Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Season-Opening AP Top 25 Ballot. No UConn. Not Yet.

The regular season has begun, and AP voters had to turn in their first ballots of the season by Sunday night (or early Monday morning).

Obviously, with most teams having played just one game, there's probably not a lot of movement from most voters' preseason ballots. Only two teams on my preseason Top 25 lost this week -- San Diego State (to No. 9 Syracuse) and ... yup, Michigan State.

I thought long and hard about whether UConn deserved to be ranked following its impressive victory over the Spartans Friday night in Germany. Ultimately, though, I felt one game isn't enough to merit a vote just yet.

(It should be noted, too, that even though the Huskies are barred from postseason play, they are eligible to be voted for. Here are some of the guidelines voters are asked to adhere to: Base your vote on performance, not reputation or preseason speculation; Avoid regional bias, for or against. Your local team does not deserve any special handling when it comes to your ballot; Pay attention to head-to-head results; Don’t hesitate to make significant changes in your ballot from week to week. There’s no rule against jumping a 16th-ranked team over the eighth-ranked team, if No. 16 is coming off a big victory and No. 8 squeaked by an unranked team; Teams on NCAA probation ARE eligible for the AP poll).

So the next question: Do I vote for Michigan State? The answer: No. I had them ranked No. 12 preseason, so that's a pretty big fall after just one game. Maybe the Spartans aren't as good as I (and a lot of others) thought. Maybe UConn is a lot better than we all thought. Time will tell. But there were too many other teams just outside my Top 25 that I felt merited a vote, so I added Gonzaga in place of MSU. I kept San Diego State in, dropping it four spots to No. 22. Didn't feel the Aztecs should be punished too harshly for losing to a top-10 Syracuse squad.

Here's my ballot:

1.       Louisville
2.       Indiana
3.       Kentucky
4.       Michigan
5.       North Carolina State
6.       Ohio State
7.       Duke
8.       Kansas
9.       North Carolina
10.   Florida
11.   Syracuse
12.   Arizona
13.   Creighton
14.   Memphis
15. UCLA
16.   Baylor
17.   Missouri
18.   St. Louis
19.   Notre Dame
20.   UNLV
21.   Pittsburgh
22.   San Diego State
23.   Virginia Commonwealth
24.   Tennessee
25.   Gonzaga


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