Post Classifieds

Column: Rankings are stupid

By Tim Fontenault
On March 3, 2014

There is a website that emerged last summer called 40and0.com.
Before you keep reading, go take a look at that website. I will give you five minutes: 10 seconds to find the site, 50 seconds to realize that it is a real thing and four minutes to recover from your laughter.
After landing what some who claim to know a thing or two about college basketball consider the greatest freshman class of all time, Kentucky was voted as the preseason No. 1 team in the Associated Press poll, many of their fans bought into the hype that they had a chance to go 40-0 and win the national championship.
Instead, the Wildcats are 21-8. Somehow, they are still ranked 25th in the nation, despite losing to Arkansas and South Carolina this week.
Kentucky has rarely looked good this season. Its win over Louisville is the one quality win on the season. Two losses to Arkansas and one each to South Carolina and LSU cannot be overlooked for a team that had 40-0 expectations.
Head coach John Calipari keeps coming to the defense of his players. He claims that it takes time to get a young team to where it needs to be. He claims that his team is getting there, but that it will take more time.
The problem is we all know how Calipari builds his teams at Kentucky.
He has five of the top 10 freshmen in the recruiting class of 2013. Most of those players are considered to be one-and-done players that will jump to the NBA next year.
Performance is not the only factor in determining draft stock. Remember Andre Drummond? His lone season at UConn was far from impressive, but his size and potential made him a lottery pick.
How do you build a team that consists almost entirely of freshmen and expect to win? Calipari has been complaining that his team needs more time, but instead they are running out of time. If Julius Randle and Andrew Harrison go pro next season, the Wildcats will be back where they started this summer.
The one-and-done approach does not work, except that one time in 2012, but the point remains. Because Kentucky had the No. 1 recruiting class in 2013 and the class was considered the greatest in college basketball history by some, Kentucky was expected to run the table, thus their No. 1 ranking from 27 AP poll voters in the preseason.
Rankings, in general, are fairly ridiculous. After two straight losses to bad teams, Kentucky is still considered one of the 25 best teams in the nation? They have not looked like one of the 25 best at any point this season, especially now.
Syracuse was the No. 1 team in the nation for weeks, and not once during that time did they look like the best team on the block. Jim Boeheim must have the Deathly Hallows locked away somewhere, because the amount of times the Orange cheated death defies logic.
Rankings do not mean anything. They do not assert beyond doubt who the best team in the nation is. Even the seeding in the NCAA tournament cannot determine that. Very rarely does the No. 1 overall seed win the national title, and only in 2008 did all four No. 1 seeds make the Final Four.
Remember that next time you freak out about the number next to a team's name in the AP poll, the recruiting rankings and the latest bracketology on ESPN.
Just remember this: UConn was the preseason No. 4 team in the AP poll at the start of the 2011-12 season. They did not even finish as the 44th-best team in the country.

Follow Tim on Twitter @Tim_Fontenault  


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