I think this tweet from Quint Kessenich summarizes things nicely:
There's no "best" team. There's just, who's better today.— quint kessenich (@QKessenich) April 13, 2013
Before you explode in the comments about where a team is ranked, focus on the following: Whether a particular team put in the appropriate tier -- 1-5, 5-10, etc. -- rather than whether a team is slotted in a specific position. The function of the poll -- 20-plus ballots from reasonably intelligent people -- will eventually get a team into its appropriate ranking position. This is just one piece of the overall puzzle, and my primary concern (as always) is to make sure a team is in its correct tier rather than making sure a team is ranked fourth instead of fifth.
Here's what I'm submitting this week. As always, some brief notes accompany the ballot so that you can understand why I did what I did.
- New this week: None. Dropped out this week: None. The only other teams I seriously considered ranking were Harvard, Army, Bellarmine, and Marist. None of those teams particularly stood out compared to the 20 that I eventually ranked. All have top 20 ceilings, I'm just not sure that any are ready, at this point, to displace the other 20 that I slotted in the hierarchy.
- I gave Syracuse a little bit of a bump in light of the Orange's previous week -- wins against Princeton, Cornell, and Rutgers (in miraculous fashion). It was a tough decision to put Syracuse ahead of Cornell and Maryland (especially given the number of pipes that the Red hit in their mid-week game against the Orange), but knocking off two top 10 teams in consecutive games probably deserves a little bit of extra recognition.
- If Carolina grabs a few first-place votes tomorrow I will not be surprised. For most of the afternoon I had the Tar Heels in the top spot but eventually backed off of that and ranked Denver in the first position. North Carolina has all the pieces this year, and their second half demolition of Hofstra may be the signal that the Heels are arguably the ACC's favorite going into the league's cockamamie tournament.
- Just a note: Whether Johns Hopkins has an NCAA Tournament resume is a lot different than whether Johns Hopkins is a pretty good team. These are significantly different analyses, and it's borne out in a rudimentary way: performance strength does not necessarily correlate to the selection committee's primary criteria. The Jays can play, it's just a matter of whether they can grab the tokens that the selection committee needs to see.
- Albany benefitted from Pennsylvania and Bucknell losing this week, but part of the Great Danes' (Scoobies, if you will) move this week was a course correction to reflect how Albany shows in math-based rankings. Albany continues to be a dangerous team, and I needed to make my ballot reflect that a little better. Yale, once again, is due for a course correction, but I wasn't ready to make that kind of move for the Elis at the moment. I believe in the Bulldogs, I'm just not ready to take a big swing at their poll position yet. On the flip side, if Yale loses this week, I'll exercise similar patience with the Bulldogs.
- I didn't punish Loyola for losing in overtime to Denver. Deal with it.
- Conference Breakdown: Ivy (four); ECAC (three); ACC (three); Big East (three); THUNDERDOME! (three); Patriot (two); America East (one); and Independent (one). That feels right based on relative conference strength.
I'm always willing to hear what you guys think. Have something to add or want to call me a moron in a few sentences? The comments are your launching pad.