Aug 12, 2010

How to Read the Unbiased Ranking: Over/Under rated Teams

So my Unbiased Top 35 may have confused quite a few people who thought it was supposed to serve as a substitute for the USA Today or AP Preseason Polls. It isn't. The Unbiased Ranking was just an experiment to point out some of the biases and undue hype that are present in the poll voting system.

In other words, it shows us how the polls would look if a computer put it together with no human intuition or analytical ability. Clearly, this isn't how our polls should work.

But the Unbiased Top 35 does give us some insight into the hype and bias of media and fans.

First, let's look and see which teams appear much higher in the USA Today Coaches' Poll than in the Unbiased Ranking.

1. Florida
- #3 in USA Today, #13 in Unbiased.
Florida is still receiving plenty of credit for a phenomenal last two years (as well as their national championship in 2006). They may deserve a high ranking based on past success, but losing Tim Tebow, their leading receivers, and many stars on defense, it may be a little too early to put them in the top 5. The Unbiased Ranking shows this with a more modest ranking.

Fun stat: Florida loses their Heisman quarterback, 33% of rushing yards, a whopping 73% of receiving yards, and over half (50%) of total defensive production.

2. Oklahoma
- #8 in USA Today, #20 in Unbiased.
An 8-5 team that finished unranked in the final 2009 polls, yet jumps to top 10 the next season? Yes, Oklahoma has been a top program, but they also lose more than you know going into 2010.
Fun Stat: OU loses 45.4% of rushing production, plus about a third of defensive production

3. North Carolina
- #18 in USA Today, Unranked in Unbiased.
First of all, North Carolina should likely appear in anyone's Top 35. The only reason they're absent from the Unbiased Ranking is because UNC didn't receive any votes in the final AP poll from 2009, therefore were ineligible. But this fact itself is telling. How does a team that finished 8-5, losing their last 2 games, and finishing with zero votes for the final polls appear at #18 in the preseason? Not to mention they're ahead of other 8-5 teams with much better resumes. You decide, but part of me wonders if the big opener vs. LSU doesn't factor into the UNC hype a little.

4. Arkansas
- #19 in USA Today, #31 in Unbiased Ranking.
Yes, Arkansas returns an exciting offense and could challenge in the SEC West. But once again, how does a team that finished #39 in the 2009 AP Poll jump to #19 so quickly? That's 20 spots they jumped during one off-season. Sounds to me like the Ryan Mallett hype is carrying Arkansas pretty high.

Now let's take a look at a few teams that appear to be UNDER rated.

1. Cincinnati
-Unranked in USA Today, #12 in Unbiased Ranking.
Yes, #12 does sound like a high ranking for a team that loses half of it's QB production in Tony Pike and got destroyed by the Gators in the Sugar Bowl. But does a team that won the Big East Championship twice in the past 2 years really deserve to go unranked? Other than Pike, their losses aren't too heavy, and Cincy should easily contend to be the best in the Big East again. Also, notice that Cincinnati was unranked in the preseason in 2009 as well, despite being Big East Champs the year before. The Bearcats, and the Big East in general, can't get a break from the media, coaches, or fans.

2. Texas Tech
-Unranked in USA Today, #15 in Unbiased Ranking.
The Red Raiders went a respectable 9-4 in 2009 with wins over Nebraska and Oklahoma. They lose practically nothing on offense, and little on defense. Yet Texas Tech isn't present in the USA Today Coaches' Poll at all? Well, they are, but only receiving 5 votes. That puts them at #44. Where's the respect for Texas Tech?

Hopefully this helps to explain the use of the Unbiased Top 35.

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