Monday, November 22, 2010

More checking in on the week 12 polls; AP has LSU as high as #2? Stanford as low as #12?

I wrote earlier about a quick analysis of the polls to see if there was any obvious manipulation or biased voting going on.  I couldn't help but dig deeper and thankfully the Associated Press publishes the votes of all their pollsters so we can take a deeper look.

First, I just looked at the votes and a few things jumped out, but as is often the case, visualizing data like this is usually a lot easier.  With that, I unveil a new chart I'll continue to update showing the top-25 teams, their current ranking on the nicely sloped line in the middle, and then the highest and lowest vote each team received.  Here it is for the most recent AP top-25 poll.

There is no surprise really at the top, Oregon and Auburn both fall within the range of #1 thru #4, but as I mentioned in my earlier post, both Boise and TCU are outside of the top-four on some ballots and TCU is no longer receiving any first place votes.  You can see this nicely on this chart and see that Boise's low is #5 and TCU's #6.  Who has them outside the top-four and who do they have in their place?
  • Craig James of ESPN has Boise #5 and TCU #6 with Stanford and Wisconsin slotting in at #3 and #4.
  • Ferd Lewis of the Honolulu Star has TCU #5 with LSU at #4.
  • Tom Murphy of the Arkansas Democratic Gazette has TCU #5 with LSU #4.
  • Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News has TCU #5 with LSU at #2!
It is this last one that is a little bizarre and you can't accuse him of regional bias.  He seems to be using the logic that Auburn is #1 and LSU lost to them but would beat anyone else so must be #2.  I can't argue that a one-loss team can be rated ahead of an undefeated (my computer has Stanford #2), but given how unimpressive LSU's wins have been this one is a little hard to understand.

You might expect a fairly consistent "window" around the actual ranking for each team, but as can be seen above it actually is quite jagged and jumps around a bit.  A few other interesting observations:
  • Wisconsin's best and worst are both below LSU's, but they come out ahead.  This is due to the skewing of Jon Wilner and Wisconsin still being ahead shows the general consensus is that LSU is not close to #2.
  • Stanford's only loss is to #1 Oregon but Mark Anderson from Las Vegas has them #12!  He has them behind two-loss Missouri (10) and Oklahoma (11) as well as Alabama (6).
  • Oklahoma State has a low of #16 but manages to stay ahead of Michigan State and Arkansas that both have lows of #14.
  • Oklahoma is another like LSU that is getting a few pollsters rating them overly highly as they are behind a Virginia Tech that has a high and low both behind Oklahoma's.
  • Utah, at #23 is still getting support with one pollster having them as high as #16!
Wouldn't it be great if we had this transparency into the Coaches and Harris polls?

What do you think?  Leave a comment or send me a message on Twitter at @computerratings.  If you have questions or want more details on a particular team or pollster, let me know too.

I'll do this again next week and include a look into how voters change their votes from week to week.