Tuesday, November 13, 2012

TBI vs. AP vs. ESPN: Poll Dancing Week 2

We all have our various perspectives on how useful the polls are in college basketball since, unlike the sport that decides how everything in college athletics plays out, hoop actually makes teams play for a championship instead of awarding it to whichever SEC team is most popular that year.

Those who take some interest in the polls may also take some delight in savaging others for their opinions. Gary Parrish at CBS loves to take aim at people with his Poll Attacks, which is a not-even-thinly-veiled game of "I'm A Million Times Smarter Than You And I Can Prove It." (Usually, he can't.)

Poll Dancing is so much less violent than Poll Attacks, and it's merely an assessment of TBI's Top 25 side-by-side with the AP and ESPN, examining the three for differences.

There may be some pointing at outliers, thanks to the good folks at Pollspeak.com, but I don't really need the ego stroke that Parrish appears to.

We'll dig into the ballots post-jump.

Now, the respective polls:

1  Louisville  1  Indiana 1  Indiana
  2  Kentucky 2  Louisville 2  Louisville
3  Indiana 3  Kentucky 3  Kentucky
4  Syracuse 4  Ohio State 4  Ohio State
5  Kansas 5  Michigan 5  Michigan
6  Ohio State 6  North Carolina State 6  North Carolina State
7  NC State 7  Kansas 7  Kansas
8  Michigan 8  Syracuse 8  Syracuse
9  Florida 9  Duke 9  Duke
10  Baylor 10  Florida 10  Florida
11  Duke 11  North Carolina 11  North Carolina
12  Creighton 12  Arizona 12  Arizona
13  Michigan State 13  UCLA 13  Creighton
14  Arizona 14  Missouri 14  UCLA
15  North Carolina 15  Creighton 15  Missouri
16  Missouri 16  Baylor 16  Memphis
17  UNLV 17  Memphis 17  Baylor
18  UCLA 18  UNLV 18  UNLV
19  Memphis 19  Gonzaga 19  Gonzaga
20  Wisconsin 20  Notre Dame 20  Wisconsin
21  Gonzaga 21  Michigan State 21  Notre Dame
22  Notre Dame 22  Wisconsin 22  Michigan State
23  San Diego State 23  Connecticut 23  San Diego State
24  Cincinnati 24  Cincinnati 24  Cincinnati
25  Texas 25  San Diego State 25  Texas

Maybe some work on fundamentals, like mouthguard control.
TBI's Heroes:
Michigan State (+8.5): Are we going to hammer Sparty that badly for losing an opener played in Germany against a UConn team that may play with some serious abandon all season, since they have nothing to lose? The polls are, I'm not.

Only three AP voters put MSU higher than I did, one being Parrish's victim du jour, Ron Morris from the Columbia (S.C.) State newspaper. Like Morris, I had UConn unranked, but in my case, just barely. Hell, I was still debating whether or not I even wanted to exclude postseason-ineligible teams altogether when I was filling out the ballot. Now, I think I'll go ahead and give them a shot next week.

But anyway, back to Sparty. Did they look like themselves against UConn? Not really. Do I still think they're one of the top 15 teams in America? Absolutely. Can they redeem themselves tonight against Kansas? Yessir.

Baylor (+6.5): As I linked to yesterday, my Final Four picks are on Twitter for all to see, and Baylor's one of them. They were one last year as well, and I like the trio of Cory Jefferson, Isaiah Austin and Rico Gathers a lot more than I liked Perry Jones, Quincy Acy and Quincy Miller.

Next week, the polls may catch up to the Bears if they win the Charleston Classic. They start with Boston College, then could see Dayton or Colorado, followed by Murray State or St. John's. A meeting with Murray State could look hella similar to what they did to Lehigh.

Syracuse (+4): I needed to see the Battle on the Midway, see how the Orange would adapt to the situation. Mission accomplished. They made San Diego State one-dimensional while getting themselves to the rack at will.

Eight other AP voters decided to put the Orange in the top nickel. They'll need better ball movement (only nine assists on 25 baskets, versus 18 turnovers) when they get back to indoor venues, and I think MCW will provide that, as long as he's not trying too hard to be Brett Favre on hardwood, threading passes through Cheerios. There are warts, and there are some quality non-conference opponents ahead. Expect Jim Boeheim to fix the issues like the boss that he is.

Hoodies don't count.
TBI's Goats:
UCLA (-4.5): I'll believe we're going to see Shabazz Muhammad in a UCLA uniform about five minutes after it actually happens. I'll also need to see a little more from Tony Parker, Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson, preferably against some strong comp. There's some coming next week against Georgetown, but that's after my next ballot is due.

So, don't expect the Bruins to take any major runs up the ranks on next week's ballot unless they get lots of help.

North Carolina (-4): J.M. McAdoo gives me a similar feeling to the Baby Bruins. Show me a little bit more. His double-doubles were strong enough to get him #TBIronMan mention yesterday, but after all, they were against Gardner-Webb and Florida Atlantic.

Perimeter shooting is still iffy so far. We'll see how the shooters manage during the trips to Long Beach and Maui. UNC's freshmen are looking solid so far, especially the big fellas off the bench, but once again, it's G-W and FAU.

Michigan (-3): Still waiting to see how the Wolverines fare in the NIT Tip-Off. Tim Hardaway bombed away against Slippery Rock, now let's see how well he'll shoot against real comp. Teams like Cleveland State, Pitt, Lehigh, Kansas State, North Texas and Delaware could await in this tournament.

UM needs guys like Hardaway and Nik Stauskas to bomb from outside to open up the middle for Mitch McGary and clear openings for Glenn Robinson III to penetrate. If all that happens, this will be a very difficult team to stop.

Memphis (-2.5): Shooting was an issue Monday night against North Florida, an opponent against whom the uber-athletic Tigers should have been able to drive at will. Like North Carolina, a lot will ride on a tournament in a tropical locale when Memphis heads to the Bahamas.

Indiana (-2): Sorry, you ain't getting a No. 1 vote for playing Bryant.

How does your top 25 look? Which poll has it most right? Red Bull or Monster?

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