Competing Against the Poll - Week 3

Competing Against the Poll, Week 3

Quick recap of the rules: Your heroes at don’t have faith in the AP Pollsters and think we can outsmart them. As such, we are buying/shorting teams based on their current “price” (points in the AP Poll) and will profit/lose as they move up/down the rankings.


This week was the perfect storm for big movement – tons of big games due to early season tournaments plus massive volatility due to it being early in the season (voters are extremely reactionary, as it turns out!). This led to four swings of>600 points and seven others >400 points. We all hit a couple of these big movers; unfortunately, a couple went in the wrong direction. Matt’s Indiana and Gonzaga stocks dipped, and my attempt to buy low on Wichita State fell completely flat on its face – turns out 0 votes is the real rock bottom! Ky hit it big as Cal crashed and burned, but shorting Arizona and Gonzaga kept me ahead overall. Matt’s long-term ownership of Cincinnati continues to look brilliant, and I’m pretty optimistic about owning Louisville as well as they finally snuck into the Top 25.

Long-Term Update and Week-to-week Picks

We all took similar approaches with our week-to-week purchases this time around – a lowly squad receiving few-to-no votes with a chance to prove itself. I went for NC State, a talented team who gets home shots at Michigan and Bucknell. Michigan is coming back from the Bahamas and has a pretty quick turnaround; I like that team too, but it feels like a comfy spot for a Wolfpack squad that’s been home for a week. Ky made an interesting (my opinion: questionable) choice with Florida – for a team that isn’t even receiving votes, I don’t think one game against Richmond (#66 in Kenpom) will be enough to catch increased attention from the pollsters.  Matt took the biggest swing – Pitt has a massive chance to make a statement, facing Purdue at home. I love the Boilers length defensively, but Pitt is a tough place to play. There’s not much downside to this pick (nothing to lose) with a lot to gain. I’d be wary of the Friday Pittsburgh battle with Duquesne, though.

On the other hand, Syracuse is coming off an awesome week in the Bahamas to a home game against a young but desperate Wisconsin team and then a road battle against Georgetown – I wouldn’t be surprised to see them drop one of those, and could see major gains if they lose both. Oregon has two tricky tests as well – home to Fresno State and away to UNLV – and losing either game would probably lead to a significant drop. While less likely than Syracuse to lose one or both, the potential gain is probably greater.  Finally, Matthew is irrationally into this year’s Nebraska squad, and is taking the chance that they’ll take down Miami in Lincoln (I can’t imagine them losing to Charlotte at home).

A couple long-term changes – I depressingly ate the Wichita losses, and am giving another shot at buying low on a talented team – UConn. Ky wisely cashed in his Cal short – it’s hard to see them going lower than 19 votes (and there’s not much incentive there anyway). He’s hoping to see a similar fall from grace from Xavier.

Best Buy of the Week sponsored by Best Buy (sponsorship pending): Syracuse, gained 696 points – followed closely by Xaver (gained 658), and then Cincinnati (gained 441) and Texas A&M (gained 422)
Sharp Short of the Week sponsored by Sharpie (sponsorship pending): Indiana, lost 821 points – followed closely by California (lost 735 points), and then Arizona (lost 466) and Notre Dame (lost 461)

A large congratulations to DJ Dimes here, as he becomes the first to own a Best Buy or Sharp Sell of the week! Unfortunately, he purchased Indiana rather than shorting them…but he made up for it by shorting the second best choice, the Cal Cuonzo Bears. As predicted in this space a week ago, Cal struggled in Vegas, getting completely murdered in the second half by San Diego State and then losing a shootout to Richmond. Ky benefitted from this as well, as his long-term profile had a massive gain from shorting the young Bears.

Looking Ahead

Pretty much all of the week’s big games are from conference challenges, with the Big Ten/ACC Challenge headlining the week (and several of our picks). I would expect to see far less poll movement than last week’s extravaganza, though.