It speaks to the delightful insanity of the late college hoops season that this past week was a relatively sane one as far as these things go--heavyweights like UConn, Memphis, Duke, Louisville, and Michigan St. all faced strenuous road tests and all came out clean on the other side.
Of course, this is the late college hoops season, so of course we also got No. 1 Pitt going down at Providence, Arizona St. losing to Wazzu at the buzzer, LSU walking out of Rupp with a win after a last-gasp Tasmin Mitchell three ... so we are talking "sane" for given level of "sane" here.
When the dust settled, your BlogPoll voters voted and came away with this:
BlogPoll Week 4
|2||North Carolina (4)||23.0||1.4||2|
Also Receiving Votes: West Virginia(1.7), Syracuse(0.8), Creighton(0.5), Utah(0.4), Dayton(0.4), Utah St.(0.3), Texas(0.2), Davidson(0.1), Niagara(0.1), St. Mary's(0.1), Siena(0.1), Miami FL(0.1), California(0.1), Boston College(0.0), Minnesota(0.0), Providence(0.0), Oklahoma St.(0.0), Wisconsin(0.0), South Carolina(0.0), Tennessee(0.0), Arizona(0.0), New Mexico(0.0), Rhode Island(0.0),
Total Ballots: 42
UConn retakes the top spot with a plurality of voters, Kansas and LSU are your big movers after their huge wins over Missouri and Kentucky, respectively, and Clemson and Arizona St. take it in the shorts after their collective 0-4 week. At the bottom of the poll, Cincinnati victims and computer darlings West Virginia make way for Clemson-dispatchers Florida St. and new Mountain West hotness BYU.
Wack Ballot Watchdog
First order of business: Who's No. 1? Pitt's loss at Providence opened the question up yet again, with five different teams cited by our pollsters as the answer. Even with 32 voters siding with UConn, there didn't seem to be a lot of vocal support for the Huskies. Many voters (yours truly included) may have agreed with Robert Morris blog Colonials Corner that UConn isn't so much a dominant No. 1 as the team that made us "least queasy" to see at the top of our ballots.
Elsewhere, though, there were some compelling arguments against the Huskies. Rocky Top Talk says: I'm highly opposed to dropping Pitt back behind UConn despite their loss to Providence this week, being that they just beat the Huskies on the road by eight points two weeks ago. Well, yeah, there is that one little thing, I guess. East Coast Bias keeps the Huskies out of the top spot for more aesthetic reasons: I watch U Conn and I really think they lack that ability to crush hearts. Perhaps I am trying to envision them as the Khalid El-Amin/ Rip Hamilton/ Jake Voskuhl Huskies or the Caron Butler/ Emeka Okafor (was Ben Gordon on that squad?) Huskies and I see the Josh Boone/ Marcus Williams/ Rudy Gay Huskies. To quote Eminem, “your style is like dying in my sleep/ I don’t feel it.” The problem with keeping UConn our of the top spot is ... who do you replace them with? While a handful of voters resisted Memphis due to their C-USA ties and early-season struggles--I Bleed Blue and White among them--those who did vote for the Tigers brought plenty of ammunition to back their opinions up. Tomahawk Nation : (T)hey have the longest winning streak in the country. They have the best defense in the country. Their only 3 losses in the season were in late November and early December to Xavier, Georgetown and Syracuse. Since then, they have beaten Cincinnati, UAB, Gonzaga, Tennessee, Tulsa...as well as everyone else they have played. Next up, Maize N' Brew : Yes, I have Memphis ranked #1 because, uh, who else should it be? They've won 20 in a row, rock a #1 KenPom rank, and everyone else from a power-conference seems hell-bent on losing a head scratcher. Of course, this is where the "Conference USA" thing comes in: full credit to Memphis for obliterating C-USA and leaving nothing but skidmarks and confetti in their wake, but head-scratchers are a lot easier to avoid when your "easy" road trips are to dead zones like Southern Miss and SMU instead of Providence or Maryland. Is there an easy answer to this kind of voting conundrum? No, no there is not.
One big question entering this week's poll was how far Marquette would fall after losing not only senior point guard Dominic James and his 2.7 assist-to-turnover ratio but back-to-back contests against UConn and Louisville. Not all that far, as it turns out: just three places, for reasons Rush the Court helps explains: I dropped them quite a bit because of the loss of Dominic James , but I came away impressed after watching their loss at Louisville particularly with Jerel McNeal having an awful day. Judging by the rest of the poll, I suspect RTC was not alone in thinking that maybe the Golden Eagles will make this work after all.
Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most and least disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at #25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.
Another week, another mid-major on top of the standard deviation chart. The Bulldogs haven't helped confusion on the voters' part by being a tad on the schizophrenic side: the Butler that lost at home to a bad Loyola-Illinois team probably doesn't deserve to be ranked, while the Butler that outlasted a tremendous effort by Cleveland St. last Saturday and won the rugged Horizon outright maybe deserves to land a little higher than 22nd.
