Posted on: January 17, 2011 4:02 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2011 4:08 pm

The Poll Attacks

PITTSBURGH -- First things first: I'm sick as hell. Been coughing and sneezing and blowing my nose for three days straight, and it's awful. A normal person would've been to the doctor twice by now. But I'm an idiot. So I keep popping over-the-counter pills and assuming I'll be better in a few hours. But it's just not happening. I'm miserable, and I tell you all that not to invite sympathy. (Seriously, why would you feel sorry for me? I've got good insurance. I could go to the doctor if I wanted, but, like I said, I'm an idiot.) I'm just trying to explain that after waking up early Monday and doing some work, I popped two more pills and grabbed a quick nap. (Can you overdose on Theraflu?) When I woke, at least 10 people had emailed or Tweeted Jon Wilner's ballot my direction, which means his ballot is more ridiculous than five star dishes and different exotic fishes.

Anyway, how do I feel after my nap?

Terrible, still.

But the flu won't come between me and my Poll Attacks.

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of

Associated Press poll: I'm in Pittsburgh. So let's start with Pittsburgh.

The Panthers are clearly good but ranked no higher than third on 64 of 65 AP ballots because they're 17-1 with a blowout loss to a six-loss Tennessee team, and because Ohio State, Kansas, Syracuse and SDSU all entered Monday undefeated.

To me (and to 64 of the 65 AP voters), this is easy: Pitt can't be No. 1 this week.

Just can't.

Not when perfect teams with quality bodies of work remain.

I ranked Ohio State No. 1 because the Buckeyes are perfect and they pass the eye test. Simply put, I think they're the nation's best team, and there's nothing on their resume (like, for instance, a loss to Tennessee) to suggest otherwise. But if you're really into the "quailty wins" gauge -- and you don't watch basketball at all, and you hate Jared Sullinger -- I can understand why you might not like OSU because the Buckeyes only have one win over a team also ranked in this week's poll (though I could point out that OSU has a dominating win over the Florida team that beat the Tennessee team that owns a dominating win over the Pittsburgh team that Jon Wilner has No. 1, but I don't like those kind of funny things so let's not worry with it).

So Jon doesn't like OSU because the Buckeyes lack quality wins.

I get it.

But then how could he possibly explain Syracuse?

Jon has the Orange all the way down at No. 6 despite the fact that the Orange are 18-0 with three wins over teams also ranked in this week's poll, meaning they pretty much match Pitt in terms of quality of wins but do so without the drag of a loss to Tennessee. So if nothing else, Syracuse has to be ahead of Pittsburgh, and, no, it doesn't matter what happens Monday night at the Petersen Events Center. What happens on a Monday night should have no bearing on rankings released Monday afternoon. That's common sense. So I don't have the slightest idea how Jon could come to the conclusion that Pittsburgh should be ranked No. 1 and Syracuse should be ranked No. 6, but what's even more baffling is Duke at No. 2.

Did Jon miss last week's loss at Florida State?

That counts, right?

I mean, you can't just ignore it and keep Duke ahead of every undefeated team, can you?

Anyway, that's the top of Jon's ballot.

The bottom is similarly silly.

But I'll let you decide if I'm right or wrong in that assessment.

Let's play Team A vs. Team B.

(You know you LOVE Team A vs. Team B!)

Team A is 14-4 with two losses to unranked teams and three wins over ranked teams. Team B is 14-4 with four losses to unranked teams and one win over a ranked team. Also: Team A and Team B have both played Georgia. Team A beat Georgia by six. Team B lost to Georgia by nine.

So, I ask, which team deserves the higher ranking?

Team A, right?

It's not even close, is it?

Team A has three times as many wins over ranked teams and two fewer losses to unranked teams.

Team A is Notre Dame, by the way.

Team B is Colorado.

Jon has Colorado 16th.

He has Notre Dame unranked.

And with that, I'm done with Jon (for this week, at least).

It's time to move on to my man Whitelaw Reid, a recurring character in the Poll Attacks. The good news is that he finally ranked Texas A&M (all it took was a 16-1 record with wins over Missouri and Washington). The bad news is that he only has Texas A&M at No. 22 -- otherwise known as 11 spots lower than he has Missouri (15-3 with a loss to A&M) and seven spots lower than he has Washington (13-4 wtih a loss to A&M).

Also ahead of Texas A&M on Whitelaw's ballot: Baylor.

Baylor is 13-4 with four losses to unranked teams and zero wins over ranked teams.

