Eleven days ago, Indiana lost on the road to a desperate Illinois team (who is ranked 55th in BPI) by two. This past week, Duke lost on the road to a desperate Maryland team (who is ranked 46th in BPI) by two.
Last week, the voters chose to overlook Indiana’s loss, seeing it as a hard-fought loss on the road against and emotional team who needed the victory a hell of a lot more than Hoosiers did. The result: the Hoosiers remained in their No. 1 rank in the polls. This week, the voters chose to not overlook the Blue Devils’ loss, seeing it as an ugly two-point road loss to a team they should’ve beaten. The result: Duke fell four whole spots to No. 6 in the polls.
Let me get the voters’ only possible justification out of the way with. Yes, they rebounded from that loss with a victory over a top-ten ranked Ohio State team, but why the Buckeyes were still that high in the polls is beyond me. They don’t have any impressive wins outside of an upset of Michigan at home and they’re 1-7 against ranked teams. BPI has them ranked #15. RPI doesn’t even have them in the Top-25.
Do I believe Duke deserved to stay in the top-two? No, I do not. Anyone who has seen Duke play the last couple weeks would agree that the team is in a funk and is barely a top-ten team at this point. They will be getting PF Ryan Kelly back soon, though, and that should give them a huge boost.
This isn’t about whether or not the Blue Devils deserve to stay at the top, though. In fact, I barely even take these polls serious enough to feel anything at all towards Duke’s ranking. But, the polls do exist and I write about a team that is a frequenter of the very same polls, so I feel obligated to defend them when the voters act a little zany.
I love that the voters showed last week that they’re willing to overlook tough losses. I was legitimately excited when I saw that Indiana was still No. 1. However, they went to right back to the old formula this week: if a team loses, regardless of circumstance, they must fall back four or five spots.
Indiana and Duke, teams with almost identical resumes, lost to Maryland and Illinois, teams with almost identical resumes. Indiana’s loss was overlooked. Duke’s wasn’t. I’m not calling for some sort of pity for the Blue Devils, because they don’t deserve it. All I’m calling for is a little consistency on the voters’ part.