Why Don't Rankings Mean ANYTHING in Basketball??


Mississippi State is currently ranked #16 in the coaches poll and #18 in the AP poll. So, naturally, you would say the Dawgs would be a 4 or 5 seed in the NCAA tournament if the season ended today. But no, that is not the case. Not with the NCAA selection committee and their mystifying criteria. Rankings in college basketball mean absolutely nothing, and in the words of Peter Frampton, “it’s a plain shame”.

According to Joe Lunardi’s “bracketology”, MSU is an ‘8’ seed right now. Vanderbilt (15-5), who State (16-4) beat and has a better record than, is a ‘5’ seed. West Virginia (15-5), who State beat and has a better record than, is a ‘3’ seed. Alabama (13-6), who State beat and has a much better record than, is also an ‘8’ seed. AND NONE OF THOSE TEAMS ARE RANKED! Where is the logic in this? I’m not blaming Lunardi, he just goes by the criteria the NCAA selection committee does. Other “bracketologist” like Jerry Palm of CBS have similar numbers. But that’s the problem, it’s the NCAA’s criteria that is a sham!

How can you tell me that rankings don’t mean anything? Why don’t the opinions of sports writers and coaches matter? They’ve seen these teams, watched them play, analyzed them and gotten together to compile who they believe the best teams are, but we throw their rankings in the trash in favor of computers?!

In college football, human voters count for 2/3 of the formula to determine the BCS Title Game. So why is basketball so different that rankings mean absolutely nothing? The coaches say Mississippi State is a ‘4’ seed. The AP says a ‘5’ seed. So why are we completely cutting those opinions out in favor of an RPI and a few old guys in a room with a dry erase board?

Mississippi State took Lunardi’s ‘2’ seed Baylor to the final minute in Dallas. They dominated his ‘3’ seed West Virginia – never trailed in the game. Beat Lunardi’s ‘5’ seed Vanderbilt in Nashville. Beat his ‘8’ seed Alabama. Akron was a bad loss, but Lunardi has them in the tourney. If the Dawgs beat his ‘4’ seed Florida on Saturday, will it even matter? Probably not, and it’s likely the committee will see wins over Texas A&M and Arizona as frivolous games.

Who cares what MSU’s opponent’s opponent’s record is. People know what they see, and that’s a Bulldog team worthy of a Top 20 ranking – and a top 5 seed (if the season ended today). The rankings should count for something, in fact, they should count for everything. Why are we relying on computers to tell us which team is better than the next? Strength of schedule is a nice tiebreaker, but that’s about it. If these ratings hold up, I feel sorry for the legit ‘9’ seed that becomes a victim when Mississippi State comes beating down the door.