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My preseason AP hoops ballot and an explanation about how I plan to vote

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Kansas guard Bobby Pettiford Jr. (0) puts up a floater over Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) and Kansas center Ernest Udeh Jr. (23) during Late Night in the Phog on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Bobby Pettiford Jr. (0) puts up a floater over Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) and Kansas center Ernest Udeh Jr. (23) during Late Night in the Phog on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

For the first time in my career, I’ve been tossed into the land of the poll voters for the upcoming college basketball season.

Wish me luck.

When I was asked by The Associated Press to be a voter this season, I was told I could make the voting as easy or as hard as I wanted to make it.

Based on what I’ve seen from those who have stayed out of the spotlight and also what I’ve seen from those who either liked to push the envelope or found themselves on the wrong end of a little harassment from fans, I definitely see how that’s possible.

My plan for my vote this season is simple. Rank the teams each week in order of which ones I think are the best in the country at that particular moment in time.

It won’t be based solely on strength of schedule or history or expectation or potential. It will be based on which teams are playing well and which aren’t. Because it’s me doing the voting, my preference for how teams look and/or play almost certainly will factor into the equation. But the goal will always be to reward teams who play good basketball, take on tough challenges and pick up good wins.

That’s what made the preseason ballot so tough to do. No one has played a game yet.

I’ve been a voter for plenty of things in my career —Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award, Big 12 pre- and postseason honors, Big 12 players of the week, other preseason polls and more.

But my votes in all of those were based on actual data — games play, stats recorded, wins and losses, etc. Without those things available to me today, I had to vote largely based on what I expect from each team or like about them today. If nothing else, it provided me with a baseline and I can go from here.

It should be fun. I hope it’s not stressful, but I also don’t expect it will be super easy.

With that said, here’s a look at my preseason AP ballot for the 2022-23 college basketball season. How much it changes is now up to the teams below and a few dozen others.

For a point of reference, I’ve put each team’s spot in the complete AP poll as well as their KenPom ranking in parentheses.

1 – North Carolina (AP: 1, KP: 9)

2 – Gonzaga (AP: 2, KP: 3)

3 – Houston (AP: 3, KP: 7)

4 – Kentucky (AP: 4, KP: 1)

5 – Kansas (AP: T5, KP: 8)

6 – Baylor (AP: T5, KP: 6)

7 – UCLA (AP: 8, KP: 11)

8 – Arkansas (AP: 10, KP: 14)

9 – Creighton (AP: 9, KP: 22)

10 – Duke (AP: 7, KP: 15)

11 – TCU (AP: 14, KP: 16)

12 – Texas (AP: 12, KP: 2)

13 – Indiana (AP: 13, KP: 12)

14 – San Diego State (AP: 19, KP: 19)

15 – Auburn (AP: 15, KP: 13)

16 – Tennessee (AP: 11, KP: 4)

17 – Saint Louis (AP: NR, KP: 39)

18 – Villanova (AP: 16, KP: 20)

19 – Michigan State (AP: NR, KP: 31)

20 – Arizona (AP: 17, KP: 10)

21 – Illinois (AP: 23, KP: 33)

22 – Texas Tech (AP: 25, KP: 17)

23 – Alabama (AP: 20, KP: 18)

24 – Dayton (AP: 24, KP: 24)

25 – Florida State (AP: NR, KP: 65)

Comments

Dirk Medema 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Matt - Congratulations - I think - on being asked to vote. Hopefully you have staff support soon. When I read “how I plan to vote” I thought you were going to comment on the teams. Why this one is here relative to the others. At this point it all seems to be who’s come or gone from last year.

In the past, I think unc has won the NC the year after we beat them so maybe a good omen for the tarheels. It helps to return 4 starters, get a seasoned transfer to replace the 5th, good young players to develop, and a great recruiting class. It seems that HD is a really good coach as well.

Hmmm, how would you rank the coaches? Maybe that’s more of an offseason article when you have staff support again.

An important factor to realize about KP is that it is absolutely data driven. At this time of the year, with no data about the current team, it relies very heavily on the data from last year. That means that St Pete’s was an outlier and even unc’s run to the NCG is relatively minor statistically. It is a little unclear how it factors in graduation, signing classes, and even more importantly transfers (I/O). As a math-nerd, I loved it when I found it, but I’ve also come to realize it’s not worth much for the first quarter of the season. Until there is actual data for this year.

It also doesn’t do a very good job of factoring injuries and development trends during the season.

It does a great job of keeping track of who’s played who and who they’ve played so that perceptions aren’t overly inflated or deflated.

Phyllis Hartwick 1 month, 1 week ago

Wow, what an honor to be one of the voters! I agree with how you will choose your votes as it is the most fair way.

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