College hoops polls might be inconsequential noise, but that doesn't make the arguments any less fun. In that spirit, I present the creatively named Poll Thoughts, which you can expect every Monday until the season is over. (New season, same intro. We're back. Huzzah!)
In case you're new to Poll Thoughts, the idea behind this enterprise is relatively simple: When the polls arrive, I criticize them.
Sure, I can comment, analyze and observe or run line-item reports on why each team is ranked where it is, but let's be honest: That's not fun! What is fun is when the polls get something drastically wrong. We get to have a laugh and explain why. Various fan bases get to laugh along, or get angry at being the example for said laughter. (And if there's one thing we know about vocal sports fans on the Internet, it's that they love to feel aggrieved. That sound you just heard was thousands of keyboards typing the word "hater." Mine too. Hater!)
We also get the bonus of knowing that the polls don't actually matter at all. They are snapshot portraits of the hoops landscape for casual television viewers -- a convenient visual cue. Because that is the case, we can engage in this enterprise from a healthy distance. Nothing is at stake.
With that out of the way, how do I feel about the Week 3 polls?
I ... have no problem with them whatsoever.
That's anticlimactic, I know, but it's still awfully early in the season. There hasn't been time for the games to get too confusing or for top teams to take bad losses, and even when that is the case, you sense everyone is wary of overreacting, knowing full well just how wacky 40 minutes of college hoops can be. Plus, the lack of results makes it difficult to distinguish -- and thus argue -- between teams. We're in the beginning phases of figuring this whole thing out.
Still, if I do have one gripe with this week's poll, it has to do with NC State.
The Wolfpack are ranked No. 16 in the AP poll and No. 15 in the coaches' poll, down 10 and nine spots, respectively, from their No. 6 perch last week. The reasons are obvious: On Sunday, unranked Oklahoma State housed the Wolfpack for the entirety of their 76-56 win. NC State got no production from Lorenzo Brown and C.J. Leslie, who fouled out early in the second half. It looked lackluster and disengaged, and the result was a truly ugly loss.
So here's a good early example of why the polls don't always make sense. Oklahoma State just beat a full-strength NC State on a neutral floor by 20 points. But NC State remains ranked higher than the Pokes, which come in at No. 20, because, well, why exactly?
If the answer is "it's just one game, and we still think NC State is really good," fine. I can accept that. I saw T.J. Warren and Rodney Purvis, and I believe. Our ESPN.com Power Rankings kept NC State at No. 18, for example. I can dig it. (I, on the other hand, did not rank them. No mercy!)
But if the reason is "because NC State was ranked No. 6 before," that's everything I hate about the polls. They are based entirely on perceptions that, once codified, are too slow to reverse. When you consider this NC State team was ranked that high thanks not only to its stellar recruiting class but also because it won two games in the NCAA tournament -- after barely making it into the tournament in the first place -- there's reason to question that ranking.
Anyway, like I said, I can see a couple of different arguments there but no reason to work up too frothy a lather. Nor are any of the other things that stick out about the polls -- Wisconsin and Notre Dame's banishment, Pittsburgh's non-inclusion, Colorado missing out on the coaches' poll, etc. -- because it's simply too early.
But you know we'll get there. We always do.