Posted on: January 6, 2009 2:50 pm

College Basketball Rankings, Week 8

Rankings for Week 8
 1. Pittsburgh            (14-0)   +4
 2. Duke                  (12-1)   +1
 3. North Carolina        (13-1)   -2
 4. Georgetown            (10-2)   +5
 5. Connecticut           (12-1)   -3
 6. Texas                 (11-2)   -
 7. Clemson               (14-0)   -
 8. Wake Forest           (13-0)   -
 9. Oklahoma              (13-1)   -5
10. Syracuse              (14-1)   -
11. Michigan St.          (11-2)  +11
12. West Virginia         (11-2)   +8
13. Boston College        (13-2)  New
14. UCLA                  (12-2)   +1
15. Tennessee             (9-3)   -2
16. Wisconsin             (11-3)  New
17. Illinois              (13-2)   +1
18. Nevada Las Vegas      (13-2)  New
19. California            (13-2)  New
20. Michigan              (11-3)   -4
21. Minnesota             (13-1)   -
22. Butler                (12-1)   +1
23. Purdue                (11-3)   -9
24. Marquette             (13-2)  New
25. Arizona St.           (12-2)  New

Next Ten:
26. Kansas                (10-3)   +6
27. Villanova             (12-2)  -15
28. Xavier                (11-2)   -3
29. Stanford              (11-1)  New
30. Notre Dame            (10-3)  -19
31. Baylor                (12-2)  -14
32. Memphis               (10-3)   -4
33. Ohio St.              (10-2)   -9
34. Missouri              (12-2)   -
35. Florida St.           (13-2)   +1

Others on watch list: Brigham Young, Maryland, Davidson, Washington, Gonzaga, Miami FL, Dayton, Florida, Arizona, Louisville, Northwestern, St. Mary's, Kentucky

New this week: Boston College, Wisconsin, Nevada Las Vegas, California, Marquette, Arizona St.
Dropped out: Villanova, Xavier, Notre Dame, Baylor, Ohio St., Gonzaga

This was the toughest week to rank.  Conference play began with cross-beating, many top teams lost, or split a win and a loss this week.  I have re-done my rankings without heeding too much to who is dropping and rising.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Rankings
Posted on: December 28, 2008 9:38 pm

College Basketball Rankings, Week 7

On my methodology, please read the "Philosophy of Rankings" blog entry (scroll down on the blog, CBS doesn't let me post a link.)

1    North Carolina    (12-0)    -
2    Connecticut    (11-0)    -
3    Duke    (10-1)    -
4    Oklahoma    (12-0)    -
5    Pittsburgh    (12-0)    -
6    Texas    (10-2)    -
7    Clemson    (12-0)    +1
8    Wake Forest    (11-0)    +1
9    Georgetown    (9-1)    +2
10    Syracuse    (12-1)    +2
11    Notre Dame    (9-2)    +2
12    Villanova    (11-1)    +2
13    Tennessee    (8-2)    +2
14    Purdue    (10-2)    +3
15    UCLA    (10-2)    +3
16    Michigan    (9-2)    +3
17    Baylor    (10-1)    +3
18    Illinois    (11-1)    +3
19    Gonzaga    (8-3)    -12
20    West Virginia    (10-2)    New
21    Minnesota    (11-0)    +1
22    Michigan State    (9-2)    +1
23    Butler    (10-1)    New
24    Ohio State    (9-1)    -14
25    Xavier    (9-2)    -9

New: West Virginia, Butler.
Dropped out: Kansas, Missouri.

Next 10:
26    Arizona State    (10-1)
27    BYU    (10-1)
28    Memphis    (7-3)
29    Wisconsin    (9-3)
30    Maryland    (9-2)
31    Arizona    (8-3)
32    Kansas    (8-3)
33    Davidson    (8-2)
34    Missouri    (10-2)
35    Miami (Fla.)    (8-3)

We had few games over the holidays, so I didn't change the order of my rankings, apart from movements due to the few big wins and losses.  Most teams have moved up because of three pretty bad losses by highly ranked teams: Gonzaga, Ohio State, and Xavier.  West Virginia and Butler moves into the poll, having been the dominant spanker of Ohio State and Xavier; Illinois moves up due to a never-in-doubt blowout over Missouri.  Missouri drops out for the same reason.  Arizona spanks Kansas - but still misses the rankings due to three losses to medium-good teams, the last of which, UNLV, is still fresh.

