AP Basketball Poll Continues To Be A Bad Joke

I normally don't write much commentary on my website although I will occasionally complain through my Twitter account on non-sports issues.

Nevertheless something peaked my interest this past week that I want to address.

As many of you know, each season I put together a preseason rankings of southern Illinois teams in both the Carbondale 1A and 2A Supersectional area teams.

I even put together a rankings page this year for the teams that feed into the Jacksonville 1A Supersectional.

My criteria is comprehensive.

I look at many factors which include (and not limited to) experienced players returning, the program's overall strength in the past few seasons which coincides with the good kids returning.

Strength of schedule is perhaps most important as well as the team's depth, stability of coaching at the program, and so on.

I put the rankings together by gathering information from all (or most) of the coaches in the areas that I'm ranking.

For the Jacksonville area I called upon a couple of sports writers to the northwest of me who I admire and trust for some guidance about the teams in their respective areas that I didn't know enough about.

In other words, I'm due diligent.

I look at the big picture, I make a checklist and I check it twice like Santa Claus does, in my pursuit of my ultimate decision.

The decision that is on my website each season right before the games begin.

Then I observe for basically a month or so until after the smoke from the holiday tournaments has cleared.

Then I update my rankings to fit what I have witnessed, what I have read and what I have heard from reliable sources.

What I have gathered from the head-to-head results from around each of my areas.

And also my “eye-test” which is of utmost importance.

Only then will I complete the updated lists.

These are my opinions based on what I have seen, without prejudice.

The best programs in the state stand out because they, too, are due diligent in their preparation and it shows every season as a lot of the same teams set the standards and keep the bar high.

But it's more than just reputation that gets teams ranked. The quality carries on because they, the powers that be at each school, care about their program and work the hardest to sustain the prosperity.

Not only in terms of wins and loses but also how the programs carry themselves and the reputation they have built.

Sometimes I make mistakes and I'm wrong about teams. But those mistakes aren't because there was a lack of effort in doing the research.

Which leads me to why I am writing this.

The Associated Press, made of various sports writers around the State of Illinois (members only of which I am not), released a rankings poll of what they believe are the top high school basketball teams this past week.

After I stopped laughing at it, which took a few minutes, I took a very close look at these results.

Besides the actual rankings, which I found various flaws in, I realized that only 11 sports writers around the state bothered to vote in it.

That's right, folks: 11.

You know this by counting the first place votes.

In the four boy's lists, 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A it was just those 11 opinions.

It was even worse in girl's as only eight sports writers bothered to cast a ballot.

Yeah, eight in the whole state.

I'm sure most of the teams are deserving of a mention of some sort but several of them shouldn't be on this list.

I didn't look at the girl's because I don't cover them and I have no information to go by.

But the boy's poll is laughable at best.

The bad part is that there are many more deserving teams who should be honored that are missing from the poll.

By obviously not doing their “due diligence” in coming up with a decision, the 11 AP voters not only produced a very lame list as a whole, it also did something far worse.

They shattered what was left of the reputation of the poll itself.

With only 11 participants, it is the equivalent of calling an election with only 1 percent of the precincts reporting.

If I was in charge of this poll, I wouldn't have released it.

Not until many more writers, broadcasters, etc, got involved in the process.

The smattering of votes is no more important than guys sitting around a bar discussing who is the best bobsled team from Jamaica or who will win the next American Corn Hole Championships. (yes, there is such a tournament).

These writers look at a team's record, team A is unbeaten, they must be good, vote them in.

Without taking into consideration whom they have played; the strength of schedule.

Case in point, or Exhibit A if you will of why this is flawed, the Nokomis Redskins barely got into the poll, receiving just three votes.

They are a perennial powerhouse program with a coach who has amassed over 700-wins. Many of which have come against tough, larger schools.

Heading into this season they had a good core of returning players coming back from a standout team in 2017-18.

ABV ranked them #3 in the 2018-19 preseason 1A Carbondale Super Rankings.

They have played one 1A school so far, as last week they beat Okaw Valley.

Nokomis sits at 4-4 overall as they have losses to 3A Taylorville, 3A Triad, 4A Granite City and 2A (formerly 3A) Alton Marquette.

All good programs.

They also have wins over 2A Staunton, 3A Civic Memorial and 2A Gillespie.

Nokomis only lost one game to a 1A team last season and that was Central A&M in the sectional title game at Central A&M.

The Redskins record last season was 24-8, 15-1 versus 1A teams.

They are good again and they should be ranked much higher than many of the teams that appeared in the poll above them.

Nokomis, Woodlawn, Central A&M, Okawville and Madison should all be ranked higher than they are.

I have much less of a problem with the 2A poll, because Nashville is very good.

The question of whether or not they can get to state will be answered in February and March.

