Originally Posted by Redsland
Duke may be Duke, but Duke sure doesn't look like Duke this year.
now that conference regular season games are over, let's take a look at how things shook out in the acc.
north carolina (25-6 / 11-5) and virginia (20-9 / 11-5) tied for first.
maryland (24-7 / 10-6), virginia tech (20-10 / 10-6) and boston college (19-10 / 10-6) finished in a tie for 3rd.
georgia tech (20-10 / 8-8) and duke (22-9 / 8-8) finished in a tie for 6th.
now let's look at the current top 25 ranking for each of those 7 schools:
unc - #8 coaches / # 8 ap
virginia - #24 coaches / NR ap
maryland - #20 coaches / #17 ap
virginia tech - NR coaches / NR ap
boston college - NR coaches / NR ap
duke - #21 coaches / #21 ap
georgia tech - NR coaches / NR ap
so duke was at best the 6th best team in the acc this year according to conference records. yet according to both the coaches and the writers, they are the 3rd best team in the conference.
let's look at how the other major conferences shook out and the relative rankings of the schools.
big ten - ohio state won the regular season title (27-3 / 15-1) and is ranked #1 in both polls. wisconsin finished 2nd (27-4 / 13-3) and is ranked #3 in the ap poll and #4 in the coaches poll. no other conference teams are ranked.
big 12 - kansas won the regular season title (27-4 / 14-2) and is ranked #2 in the coaches poll and #2 in the ap poll. texas a&m finished 2nd (25-5 / 13-3) and is #7 in the coaches poll and #7 in the ap poll. texas finished 3rd (22-8 / 12-4) and is #14 in the coaches poll and #15 in the ap poll. no other conference teams are ranked.
pac 10 - ucla won the regular season (26-4 / 15-3) and is # 3 in the coaches poll and #4 in the ap poll. washington state finished 2nd (24-6 / 13-5) and is #12 in the coaches poll and #11 in the ap. oregon finished 3rd (23-7 / 11-7) and is #18 in the coaches poll and #16 in the ap.
are you noticing a pattern? national rankings in each poll generally follow the logic that the team with the best conference record has the highest national ranking in the conference. rankings then follow in relative order. except in the acc. for the sake of rounding out the argument, let's look at the rest of the bcs conferences:
in the big east, georgetown won the regular season (23-6 / 13-3) and is ranked #9 in the coaches poll and #9 in the ap. pittsburgh (25-6 / 12-4) and louisville (22-8 / 12-4) finished tied for second. pittsburgh is #11 in the coaches poll and #13 in the ap. louisville (with the slightly worse overall record) is ranked #15 in the coaches poll and #12 in the ap. notre dame finished 4th (23-6 / 11-5) and is #16 in the coaches poll and #20 in the ap. marquette is the final big east team to be ranked. they finished 5th (23-8 / 10-6) and are #19 in the coaches poll and #18 in the ap.
pittsburgh and louisville are in different relative order in the two polls. but they are both ranked behind georgetown (who had a better conference record) and ahead of notre dame & marquette who each had worse conference records. marquette and notre dame are flipped in the two polls, but the big east #4 & #5 teams are ranked behind the #1-3 teams.
in the sec, florida won the sec east (26-5 / 13-3) and is ranked #7 in the nation. tennessee finished 2nd in the sec east (22-9 / 10-6). they are #22 in the ap poll, and unranked in the coaches poll. no one in the sec west is ranked.
so there's certainly a logic with regards to conference standings and relative national rankings in the big 10, big 12, sec, big east, and pac 10. that's 15 of the 25 schools in the coaches poll.
only one other conference has 2 teams ranked. in the moutain west, regular season champ byu (23-7 / 13-3) is #23 in the coaches poll and the ap poll. 2nd place unlv (25-6 / 12-4) is #25 in both polls.
all of the other teams that are ranked in the top 25 are the lone representative from their respective conference:
memphis (conference usa) - #5 ap / #5 coaches
nevada (wac) - #10 ap / #10 coaches
southern illinois (mvc) - #14 ap / #13 coaches
butler (horizon) - #19 ap / #17 coaches
winthrop (big south) - #22 in the ap / #24 coaches.
so aside from some very minor quirks in the big east, there is a reliable pattern among non-acc teams that national rankings coincide with relative conference standings. if team x finishes higher than team y in the conference, team x should have a higher ranking in the national polls than team y. if you go with that line of reasoning to predict national rankings, you'll be correct most of the time.
except when it comes to duke and the acc.
the only rational reason that i can think of that would explain this is discrepancy exists is that duke must have played a more difficult non-conference schedule. coach k always gets more than his share of high school all-americans, so he shouldn't be afraid to play anyone anywhere, right?
here's a url that lists all of coach k's high school all-americans through 2005:
right now, coach k has 6 mcdonald's all-americans - greg paulus, josh mcroberts, and demarcus nelson, as well as 2006 participants lance thomas, gerald henderson and jon scheyer.
so back to the duke non-conference schedule this year. coach k and his team of 6 high school all-americans have wins at home against...columbia, georgia southern, unc greensboro, davidson, indiana, georgetown, holy cross, george mason, kent state, san jose state and temple. they have a road win against st. johns in nyc. they have neutral court wins against gonzaga (in nyc), and air force (in kansas city). they have a neutral court loss against marquette (in kansas city).
that's one home win over a top 25 team (georgetown) and one neutral court loss (marquette) against a top 25 team. in fairness, gonzaga did just win their conference last night. none of the other teams, though are top 25. indiana and air force are right around 35 if the top 25 poll was expanded out to include the "others receiving votes" category. that's hardly the kind of non-conference schedule that would explain such a radical disconnect between finishing tied for 6th in the conference but having the conference's 3rd highest national ranking in 2 different polls.
so the only other conclusion i can logically draw is that the voters in the coaches poll and the ap poll behave in a rational manner when voting for 24 of the top 25 teams.
they behave irrationally, though, when it's time to vote for duke.