Posted on: December 6, 2010 7:24 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2010 1:29 pm

The Poll Attacks

Somebody ranked Florida 16th after a loss to UCF. Same somebody didn't even rank undefeated UCF. And that voter from the Daily Progress isn't progressing well at all. That's too bad for him. But it's great for the Poll Attacks.

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

Associated Press poll: Florida returned five starters from a roster that made the NCAA tournament, and the Gators added a McDonald's All-American to the bunch. So ranking them high in the preseason made some sense. I even did it myself. But now the season has started, and the Gators are 6-2. Their losses are a lopsided loss at home to Ohio State that didn't really bother me and a surprising loss on the road to UCF that bothered me quite a bit.

But you know who wasn't bothered by it?

Scott Mansch from the Great Falls Tribune in Montana.

It didn't bother him at all.

Dude had the Gators 16th last week and 16th again this week.

(Worth noting: Florida didn't make the Top 25 (and one) or actual AP poll.)

Needless to say, this was startling. So I decided to further examine Scott's AP ballots from last week and this week and compare the two. Here's what I found: He dropped Missouri five spots for losing in overtime to No. 9 Georgetown, dropped Michigan State two spots for losing by five points on the road to No. 1 Duke. (More on this below.) But Florida? Scott kept the Gators right where they were last week on his ballot after the loss at UCF. And what makes it even sillier is that Scott didn't rank undefeated UCF at all. So he apparently believes losses to teams he and everybody else has ranked are worse than losses to unranked teams. That's all I can figure.

(Moving on …)

Does anybody know Whitelaw Reid from the Daily Progress in Virginia?

We have to sit this guy down, ASAP.

I busted him up in last week's Poll Attacks, and I thought he might listen and adjust. Alas, he did not. My man still has Villanova ranked No. 8 and Tennessee unranked despite the fact that Tennessee is undefeated with a neutral court win over Villanova. He still has Connecticut behind Michigan State, Kentucky and Washington despite the fact that Connecticut is undefeated with wins over Michigan State and Kentucky, both of which beat Washington. And he still has Missouri ahead of Georgetown despite the fact that Georgetown is undefeated with a win over -- you'll never guess -- Missouri.

That last game, a thriller, happened last Tuesday.

Do you think Whitelaw heard about it?

Do you think Whitelaw even knows the season is underway?

Coaches poll: There are lots of things I hate about how people vote in polls -- that's sort of how I stumbled into doing this every Monday -- but there's nothing I hate more than when teams drop for losing competitive games to higher-ranked teams, especially on the road. By definition, a team ranked No. 1 is supposed to beat a team ranked No. 6, particularly when the game is on the top-ranked team's home court. So it should've surprised nobody when No. 1 Duke beat No. 6 Michigan State 84-79 last week at Cameron Indoor Stadium. What's surprising is that the Spartans dropped from No. 6 to No. 8 in the coaches poll because of the loss.

Seriously, why?

What did anybody see in that loss at Duke to make them think MSU wasn't worthy of its ranking?

How many teams would've or even could've won that game in that building on that night?

So stupid.

If you want to rank Michigan State eighth, that's fine. Or put the Spartans 12th. I don't care. My point is only that there isn't a single thing that happened over the past week that should've diminished anybody's opinion of Michigan State. So wherever a voter had the Spartans last week is, at worst, where that voter should've had them this week.

For instance, I had Michigan State No. 5 last week.

Same thing this week.

Because a five-point loss on the road to the No. 1 team is no reason to drop them.
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 19, 2010 11:57 am
Edited on: November 19, 2010 12:19 pm

Sources: SEC suspending Pearl for 8 league games

The SEC is expected to soon announce that Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl will be suspended for this season's first eight league games as punishment for admitted NCAA rules violations, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com on Friday.

An attempt to reach Pearl for comment wasn't immediately successful.

His first SEC game is now expected to be Feb. 8 at Kentucky.

Pearl's future has been uncertain since athletic director Mike Hamilton held a press conference in September to tell reporters that the school's men's basketball program is being investigated by the NCAA. Pearl has since confirmed a CBSSports.com report that detailed how he illegally hosted recruits at his house in 2008 and subsequently misled investigators about it. His contract has been voided, but he's expected to sign a new agreement with Tennessee in the coming months, if not weeks. The school will likely get a notice of allegations from the NCAA sometime in 2011.

The 24th-ranked Vols are off to a 3-0 start this season.

They play Virginia Commonwealth next Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: November 9, 2010 8:40 am
Edited on: November 9, 2010 8:51 am

You remember Syracuse from last season, right?

Tennessee lost an exhibition to Indianapolis on Monday night.

Indianapolis is a Division II school.

So now the folks who talk about college basketball in November -- and that number isn't nearly as high as I'd like it to be -- are making predictable and sweeping generalities, apparently forgetting how another school that wears orange suffered a similar embarrassment a year ago last week.

