Poll Thoughts: Vandy takes the plunge

November, 14, 2011
11/14/11
2:58
PM ET
College hoops polls might be inconsequential noise, but that doesn't make them any less fun to argue about. In that spirit, I present the creatively named "Poll Thoughts," which you can expect every Monday until the season is over.

Let's be honest: It's still a bit too early in the year to really put our foot on the proverbial "Poll Thoughts" pedal. Most teams have played only one game. Some haven't played at all. As such, very little has changed from the preseason poll. Because there are so few results and because the data is so limited, there's not much to argue about. Should Team X be ranked higher than Team Y? Maybe!

Still, there are a couple of interesting points to make about Monday's new ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll. Let's take a quick look:
  • A pair of early upsets have already damaged two teams' poll perceptions. Vanderbilt's loss to Cleveland State dropped the Commodores 13 spots, from No. 7 to No. 20, while UCLA fell from No. 20 all the way out of the coaches' poll after losing its debut quasi-home game at LA Sports Arena to Loyola Marymount. The Bruins received just 10 votes. That's three fewer than Cleveland State, which earned 13 votes after its win. (Loyola Marymount received zero poll love. Tough crowd, those coaches.) I think you can argue that Vanderbilt deserves to fall even further, considering the four teams below it (Cal, Gonzaga, Florida State and Missouri) have all handled business. But perhaps the Commodores' stickiness is more a sign of respect for a tough Cleveland State team.
  • Speaking of respect: Cleveland State got 43 votes in the AP poll, fourth among teams that received votes outside of the Top 25. Cleveland State fans have often decried the lack of attention being paid to this year's team, how everyone seems to dismiss the Norris Cole-less Vikings as a Horizon League contender. Whether or not that's true (plenty of previews have highlighted CSU), the Vikings' heady play at Vanderbilt has now rendered the argument moot. When you get wins like this, respect comes by default.
  • Hey, where's Belmont? The Bruins were incredibly impressive in their one-point loss to Duke on Friday; the result was as much a function of Belmont's excellence as it was Duke's inexperience. The Associated Press voters reacted in kind, giving Belmont 21 votes in this week's poll. But the coaches' poll is harsh, and Belmont didn't receive a single vote. I'd love to hear the justifications for that kind of vote. Belmont's result, while not a win, was more impressive than anything any of the Top 25, with the possible exception of North Carolina, did this week. For example: Butler lost to Evansville and still received six coaches' votes. What gives? Belmont is hardly an unknown; the Bruins have nearly everyone back from last year's 30-4 barnstorm through the A-Sun. And in their first game of the season, they nearly took down the No. 6 team in the country on its home floor. I'm not saying Belmont is a top-10 team. But does any team outside the top 10 go to Duke and play the Blue Devils to one point at this time in the season? Does Missouri? Florida State? Cincinnati? Texas A&M? Take your pick. Belmont deserves some recognition. Frankly, they probably deserve to be in the Top 25. But not a single vote? Ridiculous.

And that's pretty much it. Like I said, there's not a lot to argue about just yet. Give it a week or so, though. We'll be having pointless-but-fun poll discussions in no time.

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