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.
Florida is not the eighth-best college basketball team in the country.
Let's just get that out of the way now. Because we should be able to agree on that much, right? We have a multitude of evidence to the contrary: The Gators' 83-52 stomping of Missouri, the fact they've outscored their conference opponents by 0.42 points per possession (by contrast, last season Kentucky went 16-0 in the SEC and its efficiency margin was 0.26) and the fact of the seven or eight teams we might plausibly call No. 1, the Gators are the only team that boasts a top-five efficiency defense *and* a top-five efficiency offense.
So we can all, at the very least, acknowledge that right now there are very few, if any, teams playing better basketball. And we can probably all admit that Florida could be, and maybe even should be, No. 1 overall.
But, of course, that is not how polls work. The Gators have two losses -- at Arizona and quasi-away versus Kansas State -- and one-loss teams like Duke, Michigan, Kansas and Syracuse were always going to get better billing since that's the case. Frankly, I think you can make pretty reasonable arguments for Duke (which still has the best "résumé," if that's what you're into), Michigan (which just won an uber-impressive game at Minnesota), Kansas (which hasn't lost since mid-November) and even Syracuse (which just beat No. 1 Louisville in Louisville). But Florida should definitely not be ranked below Louisville, Arizona and Indiana. It should be in serious contention for a No. 1 spot.
Other assorted poll thoughts:
Butler moved into the top 10 after Saturday night's miracle win over Gonzaga at Hinkle Fieldhouse, and I really like what the voters did with both teams. Butler got the requisite move up (from No. 13) while the Zags moved just a couple of spots down (from No. 8 to No. 10). Any sort of loss at Butler probably wouldn't have made Gonzaga's stock fall in the poll, but *that* loss at Butler? That is hardly cause for a downgrade.
Maybe the biggest disparity between efficiency ranking and poll ranking this week is Kansas State. The Wildcats are ranked No. 11 in the AP poll and No. 44 in Ken Pomeroy's Pythagorean efficiency rankings. I would venture to say they should be slotted somewhere in the middle.
Oregon is rapidly rising up the polls -- from a new entry last week to No. 15 this week -- and for good reason. Saturday's win at UCLA was an impressive one, and it's clear the Ducks are capable of contending with Arizona for the Pac-12 title.
I think poll voters really took notice of the injury to Missouri's Laurence Bowers. How do I know? Because Florida destroyed Mizzou without Bowers, but the Gators weren't given a major boost after that 31-point shellacking, and the Tigers, while downgraded five spots from No. 17, weren't fully booted from the poll. So the win wasn't that impressive, while at the same time it wasn't an indictment of Missouri? Bowers' absence is the only explanation. Fair enough, I guess?