Some order is starting to be found in the third week of voting. Teams have played a larger sample of games and I think all of the voters feel more comfortable with the teams they’re selecting. I’ve seen every team I voted for at least once this season (whether in person or on a screen) and I know that makes me feel more confident.
Moving forward with these polls there’s going to be a little discussion of a relevant topic. I thought that Seton Hall’s double-overtime loss at Mercer might cost the Pirates in the standings, so I spent Tuesday evening researching the BCS and Big East conference teams that were actually going to play a road game at a mid-major. It turns out that SHU actually went up in this week’s poll, but let’s talk about it anyways.
One of the toughest things to sort out during this time of year is how to fit the “mid-majors” in with the “major” conference teams in the area. Quite frankly it is nearly impossible. In most cases if a high-major is playing a mid-major it’s at the power conference team’s home court. (It’s part of the reason they have the “power”.) This gives them a distinct advantage. LIU Brooklyn, Saint Francis Brooklyn and Columbia have all fought hard in difficult situations, but come up short in at least one big road game. How should we value those? And how unique is Seton Hall agreeing to play at Mercer?
Well, the latter question is actually answerable, so lets start there. First, what Seton Hall did last week is extremely rare in college basketball. Due to guarantee games, the RPI, and a host of other factors major conference schools just don’t want to go on the road and lose to a mid-major, so they just avoid playing those games altogether. There will literally be thousands of games played this season and by my count just 49 of them will involve a major conference team (Big East + BCS) going to the home court of a mid-major (everyone else besides the Mountain West). That’s astounding.
Fifteen of those games have already been played and the major conference team on the road has won by an average of 5.8 points per game. They’re 11-4 in such match ups with the losses being suffered by Rutgers (at UAB), LSU (at Massachusetts), Temple (at Towson) and Seton Hall (at Mercer). The mid-major schools will have some more opportunities to get wins. Most of them will be against AAC (14) and Big East (11) schools. Whereas the Big 12 will play just one such game all season (tonight’s between Iowa State and BYU).
When major-conference schools do go play at a mid-major’s home gym they should be praised (even if it was because they were forced to). It’s tough playing on the road in college basketball. Those 33 schools are taking a real chance.
Now onto the Power Poll:
- St. John’s – 57 points (4 first place votes)
- Seton Hall – 53 points (1)
- Stony Brook – 51 points (1)
- Manhattan – 42 points
- Rutgers – 32 points
- Saint Francis Brooklyn – 26 points
- Iona – 21 points
- Fordham – 18 points
- Wagner – 10 points
- Columbia – 7 points
- LIU Brooklyn – 7 points
Others receiving votes: Princeton (4 points), Quinnipiac (2 points)