Team notes:
I have only seen the Missouri-Illinois game this week, so I offer thoughts on that, and my reasons for large movements.

Missouri relies too much on the press, and if a team successfully deals with that, they have no half-court game to fall back on.  Illinois prepared well, they took care of the ball and knew exactly how to pass out of the traps.  Once in half-court, Missouri had neither the offense to create an open shot, nor the defense to keep Illinois from getting one.

For the first time this season, Illinois played 40 minutes of their best basketball.  They had a game plan - they took care of the ball and forced Missouri into the half-court game.  The execution of the motion offense was nearly flawless, giving Illinois open shots and an astounding 56.9 % field goal percentage.  McCamey showed that he can be a star when he is focused.  In the follow-up game, Illinois played a very sloppy game against Eastern Michigan, but enough to win.  I believe that If Illinois is focused,  they can beat most teams in the Big Ten.  Question is - can they keep up the intensity?

Gonzaga - I think Gonzaga is a good team, and they will recover, but a two-game losing streak warrants a big drop, if one of them is at home to Portland State.  I think it is just the case of overlooking a team, but when you are top 10, you don't overlook anyone.

Xavier - on a two game losing streak, being dismantled by Duke on a neutral court and losing to an underrated Butler at home. 

Ohio State - being blown off at your home court means you don't belong to the top 20.  Ohio State was probably overrated slightly. 

West Virginia - I have only seen them against Davidson.  Even though they didn't play well then, I had the feeling they can do much better.  I have been waiting for a signature win to add them into my rankings, and now they have one.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Rankings
Posted on: December 22, 2008 2:06 am
Edited on: December 25, 2008 5:11 pm

College Basketball Rankings, Week 6

On my methodology, please read the "Philosophy of Rankings" blog entry (scroll down on the blog, CBS doesn't let me post a link.) 

1    North Carolina    (11-0)    -
2    Connecticut    (10-0)    +1
3    Duke    (10-1)    +3
4    Oklahoma    (11-0)    -2
5    Pittsburgh    (12-0)    -
6    Texas    (9-2)    -2
7    Gonzaga    (8-2)    -
8    Clemson    (12-0)    +14
9    Wake Forest    (10-0)    +1
10    Ohio State    (8-0)    +1
11    Georgetown    (8-1)    +1
12    Syracuse    (11-1)    -4
13    Notre Dame    (8-2)    -
14    Villanova    (10-1)    -
15    Tennessee    (8-2)    -
16    Xavier    (9-1)    -7
17    Purdue    (9-2)    +1
18    UCLA    (8-2)    +1
19    Michigan    (8-2)    -3
20    Baylor    (9-1)    +1
21    Illinois    (10-1)    +4
22    Minnesota    (10-0)    New
23    Michigan State    (8-2)    New
24    Missouri    (9-1)    New
25    Kansas    (8-2)    New

New this week: Minnesota, Michigan State, Missouri, Kansas.
Dropped out: Memphis, Maryland, Davidson, Marquette.

Next in line:
26    Arizona State    (9-1)
27    Memphis    (6-3)
28    Wisconsin    (9-2)
29    Maryland    (7-2)
30    West Virginia    (8-2)
31    BYU    (10-1)
32    Davidson    (8-2)
33    Marquette    (9-2)
34    Miami (Fla.)    (7-3)
35    Florida State    (11-2)

Team notes:

Connecticut plays a matchup of great teams with Gonzaga and outlasts them in OT.  Both teams display great talent and teamp play, explosiveness, great players who can finish.

Duke blows Xavier off the court. 'Nuff said.

Still not sold on Pittsburgh.  They win a defensive struggle over Florida State, but their play lacks dominance and explosiveness.  Credit Florida State's defense, but only partially.  Pittsburgh's  offense never clicks, they cannot run the ball and execute against a good defense.  They win by hard-nosed defense and well-timed runs.

