Poll Attacks: Let me explain why you can’t leave Utah off of a Top 25 ballot

This edition of the Poll Attacks is heavy on the Pac-12.

Utah fans will love it.

Arizona fans will hate it.

But nobody will be able to sensibly argue with it.

Associated Press poll: There are 13 Associated Press voters who have Utah unranked, which is good because it means I don’t really have to single out anybody this week. But it’s bad because, I mean, what are you guys doing?

Have you not noticed what Utah is doing?

The Utes have three top-25 RPI wins, seven top-50 RPI wins and just one loss outside of the top 45 — and their only loss at home is a loss to an Oregon team that I have ranked 11th in the Top 25 (and one). That’s strong, strong, strong — so strong that Jerry Palm currently has Utah projected as a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. And yet the Utes were omitted from 13 ballots this week. Thirteen!

Among those ballots is Zac Boyer’s ballot.

Again, Zac is not alone. There are 12 other voters who omitted Utah. But the Washington Times writer ranked Hawaii 21st and UALR 25th, and there is just no intelligent way to defend ranking Hawaii and UALR … at all, frankly, but also … at the expense of Utah. Hawaii has zero top-50 RPI wins and a loss outside of the top 90, specifically a home loss to Long Beach State. And UALR only has two top-50 RPI wins to go with two losses outside of the top 125, specifically losses Louisiana-Monroe and Arkansas State. Meantime, and I don’t mean to repeat myself, but Utah has SEVEN top-50 RPI wins — and the Utes’ worst loss is a 70-68 loss on the road to a Stanford team that’s ranked 77th in the RPI. And yet Zac couldn’t find a spot on his ballot for Utah even though he found spots for Hawaii and UALR, whose bodies of work aren’t even in the same stratosphere.

Bottom line, Utah is way underrated based on its resume. Hell, it’s possible, if not likely, even I have Utah underrated at 19th in the Top 25 (and one). So perhaps I deserve to be attacked, too. But, if so, I don’t deserve it as much as the 13 AP voters who have Utah unranked deserve it. And, more than anything, that’s the point I’m trying to make.

Coaches poll: I don’t know that anybody has a higher opinion of Sean Miller than I have of Sean Miller as it pertains to his ability to run a program. I think he’s one of the sport’s very best, and somebody who will someday win a national title and make the Hall of Fame.

That said, I don’t get his Arizona Wildcats’ ranking.

They’re 10th in the Coaches poll and higher in the other poll, which is fine if you just ignore the games and resume and stuff. But if the NCAA Tournament started today, I’d be shocked if Arizona’s seed correlated with Arizona’s national ranking because the selection committee tends to care more about what you’ve done than what it thinks you might be, and do you know what Arizona has actually done? Answer: Among other things, defeated zero currently ranked teams.

Beyond that, Arizona is …

Simply put, that’s not much of a resume.

So is Arizona good?

Yeah, I think Arizona is good — if only because I think Miller almost always, if not always, has a good team, and his year-by-year results support that opinion. But, like I wrote, the Wildcats’ resume lacks substance, and that’s why I think their Top 25 (and one) ranking is more sensible than their ranking in either of the national polls updated Monday.

(PS: Shoutout to the Miami Herald’s Michelle Kaufman. She was one of the subjects of last week’s Poll Attacks, and she handled it well, which I always appreciate. We were sideways then. But she and I are on the same page when it comes to how Arizona ought to be ranked. Because she has the Wildcats 23rd this week, which is easier to justify than 10th.)

Brandon Taylor led Utah to a victory vs. Southern Cal on Sunday. (USATSI)
Brandon Taylor led Utah to a victory vs. Southern Cal on Sunday. (USATSI)

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