No college basketball team, right now, has a better mix of talent, upside and actual results than Duke. It's why I have the Blue Devils ranked No. 1 in the CBS Sports Top 25 (and one). But if you want to argue Michigan State should be No. 1 instead -- and that Duke should actually be second, third or fourth -- fine. I disagree, obviously. But it's not a completely insane point of view.
But having Duke 15th is insane.
And yet that's exactly where The Post and Courier's David Cloninger has the Blue Devils ranked on his Associated Press Top 25 ballot this week. Which is bananas. Because there is literally no approach to ranking college basketball teams that should lead a person to having Duke ranked 15th in the nation right now. If you're a talent guy, Duke is the most talented team. If you're an upside guy, Duke has the most upside -- proof being how it's still the favorite in Las Vegas to win the 2018 NCAA Tournament. If you're a metrics guy, Duke is No. 1 in the RPI, No. 1 in KPI, and No. 4 at KenPom. And if you're a results guy, Duke is 13-1 with four top-35 KenPom wins.
Nobody else has four top-35 KenPom wins.
Nobody. Else. In. The. Whole. Country.
And yes, I know, Duke lost at Boston College early last month. And that's not a great loss, I admit. But that still doesn't justify Cloninger having Duke 15th for all of the reasons stated above -- but also because bad losses don't seem to bother him too much considering he has multiple schools with fewer good wins than Duke, and a worse loss than Duke's loss, ranked ahead of Duke on his ballot.
North Carolina is but one such team.
Cloninger has North Carolina ranked eighth and Duke ranked 15th even though Duke has more top-35 KenPom wins than North Carolina. And even though Duke has a neutral-court win over the same Michigan State team that beat North Carolina on a neutral court by 18 points. And even though Duke's loss on the road to a Boston College team ranked 75th at KenPom is better than North Carolina's loss at home to a Wofford team ranked 175th at KenPom. And even though Duke is ahead of North Carolina at KenPom, in the RPI, KPI and every other metric I've seen.
Simply put, that makes no sense.
And neither does Doug Doughty's ballot.
The Roanoke Times writer has Arizona ranked lower than any other AP voter -- all the way down at No. 23, which is low even for a guy still punishing the Wildcats for that dismal performance in the Battle 4 Atlantis. But whatever. The real problem isn't that he has Arizona 23rd this week as much as it's that he had Arizona 18th last week. That means Doughty dropped Arizona five spots on his ballot despite the fact that Arizona hasn't lost in five weeks and is coming off of an 84-78 win over an Arizona State team currently ranked fourth in the AP poll. Yes, he really did drop Arizona five spots for beating a top-five team.
And it's especially incredible considering Doughty moved a Syracuse team that's 31 spots below Arizona at KenPom, and that has zero wins over ranked teams, from unranked on his ballot to one spot ahead of Arizona on his ballot. He now has Syracuse 22nd for some reason. Which means a Syracuse team with a worse resume and significantly worse KenPom rating went from unranked to 22nd on Doughty's ballot after two home wins over unranked opponents while the Arizona team with a better resume and significantly better KenPom rating dropped from 18th to 23rd on Doughty's ballot after a win over a top-five team.
I dare you to try to make sense of that.
I bet you can't.