The games started Friday night.. So you know what that means, right? Yep, it’s time for this season’s first Poll Attacks column — where I examine ballots that belong to AP voters and highlight nonsensical things I notice. Honestly, when I launched this weekly column years ago, I figured AP voters would eventually start being extra careful, at which point it would become increasingly difficult to find inexplicable ballots. But I underestimated either the intelligence or focus of AP voters because, literally every week, I find something. It’s always easy. And this week is no exception — thanks to the way multiple voters handled Texas A&M and West Virginia.
I’ll start with Jesse Newell — The Kansas City Star reporter who covers KU. He has West Virginia ranked 14th and Texas A&M ranked 16th on his ballot, which would’ve been reasonable at any point before a shorthanded Texas A&M team beat West Virginia 88-65 on a neutral court last Friday. But now it’s completely unreasonable. Because a shorthanded Texas A&M team beat West Virginia 88-65 on a neutral court last Friday. And why anybody would rank Texas A&M behind West Virginia after that is impossible to understand.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 50 million times.
The results have to matter.
Which is not to suggest you have to react strongly to every weird result so early in a season. Like, if Duke would’ve lost to Elon last Friday on a halfcourt buzzer-beater, I would’ve neither wanted nor expected everybody to rank Elon No. 1 or even ahead of Duke. Sometimes odd results are just total outliers that should be treated as such. But when two teams that are projected similarly — West Virginia was No. 11 in the preseason AP poll; Texas A&M was No. 25 — play each other on a neutral court in the season-opener, and one of them beats the absolute crap out of the other, it makes no sense to not have the winner ranked ahead of the loser, especially when the winner remains undefeated. Thus, it makes no sense, right now, to not have Texas A&M ranked ahead of West Virginia. I’m not even sure Bob Huggins would argue. But don’t think for a second that I’m going to single out Newell and move on. Because he’s not the only AP voter who messed this up.
Newell has West Virginia ranked higher than any other AP voter, sure. But at least he has West Virginia and Texas A&M kinda close. Craig Meyer has West Virginia 15th and Texas A&M 20th. Norm Wood has West Virginia 17th and Texas A&M 24th. Thuc Nhi has West Virginia 17th and Texas A&M 23rd. And Elton Alexander has West Virginia 21st and Texas A&M unranked. And do you now understand why the Poll Attacks column is so simple to write every Monday?
Speaking of Alexander, he also has Saint Mary’s unranked and Mount St. Mary’s ranked 22nd. Which means he gave four points in the AP poll to a team projected to finish fourth in the NEC — presumably because he confused Saint Mary’s and Mount St. Mary’s.