Posted on: February 15, 2010 4:40 pm
Edited on: February 15, 2010 4:44 pm

The Poll Attacks

How can a team with more wins and fewer losses than a league rival -- plus a 2-0 record against said league rival -- be ranked behind that same league rival? No idea. But some voters ranked them that way. Their punishment is a Poll Attack!

AP poll: I like Vanderbilt and Tennessee.

Both should be ranked.

That's why I ranked both.

But I have Vanderbilt ahead of Tennessee in the Top 25 (and one), and I can't make sense of any ballot that doesn't also have them in that order, which is why I can't make sense of lots of AP ballots this week. Vandy has more wins, fewer losses, a two game lead on the Vols in the SEC East and ... two wins over Tennessee!

Vandy beat the Vols by nine at Tennessee.

Then beat the Vols by 19 at Vandy.

Just last week.

So it should be fresh in everybody’s mind.

But it's clearly not.

Because Al Balderas of the Orange County Register has Tennessee ranked 13th and Vanderbilt ranked 19th, Jeffrey Martin of the Houston Chronicle has Tennessee 13th and Vanderbilt 23rd, and Dave Borges of the New Haven Register has Tennessee 18th and Vanderbilt unranked. Honestly, I don't care where you have Vanderbilt and Tennessee ranked -- proof being how I won't take issue with my man Seth Davis, who ranked Tennessee 14th. That's seven spots higher than I have the Vols. But Seth has Vanderbilt at No. 13, one spot ahead of Tennessee, so it's all good.

The number beside the name isn't as important as the order.

And if you've got Tennessee ahead of Vandy, you've got the wrong order.

Coaches poll: I've stayed away from getting after those who have been ranking Siena because, honestly, I didn't want to pick on Siena. It's a nice program that's accomplished nice things over the past two seasons, and I was willing to ignore the body of work and let voters give the Saints the benefit of the doubt as long as Siena continued to roll through the Metro Atlantic.

I wasn't going to rank Siena.

But I was OK with others ranking Siena if they wanted.

Not anymore, though.

Not after Friday's loss to Niagra.

And please don't suggest that I'm punishing a small school for losing to a bad team while I don't punish big schools for doing the same, because that's just not true. When Gonzaga loses to San Francisco, Gonzaga at least has nice wins (Wisconsin, Cincinnati, at Illinois, at Memphis, at Saint Mary's) to make up for it. Siena has nothing. The Saints are 22-5 with losses to every likely NCAA tournament time on their schedule (Temple, Georgia Tech, Northern Iowa) plus additional losses to a bottom-tier Big East team (St. John's) and a middle-of-the-pack MAAC team (Niagara).

Siena's best win is probably Northeastern.

And yet the Saints are still getting two points in the coaches poll.

That's one more point than Xavier is getting, by the way, and Xavier is 17-7 with wins over Cincinnati, Charlotte, Dayton, Rhode Island and Florida. Furthermore, all seven of Xavier's losses are to teams Jerry Palm has making the NCAA tournament. And just so we're clear, I'm not saying you have to rank Xavier. What I'm saying is that you can't rank Siena, and you sure as hell can't rank Siena if you're not also ranking Xavier.
Posted on: December 14, 2009 2:49 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2009 2:50 pm

Dear Gary (on Purdue-Alabama)

Here's Monday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: After reading your Monday Look back , I am left wondering why Purdue seems to avoid all national press despite being a top five team? They have a top-10 win, and two other quality wins against Wake Forest and Alabama. The Bama win might be the best top 10 road victory out there. Why is Purdue not given the love?

-- Justin

Let me tell you what happened, Justin.

I started working on the Monday Look Back early Sunday, and I had Purdue's win over Alabama as the "best game of the weekend." In fact, here's what I wrote ...

Best game of the weekend: Just hours after Mark Ingram won the school's first Heisman Trophy, Alabama had an opportunity to notch the biggest upset of the weekend, and the Crimson Tide seemed set to do it. They were up 16 and cruising in the second half against No. 5 Purdue. But then the Boilermakers committed to playing a physical/in-your-face defense and secured a 73-68 win at Coleman Coliseum. "It was amazing," said Purdue coach Matt Painter, whose team held Alabama without a field goal for the final 8:45. It really was a stunning display of defense, the kind Nick Saban could probably appreciate.

So I was done.

And then guess what happened?

Xavier and Cincinnati went to double-overtime Sunday night, and I made that the "best game of the weekend." So I cut the Purdue-Alabama stuff, added the Xavier-Cincinnati stuff that you read, and forget to write something about Purdue in another spot, meaning Purdue went from filling the top category in the Monday Look Back to not appearing in the Monday Look Back because Xavier beat Cincinnati in overtime, and because I forget to make Purdue-Alabama a different category.

In other words, there is no conspiracy.

Just an honest mistake.

If you must blame somebody, blame Xavier's Terrell Holloway.
Posted on: December 14, 2009 2:48 pm
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Posted on: November 25, 2009 12:06 pm
Edited on: November 25, 2009 12:12 pm

Dear Gary (on the A-10's start)

Here's Wednesday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Is it me or is the Atlantic 10 doing surprisingly well as a conference so far?

-- Neil

I think it's just you, Neil.

