October 24, 2013

Poll positions: Doing some number crunching

An Andre Carter interception helped Salisbury defeat St. John Fisher and play its way back into the Top 25.
Salisbury athletics photo

The poll doesn't exist to steal anybody's joy by disrespecting them or withholding love. It is merely a prism through which to view accomplishments on a national, coast-to-coast, best-of-the-best-of-the-244 scale.

Why do you want to see your school ranked?

Think about that for a second. Do you want an honest assessment of where keen observers think your team stands? Or do you just like to see your team's name in lights?

We all like to be appreciated and loved. Nothing wrong with that. But before you toss a subtle or not-so-subtle jab at the pollsters who "aren't giving us any love," ask what it is you want the love for.

Maybe it'd be cool to see your team in the rankings. After Week 7, we're actually down to just 24 unbeatens, so every undefeated team could be ranked. Of course, that wouldn't account for Franklin, whose only D-III loss is by three points at No. 1 Mount Union, or Pacific Lutheran, whose loss is to No. 2 Linfield, or Wittenberg, whose loss is to I-AA Butler (which is 6-2).

Shouldn't the poll reflect reality? Shouldn't respect be earned? Why would you want to be ranked, say, 15th, only to get blown out in the playoffs by a team you think you are better than? Wouldn't you want to know where you truly stand, so if you pull the upset you can enjoy it in all its marvelous glory?

With 244 teams, we'll forever be in a perpetual state of having more than 25 that seem worthy of being ranked, by one metric or another. The poll doesn't exist to steal anybody's joy by disrespecting them or withholding love. It is merely a prism through which to view accomplishments on a national, coast-to-coast, best-of-the-best-of-the-244 scale.

Winning is the meat. Being ranked is gravy. (or maybe it's cake/icing?)

Number crunch

The No. 1 team in the country has beaten two teams that are 0-6 and two that are 1-5. That's no fault of Mount Union's of course -- its schedule just happens to be backloaded with 6-0 Heidelberg, 4-2 Baldwin Wallace and 6-0 John Carroll.

All records and opponents are not created equal -- 1-5 UW-La Crosse would certainly smash some 5-1 teams out there -- but for fun, I took a look at how many teams with losing records, .500 marks and winning records each top 25 team played. Composite records, of past, future and combined opposition for any team are available via the NCAA stats link.

No. 1 Mount Union 1 team with a winning record (Franklin), 1 at .500, 4 with losing records.
No. 2 Linfield 1/0/4.
No. 3 UMHB 3/1/2.
No. 4 North Central 1/0/5.
No. 5 Bethel 4/1/1.
No. 6 Hobart 1/2/2.
No. 7 UW-Whitewater 1/0/5.
No. 8 UW-Platteville 2/0/4.
No. 9 UW-Oshkosh 1/1/4.
No. 10 Wheaton 3/0/3.
No. 11 Heidelberg 0/2/4.
No. 12 Franklin 3/0/3.
No. 13 Johns Hopkins 3/0/3.
No. 14 Wabash 2/2/2.
No. 15 St. Thomas 3/1/2.
No. 16 John Carroll 2/1/3.
No. 17 Pacific Lutheran 2/1/3.
No. 18 Wittenberg 2/1/4.
No. 19 Wesley 5/1/1.
No. 20 Illinois Wesleyan 1/0/5.
No. 21 Willamette 0/0/5.
No. 22 Concordia-Moorhead 2/0/4.
No. 23 St. John's 3/0/3.
No. 24 Salisbury 3/1/2.
No. 25 St. John Fisher 3/2/1.

Might be an interesting thing for pollsters to factor in, although context of each record is important. One could just look at results vs. teams with winning records, or any other number of ways. If a top 25 voter used the chart above, and it and overall record were weighted strongly, Bethel might be the nation's No. 1 team, followed by Mary Hardin-Baylor and Wesley.

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