The latest SEC basketball power poll results are up over at Garnet and Black Attack. There are a few nuggets of information (some of it useful, and most of it not so much) which can be gleaned from the results, and from my ballot posted here yesterday afternoon.
- I'm a homer. But then you already knew that. The polletariat ranks the Georgia Bulldogs 6th, I had them 3rd. In the words of legendary Georgia Supreme Court Justice Logan Bleckley "Every direct authority known to us is against us. Nevertheless we are right, and these authorities are all wrong, as time and further judicial study of the subject will manifest." It is worth noting that the Bulldogs are 3-4 in the SEC, and those 4 losses occurred against the schools ranked #1-4 in this week's poll. With a win over Power Poll #1 Kentucky at home and no losses to the St. Peter's Peacocks or Oakland Golden Grizzlies, I feel comfortable believing, like Justice Bleckley, that further study of SEC Hoopology will vindicate my selection (starting Wednesday when the Bulldogs pull out a gutsy midweek road win against Arkansas).
- I'm the leader of the Vast Anti-Vandy Conspiracy (TM). OK, not exactly true. But only because no one's ever been able to muster enough indignation to ignite an anti-Vandy conspiracy. But seriously, Vandy is 3-3 in the conference. Like Georgia they have a win against each of the Mississippi squads. They have a 7 point win against Georgia in the friendly confines of Memorial Gym. They also have SEC losses to South Carolina, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Georgia's wins (the 2 Misses and Kentucky) are better than Vandy's and Georgia's losses (as noted above) are better than Vandy's. So while I might have ranked Georgia too high, I feel confident that no matter where I ranked the Hoop Hounds they should have been ahead of the Commodores.
- I need to explain my rubric, don't I? Kyle is, famously, a resume ranker when it comes to blogpollery. I would characterize myself as a "modified resume ranker". I look at the season-long body of work a team has put together (hence my inability to forgive Tennessee, Auburn and Alabama for making the entire conference look inept in the early going), but I weight recent performance more highly. In close cases, I'll take a look at head-to-head matchups. "But Vandy beat Georgia head-to-head!!!!" you say. That's very true. And I admit that in football I find onfield comparisons nearly dispositive. Auburn beat Georgia in football this year, and they were the better football team. Ditto Arkansas, South Carolina, Dooly County High School, the flag football team from Skeeter's Plumbing and HVAC in Kennesaw, and the Leperous Sisters of Charity. But in college basketball it's a little tougher. For one thing, home court advantage (especially a unique court like Memorial) counts for more in basketball, at least in my mind. If I concede that Vandy's win over Georgia in Nashville by 7 means that Vandy is 7 points better than Georgia, I logically must also urge the same thing about Georgia's 7 point home triumph against Kentucky. As Kentucky demonstrated this weekend by in turn disposing of Georgia by 6 at Rupp Arena, home court matters. Thus, I tend to discount home wins a little unless they are convincing. There's a huge difference between a 25 point mauling on the road and a 2 point loss at the buzzer on the road. The former tells me that the team in question probably either lacks talent (if they lose by similar margins at home) or poise (if they seem to implode on the road in hostile venues). The latter suggests (without conclusively proving) to me that the last second road loser is equal or better in talent but couldn't shake off the innate disadvantage of playing on the road, or is composed of gamers who show up to play on the road without being intimidated, flustered, or otherwise rendered ineffective. Come tournament time, that last bit is gold, Jerry. Gold.
- I'm not that far removed from the hivemind. I agreed with the voters that 'Bama is #5, Arky's #7 and Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss and South Carolina are the bottom third of the draw at this juncture. Really at this point it would be difficult to argue otherwise. The only real suspense here was whether Auburn would get out of the cellar by beating South Carolina on the road in Columbia. But it appears that the voters may have punished the Gamecocks for their efforts more than we rewarded the Tigers. After winning a national title in baseball and a divisional title in football, I think the sporting juggernaut to our east had that coming. Yes, I am momentarily envious of South Carolina's athletic success. Wow. Here comes the nausea.
- Somebody thinks Alabama's #1, and it better be one of the Crimson Tide voters or I'm putting on my mock-assins and ordering a strong Mocktail. Someone cast a #1 vote for Alabama. I haven't been able to figure out who it was yet, but I have my suspects. As I noted above, I'm an impossible homer in these things and can't therefore ride anybody else too hard for thinking their team is better than others who've barely bothered to watch them (hint, I'm that guy) do. So if this was Roll Tide Roll or Alabama Basketball Blog's pick, then good on you, guys. I salute your testicular fortitude. If however it was somebody else, well, suffice it to say a 2 point home win against Kentucky doesn't ring my bell quite like the losses to Arkansas, Providence, Purdue, St. Peter's, Iowa and Seton Hall. The Tide are, statistically, #1 in the SEC with a 5-1 conference mark. And I think Alabama's playing a heck of a lot better now than they were in the early going (which beats torching the nonconference schedule then laying an egg in the SEC slate), but I just don't see it. It's also worth noting that Alabama's 4 conference wins that weren't against Calipari's Cats were against 3 of the widely proclaimed bottom 4 in the poll (LSU, Auburn, South Carolina) and the other was against Mississippi State, whom even the Bizarro Bulldog fans seem to think I have too high at #6. I have a feeling that road games at Tennessee and Vandy in the next week and a half will put the kabosh on the Tide's roll to #1. I'll be back this evening to begin the drive toward Signing Day on Wednesday. The coverage will be more frequent than last year and you'll be graded on participation, so look alive. Until then . . .