UPDATE: The BlogPoll is up, and if you scroll down, you will see that I am already getting questioned on my balloting (ironically enough, it is because I ranked the Huskies behind Oklahoma).
The guys over at MGoBlog started a college football BlogPoll a few years back, and it eventually got picked up by CBS Sports. Well this year, they are doing a college basketball BlogPoll as well, and yours truly somehow managed to finagle his way into getting a vote (the poll goes up tomorrow afternoon, and I'll put up a link when it does).
Anyway, here is my ballot and an explanation as to why I voted the way I did.
Yeah, I know. I’m a UConn fan. And while everyone else in the country is putting the Huskies atop their poll, I’ve slid the Sooners in front of them.
Am I trying to prove I’m not a homer? Am I trying to avoid jinxing my boys? Am I just dumb?
The numbers are pretty similar. Oklahoma is third in the RPI, UConn is fourth. The Sooners are 22-1 while the Huskies are 21-1. UConn’s second in the Kenpom rankings while Oklahoma is 12th. The Sooners are 1-0 against the top 20, 7-0 against 21-50, and 7-1 against 51-100. UConn is 3-0, 5-1, and 4-0.
Pretty even, right?
So what it comes down to is who do I believe is the better team. Oklahoma has the best player in the country in Blake Griffin. Willie Warren is showing people why he was a Mickey D’s All-American, as he has upped his scoring to 15 ppg. Tony Crocker has found his jumper.
Austin Johnson, while struggling the last two games, has played fantastic basketball in conference. Juan Patillo’s decision not to redshirt is going to make a big difference for this team, as he gives them another athletic player on their front line.
As good as the Huskies looked against Louisville, I still believe this team is really going to struggle when they go up against teams that have a big man that can step out and play the perimeter. Hasheem Thabeet can dominate a game on the defensive end, but his impact can be nullified when the opponent runs their offense through a perimeter-oriented big man (see Georgetown and Gonzaga).
In the ACC, I think Duke is the best of the bunch, with a caveat. When Gerald Henderson and Jon Scheyer are playing well (like they did during the Dukies' comeback against Miami FL), they are going to be very tough to beat. When they aren’t, the Devils could lose by 27.
I think UNC is going to struggle with the loss of Will Graves more than people think. Bobby Frasor is not having a good year, and Larry Drew and Ty Lawson play the same position and do not co-exist well on the court. That means that a team that loves to push the ball and get up and down the floor really has just one reliable player coming off their bench.
I can’t quite figure out Wake Forest and Clemson because they are both way too inconsistent. For the Tigers, the win against Duke was impressive, but blowing a 19-point lead with 14 minutes left at home against Florida State is a bad loss.
In the same vein, Wake has beaten UNC, Duke, and Clemson, but lost to Georgia Tech and to Miami by 27? In the end, I think Wake is better (and may eventually be the best in the league), but right now they aren’t playing their best basketball.
The non-BCS schools on this list (Memphis, Butler, Xavier, Utah, Gonzaga) I think are all still a bit overrated at this point in the year. Memphis has been much better since Tyreke Evans has been moved over to the point guard spot, and their blowout of Gonzaga. Butler and Xavier have some talented players, but I really believe their gaudy records are being buoyed by playing in weak conferences.
Utah’s played a tough schedule (especially with how tough the MWC is this year), and wins over Gonzaga and LSU (by 30) are nice, but they’ve also lost to Southern Baptist (one of the reason they have such good computer numbers is that Southern Baptist is DII, and thus does not get counted in the RPI calculations). Gonzaga, I believe, is much better than the way they played against Memphis.
I almost kept Texas out of the ballot. The Longhorns have lost three in a row, two of which came at home. They still have some impressive wins (UCLA, Villanova), which, combined with the talent on their roster, got them the nod over Florida State, Washington, Ohio State, and Miami FL. However, they are going to be in trouble unless they can figure out their point guard situation.
* I don’t think of Kansas as a top 15 team (especially with their mediocre résumé—best wins are Washington and Tennessee), but when I look at them against the rest of the teams below them, I just think Kansas is better. The Jayhawks are also No. 14 in both the RPI and the Kenpom rankings.
* Purdue has been dealing with injury issues to Robbie Hummel and Chris Kramer, which is why they are No. 16 even though they have been less than stellar this year.
* I think UCLA might be ranked a bit too high. The Pac-10 is balanced, but not overwhelming like it was last season. The Bruins lost to both Texas and Michigan (teams that are heading south), and their best win is either at USC or home to Cal (who was playing with Jerome Randle at less than 100 percent). But Kenpom has them at No. 6, and they are UCLA.