We’ve reached the point with the Poll Attacks column where readers actually alert me of ridiculous things they notice on ballots as if they’re spies out there working on my behalf. Needless to say, I appreciate them. They’re doing God’s work — most recently late Sunday when WBAL’s Chris Dachille tweeted his AP ballot.
I was alerted quickly.
The issue was that a Virginia fan noticed that Dachille had Virginia ranked sixth on his ballot, which is impossible to defend with any body-of-work or computer-based argument. In fact, any body-of-work or computer-based argument should lead a person to ranking Virginia No. 1 considering the Cavaliers are 23-2 with eight top-50 RPI wins and zero sub-55 losses, or nine top-50 KenPom wins and zero sub-40 losses. Virginia has three top-50 RPI road wins or four top-50 KenPom road wins. Virginia is ranked No. 1 in the RPI. And No. 1 at KenPom. And No. 1 in KPI. And No. 1 in the Massey Ratings. And I don’t believe the Cavaliers are lower than No. 2 in any metric anybody references. Which is why I told you Sunday morning that Virginia still deserved to be No. 1 even after Saturday night’s loss to Virginia Tech. And it’s why the Sunday afternoon. And it’s why Monday afternoon.
So, obviously, having Virginia No. 6 is bananas.
But Chris Dachille has been such a good sport about the Poll Attacks, and he seems like the best guy, that I made him a promise. And that promise was this …
Fast-forward to Monday night, and I’ve spent hours looking at ballots from this week and comparing them to ballots from last week, spent too much time doing all of the things I usually do in an attempt to discover something perfectly ridiculous for the purposes of this column. Usually, it’s pretty simple. But this week, for whatever reason, it’s not. So I would like to apologize to Chris Dachille for breaking my promise. Because I’m going to have to focus this column on him ranking Virginia sixth — behind Michigan State, Cincinnati, Xavier, Villanova and Texas Tech.
(I’m sorry, Chris!)
If it makes things better, understand that Dachille was not alone. Longtime Indiana beat writer Terry Hutchens also ranked Virginia sixth. And, again, there’s just no way to rationalize that without admitting a recency bias. And the other questionable thing here is that both punished Virginia more for losing 61-60 in OT at home to a Virginia Tech team that’s No. 39 at KenPom than they punished Villanova for losing 79-75 at home to a St. John’s team that’s No. 71 at KenPom. Their suggestion is that it’s worse to lose by one point in OT at home to Virginia Tech than it is to lose by four points at home to St. John’s. But that’s not true, according to any metric. And, for what it’s worth, Villanova was a 16.5-point favorite over St. John’s last week while Virginia was only a 12-point favorite over Virginia Tech. So it’s also not true, according to oddsmakers.
But enough about that.
I don’t want to make this about Dachille’s ballot and Hutchens’ ballot as much as I want people to understand that Virginia’s body of work is superb. Yes, the Cavaliers lost Saturday. At home. To an unranked team. I was just as surprised as you. But there is still no way to rank five teams ahead of Virginia on an AP ballot right now.
I mean, you can do it, if you want.
But I won’t be able to ignore it even when I promise to ignore it.