Texas loses a close one to Michigan State, but they play well.  They only drop two spots.

My biggest mover this week is Clemson.  They played like a top 10 team against Miami.  They were the most purposeful, most collected team I have watched this week.  Their press forced Miami into transition play, which isn't their style, and they couldn't utilize their big men.  On offense, they executed brilliantly both in transition and half-court offense, their outside shots were falling, which rendered Miami's press useless.  That impressive performance, along with the even more impressive 12-0 record, moves them up to #8.

Syracuse loses to Cleveland State and then proceeds to beat Memphis... that is rather inconsistent.  They drop 4 spots. 

Xavier - being blown out by Duke is bad.  They drop 7 spots - at #16, their placement is probably more realistic anyway.

Purdue blows off Davidson - but that exposes Davidson more than helps Purdue.  Davidson drops off - they cannot face a tough defense. 

Illinois moves up due to teams dropping out from in front of them.   They play sloppy against Detroit, but it is enough for a blowout, and for an 10-1 record.  Based on how Clemson played Sunday, that 2 point loss to them is not looking too bad at all. 

Minnesota beats a lethargic Louisville with hard defense that shuts down Louisville's inside game completely.  They take care of the ball, render Louisville's press resultless and keep control of the game with relentless defense even when they hit cold spells.  The 9-0 record is no fluke; Tubby has made Minny into a legitimate Big Ten contender.

Michigan State returns to the rankings with a close win over Texas, and much improved play.

moves up based on their record.  Next Tuesday's Bragging Right's game against Illinois will be a big test for both teams.

re-enters the rankings by adding a nice win over Temple.

Memphis loses to Syracuse in a good game.  That normally doesn't warrant dropping out of the rankings, but three losses and no good wins to make up for them does.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Rankings
Posted on: December 15, 2008 11:26 am
Edited on: December 16, 2008 3:23 pm

College basketball rankings, week 5

On my methodology, please read the "Philosophy of Rankings" blog entry (scroll down on the blog, CBS doesn't let me post a link.)  It will explain why Louisville, Arizona State and Michigan State are not ranked.

1    North Carolina    (9-0)    -
2    Oklahoma    (10-0)    +2
3    Connecticut    (8-0)    -1
4    Texas    (8-1)    +4
5    Pittsburgh    (10-0)    +1
6    Duke    (8-1)    -1
7    Gonzaga    (7-1)    -4
8    Syracuse    (9-0)    +1
9    Xavier    (9-0)    +1
10    Wake Forest    (9-0)    +1
11    Ohio State    (6-0)    +2
12    Georgetown    (7-1)    +4
13    Notre Dame    (7-2)    +1
14    Villanova    (10-1)    -2
15    Tennessee    (6-2)    -8
16    Michigan    (7-2)    -1
17    Memphis    (5-2)    -
18    Purdue    (8-2)    +2
19    UCLA    (6-2)    -1
20    Davidson    (8-1)    +5
21    Baylor    (8-1)    -2
22    Clemson    (10-0)    -1
23    Maryland    (7-2)    New
24    Marquette    (8-1)    -1
25    Illinois    (9-1)    New

New this week: Maryland, Illinois
Dropped out: Dayton, Kansas.

Next 10:
26    Wisconsin    (8-2)
27    BYU    (10-0)
28    Kansas    (7-2)
29    West Virginia    (7-2)
30    Dayton    (9-1)
31    Miami (Fla.)    (7-2)
32    Florida State    (9-1)
33    Michigan State    (6-2)
34    Minnesota    (9-0)
35    Missouri    (8-1)

Finals week brought less basketball action.  Most teams played cupcakes or took a break.  Nevertheless, we had a few top matchups and some upsets.   This leaves me wondering whom to add in the bottom of the rankings after Kansas and Dayton drops out with losses to medium-tier teams.

Team notes:
 Even though Arizona outplays them, Gonzaga is a top 10  team. With the tough schedule and everyone giving them their best shot, they were bound to lose one.   They only drop 4 in my poll.