First up are "Mr. Bold" and "Mr. Numb Existence." The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.
|1||Notes From A Basketball Junkie||Buffalo||4.67|
|2||Black Heart Gold Pants||Iowa||3.81|
|3||3rd Saturday in Blogtober||Tennessee||3.18|
|5||College Hoops Journal||Yale||2.98|
After a couple busy weeks away from the poll, our resident MAC blogger and mid-major revolutionary the Hoops Junkie returns with Butler and Gonzaga in the top 10 as well as votes for Niagara (quite defensible, if you've seen them play), St. Mary's (pushing it, unless you assume Mills is back as of today), and Davidson (after the Butler debacle? Sorry, not buying). He edges out newcomers and long-time football standbys Black Heart Gold Pants , one of our few Pittsburgh No. 1 voters.
Mr. Numb Existence
|1||Longhorn Road Trip||Texas||1.46|
|2||Rush the Court||Youngstown St.||1.50|
Again? Apparently, what Longhorn Road Trip --now your Mr. Numb Existence two weeks running, with a third-place finish back in Week 1 --does besides watching Texas basketball on those eponymous road trips is communing with the soul and essence of the BlogPoll and the minds of his fellow voters. Or something. Anyways, turning in the ballot closest to the final poll at-large two weeks in a row is quite a feat. It's almost freaky , man.
Next we have the Coulter/Kos Award and the Straight Bangin' Award , which are again different sides of the same coin. The CKA and SBA go to the blogs with the highest and lowest bias rating, respectively. Bias rating is calculated by subtracting the blogger's vote for his own team from the poll-wide average. A high number indicates you are shameless homer. A low number indicates that you suffer from an abusive relationship with your basketball team.
The Coulter/Kos Award
|1||I Bleed Blue and White||Villanova||4.36|
|2||Inside Creighton Hoops||Creighton||2.52|
|3||Rock Chalk Talk||Kansas||2.26|
|4||Tomahawk Nation||Florida St.||2.21|
|5||The Slipper Still Fits||Gonzaga||1.64|
I'm frankly not sure how 'Nova only managed to drop just one spot after squeaking past a truly abymsal DePaul squad and coughing up one at home to Georgetown this week, but aforementioned Wildcat blog I Bleed and Blue and White is one place to start. The 'Cats dropped a single place to ninth on IBBW's ballot, making them one of only four voters to keep 'Nova that high and earning this week's CK Award. Maybe IBBW should have picked a week when his team wasn't about to play a desperate Notre Dame team on the road? Any debate as to whether the award would wax as wroth on the nation's hoops teams as it did football teams ended this past week, as Week 3 "winner" Marquette not only went 0-2 but lost James for the season. Do not mess with the CK Award.
The Straight Bangin' Award
|3||Bizarro Joe Lunardi||Creighton||-0.48|
|4||Longhorn Road Trip||Texas||-0.24|
As has happened a few times during the hoops BlogPoll's initial run, our Straight Bangin' Award winner isn't someone who's voting his own team conspicuously low so much as it is a voter voting their own team appropriately, combined with a random small handful of other voters bumping them up a few notches. So rest easy, Mountainlair : not ranking a team that didn't even make the final poll isn't exactly a crime.
Swing is the total change in each ballot from last week to this week (obviously voters who didn't submit a ballot last week are not included). A high number means you are easily distracted by shiny things. A low number means that you're damn sure you're right no matter what reality says.
|1||March To Madness||San Diego St.||174|
|3||3rd Saturday in Blogtober||Tennessee||122|
|4||Rocky Top Talk||Tennessee||118|
|5||BC Interruption||Boston College||110|
Whoopsie: March to Madness accidentally voted Michigan rather than Michigan St. No. 8 in their Week 3 ballot, and when you drop your No. 8 team out of your ballot entirely the following week you tend to rack up the swing points. We do strive for accuracy here at the BlogPoll, but I think we can also forgive March to Madness this one particular mistake, seeing as it came on the heels of his SDSU Aztecs' 26-point horse-whipping at the hands of New Mexico. I think any of us would be a little unsteady after that.
|1||Tomahawk Nation||Florida St.||46|
|2||Longhorn Road Trip||Texas||48|
|3||Maize 'n' Brew||Michigan||52|
|4||From Old Virginia||Virginia||58|
|5||Spartans Weblog||Michigan St.||60|
Tomahawk Nation uses "the average score of (his) personal poll, Ken Pomeroy, and the two major polls" as a starting point for his ballot, so perhaps it's all that pulling towards the median that results in the least-altered ballot in the poll? Some reactions seem reasonable--Arizona St. down four, Clemson down five, Florida St. up three--but what's with Marquette and Villanova moving up one? Missouri up two? LSU only up two after clinching the SEC outright? Nothing way out of line, but it's still a fairly funky ballot.
And that's all for this week. We'll be back next Monday, knee-deep in the bliss of Championship Week and countin' down the hours 'til Selection Sunday. See you then.
The CBSSports.com College Basketball BlogPoll Breakdown is written by Jerry Hinnen. For questions or comments regarding the poll, contact Jerry at jerry -at- warblogeagle.com.