Blog Entry

The Poll Attacks

Posted on: December 19, 2011 3:42 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 3:46 pm
By Gary Parrish

UNLV should be ranked ahead of Illinois.

Only six Associated Press voters don't understand this.

But hopefully those six will learn their lesson in this week's Poll Attacks.

Associated Press poll: Leaving UNLV off your ballot is wrong.

Leaving UNLV off your ballot that includes Illinois?

That's way wrong.

But six AP voters -- Bill Cole, Elton Alexander, Pete Glibert, Roger Clarkson, Ron Morris and Rod Beard -- managed to do exactly that this week, and so now they find themselves in the middle of the Poll Attacks. Merry Christmas, fellas. Did you see what UNLV did to Illinois on Saturday in Chicago? The Rebels won 64-48. And, no, head-to-head matchups aren't the deciding factor on everything. They can't be. But UNLV doesn't only have that 16-point victory over the Illini in Illinois, the Rebels also have a better overall body of work.

UNLV has wins over No. 5 North Carolina and No. 25 Illinois, and the Rebels' only losses are at No. 13 Wisconsin and at Wichita State, which is receiving votes in the AP poll.  Meantime, Illinois has zero wins over schools currently ranked. So UNLV has better wins than Illinois, no real bad losses and -- don't forget this -- a dominant win over the Illini in Chicago. In my opinion, both schools should be ranked. So I'm not killing Illinois. All I'm saying is that UNLV should also be ranked. And definitely above Illinois. Because ranking Illinois while not ranking UNLV is almost as dumb as Will Barton being an official candidate for an award given annually to the nation's top point guard.

Coaches poll:
Would you drop a team because it lost a game when three players fouled out?

Of course you would.

We all would.

Which is why I have no problem with the coaches dropping Xavier from ninth to 15th in this week's poll even though Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons and Dez Wells did not play in Sunday's home loss to Oral Roberts, because they essentially fouled out of the game before it started via the roles they played in that brawl against Cincinnati. They were all suspended because of their actions. So why shouldn't Xavier pay a price for that?

An injury?

That's nobody's fault.

That's why Ohio State didn't suffer when Jared Sullinger's absence cost the Buckeyes at Kansas.

But Holloway, Lyons and Wells are responsible for putting their team in a bad spot just like when somebody else's starting center picks up two dumb fouls early and puts his team in a bad spot. When that team loses, we don't excuse it and say, "But that team wouldn't have lost if its center would've played smarter." So why should we excuse Xavier's loss and say, "But the Musketeers wouldn't have lost if Holloway, Lyons and Wells would've acted appropriately against Cincinnati?"

Answer: We shouldn't.

So I'm OK with how the coaches handled Xavier.

It's similar to how we handled the Musketeers in the Top 25 (and one).

And I realize this is sort of a reverse Poll Attack, but whatever. I wanted to make that point.
Since: Sep 10, 2006
Posted on: December 25, 2011 8:26 pm
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Since: May 31, 2011
Posted on: December 25, 2011 12:27 pm

The Poll Attacks

Once again, thanks...even after reading all your BS the rest of the post, this pretty much sums it up.  We have been saying from the begining "IU is a top 10 team BECAUSE they have a top 10 record/resume".  You've now confirmed that they have a top 10 record/resume.  Thanks.
Yes.  That's the difference of opinion.  That's been pretty obvious from the beginning.  You and your other IU buddy think that resume is the end-all-be-all determining factor for ranking teams.  I don't

I believe that there are other intangible factors that simply can't be quantified and crunched by a computer. The coaches and AP voters seem to agree with me. Actually it would appear that everyone does except IU fans.  I wonder why that is?

I'll ask you again.  Does the fact that IU only has ONE GOOD win bother you at all?  Some teams have half a dozen already.  Does it give you pause and make you think that maybe, just maybe that ONE WIN is the only thing that IU can hang their hat on right now.  ONE WIN that was played at home with a crowd more pumped up than they have been in years, and likely won't be for the rest of the season?  ONE WIN that was took a last second miracle to sneak away with a 1 point victory?

