Blog Entry

The Poll Attacks

Posted on: March 3, 2008 6:37 pm

I'm gonna blow your mind this week.

Usually, I ridicule the ballot of some AP voter, make him look stupid for voting like a stupid person. But this week I'm mixing it up and instead choosing to highlight a voter in a positive way. So yeah, it's like Opposite Day here at the Poll Attacks.

But don't get used to it.

This is a one-time deal, I'm certain.

AP poll: Dear Brett Jensen.

I come to compliment you because you are the only AP voter who kept Tennessee No. 1 despite the Vols losing last Tuesday at Vanderbilt, and I must tell you I admire the you-know-what it takes to make that statement. Not that I totally agree. If I did I would've kept UT No. 1 myself. But what I like is that you took the time to invoke common sense and presumably ask yourself why you should drop a team from the top spot for losing a game that any of the other elite programs in the conversation for No. 1 -- North Carolina, Memphis and UCLA -- would've probably lost themselves.

I mean, Vanderbilt is good.

The Commodores have won 18 straight at home.

They have topped the last four No. 1 teams to enter their gym.

So I like that you decided not to penalize the Vols for losing such a stiff test when the other elite teams -- particularly Memphis -- had no similar test this week (UCLA at Arizona being the only possible exception). And speaking of Memphis, I love that you, like me, can't understand why anybody would have Memphis ahead of Tennessee at this point given that UT just beat Memphis in Memphis. The only thing that has happened since that game is that Tennessee lost a ridiculous road test and Memphis got back to playing in Conference USA. Great teams lose in the SEC. Great teams do not lose in C-USA. And so it makes no sense for Tennessee to fall below Memphis only because the Vols happen to play in a legitimate league where even elite teams run the risk of losing every once in a while, and I just wanted you to know that I like the way you think.


Gary Parrish

PS -- One last thing, Brett. I just noticed you work for, a site dedicated to Clemson athletics. I like Clemson. You'll see that if you read my attack on the Coaches poll. But you have Clemson ranked four spots higher than any other AP voter, and you can't do that given that you write for Between you and me, it just looks a little homerish to have Clemson 15th when no other voter has the Tigers higher than 19th. So work on that, if you can. I'm just trying to help. And again, good job on the Tennessee thing.

Coaches poll: How is Clemson not in this Top 25?

The Tigers are the third-place team in what the RPI considers to be the nation's toughest league. They are 21-7 overall with wins over four schools -- Miami, Purdue, Mississippi State and Maryland -- listed as at-large bids in the latest Projecting the Field, and three of their losses came to top five teams (twice to No. 1 North Carolina and once to No. 5 Duke). Still, Clemson remained unranked this week. And the only explanation is that the voting coaches must've finished their ballots before the Tigers came back from a 20-point deficit and beat Maryland at the buzzer.

Short of that or a similar gaffe, omitting Clemson is just wrong.

The Tigers have more Top 40 wins (three) than Butler, Gonzaga, BYU and Mississippi State.

They have fewer losses outside the Top 100 (zero) than UCLA, Connecticut, Purdue, Michigan State and Drake.

Regardless, those nine schools are all ranked.

But Clemson is not.

And this is the kind of stuff that makes the Poll Attacks work.
Category: NCAAB

Since: Jan 6, 2008
Posted on: March 4, 2008 11:20 am

The Poll Attacks

"And nice job of misleading us with stats. "They have topped the last four No. 1 teams to enter their gym." THIS Vandy team hasn't, but yes the school has over the past couple of decades. They're 7-21 against 1 seeds all time."

Parrish wasn't misleading anybody.  Vanderbilt has beaten four straight #1's at home.  I can't say what was going through his mind, but I suspect his point was that it's darn tough to win at Vanderbilt, as evidenced by their success against #1s over the years.  He's been there the last two times Vanderbilt has played #1's, and seen how the crowd reacts, seen how the team performs, etc.  Derrick Byars & Shan Foster were completely dominating last year in smacking eventual national champion Florida around, and Shan Foster led the essentially Ogilvy-less 'Dores with one of the more brilliant offensive performances in college basketball this year. 

If anyone read his quote and thought that Vanderbilt had defeated four #1 teams this year, they need to go re-take "Reading Comprehension 101."  And, what does their record against #1 seeds have to do with your argument?  It seems to be neither here nor there.  I doubt too many teams have much better than a 25% record against eventual #1 seeds.  That doesn't really change the fact that Vanderbilt is a tough out for anybody at home, especially with a team like the one they're putting on the court this year. 

Just ask Kentucky about their 41-point humiliation in Memorial with Pat Pat.

Since: Apr 2, 2007
Posted on: March 4, 2008 11:12 am

The Poll Attacks

I can't argue that Tennessee probably should be ahead of Memphis after winning on their floor!
BUT, riddle me these...
Texas lost to Wisconsin on it's home floor and has more losses...looks like the coaches may have gotten that one right.  Note:  Wisconsin's only losses are to Duke, Marquette, Purdue (twice).  ALL in top 25.  Texas JUST lost to Texas Tech who had just lost by 40+ the game before and now (after polls I know) by 48 last night!  UGLY.
So WI should be ahead of Texas with that reasoning.
BUT, Purdue beat Wisconsin twice including in the Kohl Center where no one wins, they probably should be ahead of Wisconsin. 
And as far as Clemson being better than Purdue, that game was early in season and Purdue is VERY young.  I'd like to see them play again.

