Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Poll Dancing: TBI's Top 25 College Basketball Rankings (Dec. 31 Edition)

Not much movement on this week's top 25, since we only saw about 150 games all week. Hopefully, everyone got good Christmas presents, because Louisville fans only ended up with lumps of coal.

Worst week, however, had to go to St. Mary's. A trip to Hawaii seemed like it was set to be a pleasure cruise in which the Gaels would prove themselves top-25 worthy in an expected championship meeting with Iowa State. Three losses later, SMC ends up in last place behind luminaries like Oregon State and South Carolina. Hardly the mark of a team that will crack the rankings again...ever.

Speaking of teams that weren't expected to make the top 25, let's examine a totally puzzled pair of Faceplants.

Faceplants: Minnesota (No. 24), Florida State (No. 25)
--The Gophers blew out Corpus Christi, and their prior win over Nebraska-Omaha keeps looking better as the Mavericks climb to No. 101 in the new Back Iron Index. However, what did them in was the slow ascent of a team that owns a head-to-head victory over Minnesota. More on them at No. 25.

And of course, it's hard to rank Florida State just ahead of Minnesota when the Gophers own the head-to-head win.

Bubbling Under: Pitt, Missouri, Harvard, Gonzaga, Illinois

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Poll Dancing: TBI's Official Top 25 College Basketball Rankings (Dec. 23 Edition)

NOTE: The rankings are presented without comment this week, thanks to Christmas, the birth of my second daughter and a couple of days of single parenting of my first daughter. Normal programming should resume next week. Hit me up on Twitter if you have comments or complaints.

It was a really rough week for the bottom end of the Dec. 16 Poll Dancing ballot. This week's Faceplants really earned it, putting up results about as ugly as the picture to the left. (Hey, you know you've wondered what Santa does with himself the other 11 months of the year. Sorry for the disillusionment.)

Just before I began writing this post, St. Mary's punched their ticket to the gutter by losing an ugly game to South Carolina in Honolulu. The Gaels spent 40 minutes producing the kind of sloppy execution rarely seen unless some schmuck explodes in the electric chair.

Missouri's loss to Illinois wasn't terribly shameful, but when you're No. 25, there's no margin for error. Someone's always charging up from behind.

As for Gonzaga, it lost to Kansas State, which lost to Northern Colorado to start the season. If you want to get transitive, that's pretty ugly, even though UNC has been better than expected (No. 154 on this week's BII). GU will perpetually hang around in this grey area all season, winning enough to stay on the radar, but never getting the kind of sexy wins that will move it up and out of harm's way.

Read on after the jump to see who's replacing these three at our exclusive 25-guest party.

Bubbling Under: LSU, Harvard, Illinois, Arkansas, Oklahoma

Monday, December 16, 2013

Poll Dancing: TBI's Top 25 College Basketball Rankings (Dec. 16 Edition)

Finals week is always a tough one for college athletes, although it does constitute a bit of a breather for college sportswriters. Only 96 games were played between Dec. 8 and 13, compared to the 202 that are coming between yesterday and this Friday.

That academia-induced inertia struck a few of TBI's top 25 teams, and it's very rare that taking a whole week off will aid a school's ballot ranking. So, if your favorite team dropped a couple of spots (SPOILER ALERT: UConn/UMass) or stayed stagnant (SPOILER ALERT II: Baylor), blame the coaches for taking a whole week off.

It's refreshing to see programs taking a pause to make their players take exams, but by week's end, we're a little bored out here. At least schedule a SWAC team, wouldja?

Faceplants: No. 21 VCU, No. 22 Michigan, No. 24 New Mexico
--The first two teams to knock off VCU are at least still in the Back Iron Index Fantasy Bracket, meaning Georgetown and Florida State are among the 68 best teams in America. Northern Iowa? Not so much.

The Wolverines were hanging on like that kitten over there, needing to pull out a win over Arizona to stay on the ballot. And they damn near got it. However, it's time to consult the Index again, and the fact is that right now, Michigan projects as a low-seeded NIT team, largely due to brutal RPI numbers. There's some rehab that needs to be done here.

New Mexico could have stayed in with a tight loss to Kansas, but getting blown off the court while Alex Kirk was made to look mortal? Eh, no. Try back later.

