Posted on: January 31, 2011 4:10 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2011 4:17 pm

The Poll Attacks

You want to know why more than half of the AP voters have Duke outside of the top five?

Because that's where the Blue Devils belong.

You want to know why one AP voter has Duke inside of the top two?

Because ... I have no idea.

But I appreciate Ron Morris doing it because it makes for an easy Poll Attacks.

Associated Press poll: Where would you rank a team that's A) suffered two losses to currently unranked teams, B) beaten zero currently ranked teams, C) gone 2-2 against four unranked teams in true road games, and D) been without its best player since early December?

If your name is Ron Morris, you'd rank that team second.

You'd be crazy, of course.

But that's what you'd do.

Because that's what Ron did.

(You can click this link see for yourself thanks to

Granted, this is better than last week, when Ron was the lone AP voter who had Duke ahead of Ohio State. But it's still wrong because the Blue Devils' resume wasn't worthy of a No. 2 ranking last week, and it sure isn't worthy of No. 2 ranking after Sunday's blowout loss at St. Johns. To prove this, let's compare the bodies of work of the school Ron has No. 2 (Duke) and the school I have No. 2 (Pittsburgh).

----- Duke -----

Record: 19-2
Wins over currently ranked teams: 0
Losses to currently unranked teams: 2 (Florida State, St. John's)
Losses to currently ranked teams: 0

----- Pitt -----

Record: 20-2
Wins over currently ranked teams: 4 (No. 3 Texas, No. 6 Connecticut, No. 13 Georgetown, No. 17 Syracuse)
Losses to currently unranked teams: 1 (Tennessee)
Losses to currently ranked teams: 1 (No. 9 Notre Dame)

Now allow me to recap: Pitt has at least four wins better than any win Duke possesses, and Pitt has only one loss to a currently unranked team whereas Duke has two. So the Panthers have more wins than Duke, better wins than Duke and two losses that aren't as bad as Duke's two losses. And yet Ron has Duke No. 2 and Pittsburgh No. 4. I bet you a briefcase full of Charlie Sheen's coke that he couldn't possibly defend that order with anything of substance.

Coaches poll: We might find out in March that Utah State is the next Butler or George Mason or whatever, at which point this version of the Poll Attacks will look stupid. But for now the coaches ranking the Aggies 21st is what looks stupid.

What's it based on?

A bunch of bad victories?

The Aggies have played two legitimate basketball teams (BYU and Georgetown) and lost both games by an average of 11.5 points. Beyond that, they haven't done much of note. All 20 of their wins are against teams ranked outside of the Top 100 of the latest RPI, meaning Utah State is 0-2 against the Top 100 and 20-0 against teams outside of the Top 100. Congratulations, I guess. But where I'm from, that's not good enough. You want to be ranked, beat somebody. Because beating a bunch of nobodies doesn't do much for me. Again, if Utah State proves me wrong in March, I'll apologize. But for now the Aggies are just a team stacking wins against weak competition after losing their only two games against good competition.

Posted on: January 31, 2011 12:13 am
Edited on: January 31, 2011 7:40 pm

Updated Top 25 (and one)

The Top 25 (and one) will be updated on the college basketball page shortly.

Here's how it will look:

1. Ohio State (22-0)

The Buckeyes' 22-0 start is their second best start in school history.
2. Pittsburgh (20-2)
The Panthers have five wins over other teams in this week's Top 25 (and one).
3. Texas (18-3)
The Longhorns have won all six of their Big 12 games by double-digits.
4. Kansas (20-1)
Thomas Robinson got 17 points and nine rebounds two days after his mother's funeral in a 90-66 win over KSU.
5. Notre Dame (17-4)
The Irish's move into the top five is a result of them snapping Pitt's 20-game home winning streak.
6. San Diego State (21-1)
The Aztecs made a school-record 17 3-pointers in a win over Wyoming.
7. Connecticut (17-3)
Kemba Walker missed a long 3-pointer at the buzzer in UConn's loss to Louisville.
8. Duke (20-2)
The Blue Devils have just one win over a team in the updated Top 25 (and one).
9. Kentucky (16-4)
Doron Lamb came off the bench and got 19 points in UK's win over Georgia.
10. BYU (20-2)
Jimmer Fredette has scored at least 32 points in each of BYU's past three games.
11. Georgetown (16-5)
Austin Freeman got 30 points in the Hoyas' win at Villanova.
12. Villanova (17-4)
The Wildcats have gone from 4-0 to 5-3 in the Big East.
13. Missouri (17-4)
The Tigers were held to 33.9 percent shooting in their loss at Texas.
14. Syracuse (18-4)
The Orange have dropped four straight games since starting 18-0.
15. Texas A&M (17-3)
The Aggies' loss at Nebraska allowed the Huskers to snap an 11-game losing streak against ranked opponents.
16. Louisville (17-4)
Peyton Siva's 19 points helped the Cardinals win at UConn in double-overtime.
17. Purdue (18-4)
JaJuan Johnson has scored at least 20 points in six straight games.
18. Wisconsin (15-5)
The Badgers joined Michigan State and Illinois as teams that've lost at Penn State.
19. Washington (15-5)
The Huskies' three-game winning streak was snapped late Sunday at Washington State.
20. Arizona (18-4)
Derrick Williams made 13 of 16 field goal attempts in wins over UCLA and USC.
21. Minnesota (16-5)
The Gophers are 1-1 since losing Al Nolen to a broken foot.
22. West Virginia (14-6)
The Mountaineers are 1-1 since Bob Huggins suspended Casey Mitchell.
23. Marquette (14-8)
Marquette has three wins over teams ranked here, just two losses to teams unranked here.
24. Illinois (14-7)
The Illini's schedule has taken a toll, but they should be favored in each of their next five games.
25. North Carolina (15-5)
The Tar Heels are 3-0 since moving Kendall Marshall into the starting lineup.
26. Florida (16-5)
The Gators are still atop the SEC East standings despite a weekend loss at Mississippi State.

IN: No. 16 Louisville, No. 20 Arizona, No. 23 Marquette, No. 25 North Carolina
OUT: No. 22 Vanderbilt, No. 24 Michigan State, No. 25 Florida State, No. 26 St. Mary's
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 30, 2011 4:17 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2011 4:34 am

Can Duke get a No. 1 seed without quality wins?

It's funny how the conversation consistently shifts in college basketball. For instance ...

Old question: Will Duke go undefeated this season?

New question: Will Duke even earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament this season?

We were debating the first question three weeks ago, but Florida State put it to rest on Jan. 12 with a 66-61 win over the Blue Devils. Now it's time to address the second question, and the answer might surprise you because it's possible the answer is that, no, the Blue Devils will not get a No. 1 seed because they're going to be lacking quality wins to offset bad losses like the blowout loss they took Sunday at St. John's.

Final score: St. John's 93, Duke 78.

And I don't care where St. John's sits in the RPI, it's a bad loss when you lose by 15 points to a team that had already lost eight games, including games to St. Bonaventure and Fordham. Can it be explained? Sure. The Blue Devils were 5-of-26 from 3-point range while committing 17 turnovers; good luck beating anybody of quality with those stats. So, yeah, I understand why Duke lost Sunday. What I'm having a more difficult time understanding is how the Blue Devils are going to earn a No. 1 seed with no great wins and at least two questionable losses.

That's the real problem with the ACC being down in relation to Duke.

(Contrary to what some would have you believe, Duke didn't lose to St. John's on Sunday because the ACC is weak and the Big East is great any more than St. John's lost to St. Bonaventure last month because the Big East is great and the Atlantic 10 is whatever. One, quite simply, has nothing to do with the other. Duke lost to St. John's on Sunday because Duke is a flawed team that played poorly and St. John's is a better-than-its-record team that played well. As for the Big East and ACC in general, the bottom line is this: The Big East is awesome and the ACC stinks. But those are two things we knew yesterday, i.e., before St. John's-Duke even tipped. My advice: Don't ever draw grand conclusions about leagues from the outcome of any one game ... unless it's a football game between SEC and Big Ten members. In that case, feel free to draw whatever conclusion you like. But I digress ...)

