Posted on: November 29, 2010 4:03 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2010 7:06 pm

The Poll Attacks

One guy left Villanova and Michigan State off his ballot but put Purdue and Virginia Tech in the top 20. Another guy ranked Villanova in the top 10 (that's reasonable) but left the undefeated team that just beat Villanova unranked (that's unreasonable). Silly AP voters, I tell you. They're the gift that keeps on giving during this holiday season.

Let's do the Poll Attacks!

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com.)

Associated Press poll: Michigan State and Villanova are both talented, and both only have one loss to a team ranked in the top 15 of the latest AP poll. The Spartans are 5-1 with a loss to No. 7 Connecticut by one possession, and they have a win over No. 23 Washington. The Wildcats are 5-1 with a loss to No. 13 Tennessee, and they've got a double-digit win over UCLA. So we can argue about whether Michigan State and Villanova belong in the top five or the top 10 or even the top 20, I guess. But there is no sensible way to leave either school off a Top 25 ballot.

And yet John Shinn from the Norman Transcript in Oklahoma left both off his AP ballot.


No Michigan State.

No Villanova.

But John has Purdue (no good wins and a double-digit loss to unranked Richmond) ranked 14th and two-loss Virginia Tech ranked 19th, which is three spots higher than the undefeated UNLV team that just beat Virginia Tech on a neutral court by 12. So to recap: Michigan State is 5-1 with a loss to the team ranked No. 8 (UConn) and a win over the team ranked No. 23 (Washington), and John decided that resume isn't worthy of being ranked. And Villanova is 5-1 with a lone loss to the team ranked No. 13 and a win over UCLA, and John decided that resume isn't worthy of being ranked, either. Meantime, Virginia Tech is 4-2 with double-digit losses to the teams ranked No. 5 and No. 24, but John somehow decided that resume is worthy of being ranked all the way up at No. 19, which, again, is three spots higher than the undefeated UNLV team that just beat Virginia Tech on a neutral court by 12. And he has Purdue at No. 14 with a 5-1 record featuring a double-digit loss to unranked Richmond.

Also ranked on John's ballot: North Carolina at No. 25.

So two-loss Virginia Tech and two-loss UNC are both on John's ballot.

But one-loss Michigan State and one-loss Villanova are both off John's ballot.

Perhaps he's just an ACC fan trapped in Big 12 country.

Who knows?

Another weird ballot involving Villanova belongs to Whitelaw Reid of the Daily Progress in Virginia. He has Villanova at No. 8 and Tennessee unranked despite the fact that UT is undefeated with a win over -- wait for it -- Villanova. Not sure how anybody could make sense of that. But this is the same guy who has Washington at No. 12 and Connecticut at No. 23 despite the fact that Washington has two losses and UConn is undefeated with wins over both of the schools (Kentucky and Michigan State) that beat -- wait for it -- Washington. So maybe making sense isn't a priority with good ol' Whitelaw.

Coaches poll: Nobody likes Temple more than I like Temple.

I had the Owls ranked in the top 15 in the preseason, and as high as No. 13 last week. But then they lost to California late Thursday and to Texas A&M on Sunday, and you just can't have a 3-2 team coming off losses to Cal and Texas A&M on your Top 25 ballot. But that's exactly what at least one coach -- and possibly multiple coaches -- did this week. Temple got five points in the coaches poll. That's five more than Texas A&M (5-1) or Cal (3-2) received, case you were wondering.
Posted on: November 15, 2010 3:41 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2010 12:27 pm

The Poll Attacks

Remember how two voters got Poll Attacked for putting Kansas State No. 1 in the preseason?

Well, they've changed their votes this week and put Duke No. 1.

That means their ballots now look more sensible.

But they're gonna get Poll Attacked again, still.

Let's go!

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com. )

Associated Press poll: The only thing sillier than ranking Kansas State No. 1 in the preseason is dropping KSU after a 75-61 win over James Madison, but that's precisely what Dave Jones and Kevin Dunleavy did this week, presumably because they were worried about being featured in consecutive Poll Attacks. Well now look. Trying to avoid the Poll Attacks has landed them right back in the Poll Attacks, because neither understand how to properly rank and predict. So allow me to offer a lesson, and that lesson is this: Always stick with it until you can't anymore!