Bubbling Under:
San Diego State--Would have cracked the rankings if they'd played someone this week.
UCLA--Meeting with Duke Thursday offers a golden opportunity.
George Washington--May stay here for a couple of weeks until Kansas State and Georgia games around New Year's.
Pittsburgh--Penn State win keeps looking better. Just beat down Cincinnati tomorrow and you're in, Panthers.

The best of the best after the jump.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Poll Dancing: TBI's Top 25 College Basketball Rankings: Dec. 9 Edition

Another week, another "WTF?" North Carolina victory. The Tar Heels are the only BII tournament team to lose to Belmont or UAB, but their wins over Louisville and Michigan State remind us just how good we thought they could be.

And still no sign of P.J. Hairston. At this point, it's getting close to cut-bait time for ol' Roy. Re-introduce Hairston and Les McDonald now, and you risk screwing up what chemistry the team's building.

In other news, Arizona's really good, Marcus Smart is done throwing up, Tom Crean is a dufus and the scoreboard will be able to take the night off when Ohio State and Wisconsin play this season.

But first, we must bid adieu to a few temporary friends.

Faceplants: Virginia, Creighton, Pitt, Dayton
--Virginia's learning the same hard lesson Marquette did: Score in the 30s and you're more than likely not Poll Dancing the following week.

Creighton did nothing wrong this past week, beating Long Beach State and Nebraska. However, the new teams all notched some quality victories that mandated their inclusion.

Pitt and Dayton benefited last week from a lack of verified candidates in the 25-35 range, but they got no such break this week. Pitt is still undefeated, but against a highly suspect schedule. Dayton's stumble against Illinois State hurt not only them, but the Gonzaga team the Flyers upset in Maui.

Bubbling Under: Missouri, Pitt, Gonzaga, St. Mary's, San Diego State

Monday, December 2, 2013

Poll Dancing: TBI's College Basketball Top 25 Rankings (Dec. 2 Edition)

Thanksgiving weekend is always a watershed part of the college basketball season, because we get a horde of matchups with the kind of quality that turns SEC football coaches' hair white.

A group of people who deify Nick Saban for scheduling Chattanooga in the penultimate game of his season won't understand the beauty of Memphis-Oklahoma State or Arizona-Duke. Being undefeated in football is all that matters, at least in the BCS era. Maybe the selection committee approach will change that in football, maybe not. Still, basketball gives us the games we're dying to see, even if sometimes the tournaments don't fall right and give us more of a "what-if" feel.

(USC-UTEP would have skipped overtime in favor of Enfield v. Floyd in the Octagon. A rack on Floyd in the third round by rear naked choke. He's a vet and he fights dirty. Just ask USC fans.)

Those sexy tournament matchups gave us a little fluctuation in the Poll Dancing rankings, but not as much as might be expected for those who lost to the quality opposition.

As always, let's start by spit-roasting those who nosedove completely off the ballot.

Faceplants: No. 19 North Carolina, No. 23 Gonzaga, No. 24 Tennessee, No. 25 BYU
--Marcus Paige has been a revelation for UNC, but big men Kennedy Meeks, Joel James and Isaiah Hicks are averaging a total of 12 points and 12 boards per game. If none of them becomes "The Man" by season's end, UNC's going to bob along and end up in an 8-9 game. Again.

BYU has hunted some big game, but the results have varied. Stanford and Utah State to the good, Iowa State and Wichita State to the bad. And it still has UMass and Oregon to come. Respect, but No. 25 leaves no room to slip.

Gonzaga would still be hanging in if not for the fact that Dayton was already on the come-up when it beat the Zags in Maui. 

As for Tennessee...
When you're trying to gloat about a win over Wake Forest, you're obviously bringing a slingshot to a nuclear war. Right now, Wake's clinging to one of the last four spots in my NIT bracket, with USC being its best win. UTEP's one of the last four into the CBI. Someone from UT needs to prove he can shoot straight before the Vols start winning those games. If not, it's another NIT and possibly a pink slip for Cuonzo. And that would make me a sad panda.

Bubbling Under: UCLA, Baylor, St. Mary's, San Diego State

The actual top 25 after the jump.