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Is “Better to Lose Early” Just a Football Thing?

Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but soon.

Don’t look now, but Kentucky’s won six of it’s last seven games, and is in 2nd place in the SEC, behind only Florida.  After the crazy weekend of college basketball we just had (probably the best of the year, maybe longer), there’s really no team that looks unbeatable, and certainly no team wants the top spot.  But this Kentucky team, which dropped out of the rankings after losing two in a row much earlier in the season, just isn’t getting any love, even with the dearth of elite teams nationwide.

Yesterday’s “Top 25 (And One)” from CBS had a few surprises, but unfortunately, the Wildcats weren’t one of them.  Most surprising?  Well, how about keeping Kansas in the Top Ten, even after their implosion, losing three in a row.  And one of those losses was to TCU, who hadn’t won a Big 12 game in… ever.  But that 19-4 record is somehow that much better than UK’s 17-6, which didn’t merit any of the remaining 16 spots?

Also surprising: Ohio State, Minnesota, and Wisconsin all made the list, despite having records identical to or worse than UK.  And Ohio State and Minnesota each lost both of their last two games.

In football, where the polls matter substantially more, there’s a saying that “it’s better to lose early than lose late,” because at least if you lose early, you’ll be put back in the polls as other teams also drop some games.  Well, that’s exactly what’s happening here, but so far no dice with the rankings.  Is this just not viewed the same way in college basketball?  Are teams punished more harshly for losing early, getting put in a hole to deep to climb out of?  I suppose pollsters are just assuming that, because those teams won a lot early, they’re substantially better and shouldn’t be punished for losing a couple recently.  Heck, even VCU made the list at 19-5, but then again they did just beat Charlotte.  That’s apparently enough.

But I suppose that “losing early” isn’t the best thing to do in college basketball, and Kentucky seems to be feeling the worst of that right now.  At least the polls don’t matter too terribly much come Selection Sunday, where RPI is considered more strongly.  And if Kentucky can extend it’s streak to winning 8 of 9, picking up W’s against Florida and Tennessee, there’s almost no doubt that the Cats can find their way back onto the polls.  Until then, though, just be glad we’re not North Carolina.

Article written by Corey Nichols

30 Comments for Is “Better to Lose Early” Just a Football Thing?

  1. Jpo
    9:07 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    UNC sucks, and without the promise of a mega loaded incoming class next year

  2. Rockfield, KY
    9:07 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    It probably has a lot to do with how poor the SEC is percieved to be right now and the fact that we are struggling to pull out wins against lower level teams. The B10 teams can lose as much as they want as long as it’s in conference bc the media is in love with their conference this year.

  3. ThatsAShame
    9:08 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Polls mean very little. Just fodder for silly fans to throw in each other’s face. If this team keeps inmproving (as they seem to be) we will be just fine come tourney time.

    Sure a 1 seed gets a little easier run early but after the second round all the teams are tough. Give me a 10 seed and lets watch our team blow up some brackets.

    Let’s have a strong showing against FL. Go Cats!

  4. ATB (Always True Blue)
    9:08 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Yes, they are punished more harshly because of the RPI. The RPI was a great thing before the 1 and done era. Now, you have a conference like the SEC that lost its 15 best players to the NBA draft. That is 25% of the NBA draft class!!! Now you expect them to be the best teams they can be playing against senior laden mid-majors. It’s a joke, teams like Creighton, Wichita St., and even though I like Butler are a joke compared even to some mid-tier SEC teams right now. It’s just crazy and needs to be adjusted. Games won/lost in November and December need to be weighted less than games won in Jan., Feb., and March and that would fix their formula to match the 1 and done rule.

  5. asdf
    9:11 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    If this team stays completely under the radar until the tourney, that’s just fine with me.

  6. G-Unit
    9:16 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    UK just needs to keep winning the games they are supposed to win, and get UF at home. Let these big 10 teams slug it out while we fly under the radar…

  7. Bitness
    9:17 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Who cares that we got snubbed? I say the hell with the polls and lets go out and handle Florida and let the court do the talking from here on and out. These young cats had endured a lot of criticism and battled through toughness and scrutiny ever since last fall. They not only deserve to be in this situation of shocking the world, but they should embrace it and use it to their advantage! Its gut check time tomorrow!!! Whose ready to step up and fear no man or opponent?

  8. The Don
    9:20 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Big difference here is that most teams (Kansas aside) who are losing now are losing to ranked teams and good competition. For example, OSU has 10 ranked teams on its schedule, providing the bulk of their losses. Of course if you cant beat a ranked team, maybe you arent a ranked team, but the problem here is that the SEC is so weak that we arent going to gain ground very quickly.

  9. not barn
    9:25 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    i’m kinda glad we’re not ranked going into gainesville. if we do beat the gaytors it will be that much seeeter. the cats are showing improvement each time they take the floor

  10. Musehobo
    9:30 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Current Rankings

    RPI- 44,47, or 49 (depends on source)
    Pomeroy Rankings- 18
    Sagarin Rankings- 16

    The “top 25 polls” are the least accurate, because they’re mostly basic stats mixed with the “eye test”. RPI gets a little deeper into things like SoS. But Pomeroy and Sagarin are the most in depth rankings you have considering other important factors. I know I’m a bit of a homer, but I try to be objective. The cats are doing better as of late, and I believe they deserve a Top 25 spot somewhere. But I also know they have a lot of work to do to be ready for March.

  11. Winston
    9:31 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Is anyone really losing sleep over being unbanked in a poll of 2 douchebags?

  12. mike
    9:31 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    How do you not recognize our schedule in the original post. The SEC is down and we cant beat any of these teams soundly. Not sure we could beat some of these mid-majors. Our conference is as weak as I have ever seen it. We just need to hope we can come out of our last 8 games at 5-3 or better, which will be tough to do.

