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Best-selling author John Feinstein explains why he voted Kansas No. 1

Best-selling author and GolfChannel and ESPN regular John Feinstein always has the most interesting, independent ballot in the weekly Associated Press poll.

Every voter claims to not care what the nation thinks in filling out his or her ballot. Feinstein proves it weekly with votes that often are quite different from the consensus. This week, Feinstein stands alone in putting Kansas at the top of his ballot. Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis is the lone voter to rank Kansas second.

"Kansas has the most impressive win of the year: At Ohio State, as Michigan found out," Feinstein told me in an e-mail exchange. "Bunch of one-loss teams. I give them the edge because of that."

Nineteen of us put Kansas third and fifth was the most common Kansas ranking, appearing on 26 ballots.

No. 1 Louisville received 36 first-place votes, No. 2 Indiana 13, No. 3 Duke 14 (including mine). Kansas is ranked fourth and Michigan, with one first-place vote, fifth.

Feinstein has written several best-selling sports book, the most famous "A Season on the Brink," a fascinating all-access look at a season of Indiana basketball under Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight.

The book ended a friendship but led to a priceless exchange between men at the top of their professions.

Knight, upset with his foul language being used verbatim, referred to Feinstein as "a pimp and a whore." With a counter-punch better than any Ken Norton threw in upsetting Muhammad Ali, Feinstein retorted: "I wish he would make up his mind so I'd know how to dress."

I don't know any Knight fan who read the book and didn't think even more highly of Knight after reading it, four-letter words notwithstanding.

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Comments

hawk_of_ages 1 year, 3 months ago

"A Season on the Brink" is Feinstein's most famous book, but the most essential from a KU perspective is the follow-up, "A Season Inside," which chronicles the 1988 season in college basketball, climaxing in the Danny & the Miracles title run. Lots of great behind-the-scenes material on Larry Brown and crew, along with a lot of other interesting teams and coaches.

As for Season on the Brink, I can't say I agree that Knight comes off well. Feinstein details his verbal abuse of players in brutal detail. In his other books, he gets similar access to a lot of other coaches, and while they may have their tirades, none has anger issues to the extent that The General did.

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johnsont1 1 year, 3 months ago

I think I'm beginning to like Keegan.

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Mark Lindrud 1 year, 3 months ago

I'm in shock Puke is still ahead of us. They were dominated throughout and Michigan lost a hard fought game. I agree we are not #1 material at the moment, but we should have been 3rd followed by Michigan then Puke. It's not my hatred that says I want them further back, but still can't help, but feel that east coast basis still into play. I have noticed pollsters don't always take injuries into account, which they should, but guess we can do only one thing to make everything right, win baby!!!!

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TexasRockChalk 1 year, 3 months ago

It's laughable that Keegan places Duke at the top perch of today's rankings. Notwithstanding Kelly being out, Duke got outplayed and LOST on the road to a ranked team, albeit in a somewhat competitive ACC. Michigan loses to a team -- and was down by 21 in the first half - whom we beat (OSU) by double digits and pretty much owned in the second half. If you're truly looking at "body of work", then look at all the game, and not just ones which serve to buttress your own viewpoint Keegs. The Rock Chalk Nation will accept your apology in tomorrow's sports section :)

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jhawkrulz 1 year, 3 months ago

I would have hoped that the headline would have read, Local Duke writer chooses KU.

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doolindalton 1 year, 3 months ago

Most of us can figure out why Feinstein would vote for KU as #1. He's a smart guy. This article would be much better off if it were devoted to explaining Keegan's irrational obsession with Duke.

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swunruhawk 1 year, 3 months ago

Good stuff Tom. Love Feinstein's work. Have read all of his books. Season on the Brink was outstanding. Glad KU is not #1 just yet.

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The_Original_Bob 1 year, 3 months ago

Sounds cool, Tom. I look forward to it.

Geezer - I didn't know RPI was a no no. It should be so that is good.

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Tom Keegan 1 year, 3 months ago

Coach K said he hopes to have Kelly back this season but didn't get specific on ACC conference call. ... I might have put too much stock into Pitt blasting Georgetown on the road and probably didn't put enough into Pitt's loss to Rutgers. ... RPI is too influenced by schedule-makers. It puts too much stock into whom you play, not enough into how you do. For example, Kansas could not have played much better than it did in destroying American, but because American is a weak team, KU's RPI dropped after that. ... As for what the committee's exact seeding instructions are, I'll have a better handle on that and so you will when I blog about it from Indianapolis in mid-February. I was invited to partake in the mock-selection process. I think the strongest members of the committee try to use whatever rating system is their favorite as a last resort.

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Geezer 1 year, 3 months ago

The committee isn't supposed to use RPI anymore. The members all are aware of KenPom, Sagarin etc. but they aren't anything but justification.

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The_Original_Bob 1 year, 3 months ago

Rankings in basketball are meaningless. It would be better to look at the very flawed RPI as that is what the committee uses for what is important. Seeding.

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William Blake 1 year, 3 months ago

I have a hard time seeing Duke near the top because of the loss of Kelly.

Any info on his potential return?

I don't see how they make a big run without a healthy Kelly.

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Brandon Deines 1 year, 3 months ago

Anyone hear the priceless exchange between Bob Knight and Rece Davis last week?

Bob - "What's that number mean?" Rece - "That's the shot clock." Bob - "What's that other number mean?" Rece - "That's the game clock."

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Phil Leister 1 year, 3 months ago

Keegan, you're the ONLY person to rank Pittsburg (at 24, no less) and you ranked Indiana at 5, which only a few other voters did. Insights?

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jhawkrulz 1 year, 3 months ago

KU is the only team with a 12 game winning streak. During that time they have beat OSU on the road (best road win from any team this year), a tough temple team (team that knocked off SU), and blew Colorado out of the sky.

I'm not saying that KU is the #1 team, but the same argument that people are using to say that Duke would have been undefeated if is the same reason Louisville could use about Duke.

Personally, I always think losses at the beginning of the season are less meaningful than the ones that just occurred. Teams mature, adjust, and get better.

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Tom Keegan 1 year, 3 months ago

Feinstein, by the way, is a Duke grad, so don't accuse him of playing favorites.

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Tom Keegan 1 year, 3 months ago

Thanks, Jake. Fair question. Coach K (note my laziness in avoiding the step of looking up the spelling of his name) said in ACC conference call that he expects Curry to be back Thursday, although he won't practice today. Kelly's in a boot. I didn't want to hold one loss against Duke, which has had the toughest schedule of the one-loss teams. But if it looks as if Kelly will be gone for a while then that does make them a different team and their performance will lead to be bumping down the Blue Devils.

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dylans 1 year, 3 months ago

I'm kinda glad KU isn't ranked number one. If KU had blown out temple and isu they could be 1. I would like our guys to play like they are being disrespected. Complacency kills.

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THE_REAL_DEAL_WITH_BILL_MCNEIL 1 year, 3 months ago

The Keegan blog is becoming my favorite thing on this site.

I'd like to see a Keegan vs. Tait entry every once in a while where they are forced to argue different sides of some issue.

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Ben Kane 1 year, 3 months ago

so feinstein voted us #1. could've just left that headline and moved on.

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jakejayhawk 1 year, 3 months ago

Tom, I have a lot of respect for your work. That is why I am surprised that you vote Duke number one. No one (outside of Duke anyway) knows how serious Kelly's injury might turn out to be. Is it fair to agree that your vote should reflect the actual status of a team and not what they might be? Add to that the tenuous nature of Curry's leg. It appears there are a lot of questions about the team from Durham.

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