The lack of quailty in the ACC won't "fail to prepare" Duke for the 2011 NCAA tournament any more than the lack of quality in the Horizon League failed to prepare Butler for the 2010 NCAA tournament. But what it might do is prevent Duke from earning a No. 1 seed because the quality wins just aren't going to be available. The Blue Devils beat Marquette, Kansas State, Michigan State and Butler early, but only the Marquette win can reasonably be considered a quality win now. Making things worse is that no team on Duke's past or future schedule -- except for maybe Marquette and/or North Carolina -- figures to be ranked when the AP poll is updated Monday. So whereas Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Kansas and Texas still have plenty of chances to stack nice wins, all Duke can really do is stack OK wins or bad losses.

That's a tough spot.

Does it mean Duke can't win the national title?

Of course it doesn't mean that.

It's important to remember Duke was 17-4 and coming off a 12-point loss to Georgetown on this day last season, and the Blue Devils ended up winning that national title, which is why dismissing them as a legitimate candidate this season because of what happened Sunday would be equal parts premature and stupid. But what's neither premature nor stupid is to wonder whether a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament is possible. If it doesn't happen, it won't necessarily be because the Blue Devils aren't good enough. Rather, it'll likely be rooted in the fact that their body of work will lack quality wins because their schedule doesn't provide many, if any, opportunities to record them.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Duke, St. John's
Posted on: January 29, 2011 6:06 pm
Edited on: January 29, 2011 7:48 pm

The Big East Conference -- where everybody loses

I don't know if there's an elite team in the Big East.

They all seem flawed in some way.

But I'll still be surprised if the league doesn't put a record number of schools in the NCAA tournament, and I won't be shocked if one or two make the Final Four. The problem is trying to figure out which one or two because the league is a scattered mess after three top 10 teams took losses Saturday.
  • No. 23 Louisville 79, No. 5 Connecticut 78 (2OT)
  • No. 21 Georgetown 69, No. 8 Villanova 66
  • Marquette 76, No. 9 Syracuse 70
The result of that is this: The teams ranked fifth (UConn), eighth (Villanova) and ninth (Syracuse) in the latest AP poll are now fourth (UConn), fourth (Villanova) and eighth (Syracuse) in the Big East standings, and the team ranked 23rd (Louisville) is all alone in second. Meantime, nine Big East members are in the top 28 of the latest AP poll, and half of the Big East's 16 members already have either three or four league losses, which suggests every relevant Big East member except Pittsburgh is likely to spend the next five weeks alternating between wins and losses. It'll be fun to watch from a distance but unbearable to experience first-hand. For proof look no farther than to Wednesday's showdown between Syracuse and Connecticut.

Yep, those two teams play each other next.

So Syracuse will either take its fifth straight loss or UConn will take its second straight loss.

There's no way around it.

Which is why Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun must be going crazy.

Both lost winnable games Saturday.

Now one of them is guaranteed to lose again Wednesday.
Posted on: January 29, 2011 3:55 pm
Edited on: January 29, 2011 4:49 pm

Note to UConn: Let Walker win or lose for you

I don't believe in one-man teams in any sport, basketball included. But I do believe in letting superstars be superstars when it's time to win or lose a game, and that's why I hate the way Connecticut lost to Louisville on Saturday.

Jeremy Lamb took (and missed) the shot at the end of the first OT, and Shabazz Napier brought the ball up the court at the end of the second. Sure, Napier eventually found Kemba Walker, arguably the nation's best closer. But Napier got the ball to Walker late, and he had to launch a desperation 3-pointer. It almost went in, but it was still a bad shot that missed at the horn. So Louisville escaped Gampel Pavilion with a 79-78 win in double-overtime, and I couldn't help but think UConn is trying too hard to prove it's something more than the Big East's version of Jimmer and the Cougars.

Note to the Huskies: Don't forget what got you here.

It's nice that Lamb and Napier have developed into respectable sidekicks and possible future stars, but they're still sidekicks and this isn't the future. This is the present, and in the present (and the immediate future) you'd be wise to win or lose with the ball in Walker's hands. If the defense plays off of him, he should shoot. If the defense gets up on him, he should drive. If the defense doubles him, he should still shoot or still drive and make something happen.

