UConn drops to #8/#9 in AP/Coaches Polls

First comment: I never thought the Huskies should have been ranked #4.  Yes, they had impressive wins over then very highly ranked Kentucky and Michigan State in Maui.  But I was shocked when the pollsters moved the Huskies from unranked into the top 10.

On the other hand, this week the Huskies lost to highly ranked Pitt on the road, came home and struggled, but prevailed over a mediocre South Florida team.  They lost to a team ranked two spots behind them, on the road, and dropped 4 spots in the AP Poll.  In the Coaches Poll, they dropped 5 spots.

Now I’m not going to argue that UConn is better than Duke this season – but can you imagine the Blue Devils losing a game to #6, on the road, and dropping 4-5 spots in the polls?  I don’t think I can ever remember Duke losing one game in a week and dropping more than 1-2 spots.

For what it’s worth, UConn has an arguably more impressive body of work so far this season – the Huskies have defeated #10/11 Kentucky and #18/19 Michigan State, as well as also receiving votes Wichita State, all on neutral courts.  Duke has defeated #17 Kansas State on a neutral court, along with #18/19 Michigan State at home, and also receiving votes Butler on a neutral court.

And by the way, it’s not just Duke — Kansas and North Carolina in recent years seem to receive the same benefit of the doubt.

On the topic of Duke, why is it that everyone believes that Duke is better than last season – even after the loss of Kyrie Irving?

There’s some justification to the thought that the defending champions should be ranked #1 until someone knocks them off their perch – the UConn women were probably in the same boat to start the system – but why does everyone believe they’re better?  They lost sharpshooter and steady guard Jon Scheyer, along with Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas.  Admittedly, I thought that Zoubek and Thomas were wastes of minutes for most of their careers, but the drive to the NCAA title last year succeeded in large part because those two suddenly played (almost) up to their potential, in particular seeming to grab every offensive rebound in sight.

I look at this season’s Duke lineup, and I don’t see a team that’s better than last season – particularly if Kyrie Irving misses the rest of the season.  I don’t see Kyle Singler or Nolan Smith playing better this season than they did in the tournament last season; I don’t see the Plumlees being better than the tournament versions of Zoubek and Thomas; and I don’t see Seth Curry being better than Scheyer.  Throw Irving into the mix, and perhaps they’re better.  But Duke was arguably not even the best team last season — obviously they did everything they needed to do to win the championship last season, but their drive to the title did include the easiest bracket and some fortunate matchups.


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