I've been known to stand up for my fellow sports writers now and then. But they sometimes disappoint and exasperate me, just like coaches, athletes, executives and owners. It's amazing to me how common it is for the writers to act in lockstep when they vote for major awards or college rankings. Take the latest AP men's college basketball rankings, which came out this morning.
Kentucky is ranked No. 1 in the country by all 65 voters. John Calipari's team, which is 19-0 and the only unbeaten team in the nation, got every vote. Not one voter was willing to step out from the pack and suggest another team might be No. 1. Not one person in 65 felt Syracuse, which is 20-1, might actually be the top team. No one went with Villanova or Kansas, which are both 19-1.
I'm not saying Kentucky isn't worthy of being No. 1. But the voters act as if it's automatic just because they haven't lost. There's nothing wrong with watching the games and determining that a team with more losses is superior. This is a subjective vote, not a single-elimination tournament. It's college basketball, where teams lose games and win the national title every year. This is pure laziness on the part of some writers, who take the easy way out.
Does anyone take strength of schedule into account? Kentucky has the 85th-toughest schedule in the country, based on the latest RPIs. The Wildcats have only five wins against teams currently rated among the top 100 in the nation. Syracuse has TWELVE wins against top 100 teams. The Orange have played the fifth-toughest schedule so far. They have three wins against teams in the Top 25 of the power ratings. They play in the Big East, which is ranked the best conference in the nation. Villanova and Kansas each have eight wins over teams ranked in the top 100.
Given those facts, don't you suppose a few of the voters would make the modest leap and go with Syracuse? Is it so hard to think for yourself once in awhile, and not simply zip off your vote without giving it any serious thought? OK, so it really doesn't matter which team is ranked where right now. It's not like college football, where the rankings actually help determine the national champion.
But come on, people. You can do better than this. There should be some diversity of opinion in a subjective process. If not one out of 65 voters thinks Syracuse is the best team in the country, some of them aren't taking the vote seriously enough.
Photo of Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim by the Associated Press