Do you expect to beat Ohio State when they come into Assembly Hall?  Be honest with yourself.  According to most of the ratings I've seen they are on par with UK.  If you don't think they will (not that they can that they will) beat Ohio State, then you're basically admitting that the UK win was more of a fluke than anything.  I don't think that IU will beat Ohio State.  I think the UK win was a fluke.  It would appear based on the voting that I'm in the majority on this one.

If IU does win against Ohio State then myself and I suspect the voters will change our tune towards IU.  But right now just remember this.  You're a fan. You're supposed to believe that they can beat anybody.  I'm not a fan.  Neither are the voters.  We're all supposed to be skeptical.  

Again, get another good win.  Prove the UK game wasn't a fluke.  That's not an unreasonable request especially since pretty much every team ahead of IU has already done it.

There's nothing more to discuss...we understand the voters can vote however they want...our opinion is that they should be voting based on the record/resume, not some pre-conceived idea of who "should" be the best team or "was" the best team at the beginning of the year. 
My opinion at theis point has nothing to do with preseason rankings.  Nearly everyone ahead of IU has already proven MULTIPLE TIMES, ON THE COURT that they can compete with quality teams.  IU hasn't done that ON THE COURT yet.

But it sounds like you're done trying to make excuses and and justifying IU's crappy schedule and your own biases.  (And as I've said before, I have no beef with IU.  Nor do I have any issue with them being ranked in the top 10 once they've earned it)  So have a Merry Christmas, and I'll catch up with you on the next Poll Attack thread.  I'm sure by then you'll be demanding that IU be ranked in the Top 5 because they've beaten yet another crappy team.

Since: Sep 10, 2006
Posted on: December 25, 2011 12:00 pm
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Since: Sep 10, 2006
Posted on: December 25, 2011 11:56 am
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Since: May 31, 2011
Posted on: December 25, 2011 12:40 am

The Poll Attacks

Oh, almost forgot.  All rankings listed below were taken from Sagairn's ratings as of Dec23.

Have a safe and happy holiday everyone! 

Since: May 31, 2011
Posted on: December 25, 2011 12:36 am

The Poll Attacks

Oh look at this... I get home from dinner with the family, and what awaits me?  An early Christmas present!  More delusional IU rantings.  Oh boy!
First of all, I watch every IU game.  While you discount any game that a team plays who isn't in the top 50, I don't.  I see how they play in all games.  They are a good team.  The win over UK was not surprising to me at all, in fact I said so a week prior to the game.  I wasn't predicting a win, but I said I wouldn't be surprised if IU won because they were much better than people were then ranking them (receiving a couple of votes in the polls).
Fantastic.  You've seen every IU game.  So even if that does make you the authority on all things Indiana Basketball related, do you think it is reasonable to expect that the AP voters and Coaches have seen every IU game, and for that matter every game of every team that they plan on ranking? (Hint:  The correct answer is "No it is not reasonable to expect that)

So even if you are correct about IU how amazing IU is to watch, you can't reasonable expect that to effect how people vote in the polls.  If you think they're going to rank IU higher because someone told them that IU looked really good, then you're expecting IU to be ranked on reputation, not on observed data so that completely shoots a whole in your idea of objectivity in the polls.  

The problem I have with you continually dogging on IU is that you don't dog on any other team.  What has Syracuse done to be the #1 team other than be given a preseason ranking based on nothing?  They have beaten Florida and Marshall (a marginal top tier team).  What has Baylor or Marquette done?  Their "quality wins" are worse than IU's, and they have nothing else to go on.  Missouri is the same way.
Well for starters, nobody is ragging on any other programs, because there aren't fans of any other programs on here biatching and bellyaching that they aren't ranked as high as they should be.  

And Syracuse wasn't ranked highly in the presason based on "nothing."  They were ranked high because of how they played last season, who they had returning, and who they added.  That isn't on court performance, but it certainly isn't "nothing" either.

Since the season started Syracuse has defeated #15 Florida, #27 Marshall and #40 Stanford.  (The latter on a neutral court) That's 3 quality wins by my count.  