When I do something stupid -- like leave Northern Iowa unranked all last season, for example -- I stand strong until there's no way to stand anymore. It took a little dude hitting a wacky shot against top-ranked Kansas for me to admit my mistake about UNI, and rest assured I was never going to admit it otherwise. I might be stubborn, but I don't go out like a little B. So if I would've been off enough to rank Kansas State No. 1 in the preseason, there's no way I would've changed before Kansas State lost and made me change. That's where Dave and Kevin went wrong with this ballot. They gave up too soon. Now they look crazy twice.

Coaches poll: Villanova ahead of Kansas. Kansas ahead of Villanova. Honest to God, it doesn't matter to me because we're way too early in the season to be seriously debating whether a team that lost Scottie Reynolds is better than a team that lost Sherron Collins, Xavier Henry and Cole Aldrich. Me? I have Villanova ranked No. 8 and Kansas ranked No. 11, but if you wanted to put Kansas at No. 8 and Villanova at No. 11, I'm cool with it.

In other words, they appear to be the same class of team.

We could find out differently later.

But for now, they seem to be in the same class. And they both won their openers with ease. Which is why I can't understand why Kansas was ahead of Villanova in the first coaches poll but is now behind Villanova in the second coaches poll. KU was sixth and Villanova was seventh. Now Villanova is sixth and KU is seventh. Why the flipflop? Is it because Josh Selby isn't available (because the reality is that he was never going to be available in the first week anyway)? And does anybody really think Selby is merely the difference between the Jayhawks being sixth and seventh in the country? More likely, he's the difference between them being top five or top 15 (just like Enes Kanter is the difference between Kentucky being top five or top 15).

Those are all rhetorical questions, by the way.

Here's the truth: The reason for the flipflop is because many coaches have no idea what their first ballot looked like. They just sat down Sunday and scribbled names with little regard to what they scribbled on their first ballot, causing inexplicable changes to rankings that give me something to Poll Attack even when a ranked team has yet to lose.
Posted on: September 16, 2010 8:14 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2010 8:15 pm

Izzo, Wright, Calhoun at NY clinic on Friday

Howard Garfinkel's third annual "Clinic to End All Clinics" is scheduled for Friday at Manhattan College with a first-class list of speakers -- among them Connecticut's Jim Calhoun, Villanova's Jay Wright and Michigan State's Tom Izzo. Former NBA coach Lawrence Frank and Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer are also scheduled to speak.

The clinic runs from 9 a.m. to 4:20 p.m. at Draddy Gymnasium.

Registration is $150 and lunch will be catered by the Carnegie Deli -- where (and this has nothing to do with anything) I once sat a table with Garfinkel, Manhattan coach Barry "Slice" Rohrssen, and Hall of Famer Bob Knight, and I watched them order a plate of bacon for dessert. Seriously. Bacon for dessert. Seemed crazy, but maybe I'm missing something.

(I just ordered cheesecake.)

Anyway, for more information call Garfinkel at 212-246-3063 or 646-275-9818.

In all seriousness, this is a really nice basketball event.
Posted on: July 23, 2010 4:20 pm
Edited on: July 23, 2010 4:21 pm

Five for Friday column

LAS VEGAS -- Click this link to read my Five for Friday column.

It has references to Jon Leuer, Quincy Miller, Adonis Thomas, etc.
Posted on: June 22, 2010 9:39 pm

NCAA making hires/Taylor King overhyped

You know what I've noticed?

I've noticed I often check other basketball writers' blogs more than I check the actual basketball pages at their sites, and sometimes I miss new columns because of it. And though it's possible I'm the only person in the world who operates this way, just in case there are others like me I'm going to start posting columns here each time a new one publishes to ensure we're all on the same page every day.

I trust you won't mind.

So with that introduction, here are my two latest columns: Click this link to read one from Monday about how the NCAA is doubling the members of its Basketball Focus Group, which suggests the governing body is at least trying to make cheating more difficult. Click this link to read my reaction to the news that Taylor King's career at Villanova has come to a close after just one season.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 2, 2010 2:58 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2010 3:01 pm

Xavier among best at avoiding bad losses

One of the keys to building a nice body of work is to avoid bad losses.

