Blog Entry

The Poll Attacks

Posted on: December 27, 2010 4:02 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2010 4:11 pm
You want to punish Tom Izzo for scheduling aggressively?


But now look. You're in the Poll Attacks.

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of

Associated Press poll: I have Michigan State ranked 15th in the Top 25 (and one).

The Spartans are 20th in the AP poll.

Both rankings are reasonable. But what's unreasonable is leaving the Spartans completely off a Top 25 ballot, which is what 13 AP voters did, and I don't understand why. Is it because they've suffered four losses against a ridiculous schedule? Because if that's the reason, that's a stupid reason. And, yes, I can explain. But let's first look at the losses.

They are to:
  • No. 1 Duke on the road
  • No. 4 Connecticut on a neutral court
  • No. 5 Syracuse on a neutral court
  • No. 13 Texas at home
I admit, that's not ideal. It's not what I expected (or what Izzo expected, either). But those are games most teams, if not all teams, ranked between 15th and 25th would also lose, point being that to punish Michigan State for losing those games is to punish Izzo for scheduling aggressively, and that's not right. Given the way some writers vote, Izzo could've scheduled a bunch of buy games, cruised and remained ranked in everybody's top five. But he instead decided to challenge his team and create some interesting matchups in November and December, and I'm not going to penalize him for doing it.

But who has Michigan State beaten, you ask?

Washington, for starters.

The Spartans have a neutral-court win over Washington.

So that means Michigan State has a win over the Pac-10 favorite and losses to four top 13 teams, and 13 writers somehow determined that the Spartans' body of work is unworthy of a Top 25 vote. It's dumb on the surface but even dumber when you dig deeper. This being the Poll Attacks, I dug deeper. And Gary Laney from The Advocate in Louisiana is going to wish I wouldn't have because his ballot is bogus.

He has Cincinnati ranked 22nd.

Now I could spend the next few sentences explaining how the Bearcats would likely have more than four losses if they played Michigan State's schedule and how the Spartans would probably be undefeated if they played Cincinnati's schedule, but I'm not going to do that. Instead, I'm going to tell you that Gary has Washington ranked 24th. That's fine with me in general because Washington's body of work is similar to Michigan State's. Washington is 8-3 instead of 9-4. But all three losses are to good teams -- specifically No. 11 Kentucky, No. 18 Texas A&M and No. 20 Michigan State. Yes, Michigan State. Michigan State beat Washington in the Maui Invitational, which is why Gary's ballot makes no sense.

How can you rank Washington but not rank Michigan State?

They have comparable losses, sure. But Washington has no good wins, and one of Washington's losses is to Michigan State. I mean, that's pretty basic stuff, right? I imagine it is to most, but it's not to Gary Laney. Or to Steven Bradley from The Journal in South Carolina. He has Washington 19th and Michigan State unranked. (Perhaps he's never heard of Maui. Who knows?) And then there's J.P. Butler from the Olean Times in New York. He didn't rank Michigan State but he has Baylor 21st even though Baylor has no good wins and three losses to unranked teams.

Question: If Baylor is 8-3 with no good wins and losses to unranked Gonzaga, unranked Washington State and unranked Florida State, what do you think the Bears would be if they had played a 13-game schedule featuring matchups with No. 1 Duke, No. 4 UConn, No. 5 Syracuse and No. 13 Texas?

Answer: A four-loss team, at least.

Steve DeShazo of the Free Lance-Star in Virginia?

He has Michigan State unranked, too. But he's got Oklahoma State at No. 23 and Cleveland State at No. 25 even though Oklahoma State is 11-1 with no good wins and a loss to unranked Virginia Tech while Cleveland State is 13-1 with no good wins and a double-digit loss to unranked West Virginia. So I guess the lesson is this: If you want Steve to notice you, schedule weak, win a lot of games against bums and lose to an unranked team. But don't you dare schedule aggressively a lose games to ranked opponents, because that'll get you dropped real fast.


Let's move on.

Coaches poll: As you can probably tell by the above Poll Attack, I hate voters who highlight teams simply for building records against weak opponents. It rewards a conservative approach, and I'm against that. So shame on the coaches who put Cincinnati (24 points), Oklahoma State (11 points) and Utah State (four points) on their ballots. I've already told you about Cincinnati (no good wins) and Oklahoma State (no good wins and one bad loss). Now let me tell you about Utah State, the WAC school that's 11-2 with no good wins. Granted, the Aggies' losses (to BYU and Georgetown) are better than OSU's losses (or Baylor's losses, for that matter). But there's not even a decent win on their resume. Thus, Utah State shouldn't be getting votes even though Utah State probably deserves votes as much as Cincinnati deserves votes, and more than Oklahoma State deserves votes. The point is that none of them deserve votes. Stacking wins against bad teams is nothing more than stacking wins against bad teams. It's fine for a school that projected to be strong in the preseason because you can still believe in what you thought you knew. But a gaudy record against a weak schedule should never make you start believing in somebody, which is why I won't start believing in Cincinnati, Cleveland State, Utah State or Oklahoma State until at least one of them records one win against a quality opponent. It would be nice if coaches who vote in the coaches poll did the same.

