Poll Attacks: Purdue has lost four of five -- but it's not reflected on two AP Top 25 ballots
Two AP voters have a 6-5 Purdue team ranked higher than they had a 5-1 Purdue team ranked
Purdue has lost four of its past five games. And though two of the losses were to ranked teams, and three of the losses came on the road, the fact remains that the Boilermakers have dropped four of their past five games -- among them Saturday's neutral-court contest with unranked Notre Dame.
This is obviously why Purdue is no longer in the AP Top 25.
But, incredibly, not every AP voter has punished Purdue for this bad stretch. In fact, both Brian Holland, a television reporter in Louisiana, and Scott Wolf, a newspaper man in California, have Purdue ranked higher this week with a 6-5 record than they had Purdue ranked three weeks ago when the Boilermakers were 5-1 with the lone loss coming to No. 13 Virginia Tech. Put another way, these two AP voters have responded to Purdue losing four of its past five games by advancing the Boilermakers on their Top 25 ballots.
Here's the proof: Three weeks ago, on Nov. 26, Purdue was 5-1 -- and Brian Holland had the Boilermakers ranked 16th on his ballot while Scott Wolf had them 20th. Since that day, Purdue has lost 73-72 at Florida State, lost 76-57 at Michigan, beaten Maryland 62-60 at home, lost at Texas 72-68 and lost to Notre Dame 88-80 on a neutral court. That's how Matt Painter's team went from 5-1 to 6-5. They were favored in three of those five games but won only once -- and two of the losses were to currently unranked teams. And yet Holland now has Purdue ranked 15th, up from 16th three weeks ago. And Wolf now has Purdue ranked 18th, up from 20th three weeks ago.
(Also interesting: Holland and Wolf both have Purdue ahead of Mississippi State even though Mississippi State has twice as many wins over top-50 KenPom teams, twice as many wins over top-100 KenPom teams and zero losses to currently unranked opponents as opposed to Purdue's two losses to currently unranked opponents. The only person I know who loves Purdue more than these two is my friend and colleague Jerry Palm.)
To be clear, I still think Purdue is good and don't actually have a problem with somebody ranking the Boilermakers -- which is why I didn't include The Kansas City Star's Jesse Newell in this column. He's the only other AP voter still ranking the Boilermakers; he has them 25th. And though I think that's a mistake, based on the body of work, it's not indefensible considering he had them 15th when they were 5-1 and has dropped them some in each of the subsequent weeks.
Newell's approach at least takes the losses into account.
But Holland and Wolf haven't done that at all.
Somehow, someway, those two have decided a Purdue team that's lost four of its past five games, and twice to currently unranked opponents, should be ranked higher today than the Boilermakers were when they were 5-1 with zero losses to currently unranked opponents. Simply put, that makes no sense. But it does make for decent #PollAttacks material. So, on a personal level, I'm appreciative of their weird approaches.
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