Monday, February 5, 2007


A discrepancy of 8 spots between the AP (#23) and ESPN/USA Today (#31) polls further reinforces my belief (and I don't think it's an uncommon one) that the coaches who vote in the ESPN poll simply don't have the time, energy, or desire to take a close look at the teams on the cusp. I mean, let's be serious: 20 votes for Stanford (who is a full 10 spots off their AP mark at #35 in the ESPN poll)? Notre Dame is still hanging around at #21? Texas loses at home to Kansas State and they're still there despite not having a quality win on their resume?

It's pretty obvious that unless it's a team they've played against or happen to know something about because it's in their conference, the coaches only look at two things: win/loss record and name. This explains why certain teams with good name recognition (like Notre Dame and Texas) remain static with a lot of votes despite lackluster play, and other teams with better wins and tougher schedules but more losses don't crack the Top 25.

But who can blame them? I don't fault the coaches for not caring about their votes. I fault ESPN and USA Today for sponsoring a poll that allows conventional wisdom and word-of-mouth impressions to trump good sense and actual analysis of how teams are playing relative to one another. Coaches aren't supposed to care about that stuff, and that's fine. But their poll should be recognized for what it is and not given too much concern. To the extent that what the coaches vote for impacts at-large tournament bids, this represents a problem for college basketball. However, I suspect that the Selection Committee knows better than to pore over the coaches' polls. That's why no one in Commodore (or Cardinal) Nation should care too much what they think about Vandy.

But we can all be justifiably frustrated because of the influence that poll still has over high school recruits who watch a lot of games on ESPN and want the team they play for to be ranked in the poll that shows up on the screen. This is why the powers-that-be at ESPN and USA Today are in the running for Hoser of the Week.


J.B., M.D. said...

What a bunch of clowns. Can we find a more aggressive word for hoser to use exclusively for the Coach's Poll?

Anonymous said...

Get over it.