Monday, February 25, 2013
Poll thoughts: Lazy voters strike again
By Jason King
It's time for this week's poll thoughts. I know this won't be popular, but I'm substituting for his highness, Eamonn Brennan, who was so dismayed by the inclusion of a particular team in the latest poll that he lost all motivation to type, link, click and drop one-liners.
Either that or he ordered the wrong thing last night at the fast-food joint.
Whatever the case, Eamonn is out of pocket. But if he were here, I'm sure he'd be as startled as I am to see that Louisiana Tech -- Louisiana Tech! -- has entered The Associated Press poll at No. 25. Look, I get it. The Bulldogs' 118-48 victory over Central Baptist College last week was impressive. And so were all those victories over WAC powerhouses such as Seattle, Idaho and Texas-San Antonio. Louisiana Tech is 24-3, for crying out loud, and it's not like two of its losses were to McNeese State and Northwestern State.
Oh, wait ... yes, they were.
Sarcasm aside, kudos to the Bulldogs, who are ranked for the first time since 1985, when Karl Malone was on the team. They're doing the best they can with a schedule that's out of their control. Hopefully the publicity they receive from this week's ranking will help their program. But it's ridiculous for Louisiana Tech to be in the poll over teams such as Colorado State, Connecticut, Wichita State, North Carolina and UNLV.
The Bulldogs' inclusion validates the main criticism of the AP weekly rankings: Voters are lazy. Instead of watching games or, at the very least, doing research, they're voting for teams based on record and record alone. It shouldn't always be about how many games you win. It should be about whom you play -- and whom you beat. Sorry to be a party-pooper, but Louisiana Tech is not one of the top 25 teams in college basketball.
A few other thoughts:
-- Miami fell only three spots -- from No. 2 to No. 5 -- following Saturday's 15-point loss to ACC bottom-feeder Wake Forest (12-14, 5-9). I'd have dropped the Hurricanes lower, not just because of their upset to the Demon Deacons, but because of how they were playing before that. Jim Larranaga's squad played one of its worst games of the season in a 45-43 victory over Clemson on Feb. 17. And it didn't exactly dominate Virginia in a 54-50 win two days later. UVa boasts a decent squad, but when you're ranked No. 2 in America, you're held to a higher standard, especially at home. I don't foresee the Hurricanes getting a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
-- I don't have any problem with Gonzaga being ranked No. 2 -- which, by the way, is the highest ranking in school history. The Zags own two conference victories over a solid Saint Mary's squad and as always, played a tough nonconference schedule that included games against Oklahoma State, Baylor, Butler, Illinois, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Davidson. Anyone doubting Mark Few's squad needs to watch the Zags play. They clearly pass the eye test. This team has very few, if any, flaws. The frontcourt of Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris is one of the best in the country.
-- It's good to see Memphis back in the Top 20 at No. 18. The Tigers have been on fire since losing to Louisville in a curiously officiated game on Dec. 15. Memphis, 24-3 overall, has won 18 straight and is playing with tremendous structure and cohesion. In Saturday's game against Southern Miss, the Tigers had 25 assists on 29 field goals. I've enjoyed watching Josh Pastner -- who was 31 when he was hired to replace John Calipari in 2009 -- grow and mature as a coach.
-- Butler is a difficult team to rank. The Bulldogs boast victories over the country's No. 1- and No. 2-ranked teams (Indiana and Gonzaga). But they've also lost to Saint Louis, Charlotte and La Salle in recent weeks. And they were nearly upset by George Washington and Fordham. I guess I can understand leaving Butler in the poll, though -- for now.
-- After watching the New Mexico-Colorado State game Saturday, I wouldn't have dropped CSU out of the Top 25 despite its loss to the Lobos. This is a very good Rams team. Heck, it took someone (Kendall Williams) scoring 46 points for them to get beaten Saturday.
-- Kudos to VCU for rallying from a 17-point deficit to beat Xavier Saturday, but the Rams haven't been playing like a Top 25 team. Maybe it's the images of that 76-62 thumping VCU suffered at the hands of Saint Louis last week that are sticking in my head.
-- A few other tidbits from our friends at ESPN Stats & Info: Georgetown has its highest ranking since 2010. ... Syracuse is out of the top 10 for the first time this season. ... Saint Louis is ranked for the first time this season and, at No. 18, has its highest ranking since 1994.