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CBS Sports Bloggers’ Blogpoll, Week 6

March 16, 2009 Comments off

The honest truth is that I don’t value conference tournaments very much. The spectacle of the best teams playing a knockout tournament, NCAA bids on the line, the cream rising to the top and all, sounds nice. Great for television. But watching an SEC Tournament final with Tennessee and Mississippi State (MS State won to earn a 13 seed in the tournament)? A Temple vs. Duquesne final in the Atlantic 10 (Temple won, got an 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament)? Clemson, Kansas, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh losing early in their conference tournaments?

You can’t tell me that Kansas is any worse than they were all year. Or Oklahoma has serious flaws. I have no data on this, but I think top teams sometimes just tank their conference tournaments. Not entirely; I don’t think the coach stands in front of his team and says "lay an egg out there, fellas, stink up the joint like you just had that too-spicy burrito."

But I do think that the effort is not equal for all teams. Maryland had a lot to gain by making it to the final; Clemson, a bit less. They’ve done enough, they’re in the tournament. For Pittsburgh, the same. And they get a benefit. Those teams who stop their conference run early get a few more days rest, a little less wear and tear, some time to go to class, or practice, or meet some trim, whatever it is they do with their non-practice time.

Conference championships are nice. But the NCAA tournament, doesn’t it pay more, benefit more, increase the school’s and coaches’ rep? There is much more incentive to save the legs for the "most wonderful time of the year" than there is for the conference championship.

So, as stated, I don’t value conference tournaments very much. And as such I won’t value them heavily in my rankings. To loosely paraphrase Denny Green, most of these teams are who we thought they were. You won’t see too much movement below.

Asides:

  • But I will give a little love to Louisville and Missouri. Syracuse‘s performance gets some major love as well.
  • And Clemson losing to Georgia Tech is the turd of all turd performances.
  • Wanted to give some love to Maryland, but I like all those other teams better.
  • Oh, crap. Illinois on the 5 line in the NCAA tournament… duhDUM.
  • That’s better than being in the CBI like St. John’s. Who is playing on the road at Richmond. On the road.
Rank Team Delta
1 Louisville 3
2 Pittsburgh 1
3 North Carolina 1
4 Connecticut 1
5 Oklahoma
6 Michigan St.
7 Duke 1
8 Memphis 2
9 Kansas 2
10 Villanova 1
11 Missouri 3
12 Washington
13 Wake Forest 4
14 UCLA 1
15 Purdue 4
16 Gonzaga
17 Syracuse 6
18 Illinois 1
19 Clemson 4
20 Marquette
21 Xavier 3
22 Arizona St.
23 Florida St. 1
24 Louisiana St. 3
25 West Virginia
Last week’s ballot

Dropped Out: Brigham Young (#22), New Mexico (#25).

CBS Sports Bloggers’ Blogpoll, Week 5

March 9, 2009 Comments off

Does anyone finish well in the Pac 10? Except for Washington and UCLA. There is a lot of mediocrity this year… then again, maybe there’s just a good deal of talent, and less than there was last year. So it goes. This is short this week; I was working on the Big East Bloggers Roundtable, which you should check out…

Rank Team Delta
1 Pittsburgh 3
2 North Carolina 1
3 Connecticut 1
4 Louisville 1
5 Oklahoma 2
6 Michigan St. 2
7 Kansas
8 Duke 2
9 Wake Forest
10 Memphis
11 Villanova
12 Washington 1
13 UCLA 1
14 Missouri 2
15 Clemson
16 Gonzaga 6
17 Illinois 2
18 Xavier
19 Purdue 2
20 Marquette 3
21 Louisiana St. 1
22 Brigham Young 3
23 Syracuse
24 Florida St.
25 New Mexico
Last week’s ballot

Dropped Out: Butler (#12), Arizona St. (#23).

CBS Sports Bloggers’ Blogpoll, Week 4

March 2, 2009 Comments off

[Note: the poll has a mistake – I didn’t mean to have Butler so high. Disregard their ranking. It’s a technical error owing to having a couple of windows open and fat, tired fingers. A total error. I apologize.]

