong.  I, on the other hand, watched them play (I'm sure that he did too).  I noticed that UK consistently let up when they had a lead and let teams back in the game, relied way too much on their wonderfulness and not enough on team play, and tended not to have a game plan (or care about it if they did have one).  To me, that's not the best team in the country, but a team that could be best team if they bothered.

So, while it's kind of a confusing week to pick the #1 team (I kind of wanted a 5 way tie for #1), I see why Duke is there.  See, they didn't lose. I'd probably want to still put Ohio State there, but this week they lost to Purdue by a fair amount, and just a week ago they lost to Wisconsin, by 14 ... so, saying that they're the best team in the country at the moment would feel strange ... uh, because they don't seem to actually be the best team at the moment ('cause they lost twice in the last eight days).  And Pitt ... they lost too, and even when they win, they don't win by much, and when I say a team is great I want them to beat everyone, and beat lesser teams by a lot. If you let not-so-great teams be competitive, that's a problem.

See, I watch the teams play.  I see Pitt play, and not-so-great teams look competitive ... they have everything to be the #1 team (like lots of others do this year), but if you don't pull that out and stomp a few people, I have my doubts, so I don't put them at #1.  Duke has been making bad teams look bad the last while, like they're supposed to, so I can live with them being called #1. And on the topic of SDSU and BYU, San Diego St. has been one of the best teams I've watched this year ... nope, they don't play the same teams as everyone else (of course they don't) ... they just look great, and I judge teams by watching them play. (BYU has it's flaws ... I think that they're more or less like last year, with a more experienced Jimmer ... maybe they go farther, but it'd be like Davidson with Curry).  

(Kansas and Texas ... also huge talents and upsides ... if they put it together and didn't LOSE when they should win, they could be #1 ... Kansas in particular ... powerful, but then they forget to show up ... makes me worry ...) 

Since: Jun 3, 2010
Posted on: February 22, 2011 10:21 am

The Poll Attacks

Well thought out and articulated.  CBS should demand more articles written like so.

Since: Feb 21, 2011
Posted on: February 22, 2011 9:56 am

The Poll Attacks

Mr Parrish. This is the most accurate portrait of the facts that I have seen.

No bias, just facts.

You have to play the best to be considered the best. If you don't play the best, how do you compare?
And if you win against the best and don't get credited for it. That is a shame...

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: February 22, 2011 9:52 am

The Poll Attacks

the poll is not about what a team will be like in a few weeks or next year or last year.  It's this week.  At least it's supposed to be.

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: February 22, 2011 9:42 am

The Poll Attacks

skullfaceposse, check your facts before you call someone else an idiot.  Duke has the #6 RPI, not SOS.  Depending on which one you look at, I'm seeing Duke's SOS as high as 38 and as low as 58 (different approximations of the RPI account for the difference).  Not horrible, but by no means a phenominal schedule.  The problem with Duke isn't that they don't schedule some tough teams, but that the non-marquee non-conference opponents are absolutely horrible.
Case in point, KU's non-conference opponents lacked the luster you would expect (biggest win was Arizona, which didn't impress anyone). But their SOS is anywhere from 9th to 11th.  The reason they have a much better strength of schedule is that most of their non-conference opponents are now towards the tops of their leagues.  So even though KU doesn't have any huge marquee non-conference games, they consistently play a decent schedule of opponents.
I know there are other examples of teams scheduling like KU, but since it is the program I am close to, I feel more comfortable commenting on their schedule.  This isn't meant to be a "KU is the best" argument.  Feel free to give me more examples of good scheduling without "marquee" games.

Since: Feb 19, 2011
Posted on: February 22, 2011 9:25 am

The Poll Attacks

I wonder if Parrish will be singing a different tune about Duke when (as is highly rumored out of Durham) Kyrie Irving makes his return in the two or three games?

Without Irving, Duke has been a legitimate top 5 team. With him? The sky's really the limit.

Since: Oct 10, 2008
Posted on: February 22, 2011 9:14 am

The Poll Attacks

The Big East can be broken down into 3 sets of teams on how they have been playing in the last 4-6 weeks. This covers about 8 to 12 games for various teams. The first set of teams are the good teams that has 5 in the group. Very deserving of their rankings. Those teams are Pitt, ND, Louisville, G'town and St Johns. The middle group consist of 6 teams that are playing mediocre ball in that 4-6 week span. The last group are the 5 bottom dwellers of the conference. The record they have says that they just aren't that good. All conferences have those type of teams.

The only group that I will cover here is the mediocre play of the middle teams of the Big East. Not only are the RPI rankings skewed, but the rankings of these teams are so obsurd. Where else can you win 4 out of 7 games, 5 or 6 out of 11 or 12 games and still be highly ranked? This only happens in the Big East. No wonder fans are so down on this conference. I personally am down on the media for making this conference (as a whole) more of what they really are? Let's take a look at some of those so called good teams who are just playing mediocre ball at the present time.

Keep in mind that the team records will not dictate their mediocracy play.

Syracuse (23-6/10-6) Here's a team that has won three straight since that 2-6 performance. Those wins came against W.Va, Rutgers and Villanova last night. Are they back on track? I am not convinced yet. They lost to Seton Hall around 4 games ago, 90-68. The new rankings came out before last nights game, which makes them winning 4 out of their last 10 games. They earned a #17 ranking.

