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Steve Alford is way too worked up about polls


The story that has made the rounds on the web today — Gary Parrish and Mike DeCourcy have both written a few words about it — is the quote that Steve Alford gave the Albuquequre Journal on Tuesday:

“I’m amazed with the rankings,” Alford said. “Just looking at the rankings and we only have one team ranked. To be the third-best league in the country and only have one ranked team is bothersome, it really is.”

Don’t stress it, Steve.

For starters, the biggest reason that the Mountain West is ranked as the “third-best” (I’m not sure where he got third-best from, because the MWC is second in the RPI and fourth in Kenpom) conference in the country is that there are a lot of good teams in the league and no really bad teams. And when five of the nine teams in the league are ranked in the top 37 with the sixth-place team ranking 55th — as is the case with Kenpom — that’s going to boost the overall value on the conference in the computers.

But it doesn’t mean that the top of the league is going to be great.

And none of the three teams that most consider to be the favorites in the MWC — New Mexico, San Diego State and UNLV — are great. They are good teams with the kind of talent that can match up with anyone in the country, but “good teams” that play in a conference off the beaten path have to do more simply have “the kind of talent that can match up with anyone” to be ranked.

Call it disrespect if you want, but that’s the truth.

If you’re not from a power conference, you’re not going to get the benefit of the doubt. That’s just the way that top 25 polls work.

Which brings me to my main point: stop paying so much attention to top 25 polls, Steve.

They, quite literally, do not have any relevance whatsoever in the grand scheme of things. The voters have been so consistently clueless that Parrish has managed to create a weekly column simply making fun of how dumb some voters are. The people that know? The people that pay attention to the happenings beyond simply what took place in the last week in the six power conferences? They know how good the Mountain West and all of its members are. Our latest bracket from Dave Ommen has six teams in from the MWC. Andy Glockner has six teams in as well.

There’s no need to be fired up about the polls.

Especially when your team is the one from the league that is ranked.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?