Top 25 Rankings Drive Me Nuts


Kelly Olynyk
Olynyk has led Gonzaga to their first-ever number one ranking. Does it really matter though?

Oh for the love of all that’s holy, the Gonzaga Bulldogs are ranked number one in the country for the first time ever! For me personally, I could care less who is number one but I don’t see any reason as to why they shouldn’t get their shot at being number. My feeling about rankings period are that they are nothing more than fodder for the talking heads at ESPN and every other sports medium to discuss and argue over. I feel strongly about college football rankings too. In fact I probably despise those even more which I’ll address in a minute.

What any of us in the sports betting community have to understand about big time college football and basketball rankings is that those numbers placed next to specific teams’ names do have a lot to do with lines placed on games. This is in large part why the rankings system remains the way it does.

A good example for college basketball would be a game in the Big Ten coming up later tomorrow night. #22 Wisconsin travels to East Lansing to play 10th-ranked Michigan State. The Spartans will be favored but by how much I don’t know yet. If the Badgers had the same record as they currently do now, how would the lack of the ‘#22’ next to their name alter the line?

Let’s put it this way, you darn well know that whoever is carrying the game on television will hype it as “two-ranked teams.” Why would the folks in Vegas be any different? This is the problem overall with rankings. They create unnecessary discussion topics because at the end of the day, who really cares who is ‘number one’ on November 15th or January 15th or even March 15th? Isn’t the goal for any college basketball team to be number one when the season is over?


Cam Newton
Newton’s Auburn team was the only one to ever be unranked to start a season and still win the BCS Title.

In college football, the rankings are even more ridiculous because of how they can so severely affect a team’s bowl aspirations. If you go back to the inception of the Bowl Championship Series which played its’ first title game in 1998 only one BCS champion has come from the ranks of the unranked. That was the 2010 Auburn Tigers behind Cam Newton.

Consider that Auburn is an SEC team who had a tremendous strength of schedule. Had a similar situation occurred in just about any other conference, the likelihood that the conference’s team would have qualified for the BCS Title game. If you want to win a BCS title, it’s best to be ranked in the top five. Five of the last six national champions have been ranked in the top five in all of the major pre-season polls.

Vegas will obviously treat ranked college football teams the same way they would ranked college basketball teams. Of course there are many things to go into establishing a line in both sports besides just the ranking. Where is the game being played? What is the record of the ranked team(s) at home versus on the road? What about the records of the coaches against each other or what is the weather supposed to be like during the game?

These are but a few of many things that the folks in Vegas have to consider when establishing lines whether teams are ranked or not.

Give Gonzaga their due. Despite a low RPI and not playing the schedule that teams like Indiana or Duke or Michigan State do, they have done everything possible to be given a shot at the top spot. Does this mean they are college basketball’s best team?

Hardly. It just means that they are nothing more than the flavor of the week and we all know that can change on a weekly basis.