But for two-time defending champs Chicago Orr, who got (4) first place votes compared to (3) first place votes for Nashville, not to be ranked higher than the Hornets some, or multiple, voters had to rank the Spartans very low or not at all to make up the difference in the votes.

I could dig much deeper into all of this, but I think you get the picture here.

Again, this gets back to "due diligence."

If you are going cast an a vote to try and get the most accurate result, you can't just put names on a sheet and send it to the hub.

You can't just vote for your local team just to give them all a “warm fuzzy” while leaving off someone who deserves to be on the list.

It is about accurately projecting who are the best teams in the state; without malice, without bias, without heart strings attached to a local team that you pledge allegiance to.

It defeats the entire process if you don't take this responsibility seriously.

Any rankings or polls are subjective, based on opinions. That is understandable.

Taking the privilege of being able to cast a vote and not doing your homework before voting is simply unacceptable.

Do these polls matter much? Not really. But voting in them haphazardly matters because of the reputation of the process and the poll itself is now tarnished as a result.

To those of you who voted and didn't do the homework, make a better effort.

To those of you who didn't bother to vote, shame on you.

BTW, I contacted The Associated Press this weekend.

And a guy from the bureau in Chicago called me back on Monday morning and we had a nice chat.

Since I'm not a member I'm technically not allowed to vote. But I offered my assistance if they ever need it.

Below is the actual boy's basketball poll released by The Associated Press last week.

Boys basketball
Here are the boys prep basketball polls with rank, team, first-place votes, record and total points.

Class 4A
School W-L Pts Prv
1. Belleville West (8) 6-0 89
2. Whitney Young (1) 2-0 81
3. Bloomington 6-0 47
4. Chicago Heights (Bloom Twp.) 6-0 43
5. Curie 5-0 41
6. Danville 8-0 36
(tie) Bolingbrook 5-0 36
8. Simeon 1-1 30
9. Lisle (Benet Academy) 6-1 24
10. Rockford East 6-0 20 -

Others receiving votes: Moline 15. Homewood-Flossmoor 7. Evanston Township 6. Collinsville 5. Marian Catholic (Chicago Heights) 4. Riverside-Brookfield 4. Rock Island 3. Oswego East 2. Glenbrook South 1. York 1.

Class 3A
School W-L Pts Prv
1. Morgan Park (4) 3-1 100
2. Springfield Southeast (1) 4-1 83
3. Bogan (6) 5-0 79
4. East St. Louis 4-1 56
5. St. Viator 5-1 42
(tie) Kankakee 8-0 42
7. DePaul College Prep 5-0 39
8. Ottawa 6-0 22
9. Mount Vernon 6-1 21
10. Lincoln 5-0 19
(tie) Benton 5-0 19

Others receiving votes: Highland 12. Hillcrest 12. Peoria Notre Dame 9. Carbondale 9. Metamora 7. Centralia 7. Champaign Central 6. Springfield Lanphier 6. St. Rita 4. Morton 3. Mahomet-Seymour 3. Quincy Notre Dame 3. Farragut 1. Galesburg 1.

Class 2A
School W-L Pts Prv
1. Nashville (3) 5-0 81
2. Leo (4) 4-1 65
3. Chicago Uplift 2-1 51
4. Orr (4) 2-3 49
5. Rockford Christian 7-0 45
6. Casey-Westfield 6-0 37
7. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley 3-2 31
(tie) Williamsville 2-0 31
9. Aurora Christian 7-1 28
10. Deer Creek-Mackinaw 4-2 23
Others receiving votes: Fairfield 22. Warsaw West Hancock 21. Monticello 20. Monmouth-Roseville 14. Champaign St. Thomas More 12. Farmington 10. Corliss 9. Petersburg PORTA 9. Bureau Valley 9. Marshall 8. Quest Academy 7. Crane 7. Eureka 5. Bloomington Central Catholic 4. Sterling Newman 4. Chicago Marshall 2. Pinckneyville 2.

Class 1A
School W-L Pts Prv
1. Cissna Park (2) 2-0 66
2. East Dubuque (3) 7-0 61
3. Payson Seymour (1) 5-0 58
4. Providence-St. Mel (1) 2-2 44
5. Kewanee (Wethersfield) 4-1 39
6. Concord Triopia 7-0 33
(tie) Lena-Winslow 2-0 33
8. Thompsonville (1) 6-0 30
9. Madison (1) 1-1 24
10. Cairo 4-3 17

Others receiving votes: Central A&M 14. Okawville 10. Springfield Calvary 10. Illini Central 10. Woodlawn 9. Mulberry Grove 8. Elmwood 8. Winchester West Central 8. Woodland 4. St. Anne 3. Nokomis 3. Camp Point Central 3.

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