"Hopefully we can learn from this and move in the right direction," Syracuse's Wes Johnson said after last preseason's exhibition loss to Division II Le Moyne. He then proceeded to learn from it and move in the right direction, i.e., the direction of a Big East title and No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Which is why Bruce Pearl shouldn't be overly concerned.

Granted, there's a chance what happened Monday at Thompson-Boling Arena will ultimately prove to be the first sign that the off-the-court drama surrounding the program will have an on-the-court effect that'll cause the Vols to fall short of expectations. But it's just as likely that this defeat means absolutely nothing, which is pretty much what I told a distraught Syracuse fan who emailed after the Orange's loss to Le Moyne last November and proclaimed his favorite team's season "just ended before it ever began."
"This isn't going to be as bad as you think or as bad as it was Tuesday night. I can't find proof right now (I've been looking for 15 minutes), but I believe UMass lost an exhibition in the 1995-96 season, then went on to make the Final Four. Grand Valley State famously beat Michigan State in an exhibition two years ago, and the Spartans still made the Sweet 16. So losing a game like this isn't necessarily a prediction of what's coming."
Those were my words filed within 24 hours of Syracuse's loss to Le Moyne.

My levelheadedness served me well.

So while I do wonder if the Vols will miss Wayne Chism, J.P. Prince and Bobby Maze more than most anticipated, the reality is that I've seen Pearl win with rosters much worse than the roster he has now, and I'll still be shocked if Tennessee isn't a borderline Top 25  team that competes for the SEC East title and makes the NCAA tournament. In other words, Monday's development didn't change my opinion of the Vols one bit. My guess is that they'll bounce back Friday and open the regular season with a double-digit win over Chattanooga, just like they were always going to do.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: November 4, 2010 9:33 am

Negedu plays in New Mexico exhibition

New Mexico forward Emmanuel Negedu finished with eight points and seven rebounds in Wednesday night's 80-58 exhibition win over Eastern New Mexico, which was neat to see considering the Nigerian nearly died 13 months ago at Tennessee.

Seriously, he nearly died.

You probably know the story. But if not, here you go: Negedu suffered a sudden cardiac arrest last September while racing a UT teammate inside the Vols football practice facility. He had no pulse before medical personnel revived him and had a sub-pectoral internal cardiac defibrillator (ICD) implanted in his chest the following week that prevented Tennessee doctors from clearing him to ever rejoin the team.

So Negedu transferred to New Mexico.

And New Mexico doctors cleared him.

He got eight points and seven rebounds Wednesday night.

That's a nice start to what I hope is a long and healthy career.
Posted on: October 28, 2010 5:15 pm

Memphis lands Sporting News No. 1 prospect

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis coach Josh Pastner secured a commitment from the city's best prospect -- and a certain McDonald's All-American -- for the second straight year when Adonis Thomas announced Thursday that he will play college basketball for his hometown Tigers.

"Coach Pastner and the staff were just great from the beginning," Thomas said. "I love Memphis. … It was just the best place for me."

The Sporting News has ranked Thomas as the No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2011, and MaxPreps.com has him No. 3. The 6-foot-6 wing plays at Melrose High in Memphis. He chose the Tigers over UCLA, Florida, Arkansas and Tennessee during a press conference that was carried live by local television stations. It's a development that should allow Pastner to continue to build on the momentum created last year when he signed a class ranked second nationally by Scout.com that was headlined by Joe Jackson, a McDonald's All-American who is, like Thomas, a product of Memphis City Schools.

Thomas is the Tigers' first commitment from the Class of 2011.

National Signing Day is Nov. 10.
Posted on: September 20, 2010 12:53 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2010 1:00 pm

Pearl: 'I don't know (if the worst is to come).'

Credit SI.com's Luke Winn with scoring Bruce Pearl's first public comments since CBSSports.com reported last week that the Tennessee coach provided "incorrect and misleading information" to the NCAA about illegally hosting three recruits at his home in the Fall of 2008.

Winn grabbed Pearl at a coaching clinic in Long Island on Sunday. The best quote -- and perhaps the one that shows Pearl doesn't necessarily believe he's in the clear with the NCAA just yet, at least in terms of his job security -- came when Winn asked Pearl whether he believes the worst is yet to come.

"I don't know," Pearl said. "We did what we felt like we needed to do, to take steps proactively to penalize ourselves. I think the penalties were unprecedented in some scope. But we made mistakes. We provided false and misleading information to the NCAA. I should be made an example of, and I am -- I'm embarrassed. But I hope that the things we did don't rise to the level of termination."

(Click this link to read the entire column.)
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: September 10, 2010 11:34 pm

Five for Friday column on UT basketball

Click this link to read my Five for Friday column.

It's on the NCAA's investigation into Tennessee basketball.
Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com