Would you believe almost nobody does that better than ... Xavier?

It's true.

I just went through pretty much every relevant school's body of work, and I could only find four teams that have avoided losing to a team Jerry Palm describes as unqualified to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Those teams are Syracuse (only losses to Pittsburgh and Louisville), Kansas (only losses to Tennessee and Oklahoma State), Villanova (only losses to Temple, Georgetown, Connecticut, Pittsburgh and Syracuse), and Xavier (only losses to Marquette, Baylor, Kansas State, Butler, Wake Forest, Temple and Dayton).

So what does all this mean?

I'm not sure beyond the obvious.

I just found it interesting that Xavier doesn't really have any bad losses, and that pretty much everybody else has at least one. Makes me wish I would've put the Musketeers higher than 26th in the Top 25 (and one). I plan to adjust Sunday night provided Xavier doesn't, you know, take a bad loss between now and then.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 19, 2010 2:53 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2010 5:24 pm

Just watch: Purdue will be a No. 1 seed

Many of the people who've emailed in the past 24 hours about my Player of the Year column acknowledge John Wall is the best player in the country, but still think Evan Turner should get the award because he's having a better season. Me? I'm not convinced Turner is having a better season considering Wall is averaging 17.0 points and 6.5 assists for a team that's 25-1 and on pace to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, but whatever. I'm done with this argument for now. What I think we can all agree on is that the Player of the Year will be Wall or Turner, and the oddsmakers have it pegged that way, too.

Sportsbook.com is taking bets on the Wooden Award.

Wall is +200.

Turner is +200.

Third-place is Texas' Damion James at +550, which would be a horrible bet to make considering his team has gone in the tank. But a good bet, I think, is that Purdue will be a No. 1 seed. Right now, Sportsbook.com has it at +140. That means you can essentially win $140 off of a $100 bet, and that's reasonable odds even if you assume Kansas and Kentucky will be two of the four No. 1 seeds.

Jerry Palm currently has Syracuse and Villanova as the other No. 1 seeds. But the Wildcats are coming off a loss to Connecticut, they might lose Sunday at Pittsburgh, and they'll be underdogs at Syracuse next weekend. In other words, Villanova should probably slip and enter Selection Sunday with five losses, minimum. Meantime,  Purdue is sitting at 22-3 with wins over Tennessee (neutral), Wake Forest (home), West Virginia (home), Wisconsin (home), Michigan State (away), and Ohio State (away).

The only remaining road games are at Minnesota and Penn State.

The remaining home games are against Illinois, Michigan State and Indiana.

So Purdue will be favored to win every one of its remaining regular season games, and they might be the favorite in the Big Ten tournament, too. I'm not predicting the Boilermakers will win out, exactly, but I don't think they'll enter Selection Sunday with more than four losses, five at the most, and that'll have them in good shape for a No. 1 seed as long as Villanova loses at least one of these upcoming road games and doesn't win the Big East tournament.

Bottom line, I like Purdue's chances to be a No. 1 seed.

So take the Boilermakers at +140.

And thank me later.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Purdue, Villanova
Posted on: February 17, 2010 11:42 am
Edited on: February 17, 2010 11:43 am

Dear Gary (on who won't make it to Indy)

Here's Wednesday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Which of our current top four teams (Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse, Villanova) will we NOT see in the Final Four come April? Or will this be a year that all four one-seeds make it? Curious to hear your opinion and rationale.

-- Magee

As you can probably tell from the blog I filed last night, I'm going to have Kansas and Kentucky in Indianapolis unless an injury changes things in the next few weeks. So what you're really asking me to do is pick between Syracuse and Villanova, and I'm not sure I can intelligently do that without seeing the bracket.

Which one will have the easier path?

Does one of them end up in a region with Duke and Ohio State?

That's what will determine the answer to your question, the path from the first round to the Final Four each team must take. Either way, my guess is we'll end up with Kansas, Kentucky, one of of the Big East teams and one of the Big Ten teams battling at Lucas Oil Stadium. That seems like a fun Final Four, and I'd be pleased if it unfolded that way.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com