Thursday, March 01, 2007

Duke Should Not be Ranked

Last night, as we settled down on the couch with a cold one (and by “one” we mean 12-pack) for a night of college basketball, we were taken aback by something that had apparently completely slipped by most of the hoops-viewing world. Duke is ranked #14 in both polls.

First, let us say that we were surprised to learn this before the game, as we pretty much assumed that they would be handled by unranked Maryland (UM won 85-77). So this is not a case of 20-20 hindsight. Also, we should preface our comments by letting any new readers know that we previously
took great joy in Duke’s struggles in early February.

We were not surprised to see Duke ranked when we tuned into ESPN last night, we were just puzzled as to how they could possibly go from unranked one week, to ranked #14 two weeks later, without any quality wins (BC was laughably overrated as they are just about every year. We aren’t counting that as a quality win).

Lets examine the ACC standings. Coming into last night’s game, Duke was 8-6 in conference, tied with Maryland, and two games behind the leaders. The ACC leaders were, again as of last night, North Carolina, 10-4, and ranked #8, who beat Duke in their only meeting so far (they play again in Chapel Hill on Sunday). Virginia Tech, 10-4, and -here’s where it gets screwy- ranked #21 who beat Duke in their only meeting of the season in Durham. And UVA (we know, UVA??), 10-4, and ranked #25 and also beat Duke in their only meeting of the year. So to recap: that’s two teams ahead of Duke in the standings who hold a head-to-head edge over Duke ranked seven and eleven spots BEHIND them in the polls respectively.

Right, we forgot to mention something. That UVA #25 ranking is in the Coaches Poll. The Cavs are unranked in the AP poll. Right now they are second among the “others receiving votes.”

So back to Duke. After being left out of the polls two weeks ago, wins over BC and Georgia Tech vaulted them to the rankings of #18 and #17 in the AP and Coaches Polls, leapfrogging teams like West Virginia, who was coming off of a win over then #2 UCLA, Vanderbilt, who was coming off of a win over then #1 Florida, and Texas, who we firmly believe is one of the more underrated teams in the nation and would smoke Duke on a neutral court. So in other words, beating BC and GT was more impressive to voters than WVU going to L.A. and beating UCLA, or Vandy giving Florida their first conference loss.

All of this brings us back to last night. If we found someone who didn’t know any better, and told them that one of the two teams we were watching was unranked, and the other was in the top 15, needless to say we could have won a lot of money from them. We know there is a bias in the media towards Duke, but this is really getting out of hand. So if the rankings come out next week and Duke is still ranked, we will just simply have to laugh and shake our head. If they come out and Maryland, who has now swept Duke, and beat UNC on Sunday and is really picking up steam, is ranked behind them, we will blow a collective gasket.

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