Indiana on the other hand has 1 Quality win against #2 Kentucky.  After that you have to drop all the way down to #68 for NC State.  Of course Syracuse also beat them too, so if you're counting that as a good win for IU, you have to count it as a good win for Cuse too. After that...  Notre Dame at 116 and Butler at 142.  THen we drop all the way down to a lowly 238 to find IU's next best win against Mighty Stetson.

That looks bad enough in comparison, but it gets worse for IU.  Going back to Syracuse, they also have another win against #51 VaTech, and #102 Tulane, which both just missed the top 50 and top 100 marks.  

So Syracuse has 5 wins equal to or better than IU's 2nd best win and 6 wins better than IU's 3rd best win.   

Baylor also has 5 wins over the top 50.  So without even looking at their schedule in any detail I already know they have 5 wins better than IU's 2nd best win.  

Marquette beat #6 Wisconson on the road, which I would argue is a better win than UK @ home.  They were also undefeated when the rankings were last published.  They have a win over #64 Milwaukee which is on par with IU's 2nd best win.  So their wins are comperable and their record was similar at the time the rankings came out, and they had a much better SoS.  I wouldn't rank Marquette way ahead of IU, but at the time of the last rankings, I would still have had them in front.

Then you have teams that have built up their SOS (which you deem to be the most important part apparently) by playing top teams...but losing (teams like Kansas, UNLV, Florida, etc.).
Well, I think SoS is important, but I thought I'd been pretty clear about Quality wins being the most important.  Just in case I haven't been clear about quality wins being most important, let me reiterate that point.  Quality wins are most important.

Kansas still has 3 wins in the top 50.  That's more thna IU last time I checked.  
UNLV has 2 wins in the top 50.  Still more than IU.
Florida has 1 win in the top 50 and another @59 that is still better than IU's 2nd best win.  They also have narrow losses on the road to the #1 and #3 teams in the country.  

So of those, Florida is the only team that has a losing record against the top 50, but if you think IU would have a winning record over the top 50 if 2 of their 3 games was @ Ohio State and @ Syracuse, you're out of your damn mind.

IU has 1 quality win, I've never denied that...never tried to give them more than they have.  However, many other teams only have 1 or possibly 2 quality wins (those wins against top 25 rated teams).  Some of those teams have 1, 2 or even 3 losses.  Those losses tell me much more about the team than the 1 or 2 quality wins do.  It tells me they definitely can be beaten...that's proven.  So while you want to see IU "prove" to you they can beat more quality teams, I submit that these other teams have already proven something IU (and 5 others haven't)...that they can be beaten.
Well I'm counting top 50 wins, but you're allowed to sue whatever you like.  (of course you'll choose the stat that skews the numbers in your favor, just like I'll use the one that skews them for me)  You'll also notice that at the time of the rankings none of those teams had any losses to teams outside of the top 25.  They aren't bad losses.  

And I don't need to see a team lose to know that they can be beaten.  EVERY team CAN be beaten.  I've yet to see anyone (even the most delusional IU fans) suggest that IU or any team will go unbeaten.  The concensus opinion is that every team will lose.  Losing by itself doesn't prove anything that isn't already known about EVERY team.  Who you lose to, where you lose, and how you lose matter much more.  This is something that you seem to ignore.

If you've proven repeatedly that you can beat top teams, I'm not really concerned that you've dropped a game to a Final Four favorite on their home court by a few points.  The multiple wins still tells me that you aren't a fluke.

You ask for my definition of a quality win...which does vary over time.  Today a win may "look good", but in a week it may not.  I use the Sagarin ratings to determine the top teams.  He illustrates who has wins over the top 25 and the top 50.  If you look at the top 10 teams in the Sagarin ratings, there are only 4 teams with multiple wins against a top 25 rated team.  There are only 6 of those teams period.  While beating a team ranked 26-50 is a good win, I don't think it goes in the category of a "quality win".  It's a good win.
We do differ on this to some extent.  I of course agree that a top 25 win is better than a top 50 win, I still think that those top 50 wins should be factored in.  

