Blog Entry

The Poll Attacks

Posted on: January 12, 2009 10:08 pm

George from Montana has outdone himself this week.

(Seriously, you have no idea)

Let's do the Poll Attacks, shall we?

AP poll: Whenever I see a strange vote in the AP poll, particularly a strange single vote, I immediately go to ballots from the state of the school receiving the strange vote, because there is a certain "homer" factor that goes along with this stuff, and I've always found it interesting.

So that's what  I did when TCU got a vote this week.

I went straight to the ballots from Texas.

Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News?

Nope, she's good.

Michael Murphy of the Houston Chronicle?

Nope, he's good.

Randy Riggs of the Austin American-Statesman?

Nope, he's good.

Jeff Walker of the Lubbuck Avalanche-Journal?

Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner!

I promise you, it never fails. The craziest single votes are always John Feinstein throwing some love at a Patriot League school or somebody taking care of an in-state program. With Walker, we have the latter, because there's no way TCU should be appearing on anybody's ballot, and I'm somebody who thinks Jim Christian was a good hire who will do good-to-great things in the future. But weekly AP ballots are supposed to be about the present, not the future, and TCU is presently a team with an 11-5 record featuring losses to Clemson (no shame there), Charleston, Nebraska, Indiana and Louisiana Tech.

Indiana is 5-10.

Louisiana Tech is 7-10.

So while TCU's weekend victory over UNLV was nice, that is the Horned Frogs' best win by far. And when your best win by far is against UNLV, that's not enough to offset five losses, particularly when two of those losses came to teams with losing records. Bottom line, TCU shouldn't be on Walker's ballot or any ballot unless we're talking football. But if the Horned Frogs somehow win at BYU on Tuesday night, I'll be open to re-evaluating the situation.

And now it's time for our weekly George Geise update, otherwise known as the "Curious Case of George Geise (and his handling of Xavier)": For those unfamiliar, check out last week's Poll Attacks, where I detailed how George (an AP voter from Montana) dropped Xavier from 12th to completely out of his Top 25 even though the Musketeers DID NOT lose in that particular week. Xavier fans no doubt let George know the error of his ways, and I'm happy to report he is now ranking Xavier 17th, which means Sean Miller's team moved up at least nine places (depending on how far they were off of George's ballot) after victories over Saint Louis and Fordham, but they have still somehow dropped five spots over the past two weeks despite a 4-0 record in that span.


Join the club!

But that's not even the worst of it.

Would you believe that George had Boston College ranked 25th last week, and that he moved the Eagles up to 19th this week following losses to Harvard and Miami? Yes, that really happened. Also, last week, George did not have West Virginia ranked at all. But then the Mountaineers went out and lost to Connecticut and  Marquette, so, naturally, they broke into George's ballot at No. 25. And finally, there's Gonzaga, which was 16th on George's ballot last week. The Zags then beat Tennessee and Portland, but George clearly was not impressed, because he dropped Mark Few's team completely off his ballot while leaving Tennessee at No. 16.

My God.

Coaches poll: I don't doubt Saint Mary's is good, and that it might even be one of the best 25 teams in the country. As I've said many times, I don't think there's a whole bunch of difference between No. 15 and No. 40 this season. So if you'll accept that premise, and you believe Saint Mary's is one of the best 40 teams in the country, then I suppose it's OK for the Gaels to be 25th in the Coaches poll.

But I still must ask: What have they done to deserve it?

They aren't in possession of a good victory (unless you want to count Providence, which I don't), and they probably haven't even played a team that'll make the NCAA tournament. Likewise, the Gaels aren't obviously great despite quality wins like, say, UCLA. And it's not like they're perfect either, because they have a 13-point loss to UTEP.

So, I'll ask again, what has this team done to climb into the Top 25 besides play a simple schedule?

Correct answer: Nothing, really.

Every other ranked team -- save perhaps, UCLA, which falls into the "obviously good" category because of the roster featuring Darren Collison, Jrue Holiday and Josh Shipp -- has a victory better than Saint Mary's victory over Providence, and so I guess my point is just that I'm not a big fan of rewarding teams for playing bad schedules. It's why I would've never ranked Illinois State even if it moved to 20-0, why I had Pittsburgh ranked lower than just about everybody until it won at Georgetown, and why I have UCLA ranked lower than the AP and Coaches polls now.

Bottom line, I want to know who you can beat.

And as of Jan. 12, 2009, Saint Mary's hasn't beaten anybody.

Category: NCAAB

Since: Jan 25, 2008
Posted on: January 18, 2009 4:36 pm

The Poll Attacks


Before I saw your Poll Attacks I was already off attacking Jeff Weaver for his ballot.  Your Poll Attacks were a nice compliment!  I thought you would like his response!  I was trying to understand why Butler was not on his ballot.  Anyway, here is his later response!



Kudos for coming back. I thought you’d be a hit-and-run.  We can sit here and debate which team deserves to be where for days. And, if we were sitting in a bar or lounging around somewhere, I’d be game.
I’ll just say this, because some columnist has nothing better to write about than to rip a voter to try and generate hits doesn’t validate your point. The RPI doesn’t validate your point.



Since: Jan 13, 2009
Posted on: January 13, 2009 7:24 pm

The Poll Attacks

Wake Forest may have the win over UNC, but their strength of schedule (according to the Sportsline RPI) is only 155--pretty much right in the middle and virtually the same as St Mary's at 158--yet you (and the AP) rank them at #2. UCLA's SOS is tied with Wake's at 155, but you say that they're "obviously good," so you rank them #12 (#9 in the AP) and make excuses for the fact that they haven't lived up to your own "bottom line" criterion of having quality wins. The only thing obvious about Wake Forest and UCLA is that they're better than average--just like St Mary's.

