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Stats Corner: The Terrible Basketball Preseason Poll

Looking at the Preseason Poll and Week 16 Poll

San Diego State v Boise State Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

As the basketball regular season winds down, we are going to take our annual look at what the preseason AP poll got wrong. Also, there is a poll about which AP poll made the bigger mistake football or basketball. Here is a refresher on the bias in the AP football poll before you vote.

Unlike the football season, where it difficult or even impossible to improve your preseason ranking until the teams above you lose and multiple teams regularly go undefeated, the basketball season rarely have an undefeated team make it through the conference tournaments, much less March Madness. Therefore, basketball teams can overcome the bias in the preseason polls. But that does not give the polls a pass on being criticized.

Preseason ranked teams which are out

The teams who started ranked but are now out start with the blue bloods: #1 North Carolina now 17-11, #4 Kentucky currently 19-9, and #7 Duke presently 20-8. It is almost like people were voting based on history and tradition and not the product on the court. The conference bias continues with #10 Arkansas (19-9), #15 Auburn (19-9), #16 Villanova (14-14), #21 Oregon (15-13), #22 Michigan (15-12), and #23 Illinois (18-9). The only team from the preseason poll not to be currently ranked and not from a Power Conference is Atlantic 10 Dayton who was #24 and sitting at 19-9. #25 was Power Conference Texas Tech who is 16-12 and no longer ranked. There are 11 teams who were ranked in the first poll but are currently on the outside looking in, 10 of them are from the Power Conferences.

Teams that are now ranked

With 11 teams out, that means there are 11 new teams in the Feb 20th poll: #5 Purdue, #10 Marquette, #13 Miami, #14 Kansas State, #15 St. Mary’s, #16 Xavier, #18 UCONN, #20 Providence, #21 Northwestern, #23 Iowa State, and #25 Texas A&M. As St. Mary’s is the only West Coast team to join the polls means there is no East Coast bias, right?

Stayed in, but moved

Three teams have dropped double digits in the rankings but are still ranked, they are: Gonzaga 2 to 12, Creighton 9 to 19, and TCU 14 to 24. Two teams have improved their rankings by double digits: Arizona 17 to 7 and Virginia 18 to 6. All the other schools are within 4 places of their original rankings.

While there is more movement with the basketball teams, the fact that 11 teams are out including 4 of the top 10, this shows that the preseason polls are not an accurate representation of the upcoming season, for further evidence Wyoming received 25 votes in the preseason poll.

Poll time: which AP Preseason poll was more wrong: Texas A&M was voted 6th in the football preseason poll, they went 5-7 and 2-6 in the SEC losing to App State and are the highest ranked preseason team to have a losing record and not go bowling. Whereas UNC was voted #1 in the basketball preseason poll, is currently 17-11, 9-8 in the ACC where they are 8th in the standing and may not even make the tournament.