Arizona: even after defeating Gonzaga, and looking good doing it, they simply do not have the resume to be a top 25 team, with losses to UAB and Texas A&M.  They are on my watch list, though.

Villanova fails its first test against a good looking Texas.  They played hard, but sloppy - I sense "first big game jitters" in a talented team.  They will get over it.

Texas is looking better every time I see them - their plays are more polished, their finishing better - A.J. Abrams, anyone? - and the hustling and effort is just outstanding. They move to #4 in my poll.

Oklahoma moves up to #2 - 10-0 is plain impressive, especially if it includes two quality wins over Davidson and Purdue, and even their "decent" wins are over better teams - UAB, USC, Tulsa and Utah.  That leaves only 4 cupcakes on the schedule!  Wow.

I am not sold on Pittsburgh completely, they have played decent teams but no real test to show they are top 10.  But they are handling the schedule convincingly by far.

Xavier adds a nice rivalry win over Cincinnati, Ohio State one over a pretty good Butler.

Georgetown just keeps beating good teams while playing well.  Memphis cannot be penalized for an overtime loss to them.

Tennessee loses one to a well-playing Temple team, but it ain't pretty, so that costs them 8 spots.

Davidson moves up in my poll.  They played a close one with West Virginia while Curry was off his game - but once he turned it on, it was a no-contest.  Without Curry, they are a mediocre team - but with him, they can definitely beat those teams below them in my poll.

Why Maryland, you ask? I realized they have the best record of the remaining teams - two quality wins over Michigan State and Michigan, their two losses are to Gonzaga and Georgetown, and they have been convincingly handling the rest of their schedule.  I have not seen them play - but I simply can't ignore their record when there are so many teams with much worse stumbles.

gets bumped up purely based on record, since Dayton and Kansas falls behind them.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Rankings
Posted on: December 8, 2008 2:20 pm

College Basketball Rankings, Week 4

If you wish to know the reasoning, please read my blog entry about the Philosophy of Rankings.

1    North Carolina    (8-0)
2    Connecticut    (8-0)
3    Gonzaga    (6-0)
4    Oklahoma    (8-0)
5    Duke    (8-1)
6    Pittsburgh    (9-0)
7    Tennessee    (6-1)
8    Texas    (6-1)
9    Syracuse    (8-0)
10    Xavier    (7-0)
11    Wake Forest    (7-0)
12    Villanova    (8-0)
13    Ohio State    (5-0)
14    Notre Dame    (6-2)
15    Michigan    (6-2)
16    Georgetown    (5-1)
17    Memphis    (5-1)
18    UCLA    (5-2)
19    Baylor    (7-1)
20    Purdue    (6-2)
21    Clemson    (9-0)
22    Dayton    (8-0)
23    Marquette    (7-1)
24    Kansas    (7-1)
25    Davidson    (6-1)

New this week: Ohio State, Michigan, Marquette, Davidson.
Dropped out: Illinois, Michigan State, Miami(FL), Florida.

Next five:
26    Illinois    (7-1)
27    Wisconsin    (6-2)
28    West Virginia    (6-1)
29    Miami (Fla.)    (5-2)
30    Michigan State    (5-2)
Ohio State added two impressive wins to their resume, beating Miami and Notre Dame. Michigan outplayed Duke with great enthusiasm, and proved that beating UCLA was no fluke.

Losing to Duke is no sin; getting discombobulated is. Purdue doesn't have good wins, thinning patience drops them to 20.  Michigan State is dismantled by UNC, which makes me re-evaluate the Maryland loss as not an anomaly. They will collect themselves later in the season, but right now, there is nothing in their resume that justifies ranking them.  Same goes for Miami(FL).

Clemson is tugging along unbeaten, adding a good win over Illinois on the road.  Their pressure defense wears opponents down.  They are definitely a top 25 team at the moment.