Since: Mar 4, 2008
Posted on: January 13, 2009 6:00 pm

The Poll Attacks

Well, other than "winning the WCC for 9 straight years," I suppose you are right.  If SMC feels so strongly, perhaps they should try to take that title one of these years.  :)

In all seriousness, you make a good point about NCAA flameouts (though Gonzaga got jobbed last year, forced to go on the road and play a severely under-seeded Davidson team essentially on their home floor).  GU earns its problems though (this year's loss to Portland State probably puts them on the east coast for round one of the tourney again).  Personally, I"d love to see 3 teams from the WCC in the sweet 16, but SMC and USD need to start scheduling some tougher non-con games to get those programs to that point.  Just my two cents.

Since: Jul 14, 2007
Posted on: January 13, 2009 5:25 pm

The Poll Attacks

With a win over Kentucky and a 3-0 conference start, including wins over ND and @ Villanova, Louisville should be ranked. No question.

Since: Jan 13, 2009
Posted on: January 13, 2009 3:53 pm

The Poll Attacks

Let me ask everyone a question??? DO the polls really matter? This is not the BCS like in college football.  Everyone knows all that matters in college baseketball is what team puts it together in late february early march.  Arkansas beats 2 top ten teams and has a good record but cannot even make it in the top 25.  North Carolina the team who is unstoppable loses to Boston College at Home and then the next game Boston College loses to Harvard who are awful. Clemson is undefeated just like the last 2 years and as soon as they play the good teams they will start losing.  Duke is a top ten team like every year but they can't put it together in march since the Christian Latner days. The polls are a waste of time.  Pittsburgh will lose soon as well as all the other elite teams.  Ucla gets no respect because they are missing a guy like Kevin Love. No one knows what will happen, everyone thought North Carolina would never lose, and that didnt last very long.  No one knows who will cut down those nets in March

Since: Mar 26, 2007
Posted on: January 13, 2009 3:41 pm

The Poll Attacks

Sorry, I forgot to mention that my post was in response to the post by millardjfilmore.

Since: Mar 26, 2007
Posted on: January 13, 2009 3:38 pm

The Poll Attacks

Even though I'm a die hard UCLA fan, I have to agree with you for the most part.  I recenly asked the same question of fellow Bruins and nobody thought that UCLA is currently a top 10 team.  But the Bruins are definitely better than your suggested 20-25, if for no other reason than because of the immediate drop off in talent among the teams ranked behind UCLA (as noted by Gary Parrish).  I would put them in the top 12-15 for now but expect them to move up as the season progresses.

I think that the reason that most voters are giving UCLA the benefit of the doubt is a combination of Darren Collison being one of the top point guards in the country, Ben Howland being perhaps the best defensive-minded coach in the country, the "potential" of Jrue Holiday and the other freshmen, and perhaps even the improved play of Alfred Aboya now that he's out of Kevin Love's shadow.  Note that I, too, believe that Josh Shipp is (and has always been) overrated on the offensive side of the game but that he is a good defender and is apparently a good leader to his teammates.

After the loss to 24th-ranked Michigan by only three points in just the third game of the season (after flying all the way to New York, not at home as you say) and the loss to 11th-ranked Texas AT Texas by only four points in just the sixth game of the season, the freshmen at UCLA are beginning to gel more and more with the veterans and with Coach Howland's style of play.  Jrue Holiday already is good and appears to be getting better and Drew Gordon is also shaping up to be a strong contributor.  Malcolm Lee looked good until he got hurt but he's expected to be back playing again soon.  Among the freshmen, it appears that only Jerime Anderson and J'Mison Morgan need a lot more work.  So I think that a lot of people expect the Bruins to continue to improve as they begin the tougher part of their schedule.

One other thing to keep in mind, especially for people who don't follow the Pac-10 closely, is that the conference schedule is more difficult than it appears.  Pac-10 schools don't play one game on the road on Wednesday and then the next game at home three days later on a Saturday.  Instead, they play two road games on Thursday and Saturday and then two home games, again with just two days between them.  So back-to-back games against Oregon and Oregon State and then a road game against SUC a week later may not look that tough on paper but, considering the travel involved, the short turnaround time between games, and the very hostile crowds hoping to rush the court each time they play UCLA, the Bruins' current nine game win streak is more impressive than it may look.

Since: Dec 13, 2008
Posted on: January 13, 2009 3:36 pm

The Poll Attacks

People take the polls to serious at this time of the year.  I look at them but don't put much stock in who they have and where they have them until the last 1/5 of the season.  Lighten up folks.  You know the coaches rarely vote in their poll and at this point the AP has not seen enough of the teams play enough for a good idea were they should actually be.  With that said, I still find your post completely correct.

Since: Jan 1, 2008
Posted on: January 13, 2009 3:31 pm

The Poll Attacks

Can someone please answer this:  How do AP people get the right to vote for the top 25?  I am just asking cause this George guy from Montana clearly has no concept of what is going on in college hoops.  Do they even get cable or satellite, the internet or even running water in Montana?  I think this guy just reads how he gets blasted every week for his poll and just tries to fix it based on how you blast him.  This guy obviously doesn't care about his job and it is sad cause there is probably more than a couple writers out there who would love the opportunity to vote in the poll week in and week out.

Since: Nov 17, 2008
Posted on: January 13, 2009 3:25 pm

The Polls--Gonzaga O-VER-RATED? Think about it...

SMC ALWAYS plays Gongaza tough and we've split regular season meetings with them the past two years. (The pattern has been GON by 10 at home, SMC by 5 at home)

USD has the last NCAA tourney win out of us 3 and GON hasn't shown any postseason Cinderella magic in recent memory, so they have as much to prove as anyone (beyond winning the WCC for 9 straight years).

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or