Pollsters Clearly Sharing Michael Phelps' Bong in Ridiculous Feb. 23 Rankings

Nathan BitnerSenior Analyst IFebruary 23, 2009

So, I'm starting to wonder if a few members of the Associated Press (AP) or ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls might be using the dartboard picture above, substituting team names for numbers.

There have been some pretty egregious poll results during the year, but there are quite a few that I truly don't understand today.

I'm sure each team that I go after will have its defenders, but these seem to be some of the more offending errors, in roughly ascending order of Phelpsishness:


5. Florida State enters the AP poll at No. 23 and the Coaches poll at No. 25

It is ludicrous that the Seminoles are ranked this low. What exactly do they have to do? All they've managed in the past several weeks are road wins over Clemson and Virginia Tech, plus home wins against Miami (FL), Virginia, and Georgia Tech.

Their two losses during this span were against UNC on a buzzer-beater by Ty Lawson and at Wake Forest, who was ranked No. 7 at the time.

FSU has a 21-6 record, are tied with Duke and Clemson for second in the ACC, and they are a game ahead of Wake Forest. I think it's safe to say their resume is better than quite a few of those ranked ahead of them in the Coaches poll, especially (Texas, Butler, UCLA, and Xavier come to mind).


4. Xavier falls from No. 16 to No. 19 (AP)

So, let me get this straight. The Musketeers lose to Charlotte, a team that was 9-15 (3-7 Atlantic 10), but beat up on George Washington (8-16, 2-10 A-10), and you get to stay ranked in the top 20?

To make matters worse, Xavier has dropped three of five, losing to Duquesne, Dayton (by 13), and the aforementioned Charlotte. If that doesn't knock a team out of the top 20, I don't know what will.


3. Butler falls from No. 21 to No. 24 (AP) and drops from No. 22 to No. 23 (Coaches)

This is a classic example of pollsters looking at the results, without knowing the details of the game.

It was more than obvious that Stephen Curry's ankle was not at 100% and a quick check of Davidson's results shows that they are not even remotely the same team without Curry. The Wildcats were blown out by 18 points when they played the Citadel without him. So, I'm not too impressed with Butler's win.

During the same week, Butler lost to one of the mediocre Horizon teams, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and last Sunday night, they lost to a horrid Horizon team, Loyola (Chicago), at home no less. This would seem to indicate to all but the "highest" of pollsters (and I don't mean those standing on a mountain) that Butler does not belong in the top 25.


2. UCLA drops from No. 20 to No. 22 (AP) and slips from No. 15 to No. 19 (Coaches)

How does this team keep its ranking? No. 19? Really?

They defeat Washington on a Thursday (their first conference win since Feb. 4) but then get taken down by Washington State on Saturday at home.

This is after getting swept in Arizona to both of those Pac-10 teams, leaving UCLA with a 9-5 conference record, good for third. Yet Washington, who split the season series with them, has won four of five, and has a game and a half lead on UCLA, ranks just one position higher at No. 21.

The coaches must have had the really good ganja, because they place Washington two spots lower than the Bruins.


1. Texas enters the Coaches poll at No. 24 and the AP Poll at No. 25

Yes, Texas knocked off Oklahoma (at Texas). Was this really all that surprising? Blake Griffin was injured during the game, for starters.

Secondly, during the same polling week, the Longhorns got hammered by Texas A&M 81-66. They have racked up recent conference losses to Kansas State and Nebraska, in addition to more forgivable losses to Oklahoma and Missouri. That makes them 3-4 in their last seven conference games.

Meanwhile, Utah (left out of the poll) is over 60 points behind them, despite having a better record (19-7, 10-2 MWC) in the best mid-major conference and winning seven in a row and nine of 10. The Utes weren't playing pansies; the streak includes quality wins over the best foes in the MWC: BYU, San Diego State, New Mexico and Wyoming.


These aren't the only examples; just some of the more obvious ones.

It is clear to me that far too many pollsters are simply looking at scores or voting for a team because they are "supposed to be good" (e.g., UCLA), rather than spending the necessary amount of time to do the research correctly.

The coaches probably have a valid excuse when it comes to time; the media does not. And if a media member claims that he doesn't have time, then he (or she) needs to give over the duty to someone who does.

This has been an ongoing trend, and it renews my desire to see every member's ballot, every time.

Now that I've probably pissed off at least four teams' fan bases, I can't wait to hear what the rest of you think. Have I overreacted or is this a valid criticism?


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