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Tag:Michigan State
Posted on: November 28, 2010 9:20 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2010 3:14 pm
 

Man, Thatís Just Mean

Note:  Clicking a team link in this blog will show you how everyone voted for that team.  Clicking a voter name link will show you their ballot.




This week is another great example of why people should care about polls and rankings.  It’s not just about the BCS championship game.  Teams with higher rankings get better TV, radio and newspaper coverage…  and sometimes they even help determine conference championships.

This week, one conference is depending on the BCS to sort out their champions:  the Big Ten.  Also, the Big 12 came very close to having a repeat of 2008.

The Big 10 still has the three-way tie I discussed at length last week between  Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State.  Again, if you went in order of head-to-head victories, that is how they would be ranked:  Michigan State > Wisconsin > Ohio State.  Michigan State should be going to the Rose Bowl.  Instead, they won’t be going to any BCS bowl because they are the lowest of the three in the BCS rankings.

Here is the actual rule that is causing all of the fuss (section B.5.e):

“If three teams are still tied, and all three teams have the same winning percentage of all games played, the highest-ranked team in the final BCS standings shall be the representative.”

Since all three teams have the same winning percentage (11-1 overall), The BCS standings are used.  However, the rules don’t account for this year’s situation.  There is no contingency for when there is a very clear set of head-to-head results, but all three teams haven’t played each other.   The Big Ten obviously puts a lot of weight behind head-to-head results.  It is the first applicable tiebreaker (B.2):

“If there is a tie for the championship, the winner of the game between these two teams shall represent the conference.”

However, the rules incorrectly throw out the head-to-head results when an extra team gets added to the mix, but when they don’t all play each other.  The Big Ten set up the schedule for Michigan State, and the Spartans did what they needed to do considering they weren’t slated to play Ohio State.  However, B.5.e robs Michigan State of the bowl game they deserve.  The Big Ten, based on the order of their tiebreaker rules, states that head-to-head results are the most important factor in breaking ties, but then falls back on the BCS to resolve the current situation, trumping the head-to-head results. 

The rules should have stipulated that the BCS would be used only when all three teams have a win over each other.  That would make a circular reference that would be impossible to resolve by head-to-head results.  However, that isn’t the case this year.  Michigan State is the clear winner of the head-to-head matchups, and is the clear loser of the Big Ten rules.  Some fans (particularly Wisconsin fans) don’t want to hear that, but it is the Big Ten that set up head-to-head results to be so important, and nobody complained about that.  If they wanted BCS rankings to trump the results on the field, the Big Ten should have made the BCS rankings the first tie-breaker.  Then the current situation would make sense.  Instead, we end up with a mixed message.  Head-to-head results are most important, but we’ll ignore them in this case.

The Big 12 and its tiebreaker rules, have a much easier situation to deal with this year.  Since all three teams (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M) are in the same division, they are all guaranteed to play each other.  However, there is still the chance of all three having the same conference record and one win over the others, which is the case this year.   Oklahoma beat Oklahoma State.  Oklahoma State beat Texas A&M.  Texas A&M beat Oklahoma.  They all have 6-2 records in conference.  It would be up to the BCS to solve the problem, except that Texas A&M has on out-of-conference loss (Arkansas), so the Aggies’ overall record knocks them out of the title game (section b.1).  That leaves Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, and RIGHTFULLY leaves the decision to the head-to-head results.  That sends Oklahoma to the title game.   The BCS has nothing to do with the Big 12 this year as some sources are reporting, although it did in 2008 when Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech tied and forced the Big 12 to resort to the BCS rankings as well.

If you’re reading this column, you likely know the importance of polls and rankings.  However, there are still many who think they only affect two teams at the end of the season… the ones going to the BCS Championship.  It is up to us to help people understand that there is so much more at stake for many teams, throughout the whole season.  That’s why Pollspeak exists.  Mistakes (or corruption) in the polls can potentially cost schools millions of dollars, and can cause fans immeasurable frustration.

Before I close, let me express the frustration of Nevada fans.  They just beat Boise State in one of the WAC’s most publicized upsets.  Technically, the Wolf Pack also has a better record than Boise State; yet they are ranked below the Broncos in every human poll.  In the AP, 34 out of 60 voters still ranked Boise State higher.  Yes, it was a home game for Nevada, and it was a close, overtime win, but that doesn’t excuse Robert Cessna from ranking Nevada 11 spots below Boise State.  He actually has Nevada ranked the same spot as the week before.  Man, that’s just biased.  That’s biased, man.

Posted on: November 21, 2010 10:57 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2010 7:22 pm
 

Everybody Makes Mistakes

Note :  Clicking a team link in this blog will show you how everyone voted for that team.  Clicking a voter name link will show you their ballot.




