Are the Wildcats for real?
Settling polls versus computer debates for K-State, Butler, Pittsburgh
We're far enough into the season where disagreements between pollsters and computer rating systems no longer have to be settled with just: "Well, you wait and see." Now we can start to look at actual performance, and if you've been reading along with me for a while you know I especially like to draw on the lessons offered by conference play.
There are three teams that jump out in provoking classic pollsters vs. computers arguments this season. Let's sort out which side of the argument is correct. (To check out ESPN's Basketball Power Index ratings, click here.)
If the Wildcats (who play Texas at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday on ESPN2, Watch ESPN) are No. 18 in the polls, but both the BPI and KenPom have K-State ranked in the low 40s nationally, then who is right?
I asked coach Bruce Weber that very question this week, and, yes, he came down firmly on the side of the pollsters. "I think we're a top-25 team," Weber told me by phone.He quickly added, "I'm not sure we're as high as 11," referring to the team's standing before it lost at home to Kansas on Jan. 22 and suffered a defeat on the road four days later at the hands of Iowa State. "But we've shown we can beat Florida, and we played Kansas down to the wire. It's not like Michigan blew us out. We just have to play consistently."
Weber asked me why his team appears in a different light when viewed through the lens of the computer ranking systems. I suggested it may be because the computers believe this is not a particularly good offense. "We've made some progress offensively led by Rodney McGruder," Weber responded. "He's starting to get a feel for how to get open and move without the ball."
You can write off Weber's opinion as biased, of course (though it occurs to me certain coaches would say their teams really are being overrated, constituting something of a motivational ploy). But in this instance I think the coach actually may be on to something.
To read more from John Gasaway on whether Kansas State, Butler and Pitt are for real, you must be an ESPN Insider.
MORE MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL HEADLINES
- UConn agrees to play Arizona, Ohio State
- Beavers' Baker in ICU; required defibrillator
- Lawsuit: Tulsa failed to protect woman from player
- Blue Jays oppose Creighton's trademark bid
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
Insider CBB content
• Greenberg/Telep: Kansas Jayhawks
• Greenberg/Finkelstein: Marquette
• Gasaway/Rankin: Indiana Hoosiers
• Gasaway/Rankin: Michigan Wolverines
• Gasaway/Rankin: Ohio State Buckeyes
• Greenberg/Finkelstein: Memphis Tigers
• Gasaway/Rankin: Florida Gators
• Greenberg/Telep: Kentucky Wildcats
• Gasaway/Finkelstein: Louisville Cardinals
• Gasaway/Finkelstein: Syracuse Orange
• Greenberg/Biancardi: NC State Wolfpack
• Biancardi/Gasaway: Duke Blue Devils
• Biancardi/Gasaway: North Carolina Tar Heels
• Biancardi/Gasaway: Arizona Wildcats
• Greenberg/Telep: UCLA Bruins
• Gasaway: Breakout second-year coaches
• Lunardi: Could Louisville repeat as champs?
• Greenberg: UVA tops list of surprise teams
• Fraschilla: How returning stars can improve
• Gasaway: Top title challengers to Kentucky
• Lunardi: Who will earn No. 1 seeds in 2014?
• Telep: Latest on No. 13 junior Theo Pinson
• Rankin: What Wiggins means for Kansas
• Biancardi: KU to prep Wiggins for NBA success
• Telep: Updated look at top recruits
• Roundtable: Most impressive on AAU circuit?
• Ford: NBA draft lottery preview
• Ford: Winners from the NBA draft combine
• Fraschilla: Burke the draft's top point guard?
• Ford: Measurements concern some GMs
• Ford: Why Wiggins would go No. 1 in 2013
Jay Bilas Blog
Jay's take on latest from around the nation
Analysis from Fraschilla, Greenberg and Lunardi
Get news and rumblings before anyone
Hollinger's College PER
College basketball's top players
Get wagering advice for every game