Friday, December 29

ClemsonTiger Basketball: No Love From the Sportsline

From Gary Parrish
AP poll:
Nobody voted for Army this week. That's a solid improvement, and proof that the AP guys are getting better. I still fundamentally disagree with Clemson being ranked with no noteworthy wins, but I can live with that. I've been hard on Clemson, perhaps too hard, and if the Tigers move to 14-0 with wins this week over Georgia and Georgia State, by all means I give everybody permission to rank away. But I have a feeling this team is going to slide fast once the ACC schedule starts -- thanks to January road games at Florida State, N.C. State, Maryland and Duke and January home games against Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Boston College and Virginia. Go .500 in those eight games, and I promise to convert to a Clemson believer.

Also, from his mailbag:


Gary, I agree with your Poll Attacks about the stupidity of Army getting a vote and Clemson being ranked, but if we are going to talk cupcake schedules with Clemson you have to mention UConn in the same sentence. Clemson's wins over South Carolina, Old Dominion and Mississippi State look great compared to the murderer's row UConn faced while never leaving Connecticut. Quinnipiac? Central Arkansas? Sacred Heart? Fairfield? The only way this could get weaker is if they played a Division II girls school. Yet the Coaches poll has them at No. 11. They, along with Clemson, are among the only teams in the top 25 who have not played a ranked opponent. What's the story on their ranking?

I'm the first to admit that ranking teams is an inexact science. But the bottom line, at least early, is that teams that are supposed to be good get the benefit of the doubt while teams that are supposed to be bad do not get the benefit of the doubt. Let me explain. Imagine if Florida and Southern Miss played the exact same schedule for the first month of the season, just a terrible schedule built for wins. Florida would start 7-0; Southern Miss would start 7-0. So would that mean Florida and Southern Miss should be ranked the same? Of course not. Florida would be ranked high and Southern Miss wouldn't be ranked at all. Why? Because for Florida not to be ranked it has to prove it DOES NOT deserve to be ranked. To the contrary, for Southern Miss to be ranked it has to prove it DOES deserve to be ranked. In other words, Florida is perceived good until it proves otherwise while Southern Miss is perceived bad until it proves otherwise (against legitimate competition).

Which brings me to Connecticut and Clemson

The reason UConn is ranked high with a great record against a soft schedule and Clemson isn't ranked high with a great record against a soft schedule is for the exact reasons I explained above. The Huskies have All-American caliber recruits, a Hall of Fame coach and a storied program, so voters give them the benefit of the doubt until they prove they are not worthy of being ranked. On the other hand, Clemson doesn't have the same make-up, so voters are skeptical until their skepticism is erased by big wins over strong opponents, and Clemson doesn't have any big wins over strong opponents. Not yet, at least. The good news, though, is that UConn and Clemson play in the Big East and ACC. So if the Huskies are a fraud, we'll find out, and if the Tigers are really great we'll also know that before long. So in the end it'll all make sense, and everybody will get what they deserve.

Tell the Parrish what you think

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