This post has been sitting on my desk since Tuesday. The delay is strictly due to laziness. So, whatever. I'm too lazy to finish this pointless apology.
People love polls and rankings. It easy conversation, kind of like the weather and which skanky broad you brought home from the bar last night. The truth of the matter, though, is that polls are kind of moronic: They don't objectively gauge a particular team's performance; they're merely an aggregation of a bunch of people's subjective considerations on schools.
And, to be quite clear: This entire essay, too, is moronic.
I've aggregated a bunch of polls and stuck them in the table below. It considers each team included in each poll's top-10. I'll provide some comments about the table after the jump.
LAXPOWER: These are the LaxPower ratings. These ratings are based on solid math, similar to Jeff Sagarin's rankings. Importantly, they consider margin of victory and where a game was played. They also consider strength of schedule.
RPI: This is stupid person math. I include these rankings only because the NCAA is full of stupid people and they still use this stupid person math as a major piece of their stupid tournament selection criteria.
EFFICIENCY: This is just a ranking of a team's efficiency margin, as adjusted for strength of schedule. These are similar to Ken Pomeroy's rankings, but slightly different. (Pomeroy uses win expectation as the basis of his ratings. We each, however, use the same foundation (efficiency).)
AVG.: Average of the "math" rankings.
COACHES/MEDIA: These are the human polls, as voted on by humans. These humans have different jobs, though: One set judges humans while clad in university-issued apparel; the other set of humans judges others simply to sell ink and paper. These polls are from March 21, 2011.
AVG.: This is the average the Earth-human polls.
DIFF.: The difference between the "math" polls and the human polls. A negative value means that "math" is rating a team higher than the things that are carbon-based; the inverse means that the things made out of 75% water are rating a team higher than the things not made out of any water.
AVG.: Average of the math and human polls. This is how the table is ordered.
This is exactly why the RPI is stupid people math. If you pull out the Terps' RPI rank -- 23rd -- Maryland comes in with an average rating of 5.75 with a deviation between the "math" and humans polls of 1.5 slots. In other words, only stupid people think that Maryland isn't a top-five or -six team.
Yut-oh. This is why I'm somewhat skeptical about the competitiveness of the North Carolina-Maryland game on Saturday. Here's what's going on from the "math" end (specifically, the LaxPower and efficiency rankings): Carolina isn't pummelling teams; the schedule hasn't been light's-out, although it has been good (somewhere around 12th or 13th); the quality wins aren't really there, and the goal differential in the games against quality opponents is hurting the Heels; and the defense is suspect.
As for the humans? Who knows. People do silly things sometimes. North Carolina is pretty good, but the human polls may be overrating them a bit (and maybe the "math" polls are underrating them a bit). We'll know more on Sunday.
People are stupid, just like the RPI.
If you don't lose, you move up in the polls. That's why the humans have the Orange numero uno (that and they beat Virginia).
As for the "math" polls, LaxPower doesn't love Syracuse because of the overtime games between Georgetown and Hopkins. It also isn't thrilled with the Albany game (that's one of the problems with "math"; it doesn't see Desko emptying the bench late in the game).
The efficiency ranking has more to do with the Orange's offense: It's only ranked 15th (this is adjusted for strength of schedule, so don't freak out). Overall, Syracuse is definitely a top-five team, but it may come back to the pack a little as the season progresses.