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Don’t bother with media polls

The media polls provide a fun number on the scoreboard, but precious little else.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri State at Xavier
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Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

There are a great many things in this world that we routinely do or note that don’t greatly matter. The latest tweet from your favorite reality tv star, the weather on days when you don’t intend to be outside, what happened in the Bengals game, and the college basketball media polls. Xavier was 18th going into the Charleston Classic, lost a game to a resurgent Florida and dropped to 25th. The reaction on the Twittersphere was, of course, immediate.

Here’s the thing though, this literally doesn’t matter at all. Not one iota. It’s completely meaningless. I cannot stress this enough, the AP (or USA Today) poll has absolutely no bearing on the season and isn’t close to a recognition of the best teams in the nation. Pay it no mind.

The first way it doesn’t matter is the most important. The selection committee doesn’t look at the polls before assembling the tournament field. They aren’t taken into account in the slightest. What does matter is NET (not out yet), the KenPom (25th), and various other computer rankings. Xavier is 33rd in Bart Torvik’s rankings, 26th in the Massey. Those are important, the AP poll is not. AP can rank Xavier 1st or rank them 353rd and it will make absolutely no difference on the outcome of the season or anything having to do with the season. It’s fluff.

Secondly, the voters on the AP poll don’t know basketball, or at least don’t know it well. UC picked up votes this week which is perhaps not unusual for them this time of year, only the Bearcats were coming off a loss to basketball power Bowling Green. The Falcons have only one loss to LSU, far better wins than UC, and of course the head to head win and received no votes. Liberty is also getting votes this week. All other things surrounding Liberty notwithstanding, the Flames best win comes against Radford, 124th in the Kenpom. They have only one other game in the top KenPom 200 (Rice, 160th) and have one top 100 game on their schedule. Their next two games come, and this is a team that received votes in the same poll as Xavier, against an NAIA school and then a DII. Liberty received six votes this week and then go three weeks without a DI game. That’s not the resume of a top 25 team, and you’d have to be a fool to think it was.

Finally, the polls don’t matter because Xavier no longer needs the media bump. If you have a decent television package, you’ll see every Xavier game this year. That’s not because they were ranked to start the season, because you also could have seen every game last year. The largest television conglomerate in the world carries every Xavier conference game, ESPN, and CBS pick up the rest. Having that 18 (or whatever) in front of the Xavier on the scoreboard has no impact on how the Musketeers get their name out into the world for recruiting. It may have mattered in the 1970s or even the 90s, but it doesn’t now,

So yes, Xavier dropped some spots. Let the blood pressure drop, unclench the jaw, and remember it doesn’t matter. Especially not when you see what someone tweeted now. Can you even believe that? Let’s all go argue on social media.