The AP released an invalid poll on Sunday.  It seems they used Bob Condotta’s old week 12 ballot while calculating the week 13 poll.  Pollspeak brought this to the AP’s attention, and the ballot was quickly updated .  However, the AP Poll itself was still incorrect since the numbers didn’t match up.  Again, we notified the AP, and they released a new version of the poll.  Luckily, there were no position changes in the top 25 (although there were some outside the top 25).

Thankfully, the AP is fully transparent, and we can help find issues like this.  Unfortunately, the BCS isn’t.  Neither the Coaches’ Poll nor the Harris Interactive Poll releases their ballots every week.  Do similar mistakes happen in those polls?  Very likely.  Yet, we have no way to find those mistakes.  This is something the BCS should address… and soon.  If you would like to express your agreement on the matter, sign the PETITION . 

Speaking of mistakes…

Head-to-Head lines:

Most people won’t agree with me this week.  I say that because most voters definitely don’t agree.  In fact, only 4 voters ranked Michigan State over Wisconsin this week.  Even 5 of the 6 BCS computers think Wisconsin is better.  But computers don’t take into account head-to-head results, and that’s one way that humans can do a better job in rankings.  Both teams have the same record, and the Spartans beat the Badgers by ten points on Oct. 2nd.   Wisconsin is likely ranked higher because they have been dominating their opponents, and they even beat Ohio State .  Of course, who’s to say Michigan State wouldn’t beat the Buckeyes as well.  Thanks to Big 10 (11) scheduling, we’ll never know.  So I’m inclined to agree with the minority and say Michigan State is the better team.  They proved that on the field.

I bet that makes some Wisconsin fans angry.  So let me point out:  these 2 voters have Ohio State over Wisconsin .  At least I’m in the majority who think the Badgers should be ranked over the Buckeyes after their 13-point victory on Oct. 16th.  Again, the computers aren’t unanimous in their agreement.  So can you really be upset about these people ignoring the head-to-head results?   I bet Wisconsin fans don’t agree with those two voters, but then why wouldn’t they argue for Michigan State as well?

You can’t have it both ways.  If you believe in head-to-head results, then apply them across the board without bias.  That means voters should have Michigan State > Wisconsin > Ohio State, which only 3 voters actually did. 

Only 5 voters have Michigan State over Ohio State .  Since these teams haven’t played, you could argue either way, but then you have somebody like Dave Foster , who is the only voter with Ohio State > Michigan State > Wisconsin, which is just plain weird. 

Pollspeak obviously (and repeatedly) favors using head-to-head results as the first tiebreaker when two teams have the same records.  However, if a voter is going to ignore head-to-head results, he should at least ignore them consistently.  The reason we suggest using real results (aside from the obvious logic of it) is that it helps weed out bias.    Otherwise, voters could use whatever rationale suits their biases or no rationale at all.

Fans often cite head-to-head results when it suits their team, and they ignore head-to-head results when it doesn’t.  This makes sense.  Fans are just trying to persuade people (and maybe themselves) that their favorite team is better or maybe that their rivals are worse.  We would like to hold voters to a higher standard than fans. 



Posted on: October 31, 2010 10:10 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2010 8:56 am
 

Happy Halloween from Pollspeak

Note:  Clicking a team link in this blog will show you how everyone voted for that team.  Clicking a voter name link will show you their ballot.  Click on other links at your own peril!

Welcome to the Halloween-themed edition of Pollspeak.  Our first topic is: curses.  With both Oregon and Auburn winning last weekend, The No. 1 curse has been broken…or has it? (Cue flash of lighting and thunder clap.) 

Last week in both the Massey and Sagarin Ratings, Missouri was No. 1.  The Tigers were buried by Nebraska, so that means there are still No. 1 teams in the BCS dropping like flies.  This week the only No. 1 teams are Oregon and Auburn, and with upcoming games against Chattanooga and Washington respectively, it’s likely the curse will be truly broken next week.  (Cue wolf howls.)

Aside from the computers’ clear No. 1 (Auburn) and the polls’ clear No. 1 (Oregon), the biggest battles this week between humans and computers are being fought over Missouri and Alabama.  The Crimson Tide (BCS No. 6) are the most underrated by the computers with a computer average of 15 and a poll average of 5, while the Tigers (BCS No. 12) are the most underrated by the voters with a poll average of 15 and a computer average of 4!  If these disagreements continue, our future enslavement by the evil computers is all but assured.