  13. Just saying
    9:42 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Probably because we struggle to beat really bad teams at home, and our only “quality” win was over a horribly over rated Ole Miss. Beat Florida and we’ll be ranked, get blown out at it won’t happen the rest of the year

  14. Jughead
    9:57 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Nice to be ranked at this point, but it doesn’t really matter unless you are playing well in March.

  15. 66CATSFAN1948
    9:58 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    “Just be glad we are not North Carolina”. I’m always glad we are not the NASTY Tar Heels, every day of the year!!

  16. Paul
    10:03 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    We’ve only beaten Maryland and Ole Miss. Not sure we deserve it yet

  17. snoopaloop
    10:18 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Just a heads up… the hyperlink for the Top 25 (and one) does not go to the article.

  18. Brandon
    10:20 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Actually… Won 7 of last 8 games.. 5 in a row.

  19. Big Whoop
    10:24 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    This is not worth anyone’s time worrying about. Sometimes, being under the radar is beneficial. The Cats play ugly and they don’t have an offensive star. Hence, little to no hype is thrown our way. Whose fault is that? This team has a way to go before any ranking should be of concern. If we beat Florida tomorrow night, then we get into the Top 25. If we lose, then I submit we don’t belong in the Top 25.

  20. B-man
    11:06 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Polls make no sense. Proof: In this poll Minnesota is ranked #19 and is 17-7. They have lost 6 of their last 8. That alone tells me they are not a top 20 team. In addition, Wisconsin is ranked #22, and like Minnesota, they are 17-7;however, in their last 8 games they have wins over Indiana, Michigan and…MINNESOTA! I also agree with Corey…how can you put Kansas in the top 10??? Top ten teams don’t lose 3 in a row to unranked oppenents, one of which (TCU) hadn’t won a conference game yet!

  21. Logan
    11:19 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Since when does “how bad you beat a team” count into rankings? Rankings from Dumb & Dumber mean nothing when it comes to the en of the year. You really think that Goodman would put UK in the top 25 if it came down to them and 2 other teams? Hell no! If it were up to Harry and Lloyd, UK wouldn’t even be in the tourney. Give Seth Davis hell all you want but he is twice the CBB analyst Goodman or Parish are. They do it on purpose to piss us off, and it works! GO BIG BLUE

  22. blueinmemphis
    11:24 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    This is one of the most naive homer articles I’ve seen, and I’m a BBN fanatic. We have zero real quality wins. Ole Miss, Maryland?? And we lost to Alabama and Texas A&M (at home!)
    We’ll have to beat Florida or Missouri to get up in the polls, and more importantly, to build the confidence that we can beat quality teams.

  23. mudcreekmark
    11:25 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    UK does not deserve to be in the top 25,period. Oh, by the way Corey, VCU beat Alabama by 19 points. That is the same Alabama team that beat us. The so called mid majors have caught up with the so called big boys. This is a product of the rollover of the top teams rosters each year.If you have 4 or 5 seniors who have been playing together for that many years it is awfully hard for a team made up of 18 and 19 year old kids that have no experience of playing together,to beat those type of teams no matter how good these kids are individually.

  24. mudcreekmark
    11:29 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    You heard it here first, this is the year that a “Mid Major” wins it all. There just isn’t a really dominate team out there and I just think that this is the year that one of the smaller schools gets it done. They have came awfully close the last few years and this year is the one.

  25. Blue
    11:58 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Polls, typically, are based on how teams are playing RIGHT NOW. I think it’s a bit of a joke that Kentucky hasn’t found itself back in the polls, and was shocked we dropped as far as we did. As an example, we lost two games in the same week, and dropped from the top 5 to out of the polls. Louisville lost 3 games in a row, and dropped 11 spots. Kansas has lost 3 games in a row (two of which were against bad teams) and will likely only drop to the 12-15 range. Minnesota has lost 6 of their last 8 and might still remain ranked. Historically speaking, that isn’t right…When teams lose, they drop, no matter how good or bad they are perceived to be. Using that logic, Kentucky should be in the polls, and is, in all likelihood, the most underrated team in the nation. Are we “elite” this year? No, but just take a look at the landscape of college hoops…No one really is. Judging by the eye test, we are easily one of the 15-20th best teams in the country, and I think we will surprise some people tomorrow night. Not necessarily saying we win the game, but I can guarantee we don’t get blown out. It will be a close game.

  26. Laker Cat 18
    12:15 pm February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Your link to the Top 25 and One goes to the homepage for the Charlotte 49ers. Should have probably just left the link out of your article.

  27. 3cats
    12:16 pm February 11, 2013 Permalink

    lol, # 25 Blue. I was writing away and was about to hit submit and looked up and noticed your post.. Great minds think a like. What you said is right on! Seems like once your out your out. Haters going to hate! Now, we beat Fl they will take Fl out of top 25 with a bad lose to Ky. It all about seeding now with some still looking at us as a bubble team…….nuts!

  28. ?
    12:17 pm February 11, 2013 Permalink

    I saw one or two ‘experts’ have Uk at a 10 seed.
    I don’t know much but if I was the 7 seed playing UK in the first round, well, I’d be Rather PIS S E D OFF!!!!

  29. ?
    12:21 pm February 11, 2013 Permalink

    We are feeling the ‘wrath’ due to winning it all last year.

    You telling me a Kansas or a Louisville or someone like that really wants to potential of playing Kentucky in the Second round…..REALLY. Fine with me. Hell I want to play Duke in the Second or third round.

  30. word
    12:27 pm February 11, 2013 Permalink

    dominate = verb

    dominant = adjective

    UK was dominant.

    UK dominated Ole Miss.