But Whitelaw has the Bears 19th.

He must like green.

Or something.

Coaches poll: I spent a good portion of last week's Poll Attacks explaining why Memphis cannot appear on anybody's ballot. Since then the Tigers have lost to SMU and had their second-leading scorer suspended, and yet there's still one coach voting Memphis 25th on his ballot.

Who's the coach?

I couldn't begin to guess.

But if said coach is reading, let me make this simple: The Tigers are 13-4. They've been routed by both ranked teams they've played (Kansas and Georgetown), blownout by the one bipolar team they've played (Tennessee) and beaten by one of the many bad teams they've played (SMU). Their best win is over a Miami team that's mediocre at best. Meantime, two of the three relevant veterans that were supposed to be on this roster heading into the season aren't current members of the team, and one of the McDonald's All-Americans fought a teammate, threatened another and is now at Ole Miss.

Got all that?


Now vote accordingly.

(It should be noted that Memphis did actually look better in Saturday's win over Marshall, which might suggest Memphis is better off without its second-leading scorer who was suspended last week. But that's another blog for another day. Rght now I've got another nap to take.)
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 16, 2011 9:47 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2011 11:06 am

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 (17-0)
  2. Kansas (17-0)
  3. Syracuse (18-0)
  4. San Diego State (19-0)
  5. Pittsburgh (17-1)
  6. Duke (16-1)
  7. Connecticut (14-2)
  8. Villanova (16-1)
  9. Texas (14-3)
  10. Kentucky (14-3)
  11. BYU (17-1)
  12. Texas A&M (16-1)
  13. Missouri (15-3)
  14. Notre Dame (14-4)
  15. Michigan State (12-5)
  16. Wisconsin (13-4)
  17. Minnesota (14-4)
  18. West Virginia (12-4)
  19. Purdue (15-3)
  20. Temple (12-4)
  21. Georgia (13-3)
  22. Georgetown (12-4)
  23. Illinois (13-5)
  24. Saint Mary's (16-2)
  25. Gonzaga (13-5)
  26. Louisville (14-3)
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 15, 2011 6:55 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2011 1:38 am

Massive Monday is almost here

PITTSBURGH -- Saturday was interesting complete with wild comebacks by Louisville and Tennessee, close calls by Kansas and Michigan State, and another questionable home loss after a nice win for Florida. But two games that could easily double as the semifinals for March's Big East tournament are scheduled for Monday. So I'm already over the weekend (even though the weekend isn't over) and ready for MLK Day.

Thank you, Villanova, for winning Saturday.

You too, Connecticut.

You too, Syracuse.

You too, Pitt.

Your results ensured Monday will bring two games between four top 10 teams with a combined record of 65-4.

The day-night doubleheader sets up like this:
  • No. 7 Villanova (16-1) at No. 10 Connecticut (14-2) at 3:30 ET.
  • No. 4 Syracuse (18-0) at No. 5 Pittsburgh (17-1) at 7:30 ET.
I'll watch the first game on TV here in Pittsburgh, then be courtside at the Petersen Events Center for the second. According to, the home teams (UConn and Pitt) are supposed to win, meaning the Panthers should move to 6-0 in the Big East and sit alone atop the league standings come late Monday. But we could easily get opposite outcomes (even though Syracuse's Kris Joseph will miss the showdown with Pitt because of a concussion suffered in Saturday's win over Cincinnati), and, either way, who cares? I'll wait to figure out what it all means. For now, I'm just digging the anticipation. A national holiday with two terrific Big East games is on tap. So Saturday, I enjoyed you, and I'm glad we got to spend this time together. But I'm already ready to move on. Monday can't get here fast enough.
Posted on: January 15, 2011 1:22 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2011 1:23 pm

Asprilla no longer on KSU team

Kansas State coach Frank Martin said Saturday that Freddy Asprilla is no longer a member of his basketball team.

"After discussions with Freddy, we have come to a mutual decision that we feel is in his best interest," Martin said.  "I expect him to explore professional playing opportunities in his home country. We appreciate his efforts this season and wish him the best of luck in the future."

Asprillia started 13 games this season.

The 6-foot-10 forward from Colombia averaged 4.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 14, 2011 8:25 pm
Edited on: January 14, 2011 8:40 pm

Details of Witherspoon's suspension emerge

There's been some confusion about what exactly triggered Wesley Witherspoon's suspension from Memphis.