Syracuse is currently the highest ranked Big East team.  (Cue creepy organ music.)  They aren’t in the top-25 yet, but they are the closest to it.   They are sitting at No. 27 in the AP, and if they can continue winning, they will certainly earn their first ranking since 2001.  However, it won’t be easy.  They still have to face Louisville, Rutgers, Connecticut and Boston College.  While none of those teams received a single AP vote, it is still a murderer’s row by Big East standards this year.  The conference as a whole is currently ranked 7th in both Sagarin’s conference rankings and Anderson & Hester’s conference rankings… just below the independents and Mountain West respectively.  Meanwhile, Pittsburgh, with three losses, is the only team that controls its own destiny towards the Big East crown.

The ACC is nearly as chaotic with three teams hanging on for dear life at the bottom of the polls:  Virginia Tech, FSU, and N.C. State. (Cue horrific scream.)  Virginia Tech and NC State control their own destinies in the ACC, while FSU needs to run the table and hope for an N.C. State loss.

In the AP, I’d like to introduce the star of the week (our Michael Myers if you will), Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. (Cue theme from “Halloween”.)  He is this week’s most extreme voter, which I can only assume he pried away from the cold, dead hands of Jon Wilner.  You don’t have to look long at Anderson’s blood-red ballot to be frightened.  He gives Hawaii their highest ranking at No. 19…over other two loss teams like South Carolina, which he ranks lowest at No. 24.  With Boise State No.1 and the highest ranking for Nevada at No. 18, he has an obvious and creepy WAC bias.  Even more terrifying, he ranks Missouri highest at No. 7 OVER Nebraska at No. 10.  They have the same number of losses and Nebraska just murdered Missouri last weekend (forgive the overly brutal Halloween-speak).  He also has Wisconsin lowest at No. 16 while he places the team they strangulated, Ohio State, highest at No. 6.  My blood curdles at his ranking Iowa six places over Arizona and his other results-be-damned decisions.

Anderson did get one thing right.  He was one of only two people to vote Michigan State better than Wisconsin.  The Spartans beat the Badgers by two scores in early October.  They have the same record, so why wouldn’t you vote Michigan State higher?  Which brings us to…  (cue creaking door)

 

(Severed) Head-to-Head lines:

The Big Ten poses a truly scary situation this week:

·         Michigan State beat Wisconsin

·         Iowa beat Michigan State

·         Wisconsin beat Iowa

·         Wisconsin also beat Ohio State

How can this be resolved using head-to-head results and records?  Here is the general order they should be ranked:

·         Michigan State

·         Wisconsin

·         Ohio State

·         Iowa

(Arizona should also be over Iowa, although comparing the Wildcats to the other Big Ten teams will be a source of debate.)

Why is that the proper order?  Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State all have one loss.  So they are ranked in order of their head-to-head results.  While Iowa’s dismemberment of Michigan State was very impressive, they have two losses, which drops them below the other teams. (Cue dropping scream.)

There is only one voter who got all of that correct:  Doug Lesmerises, writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  Lesmerises has consistently shown himself to be an unbiased voter who puts a lot of thought into his ballots…ever since he freaked out fans back in 2009 with his first regular season ballot, and went public with his “no preseason bias” method of voting. (Cue rattling chains.)

I’m running long, and I’ve already covered plenty of head-to-head issues, so let me take this opportunity to answer the criticism of a few irate Iowa fans who have accused Pollspeak of an Iowa witch hunt.  That is absolutely not true!  I think Iowa is a GREAT team.  However, I also think Arizona and Wisconsin are great teams…until proven otherwise.  For now, the Wildcats and Badgers have one less loss and a win over the Hawkeyes, who I have already said is a great team.  Those who vote differently may be biased or may not be paying attention.  They may also just be smarter than the rest of us as some Iowa fans suggest.  Since it is Halloween, we’ll allow these people to hide behind the guise of impartial fans for now.  However, next week, nobody will escape the scrutiny.  Pollspeak will be coming after your rotten, bloated preconceptions and your slimy, maggot-covered ballots.  Until then… sweet dreams. (Cue Vincent Price maniacal laughter.)

Posted on: October 3, 2010 7:57 pm
Edited on: October 18, 2010 8:48 am
 

Ghosts of Weeks Past





Note
:  Clicking a team link in this blog will show you how everyone voted for that team.  Clicking a voter name link will show you their ballot.

In the Coaches Poll, there was one less voter this week because Arizona coach Mike Stoops couldn’t be reached.  The Wildcats had a bye week so maybe Stoops went on vacation and forgot that the rest of the teams continue to play without them.  It’s too bad because at No. 11, Arizona is ranked lower in the Coaches Poll than any other BCS component or the AP.

The past is coming back to haunt a couple of teams. 
Oregon jumped over Boise State to claim the No. 3 spot in both polls.  Boise State might feel cheated, but the feeling will likely get worse over the coming weeks.  There are currently 16 undefeated teams in the top 25 (and a few still unranked).  Any of those teams has a chance to push past the Broncos depending on their strength of schedule.  If Virginia Tech wouldn’t have lost that week-two game to James Madison, Boise State would have had a shot, but now there isn’t much the Broncos can do except hope for other teams to lose.

