Kentucky Wildcats Need Proof of Deserving New Ranking

Connor BradleyContributor IJanuary 19, 2010

LEXINGTON, KY - JANUARY 02:  John Wall #11 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates during the game against the Louisville Cardinals at Rupp Arena on January 2, 2010 in Lexington, Kentucky.  Kentucky won 71-62.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The AP poll is a joke. 

That statement could be the entire article and I'm pretty sure it wouldn't need much explanation beyond that. But, I guess I could defend my boldness.

I want to start by saying that I am by no means bashing the 65 skilled journalists from across the nation who use their best knowledge to rank teams according to their sometimes bias opinion.

However, I disagree with the system used by the AP poll. The Associated Press doesn’t always acknowledge the top factor in ranking the teams. This factor: schedule strength.

Exhibit A: the Wildcats of the University of Kentucky.

With Texas's loss last night to top-10 ranked Kansas State, Kentucky is a sure-to-be No. 1 ranking in the AP poll Monday barring the possibility of losing to the Razorbacks.

So while Kentucky fans will be bathing in the glory of being the "best team in the nation," I will continue to sit here and be baffled as to why they are ranked No. 1 in the AP poll, but sitting back in the No. 10 slot in the RPI rankings.

How is the undisputed No. 1 team in the nation then ranked so far back in a different poll? Hmm, doesn't make much sense, does it Wildcat faithful?

Without question, Kentucky has a phenomenal team with young, talented players like John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, and Patrick Patterson. I will never argue that. 

But when you have talent and have a schedule easier than lower end teams such as Elon, Longwood, and Nicholls State, you most likely are going to win games.

Oh, but UK hasn't lost a single game, they are undefeated. Blah blah blah.  

Yeah, I've heard that one before. You want to know why other teams ranked just barely behind you have losses? They have played good teams.

Let us take a quick detour off the road of Kentucky and address another matter. To cite where I am pulling the strength of schedule nonsense, take a look at the RPI rankings. "What is the RPI?" you oblivious college basketball fans may ask.

It's a poll that makes sense. That's what it is.

The Rating Percentage Index bases rankings off of the team's win percentage (25 percent of ranking), the strength of schedule from opposing teams (also 25 percent), and the team's own strength of schedule (a whopping 50 percent of the ranking's composition).

Schedule must be pretty important, ehh? Considering 75 percent of this poll's ranking is based off of a team's strength of schedule. The AP poll, well, not so much. And there is no better evidence of this than that of Kentucky's soon-to-be No. 1 ranking in the AP’s opinion.

Out of the 347 Division-1 basketball teams, UK's schedule ranks a massively impressive 149th. Syracuse has the ninth ranked schedule, Duke has the 12th, Wisconsin has the 10th. But these other teams have lost. Why? Again, they have played good teams.

No. 1 Duke has lost two games, one to Wisconsin, also ranked ahead of UK in RPI, and Georgia Tech (ranked 33rd, but that's probably because they have a harder schedule which has a tendency to yield losses). No. 2 RPI team Syracuse has a solitary loss to Pittsburgh, both teams ranked ahead of UK in RPI.

Kentucky has no losses, unlike these other few examples. But also unlike the others, Kentucky really doesn’t have a “win” either.

Kentucky though can brag about their "biggest wins" over Louisville, North Carolina, and UConn. But what do these teams all have in common? You guessed it, six losses.

So since you UK fans love the AP poll so much right now, I'll use it to make a point. Kentucky doesn't have a single win over a team ranked higher than 24. I don't know how many top ranked teams you can say that about. Needless to say, that is a completely unimpressive fact of the No. 1 team in the nation.

It is hard to compare teams when one team has had a simple route to the ranks of the elite while others have to struggle to get there.

It’s kind of like that kid in high school who took all of the easy classes and got a 4.0 G.P.A., and therefore was the valedictorian. Was he the smartest kid in the grade? Nope. It was probably that kid who took advanced classes and got a 3.9.

So basically what I'm saying is this. The AP poll leaves out the No. 1 factor that wins come from, the strength of the schedule. Talk about a flaw in the system. I’ll go out on a limb and say any team in the top 10 could be undefeated if they played of a schedule as Kentucky, along with some teams outside of the top 10.

I can meet you UK fans halfway though; as soon as the Wildcats get an impressive win, I will eat my words and then write a 1,000 word essay as to why Kentucky deserves their ranking. Until that point, please, don't be proud of your No. 1 ranking until it is earned.

But by all means, be boastful about being the No. 10 team in the nation (What they are ranked in RPI for those of you who still refuse to accept anything but the AP poll). That is still a feat of which to be proud.

But in my book, Duke and Syracuse deserve to be the top two teams based off of their performance against the difficult schedule they face (Syracuse does indeed have a harder schedule than Duke and has performed in it better than Duke in my opinion).

March will explain my point a little more clearly.








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