Hard to say a conference is doing well when the team picked first, Dayton, already has two losses, including one on a neutral court to the team picked fourth in the Big 12 (Kansas State). The team picked second in the A-10, Xavier, remains undefeated, but the Musketeers haven't played anybody. The team picked third in the A-10, Richmond, has a loss to William & Mary. And the team picked fourth in the A-10, La Salle, lost by double-digits on a neutral court to South Carolina. So the top four in the A-10 aren't off to great starts, although it's only fair to note that Temple -- with a one-point loss to Georgetown and victory over Siena -- appears to be better than anticipated.

Either way, as a league, the A-10 isn't doing surprisingly well.

I still believe in Dayton, I like Xavier, and I'm willing to give Temple the benefit of the doubt because the Owls have looked good. But when three of the supposed top four in a league already have losses (and the fourth hasn't beaten anybody), it's difficult to get too excited. So let's give it a few more weeks, take a closer look and reexamine it then.
Posted on: October 26, 2009 10:33 am
Edited on: October 26, 2009 10:33 am

Admitting mistakes with the player rankings

You're bound to have mistakes when you start ranking players 25, 30 or 40 deep at different positions.

It even happens to me.

So in an attempt to be a stand-up guy, I'm here to acknowledge three mistakes in the player rankings, all of which were oversights and nothing more. To be clear, I'm not interested in arguing about whether somebody ranked 21st should really be 16th, because things get pretty subjective when you get past the top three or four at any position. Plus, those debates are so last week. But I did leave off three guys who absolutely should've been included, and I'd like to set the record straight right now.

Mistake No. 1: Jordan Crawford (Xavier)

Crawford averaged 9.7 points two years ago as a freshman at Indiana, and there's reason to believe he'll improve on those numbers this season at Xavier. In fact, he could challenge Dayton's Chris Wright for Atlantic 10 Player of the Year honors.

So why did Crawford not make the shooting guards and wings list?

Because I'm stupid, that's why.

Mistake No. 2: Arnett Moultrie (UTEP)

Moultrie averaged 8.8 points and 8.2 rebounds last season and was the best freshman in Conference USA not named Tyreke Evans. He's a 6-foot-11 forward who used that body of work to earn an invitation to play for Team USA this past summer in the FIBA under-19 World Championships.

So why did Moultrie not make the big forwards and centers list?

Because I'm stupid, that's why.

Mistake No. 3: Arinze Onuaku (Syracuse)

Leaving Onuaku out was the most frustrating of all because I love this dude. He's a big-bodied post player who shot 29.8 percent from the free throw line last season, which is hilarious. But he also averaged 10.3 points and 7.3 rebounds, and those are nice numbers for a guy who isn't the focal point of anything.

So why did Onuaku not make the big forwards and centers list?

Because I'm stupid, that's why.
Posted on: October 22, 2009 5:12 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2009 5:15 pm

Xavier lands elite wing from Class of 2011

Dezmine Wells committed to Xavier on Thursday to give first-year coach Chris Mack his most heralded recruit to date.

Scout.com ranks Wells No. 60 in the Class of 2011.

"I just love everything Xavier has to offer," Wells told CBSSports.com by phone. "It's a great school."

Credit Mack and assistant Pat Kelsey for much of the work on this commitment. They both developed relationships in the state of North Carolina during stints as assistants at Wake Forest. So they know the area well, which helped them go into Raleigh and land Wells -- a 6-foot-4 wing from Word of God Christian Academy.

Furthermore, every Xavier coach allowed on the road visited Wells last week.

That type of attention made an impression.

"They did that for me, and I'm not even a senior in high school," Wells said. "It let me know that I was their top priority."
Posted on: September 28, 2009 1:24 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2009 1:28 pm

Xavier and Gonzaga agree to home-and-home series

Xavier and Gonzaga -- two of college basketball's best non-BCS programs -- have agreed to a two-year home-and-home series that will start next season, a source told CBSSports.com on Monday.

The series will begin in Spokane in the 2010-11 season.

The Zags and Musketeers will play at Xavier's Cintas Center in 2011-12.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Gonzaga, Xavier
Posted on: September 1, 2009 8:03 am
Edited on: September 1, 2009 8:07 am

X's Mack already impressing A-10 commissioner

I wrote a column Monday about the widening gap between BCS and non-BCS schools in basketball, and in that column I mentioned how even the best non-BCS programs can't keep their coaches from jumping to a power league when the right job opens. Memphis and Xavier learned as much after last season. Thus R.C. Johnson (Memphis) and Mike Bobinski (Xavier) were forced to replace coaches, and both turned to assistants already in the program.

Fortunately for them, the moves seem to be working.

Memphis coach Josh Pastner already has a commitment from Will Barton (No. 3 in the Class of 2010 at MaxPreps.com), and barring a major surprise he'll also land Joe Jackson (No. 11 in the Class of 2010 at MaxPreps.com), sooner or later. Meantime, Xavier coach Chris Mack has commitments from Class of 2010 standouts Justin Martin and Jordan Latham, both of whom are in Scout.com's Top 100.

Martin is ranked 87th.

Latham is ranked 96th.

Dayton is the only other A-10 school with a Top 100 commitment.

And that's a good indication that Xavier should remain strong in the league.

"I think it's pretty impressive that Chris has already established himself and is not skipping a beat," said A-10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade. "I think Mike Bobinski and president [Michael] Graham made a great hire in staying with Chris -- somebody who really knew [Xavier] and believed in the system."
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com