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Thursday Morning Power Poll

January 5, 2004 Columns No Comments

TMPG Thursday Power Poll

by Dean Austin

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow can keep your intrepid columnist from his appointed rounds. However one very nasty looking storm is trying its best this evening as I write this for tomorrow’s publication.

I’ve also been giving some serious consideration to the name of the Poll. The Power Poll just isn’t right because it isn’t really a Power Poll in the traditional sense that other sites have used. This is a tool that shows less who is the best and more who is over rated and likely for an upset. Yes it’s relevant in showing the top teams but it’s not designed to be some kind of nirvana. That Missouri fell on its face wasn’t a surprise to me, because this formula had told me that from the start of the season. I read with amusement the other day that Alabama “upset” #15 Wisconsin (it was a headline using AP rankings). No, it wasn’t an upset. I would not have been shocked if Wisconsin had won, but the formula had shown that in relative and recent performance, Alabama was capable of such a display.

Nor do I want to call this the Recent Performance Index. Labeling my formula RPI would be amusing but not particularly helpful. Austin’s Statistical Summary and Current Recent Ability Performance are acronymically (is that a word?) unwise! But I do need a new label. Those of you that have written have generally thought that this was my list of the best teams and that an omission was a knock on a team. Not so; it is quite possible that the national champion is not in my list. However I am more confident that a team such as St. Joseph’s that is highly ranked, unlikely to lose many more games before the tournament and will gain a high seed is going to get spectacularly upset specifically because it isn’t part of the index.

Meanwhile, a good e-mail from Bill this week who asks, “First question how do you move teams? Do you start from the top or from the bottom? I know that sounds like a weird question but could the order of moving them affect the rankings? Which movement takes precedence over the other? i.e. a team should move down one slot but that’s the same position another team has to fall for losing to a lower ranked team? Which team gets the spot? What’s the system and is it consistent? Also what are the non-ranked teams rankings when being used to factor in a team’s drop–26 for everybody?”

I’ll answer the last part first. Yes indeed everyone outside the poll is considered #26. I really did like the suggestion of expanding the poll and am working on it but trying to keep the maximum drop at 13 which is what happens currently if the #1 team were to lose to an unranked team.

To the main question, I move teams based on the date and within each day I start with the top team first and work down the list in order. Each time there is any movement the list is reset before I get to the next result.

The upsets waiting to happen:

Connecticut, Wake Forest and St. Joseph’s are the most obvious and even though North Carolina fell to #10 in the Hoopville Top 25 poll this week they too could still suffer another “upset.” And as we discussed, for all the reasons stated Wake Forest wasn’t an upset result.

Again to summarize:

1. If you beat a higher ranked team you take their spot. The higher ranked team moves down half the distance between its old ranking and the victor’s old ranking.

2. If you lose to a higher ranked team you move down 1 position.

Thursday Morning Power Poll
January 1st, 2004

1. Alabama
2. Stanford
3. Arizona
4. Oklahoma
5. Florida State
6. Wisconsin
7. Louisville
8. Duke
10. SMU
11. Texas
12. Kentucky
13. Georgia Tech
14. Pittsburgh
15. Nevada
16. Maryland
17. Boston U
18. Marquette
19. Colorado State
20. Georgia State
21. Kansas
22. Michigan
23. Purdue
24. UCLA
25. Vanderbilt


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