Don't be bothered by the polls
I guess it is only natural. If you are a fan of a team which just beat a nationally ranked opponent by 21 points on a Friday, you might be looking for some love from poll voters on the following Monday. I have detected some frustration from West Virginia University basketball fans, because the Mountaineers were virtually ignored in this week's basketball polls.
I suppose if one were going to take the time to look at the Associated Press poll and the Coaches poll, then that person, in this case a WVU fan, might find it odd that the Mountaineers are getting very little respect. A road loss at Pitt and a resounding 21 point win over Villanova last week might give a Mountaineer fan reason to pick up Monday's sports section.
Personally, I hardly ever even care to look at college basketball polls. The nature of the game has come to where there are just so many teams which can beat each other that the rankings have little chance of making sense. However, the good thing about college basketball is that these rankings we are talking about here don't have any significance for anything, other than to sell magazines and newspapers.
That is because in college basketball, unlike college football, there is a playoff. It is called March Madness and it ranks as my personal favorite of all sporting events. That is if you can call three weekends of basketball games a single event. The point here is that these two polls I speak of have no bearing on who gets in the field of 65. When the tournament begins, ranked teams get knocked off with alarming regularity. It is often clear that these experts simply had a team overrated or underrated, or both, so why get worked up over meaningless polls now?
If in your search of polls you come across a ratings list labeled RPI, it may be worth your time to take a look. RPI stands for rating percentage index, and while I suppose it is a ranking of sorts, it is not a poll. The RPI is used extensively to place teams into the field of 65. Despite a record of 17-8 and 6-6 in the Big East, West Virginia has an RPI of 16. I don't profess to know the formula used to establish a team's RPI, but I do know that a team with a 16 RPI will get in the tournament.
I also know that beating teams with a poor RPI won't necessarily keep your rating up. Also, be aware that the only RPI rating which matters is the one a team has on selection Sunday. West Virginia has plenty of chances to solidify its RPI, but pitfalls remain as well. Just know that the RPI number is the one to watch.
That said, West Virginia received support in the AP poll, but did not even receive a vote in the coach's poll. Meanwhile, Ohio State, a team WVU handled easily in December, remains in the AP poll. Also in the AP poll, Villanova moved from 13 to 12 despite the 21 point loss to the Mountaineers. Excellent reasons to ignore the polls.