Here's the deal (according to a source): The Tigers lost 64-58 at SMU on Wednesday, showered, dressed and filed into a bus that took them to the airport in Dallas. Nobody said a word. They then got on their chartered plane, flew home and landed in Memphis without incident, at which point the coaches got into their personal vehicles and drove home while the players got on a bus there to transport them to campus. And it was at some point during that drive -- the drive from the airport in Memphis to the Memphis campus -- when Witherspoon used the bus' loud speaker to do an impersonation of one of Josh Pastner's assistants.

"It happened, but it didn't happen in front of the coaches," a source said. "The coaches weren't on that bus. Wesley would've never done that in front of the coaches."

Pastner was informed of Witherspoon's antics after the fact because somebody on the bus told somebody close to Pastner. Upon hearing what Witherspoon did, Pastner immediately suspended the 6-foot-9 forward because, a source said, the second-year coach thought mocking an assistant after a disappointing loss was simply "unacceptable," particularly for a supposed leader on a roster comprised mostly of first-year players. It's the latest move Pastner has made to try to change Witherspoon's attitude. Whether it'll work remains unclear.

There is no timetable for a possible Witherspoon return.

He will not be in uniform Saturday when the Tigers host Marshall at FedExForum.
Posted on: January 13, 2011 6:41 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2011 7:30 pm

Memphis suspends Witherspoon

Memphis coach Josh Pastner announced Thursday that he has suspended Wesley Witherspoon.

There is no timetable for a return.

Witherspoon was averaging 11.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game for the Tigers, who are 12-4 and among the nation's most disappointing teams. They lost at SMU on Wednesday and are 1-1 in Conference USA heading into Saturday's game against Marshall. Memphis was ranked as high as 13th in the AP poll earlier this season.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 13, 2011 12:06 am
Edited on: January 13, 2011 1:53 am

So I was at Vanderbilt one night and ...

NASHVILLE -- Someday my grandchildren will ask where I was the night the reigning national champion and top-ranked Duke Blue Devils lost to a Florida State team that had previously lost to an Auburn team that had previously lost to pretty much everybody -- my grandchildren will probably never ask that, I know, but just play along -- and I'll look those precious little things in the eyes and mumble four words: Talking to Festus Ezeli.

That's life in this job, huh?

You drive through snow and sit in a gym with weird bench placement because a game at Memorial between Georgia and Vanderbilt figures to be among the night's best, and by the end of the night you're sitting in a gym with weird bench placement watching a TV showing Florida State fans storming the court after an improbable 66-61 victory over Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils. I mean, Florida State lost to Auburn earlier this month, and Auburn might not win another game this season unless Cecil Newton has another son who can A) really hoop, and B) get eligible by February.

Short of that, I'm not optimistic.

Auburn stinks this season.

But Auburn somehow beat Florida State.

And now Florida State has somehow beaten Duke.

So let me tell you what it means and what it doesn't mean.

It means:
  • Duke is vulnerable without Kyrie Irving.
  • Ohio State will likely be the new No. 1 on Monday afternoon.
  • Kansas and Syracuse fans will spend Monday afternoon complaining.
It does not mean:
  • Duke is seriously flawed.
  • Duke was overrated.
  • Duke can't repeat.
Just as people were over-the-top with the Duke-might-go-undefeated talking point from November until about 45 minutes ago, folks will now spend a few days picking the Blue Devils apart. It's how we do things in 2011, and it's inevitable. So let me go ahead and address the question many will ask.

Question: Does Duke have problems?

Answer: Yes.

But Duke's problems are still probably smaller than everybody else's problems.

Don't ever forget that.

Duke took a bad loss on the road late Wednesday, sure. It happens in this sport. But the Blue Devils still have two All-Americans, a terrific supporting cast and the nation's most accomplished coach. So though I understand why you might be concerned that Duke couldn't do Wednesday what Auburn did last week, focusing too much on that fun little fact is good way to skew reality and lose sight of the larger picture.

Bottom line, the Blue Devils are still really good.

They're just not perfect.

But neither is anybody else.

So my guess is that they'll be just fine.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 12, 2011 11:38 am

UConn's Walker POY leader, according to poll's Mike Rothstein is conducting a National Player of the Year straw poll for the third straight season.

Fifty-five writers submitted ballots with their top three choices.

My ballot looked like this:
  1. Kemba Walker (Connecticut)
  2. Jared Sullinger (Ohio State)
  3. Jimmer Fredette (BYU)
That's also how the top three of the straw poll look.

Click this link to check it out.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or