UConn (20-6/8-6) Here's a team that has lost 4 out of 7. Two of those 3 wins are against Seton Hall and Providence. The other win was against G'town. They can beat a caliber team in G'town, but lose to a struggling Syracuse team at the time played. The other 3 losses were to Louisville twice and St Johns. They are the recipient of this weeks #14 ranked team.

Villanova (21-7/9-6) They have matched Syracuse's record in the last 11 games at 5-6. They were 5-5 when the rankings came out. Three of those 5 wins came from playing a struggling Syracuse, beat Seton Hall by 3 and it took overtime to beat Depaul. They lucked out sending it to overtime. There mediocre play also gave them losses to Rutgers and Providence during the past 5 weeks. They should be happy with that #15 ranking.

These next 3 teams aren't ranked anymore. They used to be. They will still make March Madness because they were able to pull off some wins against the top group of the conference. So even the top teams are vulnerable against mediocracy.

Marquette (16-11/7-7) They could very well play their way out of the tournament. Not if sportswriters and tv media had something to say about it. In there last 13 games, they are 6-7. The wins came against Rutgers, Depaul, S.Fla, Seton Hall, they got to play that struggling Syracuse team, and believe it or not, Notre Dame. The losses were to Pitt, ND, Louisville, G'town, Villanova, UConn and St Johns.

W. Virginia (17-9/8-6) They are 5-5 in their last 5 games. Wins over Depaul, S.Fla, Seton Hall, Cincy, and believe it or not, Notre Dame. Other conference wins are against Depaul again, Providence, and G'town. They also have a win over Purdue.

Cincy (21-6/8-6) Reviewing there schedule, I came up with 18 easy wins out of the 21 wins they have. In conference play they have wins against Depaul (2 games) S.Fla, Providence, Rutgers, Seton Hall and 2 good wins against St Johns and Louisville. The only good non-conference win was against Xavier. That makes 3 good wins on the season. Who knows what the selection committee will so with them. I don't think they've done enough.

My final evaluation of the Big East goes like this. With all the inconsistant play from the middle group of teams I have focused my attention to, this conference is just not as powerful as they are made out to be. They can be beat by top teams of other conferences. I have watched Big East in action this season and there middle teams caliber of play isn't nothing to write home about. They have there moments and they have there inconsistency.

With Thomas Robinson being back sooner than expected and Josh Selby getting healed up, this will put Kansas Jayhawks at full strength. They have depth. The best in the land. That's what it takes to win championships. Beware of the Jayhawks! See you all in March.

Since: Nov 12, 2007
Posted on: February 22, 2011 9:10 am

The Poll Attacks

Jerry Tipton is one of the, if not the, worst writers Ive read. He does things like this inorder to get attention, because even the people of Lexington hate his crap. He goes out of his way to find controversial conversation, and has been caught fabricating the entire thing, and prints it. So if Jerry Tipton thinks Arizona is better than Pittsburgh, you can bet your little butt-cakes Pitt is the better team.

As a UK fan, I hate to say this, but UL will beat Pitt and will do it rather convincingly this week. Pitt has beaten a ton of teams, but n matter the competition they seem to win their games by less than 5 points. ON the road, or neutral court Pitt beats UL 8/10 times, but at the Yum UL has proven they are as tough to beat as anyone in the country. I expect Pitt to lose by 10 or maybe more

Since: Aug 8, 2008
Posted on: February 22, 2011 9:08 am

The Poll Attacks

The Poll Attacks

I guess when you are a Duke fan, you cannot understand logic.  There is no way Duke should be a #1 seed.  They will lose in the second round.  Mark my words....  Sorry that you cannot handle the facts.  Tell your coach to play a tougher non-conference schedule and maybe schedule some road games next year.  It will make your team stronger.

-Dude, your a complete Idiot. Their SOS is 6th in the country. Schedule a tougher out of conference? You do realize they schedule before the year starts. So when they scheduled the likes of Mich St (who everyone thought was #1 or #2) Butler, another top ten and runner up from year before) Marquette, Kansas ST (another preason top 5), St johns, and temple,, and some of them dont live up to their billing that is now Duke making a weak schedule? You sounds like a complete moron. Come with some facts to your baseless argument.

Since: Jan 18, 2008
Posted on: February 22, 2011 8:45 am

The Poll Attacks

I don't think anyone is seriously arguing that Duke is far and away the best team in the country. What many Duke fans are taking issue with is that Parrish is essentially saying that there is no defensible argument that Duke should be the #1 ranked team this week. You can argue all you want about good wins, bad losses, RPI, etc., but it seems that there are around 6 or 7 teams that have set themselves apart as the elite this year (Ohio St., Kansas, Duke, Texas, SDSU, Pitt, BYU), and there are arguments for each of them. For each of these teams, we're talking about 24-27 wins compared to 1-4 losses. Anyway you try to compare, those are all teams that are capable of beating one another on any given night and deserving of high praise. This week, it just turns out that Duke is the team that lost less recently (ignoring SDSU and BYU as most people tend to do, rightfully or not). 
For Parrish to say that ranking Duke #1 is "silly", he's just reaching for something to fill his weekly column. The truth is that the voting convention for these polls is that losses are punished. No one is objectively wrong for thinking that OSU, Pitt, Kansas, Texas, SDSU, or BYU should be #1, but the way these polls tend to go, Duke is the team that didn't lose last week and is considered to be at or near the same level as the teams that were in front of them. Moving them up to #1 (where they started the season and rode for a number of weeks) is not worthy of a poll attack.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or