Also haunted by their past, Texas dropped out of the top 25 after their loss to Oklahoma.  However, the drop was caused more by the loss to UCLA the previous week.  There are currently no teams with two losses in the polls.  Even Penn State received only one point in the AP Poll, and their two losses came from No. 1 Alabama and No. 15 Iowa.  So other two-loss teams shouldn’t expect better treatment.

However, Texas actually received 33 points, and all 10 of the voters who ranked the two-loss Longhorns neglected to rank the two-loss Bruins who beat them two weeks ago.  On the other hand, the five people who ranked UCLA, correctly left Texas off their ballots (going by head-to-head results).  Which brings us to…

Head-to-Head lines:

While everybody now believes that both Iowa and Arizona are ranked teams, we’re down to three who still put Iowa over Arizona.  Lisa Byington is still the leader in that category, with a six-place spread.  I can only scratch my head at her reasoning.    Maybe she is still waiting for Arizona to have an impressive win…like maybe over…Iowa?  Hopefully that isn’t her reasoning, or it won’t likely change until either one of the teams lose or November rolls around and Arizona plays Stanford or USC.



Michigan State upset Wisconsin last Saturday.   The Spartans won by ten points at home, and while the game was closer than the score, you would think it would be obvious to place Michigan State over the Badgers… especially considering the absence of the Spartans’ head coach.  Not the case for David Jones of Florida Today and Bob Hammond of the Laramie Daily Boomerang. They were the only two voters to rank the Badgers over the undefeated Spartans.  Was this a case of them being able to “slide” the teams only so far on their ballots, or intentionally ignoring the results on the field, or just not paying attention?  All three are bad, but I’m not sure which is worse.

Posted on: September 19, 2010 8:55 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2010 2:58 pm
 

Pollspeak Goes Head-To-Head With The Voters

 

 

Note:  Clicking a team link in this blog will show you how everyone voted for that team.  Clicking a voter name link will show you their ballot.

Texas is fast becoming a computer darling.  The Longhorns are No. 1 in both the Sagarin and Massey BCS ratings.  Meanwhile the AP has Texas lowest of all the rankings at No. 7.  It may be a coincidence, but the Computer Science Department at The University of Texas currently boasts a 5% enrollment increase.  We’ll be watching that UTCS isn’t promising the computers more technical support in return for higher rankings.  (The jokes may get better as the season goes on, but no promises, and frankly, it’s unlikely.)

The coaches have Arizona lowest (No. 16) of any BCS component or the AP.  If only we could see the coaches’ ballots and how many of them rank Iowa over Arizona still.  Otherwise, the USA Today Poll is pretty standard fare this week.

In the AP, Craig James is the most extreme voter this week, which is rare for a national voter.  However, I doubt the fans will tag him with Bad Voter of the Week since five of his seven extreme picks were for ranks that are highest in the nation.  Nebraska at No. 3, Michigan at No. 14, Oregon State at No. 15, Penn State at No. 17, and Texas A&M at No. 25.  On the negative side he was one of two voters to rank Boise State (No. 7) and LSU (unranked) lowest.

We’ve finally reached a point of the season where we can start talking about head-to-head issues.  As a refresher, the AP Voting Guidelines state: “Pay attention to head-to-head results.”  Now, they don’t say to slavishly adhere to head-to-head results, but voters should certainly show good reason to go against the outcome on the field.  So at Pollspeak, we regularly point out people who don’t seem to be paying attention. For example:

10 voters still have Iowa ranked higher than Arizona after yesterday’s late night upset.  The two most extreme cases are Desmond Conner and Lisa Byington who have the Hawkeyes nine places over the Wildcats.    Being from Connecticut and Michigan, maybe they didn’t stay up to see the end result. In fact, Byington still ranks Iowa highest at No. 10.

Rob long who works for Fox radio in Baltimore, has Notre Dame ranked but not Michigan State.   He gave the Irish their only vote in the nation even though they have two losses, one of which was to the Spartans on Saturday.

Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald was the only voter not to rank Auburn, but strangely, he did rank Clemson.  So he was also the only voter to rank the Tigers over the Tigers….that is, Clemson Tigers over the Auburn Tigers.

 

 

John Shinn of The Norman Transcript was the only voter to rank California even though they were just blasted by undefeated Nevada.  However, he also didn’t rank the Wolf Pack team that did the blasting.  That’s a shame because with just four more points, Nevada could have had its first ranking since they climbed as high as No. 10 in 1948!

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com