The Great Rankings Debate

Dylan Burkhardt

A quick recruiting note. John Beilein and Mike Jackson have an in-home visit with Trey Zeigler this evening. Zeigler also visited UCLA over the weekend.

Another week, another preseason top 25. Gary Parrish released his final top 25 (and one) and placed Michigan at #19. Michigan ranks 5th of Parrish’s six Big Ten teams: Michigan State (3), Purdue (8), Minnesota (16), Ohio State (18), Michigan (19), Illinois (23).

I think Parrish hits the nail on the head here, after Michigan State and Purdue there are four teams who are pretty hard to distinguish. They are all very good and at this point I could see any of those teams win the Big Ten or fall as low as 6th or even 7th place. The good news for Big Ten teams is that the national media seems to agree that the conference is very strong this year.

My only worry is that teams beat up on each other just a little too much. The Big East was praised for their depth last year but teams like Georgetown and Notre Dame found out that wasn’t always a great thing. I wouldn’t be shocked if one of the presumed top seven teams in the Big Ten finds themselves in the NIT this year.

Best Ever?

uclaJohn Wooden

Switching gears but staying with a similar theme, ESPN will release their College Basketball Encyclopedia this week. The book has received very positive reviews, except for Jeff Sagarin’s attempt to rank division 1 programs on their historical performance (PDF).

Complaints about the rankings are universal, Mike DeCourcy, Pat Forde, Jeff Goodman, and Inside the Hall are just a few writers who have already spoken out today against the rankings. Andy Katz has some reactionary quotes from several coaches including John Calipari, Tom Izzo, and Bruce Weber.

Michigan comes in at 13th, the 6th ranked Big Ten program and two spots ahead of Michigan State. In the decade-by-decade breakdown Michigan ranks 10th in the 40s, 37th in the 50s, 11th in the 70s, 13th in the 80s, 12th in the 90s, and they are not ranked in the 2000s.

There are going to be those who take offense to any sort of ranking system, but the complaints about Sagarin’s list seem endless. Some of the biggest issues appear to be Kentucky over UCLA for the top spot, Iowa at #10, Michigan State at #15, Northwestern at #77, and Providence at #78.

Mathematical models are clearly going to differ from public perception, Sagarin’s focuses more on win/loss and strength of schedule in a cumulative basis. The standard way to look at greatness is winning national titles, making Final Fours, and winning your conference.

The Sagarin formula also appears to be a fan of the Big Ten with five Big Ten teams in the top 10 and eight in the top 15.

More Notes

  • Andy Katz takes a thorough look at Jim Boylen’s Utah program. The Utes lose a lot but Boylen is establishing a top notch program out west and Michigan should expect to get all they can handle.
  • A couple extensive Big East previews from Villanova by the Numbers of note for Michigan fans: Marquette (potential Old Spice opponent) and UConn.
  • A couple of Michigan 2012 recruiting targets including Kellen Dunham and Yogi Ferrell visited Indiana over the weekend.

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  • JayRich

    Parrish is one of my favorite writers because he “gets it”. He doesn’t buy into hype and he is realistic about where teams fall. This is where I see UM, somewhere close to #20, at the end of the year. I think they may rise in the standings before their big games but then they will fall during the Big Ten season anyways and end just inside the top 25.

  • Tom, Too.

    I agree with JayRich….absolutely.

  • Mith

    I agree and I’m good with that. #20ish translates to a 5-6 seed which sounds about right. And I would be thrilled with that kind of season.

  • James

    I think people would whine less about Sagarin’s rankings if he threw out the 40s and 50s (or weighted them much less). Then you’d have Duke in the top 5, and UCLA probably #1. I don’t know how people suggest rating the major conferences bottom feeders vs mid majors in a list like this. Sure, Northwestern is conspicuous at #77, but has a team like George Washington (#97) really been consistently better than them over the years? A lot of the mid majors that have had decent decades probably were in the 200s in other decades.

    Anyway, I think Sagarin’s list pretty interesting. He was probably presenting it as an unbiased reference, rather than gospel.

  • JBlair52

    ooo an in-home w/ Zeigler. should be good!

  • JBlair52

    any word on the in-home w/ Zeigler?

    did it go well? did he commit? is he coming to michigan?