Miami Finally in the AP Top 10, But Still Trails Duke…Posted by Jimmy Kelley on February 4th, 2013
Jimmy Kelley is an ACC correspondent for Rush the Court. Follow him on Twitter @DevilsinDurham.
The Associated Press has released two editions of their Top 25 since Miami dismantled Duke back on January 23. and all they’ve done since is continue rolling over ACC competition including a huge road win in Raleigh over N.C. State on Sunday. Yet for some reason the Hurricanes can’t seem to leapfrog the Blue Devils in the poll. Are the voters still holding early-season losses against them? Are Duke’s three top-five wins from the first month of the season still holding up? Both are legitimate questions, but what shouldn’t be up for debate is that Miami is the best team in the ACC right now and are probably going to take the regular season conference title.
This is the part where all of the “the polls don’t matter” comments come in to play and, while that may be true, Miami has done everything in its power to prove it has a better team than Duke. Has that been true all season? Absolutely not. But it has been true over the past couple of weeks. While Miami has beaten Florida State (71-47), Virginia Tech (73-64) and N.C. State (79-78); Duke has beaten Maryland convincingly (84-64), Wake Forest in a close win (75-70), and Florida State with a perfectly played game (79-60). With one common opponent in Florida State, the comparison can be easily made with the Hurricanes getting the slight edge.
So why is Duke #4 and Miami #8? The conventional wisdom says that Duke hasn’t done anything to get knocked further down the polls and letting Miami jump all the way into the top five from #14 last week after a one-point win over a team without their starting point guard is a reach. But Arizona, who beat a Reggie Johnson-less Hurricanes on December 23, is one spot ahead of the Hurricanes. Shouldn’t the same logic be applied to the Duke/Miami argument? It’s hard to say if Miami would beat Arizona if they played tonight, but Miami, as presently constructed, already convincingly beat the Duke team that sits ahead of it, which should answer any questions regarding which is the better team right now.
I’m aware the rankings are a cumulative result of 65 different AP writers with different biases, criteria, knowledge, and any other number of factors that might lead them to rank Duke ahead of the Hurricanes. But I’m also aware that a basketball court is a proving ground and when the team currently ranked #4 played the team at #8, the lower-ranked team won in very, very convincing fashion. By next Monday the overall picture will be much clearer as Duke plays host to N.C. State on Thursday and both squads will play Boston College this week, giving voters all of the information they will need to make an informed decision on who should be ranked ahead of whom. Margin of victory will probably never be as important to voters as it will be for making a decision between these two teams next Sunday.
Sorry, Steve Donahue. It’s going to be tough week for your Eagles.