Prep Polls in Review (week of January 29, 2017):Uncertainty at the very top!
By Bob Corwin
Below is the first Pass Tha Ball Prep Polls in Review for the 2016-2017 season. It is quite rare that each of the four national polls have a different #1 team with the season now entering its latter stages to varying degrees around the country. A few states (Florida and Indiana to name two) will crown champions in February while most will finish up in March. Still, a lot of data is in with Christmas tournaments and January showcase events in the books.
Current state of affairs
Until St. John’s beat Paul VI in WCAC league action, Paul VI was the consensus number 1. Subsequent to that, the polls have gone in different directions as to the top slot. ESPN remained with Paul VI (just the one loss to St. John’s). MaxPreps promoted St. John’s (only lost to Clovis West at Nike TOC in Arizona). USA Today went with Riverdale (undefeated but a lesser strength of schedule) which had been its number 2. Blue Star went with one loss Miami Country Day (its prior #2) that had lost to Clovis West in the final of TOC. Clovis West, which won Nike TOC, has losses to Archbishop Mitty and Centennial (split two games). Monacan is also undefeated but is perceived to also have a significantly weaker schedule than the above teams with losses. Monacan struggled to beat common opponent Norcross (one point in neutral South Carolina) compared to Riverdale which triumphed over Norcross by 19 in Georgia.
While the very top may be unclear, the polls seem to agree on the ranking of the top nine with a big gap in support between numbers 9 and 10. From there down, opinions start to diverge with 34 different schools being recognized in at least one poll.
Paul VI versus St. John’s – round 2
Paul VI and St. John’s are scheduled to meet again on February 12 at Paul VI and very possibly a third time in the WCAC playoffs later in the month. It will be interesting to see how each poll will react to the outcome of that contest.
The approach used
An approach which has been used in football is the basis for what is done here. The four national polls (links below) were reviewed and 25 points assigned to the team ranked first down to one point for a team ranked 25th. Then the points were added up (maximum score 100) to create the ranking order.
Looking briefly at the four individual polls
MaxPreps tends to be the most result oriented and least forgiving for losses to unranked teams. On the flip side, MaxPreps rewards the quality teams perceived to have the most difficult schedules with the highest rankings to start the season.
ESPN refers to its poll as “Power Rankings”. It is the most forgiving of losses, looking at what would be expected of teams if they met in the future (who’s better in a theoretical future meeting which may never occur).
USA Today (oldest poll) and Blue Star (run by a former USA Today pollster) use similar methodology, tending to be more record oriented than ESPN, but more willing to forgive losses by perceived “good teams” than MaxPreps. Individuals who run the Blue Star and USA Today polls also simultaneously conduct polls for other sports. Thus, due to more limited time availability, these tend to have less actual personal viewing input of teams than the other two polls include (ESPN probably highest here in its ranked teams seen in person).
Here are the links to the individual polls:
Pass Tha Ball Prep Polls in Review (from polls released week of January 29, 2017)
1-2 Paul VI Catholic High School (Fairfax, Virginia) 93 (1 first place vote)
1-2 St. John’s College High School (Washington, DC) 93 (1 first place vote)
3 Centennial High School (Las Vegas, Nevada) 89
4 Riverdale High School (Murfreesboro, Tennessee) 86 (1 first place vote)
5 Miami Country Day School (Miami, Florida) 85 (1 first place vote)
6 Monacan High School (North Chesterfield, Virginia) 79
7 Clovis West High School (Fresno, California) 77
8 Grandview High School (Aurora, Colorado) 75
9 Archbishop Mitty High School (San Jose, California) 71
10 Hamilton Heights Christian Academy (Chattanooga, Tennessee) 54
11 Butler High School (Louisville, Kentucky) 52
12 Norcross High School (Norcross, Georgia) 50
13 Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, California) 43
14 Duncanville High School (Duncanville, Texas) 38
15 North Central High School (Indianapolis, Indiana) 37
16 Montini Catholic High School (Lombard, Illinois) 35
17 Detroit Country Day School (Beverly Hills, Michigan) 27
18 Central Valley High School (Spokane Valley, Washington) 26
19 Amarillo High School (Amarillo, Texas) 23
20 St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Maryland) 21
21-22 Mansfield Timberview High School (Arlington, Texas) 19
21-22 Rutgers Prep (Somerset, New Jersey) 19
23-24- 25 Fayetteville High School (Fayetteville, Arkansas) 12
23-24- 25 Mesquite High School (Gilbert, Arizona) 12
23-24- 25 Olive Branch High School (Olive Branch, Mississippi) 12
Teams with location are listed according to total number of points garnered 25 for first down to one for 25th place. Where there are ties, teams are listed alphabetically. Again, for more details on each team, see the four polls individually. Another review will come out in a few weeks with the last one in April if all goes as planned.