October 24, 2013

Poll positions: Doing some number crunching

An Andre Carter interception helped Salisbury defeat St. John Fisher and play its way back into the Top 25.
Salisbury athletics photo

The poll doesn't exist to steal anybody's joy by disrespecting them or withholding love. It is merely a prism through which to view accomplishments on a national, coast-to-coast, best-of-the-best-of-the-244 scale.

Why do you want to see your school ranked?

Think about that for a second. Do you want an honest assessment of where keen observers think your team stands? Or do you just like to see your team's name in lights?

We all like to be appreciated and loved. Nothing wrong with that. But before you toss a subtle or not-so-subtle jab at the pollsters who "aren't giving us any love," ask what it is you want the love for.

Maybe it'd be cool to see your team in the rankings. After Week 7, we're actually down to just 24 unbeatens, so every undefeated team could be ranked. Of course, that wouldn't account for Franklin, whose only D-III loss is by three points at No. 1 Mount Union, or Pacific Lutheran, whose loss is to No. 2 Linfield, or Wittenberg, whose loss is to I-AA Butler (which is 6-2).

Shouldn't the poll reflect reality? Shouldn't respect be earned? Why would you want to be ranked, say, 15th, only to get blown out in the playoffs by a team you think you are better than? Wouldn't you want to know where you truly stand, so if you pull the upset you can enjoy it in all its marvelous glory?

With 244 teams, we'll forever be in a perpetual state of having more than 25 that seem worthy of being ranked, by one metric or another. The poll doesn't exist to steal anybody's joy by disrespecting them or withholding love. It is merely a prism through which to view accomplishments on a national, coast-to-coast, best-of-the-best-of-the-244 scale.

Winning is the meat. Being ranked is gravy. (or maybe it's cake/icing?)

Number crunch

The No. 1 team in the country has beaten two teams that are 0-6 and two that are 1-5. That's no fault of Mount Union's of course -- its schedule just happens to be backloaded with 6-0 Heidelberg, 4-2 Baldwin Wallace and 6-0 John Carroll.

All records and opponents are not created equal -- 1-5 UW-La Crosse would certainly smash some 5-1 teams out there -- but for fun, I took a look at how many teams with losing records, .500 marks and winning records each top 25 team played. Composite records, of past, future and combined opposition for any team are available via the NCAA stats link.

No. 1 Mount Union 1 team with a winning record (Franklin), 1 at .500, 4 with losing records.
No. 2 Linfield 1/0/4.
No. 3 UMHB 3/1/2.
No. 4 North Central 1/0/5.
No. 5 Bethel 4/1/1.
No. 6 Hobart 1/2/2.
No. 7 UW-Whitewater 1/0/5.
No. 8 UW-Platteville 2/0/4.
No. 9 UW-Oshkosh 1/1/4.
No. 10 Wheaton 3/0/3.
No. 11 Heidelberg 0/2/4.
No. 12 Franklin 3/0/3.
No. 13 Johns Hopkins 3/0/3.
No. 14 Wabash 2/2/2.
No. 15 St. Thomas 3/1/2.
No. 16 John Carroll 2/1/3.
No. 17 Pacific Lutheran 2/1/3.
No. 18 Wittenberg 2/1/4.
No. 19 Wesley 5/1/1.
No. 20 Illinois Wesleyan 1/0/5.
No. 21 Willamette 0/0/5.
No. 22 Concordia-Moorhead 2/0/4.
No. 23 St. John's 3/0/3.
No. 24 Salisbury 3/1/2.
No. 25 St. John Fisher 3/2/1.

Might be an interesting thing for pollsters to factor in, although context of each record is important. One could just look at results vs. teams with winning records, or any other number of ways. If a top 25 voter used the chart above, and it and overall record were weighted strongly, Bethel might be the nation's No. 1 team, followed by Mary Hardin-Baylor and Wesley.

comments powered by Disqus

Ryan Tipps

Ryan is D3football.com's Senior Editor and begins as National Columnist in fall 2014. He was the Around the Mid-Atlantic Columnist from 2007 to 2011; has worked on all but one of the preseason Kickoff publications; has done game-day writing and photography and the pregame broadcast at the championship Stagg Bowl in Salem for almost a decade; and has taken photos at the Final Four for D3hoops.com. He's also on the selection staff for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award.

