Who's voting for George Mason, Part II
Does the AP's college basketball poll matter? Well, not to NCAA seeding, or to RPI, or to the national championship race, or to my bracket. But apparently it still matters to players, if nothing else.
"What more do we have to do get ranked [in] the top 25?" George Mason forward Ryan Pearson asked on Twitter last week, when the Patriots only picked up enough votes to rank 30th.
"And we're still not ranked," Pearson wrote on Monday, when the Patriots finished 27th in the voting. "I guess 13 [in] a row ain't good enough for the NCAA. Makes me more motivated. Sorry Northeastern."
So yes, players care. Now, do coaches?
"No," George Mason's Jim Larranaga said with a laugh. "I don't ever bring it up, not to the players, not to the coaches either, because we have to control the things we can control and not worry about what we can't control. If it motivates you, that's great. For me, it's not something that motivates me, and it's not something that I find very valuable."
Do media members care? Well, many newspapers still run Top 25 roundups. If you're No. 26 or No. 27, you're relegated to agate type. ESPN also has a Top 25 section on its ticker, and "if you're 26, you don't make that," Larranaga noted.
Finally, do the poll voters themselves care who gets ranked and who doesn't? At least one does.
"Why not give some recognition to a team that's playing really well, has the longest winning streak in the country and won in two very tough places to play last week," said AP poll voter and Post contributor John Feinstein, who has Mason ranked higher than any other voter. "The ACC and the SEC and the Pac-10 get by on reputation; they don't need me to help them with their reputation. George Mason could use some help."
And so, for the second straight week, let's look at who's ranking Mason where. Of the 65 AP voters, 20 included George Mason on their ballots this week, up from 10 last week. The two highest scores - an 18th-place vote from Feinstein, and a 20th-place ranking by the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star's Steve DeShazo - came from voters who have published columns on the Patriots within the past three weeks.
(See last week's Mason voters here, and this week's Mason voters here.)
Only four other voters have Mason ranked as high as 23rd. Two of them - the Examiner's Kevin Dunleavy, and Roanoke's Mark Berman - work in the heart of CAA country. Those top six Mason voters were responsible for 28 of the team's 51 points in the poll. If the rest of the voters had gone for Mason at that rate, the Patriots would have finished 22nd, just ahead of Kentucky.
Meanwhile, of eight voters from states in the Pacific Time Zone or Hawaii, only one ranked the Patriots at all. Similarly, the 29th team in the poll, Alabama, was placed on five ballots, all from voters in SEC states.
"People already have a particular frame of mind," said Larranaga, who bowed out after a single year as a coach's poll member. "I found it to be something that was so important to other people, and [yet] the information that you have at hand is so inadequate to do a good job. So it really just becomes 'Oh, who are my friends, who do I want to vote for?'
And it gets even more ridiculous. David Morrison, an AP voter from the Opelika-Auburn News in Alabama, had the Patriots ranked 22nd last week. Then they went on the road, won by 20 against CAA powerhouse VCU and erased a double-digit deficit against Northern Iowa. Morrison responded by dropping George Mason one spot in his rankings.
So yeah, this thing is stupid, meaningless, and without value. Still.
"Number 26?" Mason's Mike Morrison tweeted on Monday afternoon. "Feeling disrespected."
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