Lurking in the background of any ranking-based poll is one fluky possibility: that the team with the most votes at a certain rank won't in fact be ranked there.
That's what happened this week. The last-place votes were so spread out that Delaware got more of them than any other team, but was ranked 14th by the voters. Question their wisdom if you will, but their justifications are pretty good.
A word about my whereabouts this weekend. By the time many of you read this, I'll be in New York preparing to cover the Penn-Columbia game for the Inquirer. If the roads are clear Saturday morning, I'll go to Ithaca to cover the Quakers' rematch with Cornell, also for the Inquirer.
If the Big Red win both games this weekend, they'll clinch a share of their third consecutive Ivy League championship. A Princeton loss at Columbia on Saturday wouldn't officially end the race, but Harvard would need a near-miraculous turn of events next weekend to split the title.
This means that I won't be at Tom Gola Arena on Sunday for the Temple-La Salle game. So let me offer a word of caution to those of you who think Temple has the Big 5 title sealed up. The Owls are better than the Explorers, and should win the game. But it was not so long ago that Fran Dunphy's team lost a game at Tom Gola Arena that it had no business giving up.
1. Villanova, 16 points (10 first-place votes)
- "As you've heard Villanova's Corey Stokes got cited for public urination - an act that is still less offensive than Andy Rautins' hair." (Brian Ewart)
Among my followers on Twitter is Andy Rautins' Hair. Seriously.
2. Temple, 23 points (3 first-place votes)
- "The majority of basketball teams have a 100% field goal percentage on slam dunk attempts. Dayton is not one of those teams. If they were, Temple would have lost to them." (Todd Falkenberg)
- "Big 5 Champs! It's great for the city schools that 'Nova could go to another Final Four but they can't even say they're the best team in Philly" (Nick Catrambone)
As I was saying...
3. Rutgers, 68 points (1 last-place vote)
- "Normally if your worst loss of the season is a 14 point beating at the hands of UNC, you had a very good year." (Nick Catrambone)
4. Drexel, 76 points
- "Watching this team is like watching a 10-car pile-up. And Bruiser is the 11th guy in the back who won't stop honking his horn." (Jeff Shafer)
Comment of the week:
- "At Drexel games, they do the common thing where a kid shoots from halfcourt for a chance to win a prize. I was at a game where if the winner made the halfcourt shot, he'd get a $200 gift card to Barnes and Noble. Kind of a crummy gift for such a difficult shot, but Drexel isn't getting much revenue at the gate this year so I can understand. But the crazy thing is that someone made a half-court shot at Drexel earlier in the year and won a 40 inch plasma television for doing so. This means Drexel entered the season feeling supremely confident that nobody would make the shot and thus never needed to procure two 40 inch plasma TVs. They bought one so they could parade it out there game after game and tantalize a poor kid with it and then watch said poor kid miss a shot. Then at the end of the year, they'd give the TV to Chris Fouch and then they'd go on probation. But unfortunately for Drexel, someone made the shot. They have no budget left and now they're giving out $200 gift cards to a bookstore of a school that carries most of its classes online anyway. And who has time for books when you're reading Tannenwald's Crunchy Numbers segment on Soft Pretzel Logic all day anyway?" (Todd Falkenberg)
5. Princeton, 78 points
- "List of things you can't do if you want to win the Ivy League: 1. Lose to Brown." (Nick Catrambone)
Dartmouth takes offense to that, I suspect.
6. Lehigh, 90 points
- "CJ McCollum's been getting his Scottie Reynold's on lately. 22 points or more in his last five games." (Nick Catrambone)
7. La Salle, 109 points (1 last-place vote)
- "On March 6th, many basketball fans in this city will go to the Villanova-West Virginia game and say they're seeing two great teams and it's a potential preview of the Big East championship and yada yada yada. Frankly, that game doesn't matter. They will both make the tournament. The real game on March 6th in this town is La Salle vs. St. Joe's to see who doesn't make the Atlantic 10 tournament." (Todd Falkenberg)
8. Lafayette, 110 points
- "The best chance for a third NCAA bid for the Schuylkill 16 lies in the Patriot League, where S-16 teams make up the top 3." (Brian O'Neill)
9. Penn State, 114 points
- "Penn State punished this Northwestern basketball fan in return for voting them 16th last week. I am increasingly concerned about what Delaware now has in store for me." (Jon Solomon)
10. Rider, 115 points
11. Saint Joseph's, 137 points (1 last-placce vote)
- "Like the rollout banner said on Saturday: 'St. Joe's Basketball Wins: 9 / Temple Football Wins: 9.' At least the Hawks aren't losing their only two double-digit scorers after this season - oh wait, never mind." (Nick Catrambone)
12. Bucknell, 138 points (1 last-place vote)
- "Bucknell winning the Patriot League tournament doesn't require a huge stretch of the imagination. They could still be under .500 if they do it, though." (Brian O'Neill)
13. Delaware State, 160 points (2 last-place votes)
14. Delaware, 174 points (3 last-place votes)
15. Penn, 177 points (2 last-place votes)
- "Where would the teams from Penn's alumni game last week rank in this poll? Top five?"
Shawn Trice and Matt Langel played in the game an hour after coaching Temple against St. Joe's. Jerome Allen played too. Seriously.
16. Monmouth, 183 points (2 last-place votes)