Monday, December 18, 2006

Bruins Remain No.1 in Polls, No.2 in RPI

By Bruin Basketball Report

With a 21-point romp over Oakland on Saturday UCLA retained its No.1 ranking in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll.  The Bruins are also ranked No.2 in the RPI ratings per Ken Pomeroy's ratings.

"Its great for the program, the players and the Pac-10," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said.  But the great thing about college basketball is that it will all be decided in the NCAA tournament and what really matters is April 3rd (championship game)."

On whether he felt his team was deserving of its No.1 ranking, Howland said "There are probably 15 teams who are very close to one another.  There is so much parity in college basketball that the difference between teams is minute."

UCLA junior guard Arron Afflalo gave his perspective on warding off teams looking to knock off No.1.

"We realize it gives opponents an incentive to play hard against us," Afflalo said.  We have to find a way to fight off an opponent's adrenaline at the start of the game, and once we get through the first part of the game ourselves we tend to settle down.

Other Pac-10 teams in the polls: Arizona solidified its position at No.9 with a win over Houston (87-62); Washington is No.17 after defeating Portland St. (105-73); and Oregon is No.21/23 with victories over Eastern Washington (100-74) and Idaho St. (84-55)   

Washington St. received votes in both polls again this week.  The Bruins face the Cougars in their Pac-10 conference opener on 12/28.

Pittsburgh previously ranked No.2 in both polls fall to No.7 after losing to Wisconsin on Saturday.



At Dec 18, 2006, 5:08:00 AM, Anonymous Seitz said...

RPI has got to be beyond useless right now. Any ranking system that lists Arizona as having the toughest schedule is ridiculous. I know it's a formula driven system, but basically, they've played a lot of mediocre teams that have good records against even crappier teams.

At Dec 18, 2006, 7:56:00 AM, Anonymous Bruin Basketball Report said...

Good point and don't totally disagree with you especially at this early point of the season.
Gonzaga has a strong SOS currently but it will drop precipitously once they start their weak conference play while Pac-10 team's SOS will increase due to strong teams this season.
We report RPI regularly as a means of giving readers some sense of comparisons to other teams especially in terms of strength of schedule. In addition, some in the past have suggested that the Bruins have a weaker non-conference schedule (i.e. cupcakes) than others, but the RPI and SOS, even at this early stage, says much different.
UCLA has No.15 toughest schedule as of last week per the ratings. As imperfect the forumla might be at this early stage, the findings run counter to the criticism.
As for Arizona, they usually finish with a top 10 SOS every year. Have they played a No.1 SOS so far this year? Possibly not, but its at least a top 10 schedule - and it will only higher with Pac-10 play, UNC, and Memphis still to play on their schedule.

At Dec 18, 2006, 10:56:00 PM, Anonymous Seitz said...

I'm not saying Arizona is a weak scheduling team. I'm saying they've played a weak schedule to this point this year. The problem with RPI at this stage is that there's a big difference in how it calculates a game against, for example, the 150th best team, and the 300th best team. That's all well and good, but when you're a top 20 team, there's really no difference. It's the difference between playing a team you should beat by 40 and a team you should beat by 25.
I don't think Arizona has played anywhere near a top 10 schedule so far. They've played a bad Louisville team, a mediocre Illinois team that was missing two of its best players (and got totally homered, by the way), and a decent Virginia team, against whom they blew a big lead. I can think of at least 10 schools who have played tougher schedules than that so far.
UCLA gets dinged for playing UCR, but honestly, if you're a top 15 team, is there that big of a difference between UCR and Samford? On a spreadsheet maybe, but not on a basketball court.

At Dec 18, 2006, 11:56:00 PM, Anonymous Seitz said...

And by no means am I criticizing you for reporting it. I just think it should be noted that RPI is essentially worthless at this point of the season.

At Dec 19, 2006, 1:38:00 AM, Anonymous Bruin Basketball Report said...

No problems here, your comments are ALWAYS welcomed.
Agree to the extent that RPI and SOS matters less now than later at tournament selection time. But there are certain conclusions you can make at this stage.
- UCLA is not playing as easy of a non-conference schedule as some claim.
- There are some pretender teams who have played a weak schedule to prop up their win totals early --- see UCONN with a record of 9-0 but an SOS of almost 300.


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