I’ve been thinking on this thing I have had against putting North Carolina at #1. Yes, the loss to Boston College was not good. A road loss to a very good Wake Forest team, not so great. A (road loss) to the Maryland Terrapins was a red flag. But that was an overtime loss, away, in a tough place to play. I don’t know that I am calling up my bookie and telling him to bet my non-existent savings on North Carolina, but consider this:

– I watch U Conn and I really think they lack that ability to crush hearts. Perhaps I am trying to envision them as the Khalid El-Amin/ Rip Hamilton/ Jake Voskuhl Huskies or the Caron Butler/ Emeka Okafor (was Ben Gordon on that squad?) and I see the Josh Boone/ Marcus Williams/ Rudy Gay Huskies. To quote Eminem, “your style is like dying in my sleep/ I don’t feel it.”

Oklahoma did lose a game.

– What is Pittsburgh when DeJuan Blair is in foul trouble? Or if he no longer gets the Hansbrough rules, i.e., if he no longer gets some curious non-calls?

Here is my ballot… take a look, disagree freely (but respectfully, and disregard the Butler accident), and some more notes are after the poll.

Rank Team Delta
1 North Carolina 3
2 Connecticut 1
3 Oklahoma 1
4 Pittsburgh 3
5 Louisville
6 Duke
7 Kansas 11
8 Michigan St. 3
9 Wake Forest 1
10 Memphis 2
11 Villanova 4
12 Butler
13 Washington 1
14 UCLA 5
15 Clemson 5
16 Missouri 3
17 Marquette 8
18 Xavier 4
19 Illinois 4
20 Louisiana St. 1
21 Purdue 5
22 Gonzaga 2
23 Arizona St. 6
24 Florida St.
25 Brigham Young
Last week’s ballot

Dropped Out: West Virginia (#23), Utah (#24), Arizona (#25).

Notes:

+ I think Villanova should be better than losing to Georgetown at home. Dude. Protect the home court. Honestly, letting DePaul get close raised an eyebrow for me.

+ I have to drop teams that lost twice in a week. Marquette doesn’t deserve the heavy drop, but I like a number of teams better than them, especially without Dominic James. Clemson… that was a surprise. Arizona State had a rough time in scenic Washington State.

+ Big Ten: I just don’t think Ohio State is that good, so beating the tar out of them isn’t doing it for me.

+ Kansas had two HUUUUGE wins last week. Much respect and a 10 point Alison Stokke poll jump.

+ I should have Utah in at 25, just below Bring ‘Em Young – I mean Brigham Young. Yeah, that’s my error. Whoopsie.

CBS Sports Bloggers’ Blogpoll, Week 3

February 22, 2009 1 comment

Notes:

#1: Pitt.

2-5: The great quandary: Oklahoma. They played decently without Blake Balloon poppedGriffin against Texas, one of the few rivals that Oklahoma has. But I think this Texas team is just not good. Do I drop Oklahoma for losing an away game after an injury to their lynchpin? But I think Texas is better than that inconsistent, Morgan State-losing Maryland Squad. And UNC lost to the Terps. So that closes that case. U Conn’s still a great team, just not as great as the Panthers; is their #1 seed close to popping? I like what Louisville is up to, but I know better than to blow up wins over Providence and Cincy too much.

2-10: I think Duke had an okay week, but I expected them to be much better against St. John’s. I am wildly unconvinced about this team. The win over Wake kept them in this lofty perch.

North Carolina needed to just blow out those Hurricanes and defang NC State. They did not. And then a loss to Maryland? This was supposed to be a “done deal” national championship team? Something smells like cowpies, and that is why we all love this sport. Not the cowpies. The volatility.

Marquette has a serious chance to prove what’s really good about the Eagles – this is the U Conn/ Louisville/ Pitt stretch that could get Marquette a 2-seed if they come out with one loss. I reread that and thought “I drank too much this weekend,” so let me amend that to say that this is the stretch that gives us an answer about how good the Golden Eagles are.