In other words, regardless of the situation, Walker should have the ball when the game is on the line, and he should decide the outcome, for better or worse. Perhaps the Huskies will lose games when such is the case anyway. But they definitely lost when it wasn't the case Saturday, and that, quite simply, is no way to lose.
Posted on: January 28, 2011 1:50 pm

My Naismith Award ballot

I had to submit a list of 30 candidates for the Naismith Award to the Atlanta Tipoff Club this afternoon.

Here are my nominations:
  • Marcus Denmon (Missouri)
  • Kenneth Faried (Morehead State)
  • Jimmer Fredette (BYU)
  • Austin Freeman (Georgetown)
  • Jordan Hamilton (Texas)
  • Ben Hansbrough (Notre Dame)
  • Tu Holloway (Xavier)
  • Rick Jackson (Syracuse)
  • Charles Jenkins (Hofstra)
  • John Jenkins (Vanderbilt)
  • JaJuan Johnson (Purdue)
  • Terrence Jones (Kentucky)
  • Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State)
  • Jon Leuer (Wisconsin)
  • Trevor Mbakwe (Minnesota)
  • Demetri McCamey (Illinois)
  • Mickey McConell (Saint Mary’s)
  • E’Twaun Moore (Purdue)
  • Marcus Morris (Kansas)
  • Kyle Singler (Duke)
  • Chris Singleton (Florida State)
  • Nolan Smith (Duke)
  • Jared Sullinger (Ohio State)
  • Isaiah Thomas (Washington)
  • Trey Thompkins (Georgia)
  • Klay Thompson (Washington State)
  • Kemba Walker (UConn)
  • Brad Wanamaker (Pittsburgh)
  • Derrick Williams (Arizona)
  • Jordan Williams (Maryland)
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 27, 2011 4:51 pm

I've seen a lot of good basketball teams already

Just landed back home after a two-day trip for Kansas-Colorado and San Diego State-BYU.

I saw two nice games and three top 10 teams.

It got me thinking: Are there any relevant teams I haven't seen in person this season?

Answer: Yes.

(But not many.)

Turns out I've seen 15 of the top 20 teams in the latest AP Top 25 poll. The only exceptions are Connecticut , Texas, Villanova, Minnesota and Washington, which makes me wish I would've gone to last month's game between the Longhorns and Huskies in Austin. Live and learn, right? Anyway, what my eyeballs tell me is that you'd be wise to start any Final Four picks with Ohio State and Kansas, and probably Duke too (especially if Kyrie Irving returns before the NCAA tournament). After that, who knows? A fourth possibility could be Texas, Kentucky, Pittsburgh or either of the teams (SDSU and BYU) I watched late Monday. For now, though, I'd go with a Final Four like this:
  • Ohio State
  • Kansas
  • Duke
  • Kentucky
----- THE LATEST AP TOP 20 -----

(Bolded teams are teams I've seen in person this season.)

1.Ohio State
2. Pittsburgh

3. Duke
4. San Diego State
5. Connecticut
6. Kansas
7. Texas
8. Villanova
9. Brigham Young
10. Syracuse
11. Missouri
12. Purdue
13. Texas A&M
14. Kentucky
15. Notre Dame
16. Minnesota
17. Wisconsin
18. Washington
19. Vanderbilt
20. Illinois

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 25, 2011 11:20 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2011 11:28 pm

MSU's Lucious dismissed for rest of season

Michigan State junior Korie Lucious has been dismissed from the Spartans basketball team for the remainder of the season, coach Tom Izzo announced late Tuesday.

"Unfortunately, Korie Lucious displayed conduct detrimental to the program," Izzo said. "My focus is on this team for the remainder of the season.”

It's unclear whether Lucious might be allowed to return next season.

He, like Izzo, released a statement Tuesday night.

“I didn’t live up to the standards of the program," Lucious said. "Unfortunately, I let my teammates, my coaches, and myself down, and wish them the best for the rest of the season."

Lucious was averaging 6.5 points and 4.1 assists for the 25th-ranked Spartans.

Michigan State plays Michigan on Thursday at the Breslin Center.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or