Since: Feb 15, 2008
Posted on: March 4, 2008 6:27 am

The Poll Attacks

Vandy's good, but not great, losing to Arkansas on Saturday. But not only did Tennessee lose to Vandy, they almost lost to a Patterson-less Kentucky at home. Now you can tell me wins are wins...and to the NCAA tournament selection committee that's probably true, but Tennessee didn't play like the top team in America last week, and anyone that kept them there is just short of looney, or just not paying attention. Tennessee had a great win against a team (Memphis) that hadn't been tested in a few weeks. But they're not the best team in the nation. I know you didn't put UT as your #1 (thankfully) but you shouldn't be giving praise to someone who you claim invoked "common sense," when he seems to be the only AP voter lacking it.

And nice job of misleading us with stats. "They have topped the last four No. 1 teams to enter their gym." THIS Vandy team hasn't, but yes the school has over the past couple of decades. They're 7-21 against 1 seeds all time.

Since: Mar 3, 2008
Posted on: March 4, 2008 4:40 am

The Poll Attacks


Thanks for the "Hall of Fame" comment. No ill feelings whatsoever. Pretty good stuff. But like I said, I think voters should be held accountable, just like that guy you wrote about from Louisiana that voted KY in the top 25.

Dear God, how is that possible.

Anyway, keep up good work. I enjoy reading you every week. It really is good stuff and I hope the readers recognize and appreciate that.

If you come to the ACC Tournament, hopefully I'll see you there.

-Brett Jensen

Since: Feb 8, 2007
Posted on: March 3, 2008 10:56 pm

The Poll Attacks

Don't get it twisted, Brett.

You and I are on the same team.

I loved the Tennessee vote and don't totally disagree with you about Clemson. Remember, I'm the guy who wrote this offseason how close Clemson truly was to not collapsing last season and that the Tigers would be in the NCAA Tournament this season. Again, I like that team. I just thought it was funny that the person who writes for has Clemson four spots higher than any other writer just like I would've thought it was funny if the one guy voting Tennessee No. 1 worked for the Knoxville News-Sentinel. That's all. I just noticed it while I was writing about your Tennessee vote.

Anyway, good to hear from you.

You're on your way to the AP Voter Hall of Fame, far as I'm concerned.


Since: Mar 3, 2008
Posted on: March 3, 2008 10:42 pm

The Poll Attacks


Thanks for taking the time to write the top half of a column about my voting Tennessee No. 1. I still believe they are the best team in the country. Losing at Texas, KY and Vandy isn't anything of which to be ashamed. Is losing at KY any worse than UNC losing at home to MD?

As far as Clemson, I see that you had the Tigers No. 19, which is where they are ranked in the RPI. As you pointed out, I do write for Just wanted to let you and your readers know that it wasn't a homerish vote. I didn't go to Clemson and don't cheer for Clemson. I'm not even from the same state. I was hired as an independent writer. I've worked at three daily newspapers, including four years at the Charlotte Observer.

That being said, I truly believe Clemson is better than Purdue (already beat them), Gonzaga, Michigan State, Drake, Washington State, etc ...

Two of Clemson's losses came to UNC. In each game, Clemson was up big, only to squander a late lead due to shotty free throw shooting. If they make those free throws, they're knocking on the door of the top 10, if not actually in it. I see the Tigers every day and know how good they can be and usually are.

Keep up the good work on being the watchdog of the voting. People do need to be held accountable for their votes, which is why I responded. Next time, call me and I'll be happy to explain any vote viewed as outlandish.

Again, thanks for the words about my Tennessee vote.

-Brett Jensen

Since: Jan 6, 2008
Posted on: March 3, 2008 10:27 pm

The left-for-dead post-Florida SEC attacks

I don't know what to make of the top group, and can only contend that Tennessee and Memphis would both be #1 seeds in my book if today were Selection Sunday. With Tennessee's resume against top 10 RPI teams, they may well have the best case for the #1 overall seed, based on the tournament selection committee's priorities.

Combined with Vanderbilt and Mississippi State, Tennessee is making the Southeastern Conference look like its old self. It will be interesting to see how the league fares this March. Kevin Stallings' teams have played extremely well relative to expectations in the postseason (assistant on final four squads at Purdue and post-probation rebuilding Kansas; bigtime upsets with Illinois State and Vanderbilt, including a coulda-woulda-shoulda Elite 8 appearance last year). Rick Stansbury has been less successful, often backing up strong regular season showings with one-and-dones in the postseason (anyone remember Lawrence Roberts showing up in the CBS post-tourney montage?  or whraspery Stansbury interviewed after a big win?) While it's hard to read Bruce Pearl as a post-season coach so far (upset as a 2 seed, nearly knocking off Ohio State as a 4 seed before choking it away late), it's clear this Vol team has the necessary pieces to make a deep run.

The odds are against the SEC three-peating this season, but I won't be the least bit surprised to see the league make another strong showing*. Smith-led Tennessee and Foster-led Vanderbilt squad should lead the way.

*don't mean to discount tournament possibles Arkansas, Florida, or Kentucky ... but, I simply can't see any of them playing past the second round this year, unlike the other three

Since: Sep 18, 2007
Posted on: March 3, 2008 8:04 pm

The Poll Attacks

Gary, I usually tend to give you respect even when I disagree with you.  But... you honestly can't be any more wrong.  The conferences are the way they are to ensure a balance of competitiveness in college basketball and no teams are safe in any conference.  Have you already forgotten the fact that Memphis (which is a great team) almost lost to Alabama-Birmingham (who also play in Conference USA)? 

That argument in support of Tennessee makes no sense, you might as well just penalize Gonzaga for dominating the WCC every year.  Oh wait, teams caught up with them (St. Mary's anybody?).  Sure, Tulane and East Carolina might not stand up to Vanderbilt... but Tennessee lost to a team worse than Memphis did.

Great teams can lose to any team, because teams have bad games.  Tennessee's loss to Vanderbilt is worse than Memphis's loss to Tennessee because losing to a team ranked right behind you isn't as bad as losing to a team 15 spots down from you in the polls.

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