Since: Dec 6, 2007
Posted on: December 28, 2010 4:19 pm

The Poll Attacks

My goodness , you complain and whine in your post, basically stating that Gary is a prick, when ultimately, you sound even worse. Get off your high horse and drink a beer or something. Geez. 
I, for one, completely agree with Gary on this one. You cannot rank a team based on wins over cupcake teams, while then flanking teams who actually play superior competition. If Cleveland State, Utah State, Cincinnati, etc played the four teams (Duke, UConn, Syracuse, Texas), those teams would lose every one of those games handily. Now, do I believe MSU is a bit overrated this year? Yes. Will they get better and prove themselves as the year goes on? Yes. MSU deserves to be in the Top 25.
Also, I enjoy Gary's Top 25 (and one) poll. It tends to be less biased and true to the quality of basketball played at the time he makes the poll. The AP poll is terribly biased towards programs like North Carolina, Kentucky, etc.

Since: Dec 28, 2010
Posted on: December 28, 2010 12:50 pm

The Poll Attacks

3 wins in the top 200 RPI and none in the top 50 is your claim to a great team?  The fact is, you are trying to use any logic possible to keep this team ranked when they really havn't done anything to prove that they deserve it.  Try ranking them once they have done something other than create a hard schedule.

Since: Jan 16, 2008
Posted on: December 28, 2010 11:49 am

The Poll Attacks

Sageohio... do you actually watch college basketball?  Maybe you should go back and review the games Duke has already played. 

Since: Nov 24, 2009
Posted on: December 28, 2010 11:01 am

The Poll Attacks

Well stated; I agree completely.

Since: Oct 16, 2007
Posted on: December 28, 2010 10:46 am

The Poll Attacks

The great thing about college basketball over college football is that the rankings are irreverent when it comes to pre coference play.  There is plenty of time for their rankings to go up, and in the end, they will make the dance and have a spot at a nation championship.  Unlike football, where if you aren't in the top 25 when the season begins, then it's likely you will not have a chance at a title.  Izzo is doing what he thinks is best for his program, get the team battle tested before the big 10 and it will pay dividends.  Meaningless wins may look pretty now, but in the end this sport is judged on the court come tournament time.

Since: Jun 10, 2008
Posted on: December 28, 2010 8:06 am

The Poll Attacks

Duke No.1??? what a joke as in the ACC. Duke will only play one ranked team all season.

Since: Mar 1, 2009
Posted on: December 27, 2010 11:15 pm

The Poll Attacks

Well they don't desreve to be in the top 25 now but if my memory serves me right only one team has been to the final four the last two years and it happens to be  from the Big Ten. Not NC Not Duke Not Connecticut, not Pitt, not Villanova, not Georgetown, not West Va, not kansas, Not K-state  Nope that would be Michigan State.

Gee go figure.

Since: Sep 5, 2010
Posted on: December 27, 2010 10:10 pm

The Poll Attacks

@ibleeduk... a very good and knowledgeable post for the first few sentences but the OSU commentary didn't make much sense. While I'm not a Buckeye fan I have trouble understanding how playing AT Florida (then #9), AT then 5-1 and now 11-3 and previously ranked Florida State, South Carolina, not to mention an Oakland team that beat Tennessee can be considered such a weak non-conf schedule.  Its definitely not MSU's - nobody else can say that - but its not too bad nonetheless.  I would be interested to hear how you view the schedules of your SEC brethren.

Since: Nov 25, 2007
Posted on: December 27, 2010 9:26 pm

The Poll Attacks

Gary, Gary, Gary...there are too many of these "what ifs" out there.  Yes, Michigan State has a tough schedule; but they are obviously lacking in the post.  Perhaps we should be looking more at the timing of these non-conference games, rather than the "power rankings" of each?  Once the Spartnas enter the Big Ten schedule, we'll find-out, real fast, where they measure-up.  They ARE better than Minnesota and Illinois; but will likely have problems with Wisconsin, Ohio State, Northwestern, etc., etc. 

Since: Jun 9, 2009
Posted on: December 27, 2010 9:23 pm

The Poll Attacks

If you (these guys) have a vote, then its their responsibility to have some kind of logic and intelligence behind their rankings. This guy uses logic to explain why their rankings dont make sense to him. Nothing wrong at all. Some people are either clueless or have ulterior motives behind their rankings, which is fine, because rankings dont matter one bit. Love this!

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