Duke vs. Miami: Does Anyone in College Basketball Deserve to Be No. 1?

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Duke vs. Miami: Does Anyone in College Basketball Deserve to Be No. 1?
USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, two meaningless polls will come out. One will include Michigan as the top team in the country. The other will likely include Kansas, assuming both teams make it through the rest of the week without another loss. 

Do yourself a favor. Ignore them both. 

That's what Miami fans should have done on Wednesday night. The Hurricanes beat the snot out of Duke, 90-63. The polls told Miami fans they should rush the court; the score said otherwise.

Miami is in first place in the ACC. Miami, at this point, is clearly the better team. 

So why was Duke No. 1? 

Well, the Blue Devils were No. 2 last week, and because Louisville lost last Saturday and Coach K's crew didn't, they were next in line. 

That's what the polls have become. Just wait your turn. 

The process is dated.

Each week, the voters get the results of the teams in consideration from the previous week, and the clear-cut philosophy is to slide each team up and down depending on who won and who lost. Maybe some voters try to watch the teams play, but it's impossible to watch them all, especially for the coaches. (That is, if the coaches are even the ones doing the voting. If it's their sports information directors, chances are those guys aren't watching either. They are busy dudes.)

If you really care where your team should rank, there are better options out there, such as KenPom.com and Jeff Sagarin's ratings for USA Today. But even those rankings, calculated by computers, do not account for Duke playing without Ryan Kelly. 

That's where the humans could make a judgment. If the rankings are supposed to indicate who is the best team right now, then don't put a team that has lost one of its most valuable players there. Put the team that is playing the best. 

Ken Pomeroy and Sagarin currently have the Florida Gators as No. 1—ranked eighth by the AP and seventh by the coaches—and as of right now, that's a good choice. The Gators are destroying the SEC, but to play devil's advocate, they're destroying the SEC. 

The Michigan Wolverines (ranked No. 2 in the aforementioned polls) are the best offensive team in the country, so at least they're the best at something, but they have their flaws, mainly on the defensive end. 

Kansas (No. 3) was on a Florida-like run of dominance during the month of December and has 16 straight wins. Lately, however, the Jayhawks are just sneaking by. They are struggling to score and are not without their warts. 

As for the Blue Devils (No. 4), they could be the best team by the end of the year if Kelly returns, or they could have legitimate issues that will lead to a loss in March. Kelly wasn't going to mask the porous perimeter defense that provided a layup line for the 'Canes. All Kelly might have done is save Duke from its worst loss since Feb. 4, 2009, to Clemson.

We may not have a legitimate No. 1 team, and that's OK. I get that polls lead to discussion and bragging rights, and all of that is what makes college basketball great. That doesn't hide the fact that the polls are about as reliable as a serial criminal. 

So congrats to Michigan and Kansas fans on their likely new ranking. Puff your chests. But when those schools lose, let's not jump on the "what's all of a sudden wrong with [fill in the blank]?" bandwagon. 

Every team in the country has blemishes. It will make for a fantastic March, and it will make for polls that make great papier mache. 

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