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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Rankings come down to nothing but NET

by Wally Hall | January 19, 2022 at 2:58 a.m.


Auburn got 36 first-place votes in the latest Associated Press basketball poll and Gonzaga got 25.

So the AP's No. 1 team this week is Gonzaga by four points, 1,486 to 1,482, meaning a lot of voters disrespected the heck out of the Tigers.

Maybe it is the slow burn with some sportswriters and broadcasters over the SEC's domination of college football.

Auburn is 16-1, and its lone loss was to UConn back on Nov. 24 in the Bahamas, 115-109 in two overtimes. UConn is 11-4 and the No. 15 ranked team in the current NCAA NET rankings, the only ranking that actually means anything.

Gonzaga has lost to Duke, 84-81, in a Las Vegas tournament and Alabama, 91-82.

Auburn beat Alabama 81-77 in Tuscaloosa.

The AP poll has been around forever, so people still quote it, and Tigers' Coach Bruce Pearl admitted there was great anticipation down on The Plains about this AP poll because Auburn has never been No. 1 in the news wire's basketball poll.

The NET is what the NCAA Tournament selection committee uses and Gonzaga is No. 1 there, too. Auburn is No. 5 behind No. 2 Arizona, No. 3 Villanova and No. 4 Houston.

The NET rankings, which can change daily, are based on head-to-head competition on four levels.

A loss to a school so small [Quad 4] is hard to overcome.

The highest ranked team in the NET with a Quad 4 loss as of Tuesday was No. 45 Florida, and that loss will weigh against any team that loses to the Gators.

Here's where Arkansas fans can breath a sigh of relief. Before Tuesday night's game against South Carolina the Razorbacks were 7-0 against Quad 4 teams. They were 2-2 against Quad 3 teams, 2-0 versus Quad 2 and 1-3 against Quad 1, so far.

Arkansas has nothing but Quad 1 teams left on its schedule.

Auburn's success has been a bit of a surprise after it lost four of its top 16 scorers from a team that went 13-14 a year ago but Pearl is a great coach and recruiter.

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The story goes that a couple owned front-row seats behind the Kentucky bench for years. They never missed a home game, made a lot of the road games and was always at the SEC and NCAA tournaments.

One Saturday the seats were empty. The next game the lady was there alone and then-head coach Adolph Rupp asked where they had been the previous Saturday.

The lady teared up and said, "My husband died."

Reportedly, Rupp immediately asked: "Where were you?"

More than likely the passing of Joe B. Hall last week was more significant than the passing of actress Betty White days before her 100th birthday.

It was though no one could replace Rupp, but Hall did.

In 13 seasons without a losing record, Hall was 297-100 overall and 172-62 in SEC play. He led the Wildcats to the national championship in 1977-78, defeating the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Final Four.

He was on the Kentucky team one year, 1948-49, making him the only person in college basketball history to play for and win a national championship at the same school.

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Former Arkansas basketball coach ... OK, it is time to put that joke away.

Dana Altman had the Arkansas Razorback basketball job less than 24 hours in 2007 when he took the job, called the Hogs, went to dinner and by midnight was on the phone with his old boss at Creighton seeing if he could come back.

Part of the problem was his teenage daughter, who was in high school, couldn't stop crying. She didn't want to leave her friends.

So Altman went back to Creighton, and three years later took the Oregon job where he is 291-116 and has taken the Ducks to the NCAA. Tournament nine times in 11 years.

Monday night the No. 62 (NET ranking) Ducks beat No. 21 UCLA for Altman's 700th win.


Print Headline: Rankings come down to nothing but NET

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