Pittsburgh, Villanova and Wake Forest are rolling their light schedule.  Wake Forest does have a signature win over Baylor, but everything else on their schedule is fluff. Against Indiana their offense was overpowering, but they allowed too many easy plays and offensive rebounds to a team that was clearly overmatched.  Pitt and Villanova have some decent wins, but no real proof of belonging to the top yet.  Villanova is playing Texas this week.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Rankings
Posted on: December 8, 2008 1:00 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2008 1:03 pm

The Philosophy Of Rankings

I have been asked by some to post my rankings, since there was interest in my evolving system of college basketball rankings.  I will post an explanation of my philosphy first, since it was the subject of a heated debate recently on the college basketball board.

I have never been interested in rankings, knowing that they don't mean much, especially early in the season.  This year, Jawhk has launched the People's Poll, and I decided to participate.  After submitting my pre-season and first week rankings largely based on opinions in the media, I decided to give serious thought to what rankings should be based on. 

I have started a thread asking what people base their rankings on.   I have found three major schools of thought:
1.  Ranking teams based on which team would beat whom head-to-head.
2.  Ranking based on March potential. This usually involves who the best players are, and if the team is young, whether they are expected to gel as a team by March.
3. Ranking based on performance - wins, losses, against whom.
Most people use a combination of the above, with different weights.

I found major flaws with the first two approaches.
1. This is very subjective.  It is simply impossible to research every team, their players and their potential to decide who would beat whom.  Most of us know some teams better than others, and would give a preference to those.
2.  I don't want to think of March in November.  I want to rank Week 3 based on what I think the strength of the teams are at week 3. 

I have decided that my main criteria will be performance.  I tried this first time Week 2, and due to lack of data, it produced a rather interesting "helter-skelter" result.  It was attacked by the entire college basketball board, with opinions ranging from "interesting" to "stupid" and "illogical". I didn't expect this to be a big deal, but I was forced to defend myself over that entire week.  I was undeterred - and by Week 3 it was clear that my system was working, because the results started to resemble other polls - and the attacks subsided.

The ranking system is still evolving.  Based on three weeks of experience, I have decided on the following main principles:
1. Rankings will be based on who is the best team at the time of ranking.  I don't care what the March potential is.  If they are good in March, they will be ranked in March.
2. I will rely on first-hand information foremost.  This is wins and losses, against whom, and eye-ball test, i.e. seeing a team play and judging them.  This can vary based on what game I see and what I think of the team, but it is better than reading Gary Parrish's (or any other talkng head's) second-hand opinion.
3. Teams with a weak schedule will be given slack.  Early in the season, the slack will be based on pre-season rankings.  Beginning in January, the slack will be based on Pomeroy's efficiency ratings.
4. Self-consistency of my ranking is more important than changes to the previous ranking.  This means that teams that have beaten another are ranked ahead of another, bad losses are only foriven by really good wins, good wins mean more than cupcakes, and that I don't care if a team that is highly ranked drops out, or if a previously non-ranked team appears at a high spot, if that is what the comparison suggests.

I am feeling good about my rankings because I can rely on guidelines, instead of just sticking my thumb out like I did the first two weeks.  I know that many may not agree with the results, but I feel the logic of the rankings is consistent each week, and that is more than you can say about some of the official polls.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Rankings
Posted on: March 8, 2008 6:40 pm

Thank you for the memories, seniors!

In an uplifiting ending to a pathetic season, my Illini sent the seniors off with a win against Minnesota.  Chris Hicks fired up the crowd with a three at the buzzer.  The Chief made a brief appearance during the half time chiefless chief dance - entered at one side of the hall, raised his arms up during the Chief dance music and while the crowd sang 'Hail to the orange,hail to the blue', walked down the balcony and exited.  The crowd was thrilled to see him one more time.

The seniors all got emotional and made a speech at the end. Randle was fighting back tears, reflecting on the years and the season. Pruitt made a reference to the Indiana game and thanked the people who stuck with him anyway.  And Chris Hicks, the walk-on, said it was his dream come true to wear the Illinois uniform and practice with these guys.

It was an emotional ending to a frustrating season.  It made us realize what these are college kids, and what really matters is that we got to play and watch basketball together, that we were sharing the experience of a life time with these players.

Thank you, seniors, you did work your heart out for this team, things just didn't go our way this season.  Thank you for the memories, good or bad.... we were in it together.

Good night, and good luck in the Big Ten tourney!

Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or