Tuesday Teabag, February 12, 2013 – College Basketball Rankings

There are certain truisms The Machine lives by:  Only good things happen with Coors Light, snitches get stitches, and if she fucks on the first date, don’t marry her.  These well-tested foundational elements of life are true 100% of the time, unlike stereotypes, which are only true 90% of the time.  You can imagine our horror then, when these guarantees fail us.  It shakes us to our core, and causes us to question everything.

Up until last week, The Machine had another truism it swore by:  if you’re the #1 team in the country and lose, you’re no longer the #1 team in the country.  Sounds simple right?

Last week was a crazy week in College Basketball.  4 of the top 5 teams and 6 of the top 10 teams lost.  The Top 5 teams were (in order):  Indiana, Florida, Michigan, Duke, Kansas.  All of them lost, except Duke.  Not only did Indiana lose but they lost to unranked Illinois.

However, imagine our shock/horror/rage, when The Machine opened up Monday’s paper and saw the new top 5:  Indiana, Duke, Miami, Michigan, Gonzaga.  Indiana’s still #1?  How is that possible?  Did they get participation points?  How can you lose (to an unranked team no less) and still be considered the number one team in the country?  And, to make things even more ridiculous, how does Illinois not crack the top 25?  You’re telling me Colorado State, with that thrilling win over (unranked) Nevada, gets to break into the top 25 but not a team that beat #1?  It makes no sense.

These rankings are, to be professional about it, total horseshit.  They’re completely arbitrary, not like that infallible BCS computer ranking system.  Seriously, what purpose do they serve?  They’re no longer a barometer for placement in the NCAA tourney…RPI, BPI, conference tournaments, and Joe Lunardi have taken that over (seriously, he calls himself a Bracketologist).  So what, then?  National pride for your school?  Bragging rights?  Maybe.

Perhaps they do/did serve some purpose, but not anymore.  Being #1 in the country means nothing, other than you’re probably going to lose.  For the past six consecutive weeks, the #1 team lost, and for the first five weeks, that also (logically) meant they lost their #1 ranking.  Two weeks ago, when (then) #1 Michigan lost to (then) #3 Indiana it dropped Michigan to #3 and propelled Indiana to #1.  If losing to the #3 team in the country knocks you out of first place, how does losing to an unranked team not?

We’re either in an unprecedented year of basketball parity, or the people ranking these teams are clueless (“hey, which Big Ten/ACC team you want to make #1 this week?).

Point is, even with parity, if the rankings are to have any meaning, they have to have real consequences and rewards.  Thus, The Machine thinks the following should happen, ASAP:  if the #1 team loses, they automatically drop to (at least) #10, and there they can claw their way back to the top.  Falling to #3, or in Indiana’s case, remaining #1, has no real consequences at all.  Likewise, if you’re unranked and you beat a top 10 team, you’re in the top 25.  This gives hope to teams that pull off a huge upset, like Illinois, who also beat #18 Minnesota last week, yet are still on the outside looking in.

Rankings need to send a message, and that message shouldn’t be the “if you had fun you won” mantra that’s currently being taught to our children and ruining our sports culture (seriously how am I going to bet on my son’s little league games if they don’t keep score)?  By providing real rewards and consequences, the rankings would all of a sudden become relevant again.  The season’s long enough where a team that drops from #1 to #10 can still fight their way back to the top, and by rewarding teams more, it keeps the rankings fluid, allows more teams a chance to get in the top 25, and gives them momentum.

It makes so much sense, that it will never happen.

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