Here’s how I voted for the Top 25 for Dec. 7:
Yes, that’s my ballot for the week, which I admit is … well, let’s see … about 24 teams short, but …
OK, just kidding.
Here it is:
1. Connecticut, 2. North Carolina, 3. Tennessee, 4. Texas A&M, 5. Baylor, 6. Stanford, 7. Texas, 8. Oklahoma, 9. Notre Dame, 10. Duke, 11. California, 12. Louisville, 13. Auburn, 14. Maryland, 15. Rutgers, 16. Virginia, 17. Purdue, 18. Georgia Tech, 19. Ohio State, 20. Pittsburgh, 21. Vanderbilt, 22. TCU, 23. Old Dominion, 24. Kansas State, 25. South Dakota State
Here’s who moved in for me this week: Georgia Tech (only losses are to UConn and Texas), Pittsburgh (lone loss to Texas A&M ), Kansas State (undefeated) and South Dakota State (only loss to Maryland.) The Yellow Jackets made the biggest jump for me, going from unranked to No. 18. Their wins this week over Michigan State and Georgia propelled that move.
Here’s who moved out: Oklahoma State, Michigan State, Iowa State and Gonzaga. The Cowgirls lost at Arkansas-Little Rock, a team that’s got some talent and obviously some gumption. But a Big 12 team can’t lose to UALR and NOT get “poll punishment.” If the Cowgirls get their act together, they’ll move back into my ballot.
But guess who’s next for them: TCU, and I didn’t really “punish” the Frogs for their loss at Fresno State because they came back and beat Cal.
As for Michigan State, three consecutive road losses – at Notre Dame, at Georgia Tech and at St. Bonaventure – certainly don’t mean that the Spartans are a bad team. But it’s hard to sustain three L’s in a row and stay ranked.
Iowa State is another team I was hesitant to drop, but the Cyclones’ loss at Iowa was a little too lifeless for me to not give them some “punishment.” There are teams, though, that as a poll voter you tend to believe in and give the benefit of the doubt, and Iowa State is one of those teams for me. So if the ‘Clones get back on track, they’ll get back on my ballot.
As for Gonzaga … sorry. I admit I have a tendency to pull the plug on smaller-conference schools quicker than perhaps I should. But I do that, usually, to try to find another team for a small or mid-major conference to give it some “poll time.”
In this case, Gonzaga went out … and South Dakota State came in.
*-Team I’m probably under-ranking: No. 14 Maryland. Are there really 13 teams better than the Terps? Doubtful. And losses at TCU and at Pitt are not bad, obviously. But I think I expected a little more of the Terps than getting their clocks cleaned so badly by the Panthers. I might be over-punishing Maryland. But just for now.
*-Team I might be over-ranking: OK, maybe nobody else has Tennessee at No. 3 … or at least not many people. It’s just with the sheer talent on this squad, I find it difficult to not have the Orange Crush in my top five.