1/17 Bidwell's Blog: Murray State's AP voting breakdown

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I'm sorry for being a day late with this.  Judging by the zero people who complained about not seeing this yesterday, I'll take it that you all survived. 

Murray State came in at #12 in this week's Associated Press poll.  Here's the breakdown of the 65 votes this week:

8th: 2 votes -- John Feinstein (NPR), Mark Smith (Albuquerque Journal)
9th: 0 votes
10th: 13 votes
11th: 11 votes
12th: 4 votes
13th: 7 votes
14th: 6 votes
15th: 7 votes
16th: 3 votes
17th: 5 votes
18th: 1 vote
19th: 3 votes
20th: 2 votes
21st: 0 votes
22nd: 1 vote -- Bret Strelow (Fayetteville, NC Observer)

Once again this week there is a lot of variance when it comes to how the Racers are viewed nationally.  While Murray State was #12 in the AP Poll, they're 10th in the coaches poll.  CBSSports.com's Jeff Goodman has an AP vote.  Goodman and fellow CBS'er Gary Parrish put together a weekly poll for their website.  They have the Racers listed ranked 20th -- one of the three lowest votes Murray State received this week. 

In his weekly "Poll Attacks" column, Parrish goes after the Racers being ranked 10th in the coaches poll, although his arguments could be used for anyone who thinks Murray State is too high in any poll.

Parrish writes:  "I don't think Murray State is one of the nation's 10 best teams.

If you do, that's fine.

I don't have an issue provided you really believe it. But what I do have an issue with is how the Racers are moving up the polls based on little more than the fact that they play in the Ohio Valley Conference and every other relevant team does not. They are advancing because they're spending each week playing grossly inferior opponents while a Big Ten team might host Ohio State one night and be at Michigan the next. Put another way, there are lots of weeks when a split should be considered a good week. But splits almost always move teams down in the polls while 2-0 weeks move folks up. And while that's somewhat OK in most cases because the power-conference schedules tend to balance themselves out over time, this simple approach to ranking creates issues when a solid team from a bad league gets involved.

That's what's happening here.

That's why the Racers are ranked 10th.

So my question is simple: When does it stop?

If Kansas loses to Baylor late Monday but then beats Texas this weekend while Murray State handles Morehead State and SIU-Edwardsville, are voters gonna move the No. 7 Jayhawks below Murray State based on the idea that KU went 1-1 while Murray State went 2-0? I hope not. Because weeks, like overall records, need context, and it's silly to continue to advance the Racers without considering the context of what their wins really show and what others' losses really mean.

That's why we've kept the Racers at No. 20.

Because that's about where they belong regardless of how many consecutive OVC schools they beat."

As I've said repeatedly, while the polls are something we can all chirp about on Mondays, they ultimately don't mean a thing.  This isn't college football.  Murray State isn't playing for a national ranking, they're playing for a national championship -- just like the other 345 or so D-1 college basketball teams.  The more they win, the better seed they get in the NCAA Tournament and the better chance they have to win the tournament. 

Do you have to be a bit of a dreamer to think Murray State has a chance to win a national championship?

Sure.

But ask VCU, Butler and George Mason if it's OK to dream.

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