But if you want to break it down into quality wins and good wins, IU still has 1 good win, while pretty much every other team ahead of them (especially in the AP/ESPN top 10) have Multiple quality wins.  I still think that should concern you.  (And it looks even worse for IU if you break it down to the top 100, where they only have 2 wins, while most other ranked teams have 4, 5 or even more) 

If you look at the 6 teams who have multiple top 25 quality wins, you'll find that 3 of them have 1 loss, 2 of them have 2 losses, and 1 of them has 3 losses.  I give them credit for their 2 quality wins, but having 2 or more losses right now reduces the value of those quality wins.
Well, none of them had 3 losses at the time the polls came out so lets keep things in the proper historical perspective.  But lets look at the losses that those 3 teams had at the time...

@ #4 Wisconsin
@ #24 Whichita State
Neutral #9 Duke
Neutral #2 Kentucky
"Neutral" #12 UNLV (In Las Vegas)
@ #2 Kentucky

So they were all road or neutral games, they were all against top 25 competition.  %of the 6 were against top 15 and 4 of the 6 were against top 10 teams.  I'd hardly call those bad losses.  Should they be factored in?  Absolutely, but I'm not going to automatically disqualify them from the top 10 because of them.  Now that Kansas has a 3rd loss, I don't have as much faith in them, but I think you'll see them drop accordingly in the polls (even though Sagarin still has them ranked in the top 15)

That leaves you with just 3 teams with 2 quality wins and 1 loss (none of them are unbeaten).  If you include those 3 teams with the 6 unbeaten teams, I think you have a pretty fair top 9.  Imagine that, Sagarin has those 3 teams and 4 of the unbeatens in his top 10 with another unbeaten at 11 and Murray State a bit lower at 18.  It's probably not "perfect", but it's pretty darn close.
Of course they aren't perfect.  They are computer ratings and can only rate so many factors.  They don't know that Sullinger was out of the game they lost @ Kansas.  They don't know that some teams pull their starters when they are up by 20 with a few minutes to go and others don't.  They don't know about The Kohl's center, and Allen Fieldhouse and Cameron indoor and Rupp Arena and The Dean Dome. They assume that every road game is the same. 

No big Surprise that a computer ranking system has most of the undefeated teams and the "proven" 1 loss teams ranked highly.  

The reason I go to Sagarin rather than the polls are simple because the Sagarin ratings are not biased.  They are computer generated rankings based on facts.  You may or may not like the facts, but they are still the facts.  The polls are not based on facts at all, they are based solely on opinions...opinions that are biased from the preseason rankings which are literally based on no facts at all.
Sagarin is great.  I've kept an eye on the Sagarin ratings for years, and once upon a time I used to be fairly successful at betting on college football because of a system I used based on Sagarin's ratings.  But computer rankings are not without their faults and biases too.  Ken Pomeroy also has a fantastic rating system as well.  It works in a similar fashion to Sagarin's in that after a certain point in the season, the teams are "Well connecte" and unaffected by preseaon rankings, but they are based around defensive and offensive effeciency instead of just points and win/loss.  My point?  Have a look at and you'll see different rankings. So what does that mean?  Well it means that they are not biased towards any particular team, they *are* biased towards a particular statistic (or multiple statistics) That's how they end up with different conclusions.  

The polls ARE based on facts, but not entirely.  I happen to think that is a good thing, you seem to think it is a bad thing.  A computer rating system can only evaluate so many factors and the ones used are typically the easiest to quantify.  Wins, losses, scores, H/A/N site, and that's really about it.  (Kenpom also looks at possessions, iirc)

Voters look at Wins and losses.  Those are facts.  THey look at scores.  Those are facts.  They look at other rating systems like sagarin, kenpom, and even the dreaded RPI. Those rating results, are no more factual than the polls.  They are simply data that has been manipulated and weighted based on one man's opinion of what should be (or can be) measured.  Jeff Sagarin and Ken Pomeroy have different OPINIONS on how the factors they are measuring should be interpreted and weighted, but they are still the results of one man's opinion (I'm not positive about the RPI, it may have been developed by committee, but the point still stands)

