College basketball rankings: Sunday brings a mea culpa, reshuffle and No. 1 Villanova
Jay Wright's undefeated Wildcats are now No. 1 in the Top 25 (and one)
I don't remember exactly how I ended up in this mess. It's probably rooted in updating college basketball rankings every single morning. Goes with the territory and all that. But the truth is that I've been updating college basketball rankings every single morning for years. And I've never been in a mess quite like this mess. So, best I can tell, it's probably the Battle 4 Atlantis' fault.
Let's blame the Battle 4 Atlantis.
That's where this started -- with Arizona losing to an NC State team picked 12th in the ACC, and Purdue losing to a Tennessee team picked 13th in the SEC. Obviously, NC State and Tennessee seem better than that now -- especially Tennessee, which is 7-1 with a lone loss to Villanova. But I didn't know that then. Nobody knew that then. So those losses looked like incredibly bad losses at the time. Then Arizona went out and also lost to SMU. And Purdue went out and also lost to Western Kentucky. As a result, suddenly, there were two obviously good teams with multiple questionable losses. So I punished Arizona and Purdue accordingly in the CBS Sports Top 25 (and one) while making the argument that losses should matter as much as wins and metrics.
I was OK with that.
But I'd clearly set a precedent.
So when Notre Dame took a bad loss to Ball State, I punished the Irish similarly. And when Minnesota took a bad loss to Nebraska, I punished the Gophers similarly. And when Florida took a bad loss to Loyola Chicago, I punished the Gators similarly. And when Kansas took a bad loss to Washington, I punished the Jayhawks similarly. And that's where I got myself into real trouble, it appears.
To be clear, KU's loss to Washington was terrible.
Some KU fans have suggested otherwise.
But they're wrong.
Washington was picked 10th in the Pac-12 and had already lost to Virginia Tech by 24 points before it ever stepped on the court with Kansas. The Jayhawks were playing in Kansas City and 21.5-point favorites. So their 74-65 loss to a Washington team that was ranked 140th at KenPom at the time, and is still only ranked 119th at KenPom, was undeniably horrendous. No team I've had in the Top 25 (and one) has a loss as bad as that loss. So I punished the Jayhawks severely. I dropped them to 24th.
I knew KU fans would think I was crazy.
But I felt like I could just point to the resume, point to that loss, and justify things by stressing that all I was dong was being consistent in how I punish teams for stupid losses. I had the Jayhawks out of place relative to their ability and potential, sure. But I was mostly in a reasonable place as long as no other elite team took a stupid loss and really put me in a tough spot.
Then Duke lost to Boston College on Saturday.
When that happened, the Blue Devils became the fourth preseason top-10 AP team to lose to a sub-75 KenPom opponent this season -- joining Arizona, Florida and, of course, Kansas. Immediately, and I mean immediately, Kansas fans started tweeting me questions I knew were coming.
Take that, multiply it by a few hundred and add some cuss words and you'll have a sense for how my Twitter mentions looked pretty much all day Saturday. Brutal. And so now I'm left with a dilemma. Do I, in the spirit of consistency, stick to my so-called guns, keep Kansas at 24th, drop Duke somewhere in that range and have a pair of top-six KenPom teams (and possible future league champs) super-low all because of one bad loss? Or do I acknowledge I got caught-up trying to punish everybody the same way for bad losses, fluky or otherwise, and created a dumb situation, for which I am sorry?
I'll choose the latter.
I think Jim Calhoun said it best when he was asked for the millionth time about his decision to not recruit Ryan Gomes. So I'll just let the former Connecticut coach speak for me, if that's OK. (Note: Language is NSFW.)
Yeah, what Jim said.
So consider this a completely fresh version of the Top 25 (and one). It's a major reshuffle with little-to-no regard for where schools were ranked Saturday. (So please don't ask why this team or that team dropped even though it didn't lose. I just told you why.) Absolutely, I'm still holding teams accountable for bad losses and respecting the results of games -- just not to the point where things are too out of whack. And I'm putting Villanova right at the top of the rankings even though the Wildcats were below Michigan State on Saturday, and the reason is simple: I'd rather have an undefeated team with good wins ranked No. 1 than a team with a loss to a team that just lost to Boston College.
The complete Top 25 (and one) is below.
