December basketball rankings overrated
Despite Arizona’s No. 1 ranking in the most recent AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches’ Poll, the Wildcats should err on the side of caution, because now they have the largest target of any team in the nation on their backs.
While it is nice to see Arizona top the weekly rankings for the first time since March 2003, the truth of the matter is that rankings — especially in December when the Wildcats have only played nine of 35 games this season — are virtually meaningless.
More than anything, the jump in the rankings provides Arizona with an opportunity to take advantage of a valuable marketing opportunity.
A No. 1 ranking can really only bring trouble to the Wildcats because it just provides another tantalizing opportunity for Arizona to fall victim to potential complacent cockiness just long enough to either be upset by New Mexico State, or crushed this weekend by Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Ryan Revock/ The Daily Wildcat UA freshman forward Aaron Gordon dunks the ball against UNLV on Saturday in the McKale Center.
Rankings overall do not mean much in the grand scheme of things because they are not based so much on the actual performance or statistics of the team. Instead, the rankings are more based off the subjective opinions of the voters and surrounding media hype.
If statistical performance and strength of schedule had an effect on the current AP rankings, then conference rival No. 15 Oregon wouldn’t be as high up as it is.
The Ducks have only played one road game this season. Oregon’s only wins against respected programs have come against Georgetown and No. 24 Missouri, but because rankings are based off of potential ability rather than current status, the Ducks remain firmly in the middle. Some will argue that Oregon’s average points per game and field goal percentage, ranked third and fifth in the nation respectively, account for its high placement in the rankings, but keep in mind these stats include six games against lesser caliber schools.
Regardless of what the voters say, and no matter what number appears in front of Arizona’s basketball team as the season progresses, it remains clear that the Wildcats possess the necessary talent, versatility and balance to make it to the national championship game.
—Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17