Sunday, March 15, 2009

basketblogpoll ballot #6

I had the damndest time sorting out two principles that I go by when figuring out my ballots. What are they? I'm gonna make you read to find out. [/Rivals]

1 Louisville 1
2 Memphis 2
3 North Carolina 2
4 Pittsburgh 1
5 Duke 1
6 Connecticut 1
7 Michigan St.
8 Missouri 2
9 Kansas 1
10 Syracuse 12
11 Gonzaga 2
12 Oklahoma 3
13 Florida St. 4
14 Villanova
15 Wake Forest 3
16 Purdue
17 Arizona St. 6
18 Marquette 2
19 Washington 8
20 Utah St.
21 UCLA 3
22 Temple
23 Utah 1
24 Illinois 1
25 Xavier 10
Last week's ballot

Dropped Out: Louisiana St. (#19), Brigham Young (#20), Clemson (#21).

See, I've been ranking the past few weeks by giving priority to teams doing well in their conference, because the autobid is what it's all about. Hence teams like Xavier and LSU, once kings of the mud in weaker conferences, tended to be ranked above middling teams in better ones (Clemson, UCLA, for example.)

So you'd think that conference champions after the tournaments would vault above those who faltered. And some did. But you know me: I don't think a tournament (AKA playoff) settles things. In fact the outcomes of these high-profile conference tournaments, in which the top seeds generally fared piss-poorly, are going straight into the ammo cache when it's time for me to rail against having a playoff in college football. You can't tell me that UNC, MSU, and LSU weren't pretty clearly the best teams in their conference all year - yet they're denied the right to be called conference champion because of the artificial construct at the end which says that the outcome of one game supersedes the outcomes of dozens.

Anyway, it left me with some dilemmas. What to do with so many of these teams that were brushed aside all year without a thought and suddenly snagged an autobid over other teams in their conference that were once ballot stalwarts? I dealt with it different ways in different conferences:

- The SEC got the boot. Entirely. Sucky conference, really. The conference commissioners will be rooting hard for Mississippi State in this afternoon's game because it's the only way in hell that conference will be more than a two-bid league. Other two-bid leagues: Horizon, Missouri Valley, West Coast. There's nothing about the SEC's performance this year that separates them from the high mid-majors. I dropped LSU from my ballot and didn't look back.

- The A-10 champion is Temple. Xavier earns a bat to the face for losing to them in the tournament. Xavier's got nice wins and all over Memphis and Missouri, which is why I repented and let them stay in the top 25 in the first place. I almost dropped them entirely for flubbing a mid-major league they have no business losing.

- Similar treatment in the Pac-10. Washington and UCLA dropped, again for flubbing a league they shouldn't have lost. ASU gets a little bit of a boost as they've now knocked off U-Dub once and UCLA twice. Still no USC though. A regular season that mediocre doesn't cancel out the tournament run.

- Louisville and Memphis are 1-2 for being pretty much the only top seeded teams to really act like it. They'll be among the few teams that can hang both regular-season and tournament banners in the roof. And most of the rest are, like, Cal State-Northridge and Morgan State, so it's the kind of bonus that's rare to be found in top-25 balloting.

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