College Basketball Power Rankings #25-21 (Week 16 - February 20th).
When talking polls and rankings it's essential to remain mindful of the agenda from the person(s) doing the ranking. The landscape of college athletics have changed dramatically since the moment seven-figure coaching contracts became common place.
One of the fundamentally flawed systems in use is the coaches poll and it’s critical to factor in the word “agenda” when discussing it’s merits (or lack thereof). Consider this: why wouldn’t a coach rate the teams within his conference or on his schedule greater than their absolute value? As a result conference power rankings see a boost, strength of schedule improves, and suddenly at years end you wind up with a far greater seed in the big dance than you rightfully deserve. Glancing at the latest coaches poll I noticed Notre Dame ranked 18th!? Great story since Mike Brey is one of the nations best — and he’s done more with less than anyone, but there are roughly 30 teams in the country better than the Irish this second. When large money is involved, you can bet agendas are the driving force to the end result.
Next, we have the Associated Press Poll acting as a thermometer for the general public to gauge the nation’s hottest teams. No question this is the lesser of two evils, as it's comprised of local beat writers throughout the country that sit in on practices and interact with players and coaches. Can you see how that could create a bias, though? Interacting with players and coaches multiple times per week creates friendship, and within that friendship inevitable loyalties form. Another pressing issue is the dramatic time zone differences. Do you think east coast beat writers are staying up until the wee hours of the morning watching New Mexico-San Diego State? Unlikely! Do you think west coast beat writers are willing to halt their mid-day activities to watch Connecticut fight for their tournament lives? You already know the answer…
Wouldn't you love an unbiased poll? A poll where knee-jerk reactions are a thing of the past. A poll where only the proper factors are gauged in determining the TRUE VALUE of a team. Well, the sharpest sports betting minds create their own power numbers that they use daily since their lively hoods depend on them being precise. Hundreds of thousands of dollars move on games throughout the course of a season predicated on the accuracy of these power charts. There is no room for bias.
Very few of the sharpest minds are willing to disclose their power ratings, but we're at a point in the season where there isn't much harm in me doing so. These charts are compiled from all angles, with contributions from Ivy League math professors whose numbers make up a portion of the findings within the charts, but there are many other factors that go into these rankings. One syndicate group I share information with hired a respected psychology professor. This specific professor helped factor in the human nature elements that consist of highs and lows, ebbs and flows to better pinpoint specific situations to exploit, and avoid when making basketball picks. Using this on top of their power charts have proved to pay huge dividends. The aforementioned simply scratches the surface when talking about the complexity of what goes into the minds of the sharpest sports betting groups in the world.
Counting down 5 teams per day (ending this Sunday), I will uncover my Top 25 Power Ranking Numbers as of Week 16 - February 20th.
#25 - LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (21-6) BIG EAST AP Poll: 17, Coaches Poll: 17
Teams in the 35-25 range fluctuate weekly, and this is a Cardinals team that’s been on the cusp all season long of my Top 25. This year’s Cardinals are one of Pitino’s least talented groups at Louisville in a long while, but they’ve bought into what Rick is selling. The Villes’ calling card is their get up in your junk, man-to-man press zone defense that they rebound ferociously out of limiting 2nd chance points. It looks like a zone, yet it’s very much in your face for a full 40-minutes. The kids are a close-knit group, and it’s led to an overachieving season. Louisville has had one of the tougher schedules in the country, but has managed to go 6-5 against my current top 50. The Cardinals are a bit overvalued by the general public because of brand recognition attributed to their head coach however, it’s not too excessive to where you can’t profit off them some nights.
Next Big Game: 2/23 @ Cincinnati Bearcats
#24 - BELMONT BRUINS (22-7) ATLANTIC SUN AP Poll: NR, Coaches Poll: NR
Not many are familiar with Belmont simply because A-Sun Conference games aren’t lined for wagering. The Bruins play an entertaining brand of ball scoring 82+ points per game and while it’s a frenetic style, the boys share it and shoot it well. They’re only (1-3) against my top 50 so they’ve squandered opportunities having lost to Duke by 1-point, Memphis, and split the Middle Tennessee State series. This team deserves an automatic tournament bid, although I’m obviously not convinced they go dancing without an A-Sun tournament title – which might be tough to capture on the home floor of the Mercer Bears. I’m having a difficult time fathoming the A-Sun representing March Madness with two teams, but if it’s ever going to happen, this is the year.
Next Big Game: 2/25 @ Mercer Bears
#23- MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (20-7) BIG 10 AP Poll: 25, Coaches Poll: 13
First week all season Michigan's cracked my Top 25, they've been vastly overrated for a majority of the year -- and still are! It will be interesting to see how long the Wolverines stay here with a horrible situation staring them down Tuesday. John Belin is one of the greatest basketball minds I've ever spoken with, he deserves every bit of credit for Michigan's success. The Wolverines are one of the best defensive teams in the country, but they’re horrific on the glass, struggle to score consistently, and don’t share the ball well. Living and dying by the three allows them to upset teams like Ohio State at home, but we know how quickly that brand of ball can get you bounced in March when the confines aren’t as comfy. The fact that they struggle on the road scares me, but I can’t ignore the fact that they’ve played one of the toughest schedules, and have mustered a 7-5 record against my Top 50. Beat the Wildcats on Tuesday in their Super Bowl, and I may start believing.
Next Big Game: 2/21 @ Northwestern Wildcats
#22 - VANDERBILT COMMODORES (19-8) SEC AP Poll: NR, Coaches Poll: NR
Vanderbilt has officially been dumped by the public polls, and in that breakup process, must have scorned voters. If you remember, they were a preseason darling ranked 7th in both the AP and Coaches polls. This all goes back to the aforementioned knee-jerk reactions. Vanderbilt has faced one of the SEC’s tougher schedules, and although they sh*t the bed at home against Kentucky in a picture perfect spot, they’ve fared well going 4-3 overall against my Top 25. This team has similar traits to Michigan, who everyone is head over heals in love with, but they are far more versatile on the offensive end — and are lead by a bevy of veterans looking to make one last tournament run.
Next Big Game: 2/25 @ Kentucky Wildcats
#21 - TEMPLE OWLS (21-5) ATLANTIC 10 AP Poll: 22, Coaches Poll: 22
Fran Dunphy has a sleeping giant on his hands, as this version of the Owls is likely his best ever! Temple is well versed and does just about everything extremely well. The A-10 is always an undervalued commodity, so the results aren’t just a byproduct of bottom feeding in conference and preying on cellar dwellers like Murray State’s done in the OVC. The Owls have also made the most of their opportunities when stepping up to play the big boys, knocking off Duke, Wichita Sate, and St. Louis this year. Temple plays a pro-style game with an inside-out attack and there’s no reason this team can’t make an Elite 8 run come March with a solid bracket draw.
Next Big Game: 2/22 @ La Salle Explorers
The teams you're wondering about...
#27 - UNLV RUNNIN' REBELS
#33 - HARVARD CRIMSON
#35 - CREIGHTON BLUEJAYS
#42 - CONNECTICUT HUSKIES
#48 - MURRAY STATE RACERS
#63 - SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS
#72 - UCLA BRUINS
#344 - BINGHAMTON BEARCATS
Stay tuned for Thursday’s unveiling of teams #16 – #20!