Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Page 2 [Print without images]

Monday, September 19, 2011
Updated: September 21, 9:41 AM ET
Power Rankings: Heavy MSG Edition

By Greg Hardy
Special to Page 2

Madison Square Garden
Think the ACC basketball tournament could be held at Madison Square Garden? Don't count it out.

It's time to pin new tails on the conference-realignment donkey with the Page 2 Power Rankings! Our formula combines the results of two surveys: a human poll concocted by ESPN Page 2's Greg Hardy and a scientifically calibrated poll generated by computer analysis. Unfortunately, our computer spent so much time trying to figure out whether it would subscribe to Netflix video streaming or its spin-off Qwikster DVD-by-mail service that we fired it, and now it works at Blockbuster. To the results!

1. ACC realignment madness

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
9.4 9.6 19.0

Credentials: Wow! Here's a subplot that suddenly became a main event out of nowhere. For some in the college football higher education brain trust, it became apparent that you can't spell ACC without Syracuse and Pittsburgh! (Hey, there's an "A" in "Panthers." If you haven't figured it out by now, NCAA football is all about which rules you can squeak by.) Our first question upon hearing that the two Big East schools applied for ACC membership was: Did they have to pass a test of being able to correctly identify which schools are in the league's Atlantic and Coastal football divisions? Go ahead, you rattle them off for us as fast as you can off the top of your head! What really has the Big East steamed is that ACC commissioner John Swofford has floated the idea that the conference basketball tournament easily could take place in Madison Square Garden. Big East, sorry someone's muscling in on your territory. But as best as we see it, the only way you can postpone that from happening is to hope that UConn can force the Orange into an overtime game that surpasses their six-overtime epic into a 60-overtime filibuster. Still, once the buzzer sounds on that, it's been nice knowing you.


2. Reeling Red Sox

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
9.5 9.0 18.5

Credentials: Yup, Red Sox Fever has now been upgraded to Red Sox Fevered Panic thanks to the Rays' being two games back in the wild-card race. Then again, Boston fans, seven of your final games are against the Orioles. You can win five games against them in your sleep! Oh wait, you did win five games against them in your sleep, then woke up to see that Tampa Bay has passed you. Oh well, at least being out of the playoffs means your aging roster can sleep in through October.


3. Eagles' injuries

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
8.8 8.2 17.0

Credentials: Paging Dr. WeCouldHaveGuessedThisWouldHappen! Paging Dr. WeCouldHaveGuessedThisWouldHappen! Michael Vick might have to be shelved because of a concussion. Edgy sports fans in the Keystone State must be hoping not just that the Eagles won't have to rely on Mike Kafka to deliver the goods for the next 14 games. It also would be nice if doctors predict that Vick can put on shoulder pads again quicker than Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby can lace up his ice skates. Unfortunately, that still leaves things veeeeeery wide open.


4. Mayweather mayhem

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.7 7.2 14.9

Credentials: If you paid for the pay-per-view, we're betting you got more entertainment out of the postfight flare-ups than the head-scratching/head-butting way the fight ended. We just hope that when we're 80 years old, we'll be as cool and quick-on-the-mic as Larry Merchant. Manny Pacquiao, we don't know whether you'll ever get in the ring with flighty Floyd, but on your next music album you must let Merchant guest-rap a response to Mayweather's insults.


5. Midnight football

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.1 7.4 14.5

Credentials: Are you ready for some football? More like, are you ready for some 5-Hour Energy hits to get you through a college football game that kicks off at 12:16 a.m.? Because of lightning storms, the Oklahoma State at Tulsa game didn't finish until 3:35 a.m. And even though it was a 59-33 Cowboys blowout, we'll bet a pair of T. Boone Pickens' finest boots that it will be perfectly fitting if these teams end up in a postseason rematch in the new International Date Line Bowl in Fiji. Set your DVR now!


6. Lexi Thompson

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
6.2 6.3 12.5

Credentials: The 16-year-old high school junior became the youngest winner on the LPGA Tour by running away with the Navistar LPGA Classic by 5 strokes. Parents, this is the perfect example of why you should always lovingly explain to your children: "Kids, no matter what you want to do with your life, if you're not better than professional grown-ups at it by the time you're 16, give up on it forever."


