Monday, February 25, 2013

Pollsters Just Don't Understand


I think the Fresh Prince said it best, "So to you all the kids all across the land.  Take it from me, Pollsters just don't understand!

Ok, I know he said parents don't understand but for this case I am creating it definitely works.

The college basketball regular season is winding down and the all mighty March Madness is creeping closer and closer.  The season has produced a great deal of really good teams and some pretty good teams but no real dominate team. 

This should make for a very interesting NCAA Tournament. 

This afternoon the AP Top 25 was released to some expected results and some very unexpected results.

The number one team in the country is again the Indiana Hoosiers.  Which by all accounts has proven itself to be worthy of this lofty spot in the college basketball world.  The certainly pass the eye test.  Those in charge of putting the mighty Hoosiers atop the rankings certainly understand the talent in Bloomington, IN. 

After the Hoosiers it gets very fuzzy instantly for me as the Gonzaga Bulldogs are ranked #2.  I get it they are currently sitting with a gaudy 27-2 record and have been easily handling teams in their conference.  But I also remember what happened to them at the Kennel in December against a certain team  that starts with a C and ends with hampaign.   

The Zags #1?  Not so fast my friend.

That middle of the road Big Ten Illini squad handled them by double digits and made them look slow and less athletic than what the Illini can put on the floor.  I have been critical of the Illini talent wise but I also know who is more athletic, long, and lean.  I watched Brandon Paul look like an All-American and make litttle David Stockon and Kevin Pangos look like kids playing a man's game.  These are lasting memories of a team everyone wants to be good and never delivers in March.

They have beaten teams this year from power conferences who just happen to be in down years.  West Virginia is horrible.  Clemson is horrible.  They beat Kansas State and Oklahoma out of a very weak Big 12.  They also lost to a good Butler team, on a tremendous steal and shot sequence, but Butler was without their best shooter/scorer in Rontei Clark.

I think everyone year in and year out gets so enamored with Gonzaga and the is-this-the-year they finally break through and reach the Final Four.  They are like the Chicago Cubs of college basketball.  Wait till next year.

They were much better that first run with Dan Monson in and under the radar that they were using the chip on their shoulder and taking out Goliaths.  Now they are expected to produce and it never happens. 

I really hope they end up a number one seed in the NCAA tournament and with their track record we might finally see a number one go down to 16 seed.  How awesome would that be?

In a power conference I see Gonzaga as a bubble team looking for quality wins against their conference.  Put them in the Big Ten and I see them fighting Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, etc...for seeding, in the Big Ten tournament. 

These polls are such a joke and those voting on teams are not taking the job seriously.

Gonzaga is just one example in this mess of a system.  The other is at the end of the poll. 

When I read the top 25 I thought man Louisiana State is in the top 25??? 

Then I realized it was Louisiana Tech!

LA Tech!?!  Seriously? 

This isn't women's basketball from the early 90's or last seasons football team.  It also isn't Karl Malone, right, posterizing opponents on their roster.  Ok great, they have an impressive 24-3 record.  But they haven't beaten anyone.  And they lost to the likes of Northwestern State, and McNeese State.  Unbelievable! 

That is Top 25 quality?  Man, if they had ACTUALLY put Louisiana State in the Top 25 it would have made more sense since they at least HAVE beaten Northwestern State and McNeese State.  And play better competition in conference. 

The conclusion:  Voters are idiots!

The ranking process is so stupid and ridiculous and it really is just for the fans.  It really has no bearing on NCAA tournament inclusion nor should it.

Take Illinois for instance, they are truly a pretty good team and have shown an ability to beat quality competition and they, in the early year, were ranked.  Now they are just getting votes and they are basically the same team.

If the rankings and those putting their Top 25 ballots out there would do some research, watch the teams play, and actually rank teams for how good they are now and not for what their record is currently, it would be a much better measurable tool.

Rather than just move a team into the rankings because they haven't lost in their conference to inferior competition.  How about looking at teams as a whole and compare and contrast.  Use the eye test. 

Do they look like a Top 25 team?  Also another pet peeve of mine is this scenario. 

Hypothetically, if #1 Indiana beats #17 Wisconsin then why in the next poll does Wisconsin fall even further down the poll when they lost to what the pollsters feel is a better team and the number one team at that?

  I can see a pollster, like Jeff Spicoli, answering that logic right now with a resounding, "I don't know?"   

Head scratcher for sure. 

These teams who have played a good nonconference schedule and are currently playing a murder's row of conference opponents are worthy of inclusion more than a team like Louisiana Tech who just is better than the rest of the WAC conference aren't they? 

It makes sense to me.  Again it doesn't mean anything in the grand scheme of college basketball.

What it does mean, though, is that you are now on ESPN Sportscenter and your highlights are being shown nightly.  It is something that can help in recruiting by selling your product as a Top 25 team.

Coaches use what ever form of marketing they can for their program.  It just seems to me we owe everyone out there a much better representation of what the "top" of the college basketball world is.  We are intelligent people and the pollsters need to show their intelligence more too.

Until something is done to correct this issue...

There's no need to argue, pollsters just don't understand.



  1. Talk about pollsters getting things wrong: Illinois did not deserve to be ranked in the early part of this season, no more than they did at the beginning of last season.

    Never believe what you see in the non-conference part of a season in basketball.

    If they do make it to the NCAA tournament, they will be squashed like the cockroaches that they are.

    1. I agree with you. It is a popularity contest and they just see who has the least losses and lets vote for them. Illinois the last two seasons have been in that category. I do believe Illinois is in the tourney but a few missed threes and they will get bounced just like Illinois against Austin Peay. Oh man, I can't believe I just wrote that down now I will have to go cry in a corner again. Thanks for the comment keep them coming.

  2. I do remember the ’87 Austin Peay game and feel your pain. Dickie V promised to stand on his head if the Governors won the game. As I recall, Mr. Vitale did not stick to his bargain.

    Ranking teams is difficult and politics have a lot to do with Duke, Kentucky, etc. always getting attention. Sometimes, a team like Indiana State in ’79 does deserve a high ranking, but, boy, do they have to earn it. I've never understood why Gonzaga gets ranked so high, but, like yourself, I don't think they earn it, for some reason the sports media just like them.

  3. Excellent blog as always! Gonzaga gets to play Portland State, San Francisco, & Loyola Marymount in the always tough West Coast conference. They have lost at home to Illinois and at Indianapolis to Butler. The Butler Bulldogs are only 9-4 in the Atlantic 10. 'Zaga is 10th in the latest RPI ratings which means they are probably a #3 seed as of now in the 'Big Dance.' As you said, 'Pollsters just don't understand!'