2001-2013 columnist: Keith McMillan.

Previous Columns

September 14, 2014
Snap judgments: These underdogs brought some bite
There were some near-upsets on Saturday, but in the end, almost all of the higher-ranked teams came...
September 11, 2014
Monarch linebacker forced to follow his heart
Forced from the middle of the action to a supporting role on the sidelines, Methodist linebacker...
September 7, 2014
Snap judgments: Right/wrong foot
There are two ways to start the season -- with a win, or a loss. Now, not every win necessarily puts...
September 2, 2014
Division III football: A gentleman's game
Hampden-Sydney and Wabash, two all-male schools, are squaring off in football this weekend for the...
March 3, 2014
Analyzing the NJAC and E8's big moves
Wesley and its Capital Athletic Conference brethren join forces with five New Jersey schools to form...
November 24, 2013
Look who stole the show in Round 1
Many of those who shined in the first round of the 32-team playoffs weren't the nationally elite...
November 21, 2013
Playoff picks, surprises, disappointments
ATN assembles a team for an annual look at who might surprise and disappoint us in the 32-team...
November 16, 2013
On this day, they were all big games
Keith McMillan has instant reactions both inside and outside the playoff picture on the final day of...
November 13, 2013
A pre-regional rankings primer
Keith McMillan introduces the committee and their roles, analyzes Pools B and C and takes reader...
November 10, 2013
Snap judgments: Seen from the other side
Millsaps may well have a story for the ages out of Saturday's win vs. Centre, as will Cornell and...
November 7, 2013
Poll positions: What to make of regional rankings
If you haven't seen regional rankings before, or your team hasn't been a contender in recent years,...
November 3, 2013
Snap judgments: The aftermath
With so many games featuring two ranked teams, we should see a lot of movement in Sunday's Top 25...
October 24, 2013
Poll positions: Doing some number crunching
The Top 25 doesn't exist to steal anybody's joy. It is merely a prism through which to view...
October 20, 2013
Snap judgments: Cycling up
Maryville and TCNJ are atop their respective conferences, the John Carroll defense isn't the only...
October 13, 2013
Snap judgments: A blurry picture developing
Not literally -- we get great pictures from our associated photographers and SIDs, but that won't...
October 8, 2013
Poll positions: Streaking up the rankings
Keith McMillan looks at why one computer ranking is making the case for a blue team No. 1, and not a...
October 6, 2013
Snap judgments: Bounceback seasons
Olivet, St. Lawrence, North Park, Husson, Western Connecticut ... the list of improved teams this...
October 3, 2013
Re-ranking the conferences
With September's games, and the vast majority of non-conference play in the books, Around the Nation...
September 29, 2013
Snap judgments: Look away from the Top 25 scores
At first glance -- like say, the scores page, with the top 25 scores the initial finals that catch...
September 26, 2013
History lesson: Engineering rivalries
Week 4 is perhaps the most odd Saturday on the schedule. There aren't many great rivalries, but...
September 24, 2013
Poll positions: How the voters reacted
A kick going wide left produced a wide variety of reactions, but when Wesley got taken down a peg,...
September 22, 2013
Snap judgments: Week 3
The Tommie-Johnnie rivalry is back, UMHB's defensive line is pretty darn good, the MIAA has a better...
September 19, 2013
History lesson: Wesley vs. Mary Hardin-Baylor
Now that longtime rivals Wabash and DePauw are both in the North Coast, and Mount Union and...
September 18, 2013
Poll positions: There's some movement coming
The top of the poll didn't change much last week but Saturday's games could have a significant...
September 17, 2013
Off the beaten path
Just because a team isn't in the Top 25 running or mentioned in the podcast or doesn't have a Play...
September 11, 2013
Poll positions: Why teams shuffle
In Around the Nation, Keith McMillan discusses a nonstandard way of assembling the ballot after Week...
September 8, 2013
Snap judgments
Keith McMillan's Around the Nation column returns. You'll see ATN several times a week, including on...

Other Columnists