Have at it.
|1||Villanova||The Wildcats' perfect record features wins over Gonzaga and Tennessee. Mikal Bridges is averaging 19.0 points and 6.2 rebounds in 30.6 minutes per game.||2||36-4|
|2||Michigan St.||The Spartans have won eight straight games since losing to Duke in Chicago. They have victories over North Carolina and Notre Dame.||--||30-5|
|3||N. Carolina||The Tar Heels' lone loss is a neutral-court loss to Michigan State. UNC already owns five top-100 KenPom victories.||1||26-11|
|4||Wichita St.||The Shockers' lone loss is a single-point loss to Notre Dame. They've beaten Baylor, Marquette and Oklahoma State.||1||25-8|
|5||Kentucky||The Wildcats' only loss is a single-digit loss to Kansas. They'll take a six-game winning streak into Saturday's game with Virginia Tech.||1||26-11|
|6||Miami (Fla.)||The Hurricanes have won seven of their eight games by double-digits. Dewan Huell is averaging 13.1 points and 5.6 rebounds in 21.9 minutes per game.||1||22-10|
|7||Texas A&M||The Aggies' only loss is a single-digit loss to Arizona in Phoenix. They've beaten West Virginia, USC, Penn State and Oklahoma State.||1||22-13|
|8||W. Virginia||The Mountaineers have won nine straight games since their season-opening loss to Texas A&M. Their best win is a win over Virginia.||1||26-11|
|9||Virginia||The Cavaliers' lone loss is a single-digit loss at West Virginia. Virginia has the nation's best defensive-efficiency rating.||1||31-3|
|10||Duke||The Blue Devils own three wins over teams also in the Top 25 (and one). Their lone loss is a road loss at Boston College.||9||29-8|
|11||Kansas||The Jayhawks' loss to Washington is, according to the point spread, the worst loss any ranked team has taken. KU's best win is a neutral-court win over Kentucky.||13||31-8|
|12||Florida St.||The Seminoles' perfect record features seven double-digit wins - most notably a 17-point victory at Florida. Terance Mann is averaging 16.0 points and 5.8 rebounds in 29.0 minutes per game.||1||23-12|
|13||Arizona St.||The Sun Devils are off to their best start since the 1974-75 season. They own wins over Xavier, Kansas State and St. John's.||1||20-12|
|14||TCU||The Horned Frogs have won 15 straight games dating back to last season. Kenrich Williams is averaging 14.2 points and 10.1 rebounds in 33.6 minutes per game.||1||21-12|
|15||Xavier||The Musketeers have won four straight since losing to Arizona State. Two of those wins were over Baylor and Cincinnati.||1||29-6|
|16||Gonzaga||The Zags' two losses are to Villanova and Florida. Mark Few's team owns wins over Creighton and Texas.||--||32-5|
|17||Tennessee||UT's only loss is a single-digit loss to Villanova. The Vols have beaten Purdue and three other top-100 KenPom teams.||6||26-9|
|18||Purdue||The Boilermakers have won five straight since losing to Western Kentucky. Purdue's resume features five top-100 KenPom victories.||7||30-7|
|19||Notre Dame||Notre Dame has gone 2-2 since beating Wichita State in Maui. The losses are to Michigan State and Ball State.||7||21-15|
|20||Arizona||The Wildcats have won four straight since losing three straight at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Their last two wins are over Texas A&M and Alabama.||7||27-8|
|21||Baylor||The Bears' two losses are to Wichita State and Xavier. Their best win is a win over Creighton.||4||19-15|
|22||Creighton||The Bluejays' two losses are to Gonzaga and Baylor. They led both of those games at the half.||4||21-12|
|23||Texas||The Longhorns' two losses are to Duke and Gonzaga. Mohamed Bamba is averaging 10.7 points, 10.1 rebounds and 4.0 blocks in 28.0 minutes per game.||4||19-15|
|24||Seton Hall||The Pirates have won four straight since losing to Rhode Island. They've beaten Texas Tech and Louisville.||4||22-12|
|25||Texas Tech||The Red Raiders' lone loss is a semi-road loss to Seton Hall. They own wins over Nevada and Northwestern.||4||27-10|
|26||Florida||The Gators snapped their three-game losing streak with a win over Cincinnati. They also own a win over Gonzaga.||1||21-13|
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