Ranking the Rankings: And Yada, Yada, Yada, Duke's Number One

Ranking the rankings criticizes the critics as soon as the polls come out.

Headlining: It's obvious, right? Duke tops both polls for the first time since the end of the 2005-06 season and we're all


ecstatic! I want to say that "It's hard to like this Blue Devil team" but when is it easy to like Duke? (Answer: When you're a Duke fan. Or when they're playing Carolina.) That being said, the 2007-08 incarnation isn't nearly as hateable as previous teams.

Gerald Henderson is a freakish athlete who tried hard, Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer embody a certain Durham stereotype but at least they're not Chris Collins and Wojo, and Greg Paulus has been firmly regulated to the bench, having not topped 17 minutes in 2009.

The antipodal proposition alone should be worth a slightly less odoriferous and palatable annoyance. (Yes, I'm pretending that I graduated from Duke and write for Slate.) Of course, there's still the matter of butting heads with the previous top team, Wake Forest, on Wednesday, but for now: everyone respects Duke.

Freefallin': Georgetown (12/14 to 25/23), Syracuse (8/8 to 15/15) and Notre Dame (19/19 to UR/22). In fairness to all three teams, the Big East is really good. And in fairness to the pollsters, this group of teams combined to lose five game (the Irish lost that Saturday prime timer as their only game of the week en route to three straight losses; coughing one up to Marquette on Monday won't help their case either) last week, so it's not that shocking. The Big East are certainly going to beat up on each other all season long and they'll fluctuate; anything other than the same from the top tier ACC teams would be surprising as well.

You Gotta Rise Up: Kentucky (UR/UR to 24/UR), UCLA (17/16 to 13/11). it's never a total shock when two big name programs -- Louisville could apply here too, i suppose, just based on the relative inaction of the top ten -- win a couple of games and start vaulting higher. In Kentucky's case, it's Jodie Meeks helping to propel them back into the rankings for the first time since November ... of 2007. It wouldn't be that long if it wasn't the Wildcats were talking about, and one presuming they can beat both Mississippi and South Carolina, it's safe to say you'll see them "offically" ranked in both polls next week.

Clemson (12/11). Look, yes, they only have two losses, but they're still in the top 15. And while I don't necessarily know that the Tigers are en route to a total and utter meltdown, I certainly won't vouch that they aren't, either. They've got games against Virginia Tech, Duke, Florida State and Boston College as their next four matchups. Two of those teams have beaten number one nationally ranked squads ... and they're the two inferior teams on the schedule. A win against Georgia Tech kind of-sort of righted the ship, but there's a distinct possibility that they could go 0-4 over that span, which would be beyond awkward.

Bunked: Arizona State (14/14). Call me a Herb Sendek homer if you want, and I won't care. I love the guy, and all he does is produce teams that go to the NCAA tournament. It's not farfetched to say that N.C. State would probably deal with an annual tourney bid right now. They're not a high scoring bunch, and losses to USC and Cal could be more impressive, but James Harden is a baller and 22 points per game in Sendek's offense might be equal to 49 anywhere else.

WTF: No one from the coaches' poll dropped. Like, literally no one. Florida is this -- /makes pinching motion with index and thumb -- close to inching in, just one point shy of Gonzaga and Utah State is right behind, but it's still really unusual to see a poll with no in/out movement whatsoever.

People That Vote Are Smart:
Ron Morris of The State in Colombia, SC, takes the cake. He's really thinks highly of Luke Harangody; so much so that he puts Notre Dame at 14 overall in his poll. Yes, they're a talented team, but they when he voted they had lost three straight, and four now. It's kind of tough to bump a team from 14 overall to unranked in one week, but if Morris doesn't pull on that, it might be kind of questionable. He also has UConn and North Carolina over Duke.

Ranking the Rankings: And Yada, Yada, Yada, Duke's Number One originally appeared on NCAA Basketball FanHouse on Mon, 26 Jan 2009 22:00:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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