The other nice thing about Sagarin is that he updates daily.  You can see how fluid the ratings are from day to day (especially early in the season) as teams win and lose, and past opponents of teams win and lose.  IU was #2 just a couple of days ago, and now they are #5.  If IU were to lose, they absolutely would drop.  Their next 2 games are agains top 15 rated teams, and their SOS will be far better, but the loss would hurt them...2 losses would definitely hurt them.  However, this isn't about what IU might be in a week or so, or what they were 3 weeks ago, it's about what IU is rated NOW.  That's the problem with the polls, they are never current, always lagging behind and given weight to what they originally thought would be the top teams.  Today, IU IS a top 10 team, regardless of whether the writers or coaches put them there or not.
IU has a top 10 record/resume, but that doesn't mean they are a top 10 team.  when it comes down to it it is still all based on opinion.  You think their resume should be enough to get them in as a top 10 team.  Myself and the AP/Coaches don't.  Personally, I think IU, could be a top 10 team right now, but I want to see them play someone else ranked in the top 50 at the very least, if not 25 and see how they do before I put them in the top 10 based on the merits of just 1 game.  (because going undefeated against a bunch of teams that can't even crack the top 100 is not enough to justify even a top 25 ranking in my opinion, let alone a top 10) Right now, UK is IU's resume. 

Oh, and 1 last thing, with all the losses this week by teams just ahead of IU, IU will likely move up in the rankings 3 or 4 spots.  That would mean they could be as high as 13 (maybe 12) on Monday.  Is IU really 4 spots better this Monday than they were before badly beating those 2 weak opponents this week?  No.  This proves my point that the polls have it wrong, and the way they move teams is wrong.  IU is the same team next Monday as it was this past Monday, the ranking only changes because the polls move teams up and down based on the current weeks wins/losses...they do not assess teams to determine who is the best. 
So when Sagarin is fluid and moves teams around based wins and losses its this great thing to witness, but when the Coaches and AP move teams around, it goes to show how flawed they are.  Interesting.  It's worth noting that as your IU counterpart liked to mention the polls are relative.  IU might be the same team they saw last week, but if the opinion of the teams above them changed, then it is reasonable to epxect IU to move, even if their absolute strength never changed. 

It could happen just as easily on Sagarin, and should in fact be easier to notice since the teams aren't just ranked, they are rated.  Depending on the teams around them, their rating could go up and their ranking could drop or vice versa.  

And for the record, I don't have any beef with IU.  I just want to see them play a 2nd top 50 team before I'm sold on them.  Is that so unreasonable?

Have a Merry Christmas, and We'll see what the Polls look like on Monday.  Shall we start back here, or wait for the next "Poll Attacks" column? 

Since: Sep 10, 2006
Posted on: December 24, 2011 10:41 am
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Since: Sep 10, 2006
Posted on: December 24, 2011 10:09 am
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Since: Aug 1, 2007
Posted on: December 23, 2011 9:09 pm

The Poll Attacks

Oh I see, it's ok for Sagarin to take some time to work itself out but not the poll itself? There you go using what supports your opinions while dismissing what does not. No kidding we MUST use some opinions during the early season or else Tulane was a freaking monster team at 11-1 before SU tore them apart? You simply can't have it both ways, your logic is flawed beyond imagination, Indiana simply is not the best team in the land because they beat a team that YOU want to assume is a top team simply because of ...early OPINION

Since: May 31, 2011
Posted on: December 23, 2011 6:51 pm

The Troll Attacks

IU may win all their games (we were the last to do it!), but it's unlikely.  The problem arises when they do finally lose.  Since they are underranked now, they will likely be underranked after they lose as well.  Their 1 loss will move them down in the rankings because that's how the voters work...not based on where a team should be ranked compared to others, but rather moving teams up and down based on the previous weeks results.  They automatically assume their previous ranking was accurate for that week...which goes back to the pre-season ranking issue yet again.
Well, that all depends on when they lose and who the beat between now and then.  If they actually manage to defeat a team that gives them another quality win, then I suspect they'll move in a spot more to your liking.  I really think that's the biggest thing preventing the voters from buying into IU. 

Just out of curiosity, what value do you place on Quality Wins?  I know that IU has one of the best quality wins, but does it not give you any doubt at all, even as an IU fan, that they haven't really proven themselves yet except in 1 home game? Pretty much everyone else in the top 10 has multiple wins against quality opponents. Many of them are neutral site games or road games.

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