And Nova’s win at Syracuse was a solid road win.


10-20: That Michigan State loss at Purdue was… statistically terrible. I will give them a little benefit of the doubt playing on the road against a team that’s better than it appears in Purdue but… ugh.

Despite the ugliest loss I’ve heard about in a while, Illinois has beaten Purdue twice and has more quality wins, so they get the nod.

I realized I have Arizona State ranked too low. And UCLA too high; but I haven’t seen those games so I can’t say that I would drop them out of my top 20. I do have an “East Coast Boas” after all (and have been traveling to see some fam).

20+: Butler, Cal, Dayton – you all disappoint me. Leave my poll. Do the walk of shame. Butler, especially – losing to Illinois-Chicago? I watched Butler eviscerate that same team at Loyola and I have no idea how they could lose to such an inept squad. Beating Davidson brings some props but it doesn’t counter two very bad losses. I wanted to drop Xavier like a naughty habit, but that would have caught me putting in the likes of Siena or Texas, and I am not convinced.

Welcome to Louisiana State and an Arizona team that is coming on strong. But they started so weak that I feel dirty putting them in a top 25.

Rank Team Delta
1 Pittsburgh 3
2 Oklahoma
3 Connecticut 2
4 North Carolina 1
5 Louisville 2
6 Duke 1
7 Villanova 2
8 Wake Forest 2
9 Marquette 2
10 Clemson 2
11 Michigan St. 1
12 Memphis
13 Missouri 3
14 Washington 1
15 Illinois 2
16 Purdue 5
17 Arizona St. 5
18 Kansas 2
19 UCLA 5
20 Gonzaga 2
21 Louisiana St.
22 Xavier 9
23 West Virginia
24 Utah
25 Arizona
Last week’s ballot

Dropped Out: Butler (#19), California (#23), Dayton (#25).

Comments? Gripes with my top 25? Holler at me below. I’m going to sleep.

CBS Sports Bloggers’ Blogpoll, Week 2

February 16, 2009 Comments off

Notes about this week’s poll:

+ This week featured a number of top ten teams losing… mostly away from home. Duke. Clemson. Wake Forest. And Louisville. Despite the losses, I can’t drop all of those teams and move in some other squad, because who could I say would beat those teams on a neutral site? Michigan State? Or Villanova, who lost to West Virginia? Of those teams, I could drop Wake Forest – losing to North Carolina State and Georgia Tech gives me reason to wonder.

+ I saw Butler smoke Loyola-Illinois in Chicago a month ago… and losing to a terrible squad at home is a big ol’ RED FLAG.

+ The Pac-10 is rounding into (muddy) shape.

+ I wanted to put Dayton in my top 25 last week, and now that they came out with a wire-to-wire win over Xavier, I have a little justification. They could really stand to score more efficiently, but I love their style.

Rank Team Delta
1 Connecticut
2 Oklahoma
3 North Carolina
4 Pittsburgh
5 Duke
6 Wake Forest
7 Louisville
8 Clemson
9 Villanova 2
10 Michigan St. 2
11 Marquette 2
12 Memphis 1
13 Xavier 1
14 UCLA 1
15 Washington 1
16 Missouri 1
17 Illinois 2
18 Gonzaga
19 Butler 9
20 Kansas
21 Purdue
22 Arizona St.
23 California 1
24 Utah 1
25 Dayton
Last week’s ballot

Dropped Out: Ohio St. (#23).

edit: here’s a link to this week’s blogpoll as a whole. I won the “Mr. Stubborn” award for not moving the ACC teams down! Heh. I see the point in moving Wake Forest down a slot or two, but I will be damned if I move a Memphis team up who hasn’t beaten anyone of not on the court (I won’t be rude and say anything about off the court), or Clemson, or Louisville (who I should move down – they are playing very poorly right now). But Wake is flawed, for sure.

