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College Hoops Rankings

There are four distinct systems for college hoops rankings. They are the AP Top 25, ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, Parrish’s Top 25 and the RPI.

The AP Top 25 poll is calculated score from 72 sports writers in the USA.

Each sports journalist ranks their top 25 teams and gives the team the number of corresponding votes, based on it ranking. Maybe they are doing it right now in this March Madness. The first place team will receive 25 points, the second place team will receive 24 points and this will continue though the 25th place team. All the votes from the 72 sports writers are tabulated and the team receiving the highest point total is rated number one. The number in parenthesis next to the team is the number of first place votes they received.

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The ESPN/ USA Today Coaches Poll works in the same way as the AP Top 25 Poll.

The difference is the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll Rankings are voted on by 31 Division I coaches and not sports writers. The ESPN/ USA Today Coaches Poll voting coaches are Mike Adras, Dana Altman, Tommy Amaker, Tevester Anderson, Ronnie Arrow, Randy Bennett, Eddie Biedenbach, Jim Boeheim, Rick Byrd, Charlie Coles, Steve Fisher, Greg Graham, Rob Jeter, Billy Lange, Dan Leibovitz, Fran McCaffery, Mike McConathy, Bob Mckillon, Phil Martelli, Ron Mitchell, Matt Painter, Tom Pecora, John Pelphrey, Mike Rice, Doc Sadler, Herb Sendek, Scott Sutton, Bob Williams, Gary Williams, and Doug Wojik.

These coaches are an illustrative sample of teams from across the country and all conferences are represented. Parrish’s Top 25 is a list created by Gary Parrish, a senior sports writer for He also writes a very popular blog called “Parish: The Thoughts”. As senior sports writer and expert basketball analyst he compiles his own list.

The last college hoops ranking body is RPI. The Rating Percentage Index is a mathematical measurement of a team’s strength. The NCAA tournament selection committee uses it to help determine which 34 teams will receive at-large bids. The formula consists of a team’s winning percentage against Division I opponents (25 percent), the opponents’ average winning percentage (50 percent) and the opponent’s average winning percentage (25 percent).

Road victories are multiplied by 1.4 in the portion of the formula that deals with a team’s winning percentage, while home victories are multiplied by 0.6. A team with an RPI that is in the top 40 is in fairly good shape to earn an NCAA tournament invitation. A team with an RPI that is 50th or worse is in danger of being excluded. An unofficial ranking poll is the People’s Poll.

Forty members of the blogoshere rank their top 25 teams weekly and are considered the fan’s poll. The AP Top 25 is the most recognized of the four ranking systems. The main argument against the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll is the bias coaches may have for or against other teams. It is also argued the relatively small sample of coaches in the voting pool can skew the rankings. The four college hoops ranking systems are very similar week to week.

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Within the top ten teams there are very few disagreements amongst the polls. So, why four different college hoops ranking systems? That’s a very good question. It all comes down to opinion and a case of keeping up with the Jones’. It gives sports columnists something to write up and give sports anchors something to talk about.

Each college hoops ranking system has its own strengths and weaknesses. ESPN/ USA Today Coaches Poll believes they are smarter than the AP top 25 Poll and at the same time the other polls believe they know more than the other two. Who is right and who is wrong, who knows!



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