By Gary Parrish
UNLV should be ranked ahead of Illinois.
Only six Associated Press voters don't understand this.
But hopefully those six will learn their lesson in this week's Poll Attacks.
Associated Press poll: Leaving UNLV off your ballot is wrong.
Leaving UNLV off your ballot that includes Illinois?
That's way wrong.
But six AP voters -- Bill Cole, Elton Alexander, Pete Glibert, Roger Clarkson, Ron Morris and Rod Beard -- managed to do exactly that this week, and so now they find themselves in the middle of the Poll Attacks. Merry Christmas, fellas. Did you see what UNLV did to Illinois on Saturday in Chicago? The Rebels won 64-48. And, no, head-to-head matchups aren't the deciding factor on everything. They can't be. But UNLV doesn't only have that 16-point victory over the Illini in Illinois, the Rebels also have a better overall body of work.
UNLV has wins over No. 5 North Carolina and No. 25 Illinois, and the Rebels' only losses are at No. 13 Wisconsin and at Wichita State, which is receiving votes in the AP poll. Meantime, Illinois has zero wins over schools currently ranked. So UNLV has better wins than Illinois, no real bad losses and -- don't forget this -- a dominant win over the Illini in Chicago. In my opinion, both schools should be ranked. So I'm not killing Illinois. All I'm saying is that UNLV should also be ranked. And definitely above Illinois. Because ranking Illinois while not ranking UNLV is almost as dumb as Will Barton being an official candidate for an award given annually to the nation's top point guard.
Coaches poll: Would you drop a team because it lost a game when three players fouled out?
Of course you would.
We all would.
Which is why I have no problem with the coaches dropping Xavier from ninth to 15th in this week's poll even though Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons and Dez Wells did not play in Sunday's home loss to Oral Roberts, because they essentially fouled out of the game before it started via the roles they played in that brawl against Cincinnati. They were all suspended because of their actions. So why shouldn't Xavier pay a price for that?
That's nobody's fault.
That's why Ohio State didn't suffer when Jared Sullinger's absence cost the Buckeyes at Kansas.
But Holloway, Lyons and Wells are responsible for putting their team in a bad spot just like when somebody else's starting center picks up two dumb fouls early and puts his team in a bad spot. When that team loses, we don't excuse it and say, "But that team wouldn't have lost if its center would've played smarter." So why should we excuse Xavier's loss and say, "But the Musketeers wouldn't have lost if Holloway, Lyons and Wells would've acted appropriately against Cincinnati?"
Answer: We shouldn't.
So I'm OK with how the coaches handled Xavier.
It's similar to how we handled the Musketeers in the Top 25 (and one).
And I realize this is sort of a reverse Poll Attack, but whatever. I wanted to make that point.