CBS Sports Bloggers’ Blogpoll, Week 1

February 9, 2009 2 comments

This week is the inaugural CBSSports College Basketball inaugural blogpoll. And this blog was invited to participate. Each of us (participating blogs listed here) is also asked to talk about our voting philosophies.

Now, I’m big on stats but Pomeroy’s numbers, which I refer to daily, do not properly account for a team that suddenly plays like something that needs to be flushed. In Pomeroy’s ranking, West Virginia is ranked 7th?! I don’t see it from West Virginia, and I love their team – but they couldn’t hang with Syracuse, weren’t all that close to Pitt at home. Their numbers and ranking look strong because they eviscerate opponents below them, but I’d like to see a top ten team beat… another top ten team.

They do not pass the eye test.

But I do take a look at Pomeroy’s stats to get a sense of how a team is winning, who they’ve beaten, and the like. I started this list from last week’s AP poll, actually, to get a sense of conventional wisdom. I compared that to the Coaches’ poll as well; and then started making the “do I really think team x can beat team x-1 (ranked just below them)?” And I made concessions for teams that could get merked by one or two teams below them, but generally would handle most squads they are ranked higher than.

I put more emphasis on home losses than road losses, and for teams like Marquette, sometimes the bad game happens. Their body of work in the Big East has been very good, though I think they’re about to get a correction from Villanova (I think they’re playing fantastic ball), U Conn, Pitt, and Louisville. But I do not at all care that they lost to South Florida – they were on the road against an opponent that has been staying close to some top teams, and the Bulls, for some reason, are Marquette kryptonite.

All of that said, I will think on who I ranked and have no qualms dropping, say, #13 Memphis straight out of the poll.  I don’t think they’re that good, but I haven’t found a rationale for dumping them.  My rankings:

Rank Team
1 Connecticut
2 Oklahoma
3 North Carolina
4 Pittsburgh
5 Duke
6 Wake Forest
7 Louisville
8 Clemson
9 Marquette
10 Butler
11 Villanova
12 Michigan St.
13 Memphis
14 Xavier
15 UCLA
16 Washington
17 Missouri
18 Gonzaga
19 Illinois
20 Kansas
21 Purdue
22 Arizona St.
23 Ohio St.
24 California
25 Utah

The composite rankings and some conversation about different methods (some of which I might borrow for my own use next week):

Rank Team PPB StdDev Delta 1 Connecticut (42) 24.9 0.3 25 2 Oklahoma (3) 23.1 1.4 24 3 North Carolina (1) 22.9 1.0 23 4 Pittsburgh 22.0 1.1 22 5 Duke (1) 20.5 2.5 21 6 Louisville 19.4 2.4 20 7 Wake Forest 17.2 2.8 19 8 Memphis 16.3 2.7 18 9 Clemson 15.8 4.0 17 10 Marquette 15.2 3.9 16 11 Michigan St. 15.0 3.9 15 12 UCLA 14.4 3.6 14 13 Xavier 12.7 3.5 13 14 Villanova 12.7 3.4 12 15 Butler 11.4 4.5 11 16 Kansas 9.3 3.3 10 17 Missouri 6.6 4.8 9 18 Gonzaga 6.1 3.9 8 19 Illinois 5.9 3.6 7 20 Purdue 5.6 4.1 6 21 Arizona St. 5.3 3.1 5 22 Utah St. 3.7 4.4 4 23 Washington 3.2 3.3 3 24 Syracuse 2.5 3.2 2 25 Ohio St. 2.1 3.2 1

Notes:

3 On the Come Up

I really like Utah. I think they are crisp and coming on strong. One home loss to California, who I am also more and more impressed with. The Golden Bears lost both of their games downstate in Los Angeles, but bounced back with a solid win over Washington. That got them in for me. And Missouri, winning at Texas is kinda hot.

3 Getting the Bozack

Texas… losing to K-State at home, then Mizzou at home, then Nebraska? Losing to Nebraska? What top 25 does that?? Ok, Missouri does. Purdue has problems. And Syracuse has lost 5 of 7, including to Providence, who aren’t that bad, but they’re not that good either.

Comments? Leave a note below.