7. Jesse Holley

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.4 5.1 10.5

Credentials: The Dallas Cowboys became the biggest reality show champs in NFL history when the winner of Michael Irvin's reality show hauled in a 77-yard catch to set up an improbable win in San Francisco. Tony Romo likely is vowing he'd suffer through another three fractured ribs in thanks that Holley signed up for the football reality stint instead of "Antiques Roadshow."


8. "Drive"

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.2 4.8 10.0

Credentials: Lots of people who've seen seen it are raving about the Ryan Gosling getaway car thriller. But how did the almost-always P.R.-savvy NASCAR miss out on this cross-promotion opportunity to coincide the marketing of the film with the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup? Negotiations probably fell through when Dale Earnhardt Jr. insisted he have a walk-on role and producers pointed out that with his current losing streak, his career in crime would make it about five blocks before he'd be pulled over by bicycle police.


9. Mariano Rivera

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.1 4.2 9.3

Credentials: So what are your special celebration plans when The Hammer hits a record 602 saves? If it happens in the Bronx, there of course will be no shortage of venues for the party to go all night long 'til the break of dawn. But what happens if the milestone comes during a final road trip to Tampa Bay? No point in having it at Jeter's mansion down there; everyone would get lost finding what room it's in.


10. "Moneyball"

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.0 4.2 9.2

Credentials: Anyone lining up at the multiplex yet to see the movie version of something we've already (a) seen in real life and/or (b) read the book about? More likely, we'll wait for the Blu-ray release so we can see whether there's an alternate ending where Brad Pitt can acquire "Wild Thing" Rick Vaughn from the Cleveland Indians and publicity-hungry Charlie Sheen can score a cameo. Hey, Moneyball is all about "winning!" Isn't it?


11. Verlander rules

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
4.2 4.0 8.2

Credentials: How sick is this? The Tigers' ace won his 12th start in a row and is 24-5 on the season. Detroit, as you start to get World Series fever, let's put this into some perspective for you: Verlander is so good that even if he doesn't throw another pitch in 2011, the Lions would need four years in a row of six-win seasons to match his output this year. Completely beyond the realm of comprehension, right?


12. Spain's champions

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
4.0 3.2 7.2

Credentials: Any NBA fans who needed a pre-lockout basketball fix should have checked out Spain taking it out on France, 98-85, in the European basketball finals. Juan Carlos Navarro had 27 points; Pau Gasol lit it up for 17 points, 10 rebounds; and Serge Ibaka had five blocked shots in the second quarter to help secure Spain's title repeat. Mostly, we're thankful LeBron James didn't show up trying to claim he was born in Akron, Spain, and thus should be allowed to be with the team for a medal ceremony.


13. The Emmys

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
3.1 2.3 5.4

Credentials: Congratulations to Kyle Chandler for winning Best Lead Actor in a Dramatic Series after all those years as Coach Taylor on "Friday Night Lights." We just wish someone had the Texas-sized imagination to paint a Dallas Cowboys star on stage so you could celebrate on top of it, T.O.-style.


Also receiving votes
• "SuperCam" Newton's 400-yard games: Have a seat, haters, and bust out your calculators. You'll need an expensive one to keep up with this cat's stats. Through two games, he's on pace to throw for 6,832 yards (the NFL record being Dan Marino's 5,084), account for 40 total touchdowns and amass zero Panthers victories. If that isn't the dictionary definition of amazing, we don't know what is.

Never receiving votes
• The Tebow flex position: The Denver Broncos finally started to get their money's worth out of Timmy by sending him in as a slot receiver when too many injured bodies were in the locker room instead of on the field against the Bengals. No, he was never thrown to, let alone targeted, but at least this can be a marketing excuse to license a line of receiver's gloves with Bible verses sewn into the fingertips.

Greg Hardy is a Page 2 contributor. It's all pop culture all the time at Twitter.com/HardyVision.


Back to Page 2


• Philbrick: Page 2's Greatest Hits, 2000-2012
• Caple: Fond memories of a road warrior
• Snibbe: An illustrated history of Page 2
Philbrick, Gallo: Farewell podcast Listen