Polls are silly and there’s nothing more silly than Louisville being ranked #10 in the latest AP poll. Presumably, writers were impressed with that five point win at Providence on Saturday, because that is the best thing the Cards have done so far.

With that in mind, I offer a few suggestions for teams that writers can use to replace Louisville with in next Monday’s poll.

Arizona – If Washington is #13 (which is where they are in the latest AP poll), then Arizona sounds right at #10. Currently, the Wildcats are #24 which means a few folks have given Louisville a lofty ranking while leaving a solid Arizona club out entirely.

The rest of these teams are unranked:

Xavier – Granted, their schedule strength is not stellar. But the Muskies have looked better in their two losses (by a total of five points against Illinois in Chicago and at Creighton) than Louisville has.

Northern Iowa – At 14-2, has three wins better than anything Louisville has – at LSU, at Missouri St., and hosting Iowa. The MVC won’t get a ranked team this season because, among other reasons, the top half of the conference is too competitive. I’m not saying there’s much of a case for UNI to be #10, but the case is better than it is for Louisville.

Iowa – I have had a lot of requests to do efficiency margin rankings, but the pythagorean calculations are a better synthesis of offensive/defensive ratings. In most cases it doesn’t make much difference, but Iowa is the extreme case that provides an exception. Compare the teams at #14 and #15 in pythagorean winning percentage.

           AdjOE   AdjDE    EM    PythWin%
Ohio St.   118.3    91.2   27.1    .931 
Iowa        97.6    75.5   22.1    .929

Ohio State has a much better efficiency margin than Iowa, yet by pythagorean their play so far has been nearly equal. Why? Not to overly-nerdify things, but it has to do with standard deviation. It’s more difficult for an Iowa opponent which has a D-rating of 75 to post a D-rating of 100 than it is for a Buckeye opponent which averages around 90 to get to 115. I know that’s probably confusing. Read it a few times before you send me an angry e-mail. Anyway, Iowa’s offense is unworthy of top ten consideration, but their D deserves the publicity a top ten ranking would give it.

Winthrop – OK, if you’re going to throw away your vote, why not give it to a team that’s overachieving in total obscurity? Winthrop has lost to Auburn, Alabama, South Carolina, and Memphis on the road. But only the loss to South Carolina was lopsided. They also have a seven point win at Marquette. Winthrop will probably go 16-0 in the Big South and may get a weak Bracket Buster opponent since they have no shot at an at-large. Just remember that Craig Bradshaw & Co. will give a scare to a four-seed in the first round of the tourney, and may have a very lengthy winning streak on the line when they do. Then let the bidding war for Coach Gregg Marshall begin.


Line o’ the Night

                           FG    3pt  FT   Reb
                      Min  M-A   M-A  M-A  O-T   A F S TO BLK Pts
Darnell Hopkins        22  8-8   6-6  1-2  0-0   1 4 0  2  0   23
Result: Win. Murray St. 66, Eastern Illinois 65.