(N.C. Brown | The News Record)
As if the AP Poll itself wasn’t meaningless enough, there is actually a story behind the story. There’s a tiny number next to teams in the Top 25, but there are a ton of little things going on behind that number. Breaking the Poll is a series that breaks down the AP voters and dissects why the Bearcats are ranked where they are. (This series is made possible by College Poll Tracker.)
The Bearcats are back in the Top 20 of the AP Poll for the first time since early December 2015, and they’re once again the highest-ranked team in the state of Ohio, outpacing the state’s other two relevant programs — Xavier and Dayton.
It’s still fairly early in the season, but we’re getting into the meat of the schedule, and it feels like the Bearcats are hitting their stride with plenty of room to keep growing, if that’s possible. They’ve nailed down eight straight wins and have first place in the American Athletic Conference on lockdown. They face a free-falling Temple team at home on Wednesday before a trip to the Big Easy to take on bottom-feeder Tulane on Sunday. Unless things fall apart, the Bearcats will be riding a 10-game winning streak into the Crosstown Shootout.
The AP voters are slowly climbing on board the bandwagon, and have responded to push the Bearcats to their season high in the poll. Their 256 votes from Week 10 have swelled to 373 votes this week. 63 of 64 voters placed them on their ballot this week, their best mark since December 7, 2015. More than half of the voting body has them in the Top 20.
Life in Clifton is good.
Biggest UC fan: Chris Dachille (WBAL Baltimore) for voting the Bearcats #16 this week and #18 in the two previous weeks. Chris, you are a gentleman and a scholar.
Biggest UC hater: John Feinstein (NPR) for being the only voter not to rank the Bearcats in the Top 25. What’s even more baffling is that he had UC at #24 last week. So apparently 2–0 with wins over 2nd place SMU and on the road against ECU disappointed John enough that UC deserved to drop two spots and out of the ranking.
Here are some teams on John’s ballot: South Carolina at #22 (KenPom 29, losses to Seton Hall, Clemson, and a blowout by Memphis), Northwestern at #23 (KenPom 33, best win is… Penn State? In December?), Saint Mary’s at #24 (bane of my existence, best win is Dayton in November, got absolutely decimated by the only good team in their conference two days ago), and UNC Wilmington at #25 (KenPom 43, gave up 113 points to DII Pfeiffer in December, best win according to RPI is 11–6 St. Bonaventure more than a month ago).
John, your ballot is trash.