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As the Racers continue their undefeated run through the conference, much of the talk is turning to the Racers ranking, especially the Number 10 ranking bestowed upon them by the coaches who vote in the ESPN / USA Today Coaches Poll. And as Gary Parrish made clear this week in his “Poll Attacks” column, (a great weekly read, by the way) he’s made it quite clear that no matter how many wins the Racers amass, a top-10 rating isn’t valid.

And he’s not without a valid point. To compare the OVC to a major conference is laughable; in fact, comparing the OVC to a mid-major conference isn’t a fair comparison either. You can use whatever terminology you want, but lets face the facts that the Ohio Valley Conference is a low-major conference, and likely not ever borderline to mid-major status at that.

It doesn’t help that the team picked to win the conference, who also likely played the toughest schedule, finished an anemic 2-10 against Division I competition. Nor does it help that the entirety of the conference, minus the Racers, won a paltry 42.2% of their non conference games, including wins against teams from lower divisions.

But saying the Racers aren’t deserving of a top-15 ranking is another example of where the college football mentality is running rampant in all college sports.

It’s not like the Racers wins are completely without merit: The Racers beat a ranked Memphis team in Memphis, and regardless your belief on where, or if, the Tigers should be ranked, that’s a quality win. As is a home win against Dayton.

But everyone wants to focus on the lesser teams on their schedule.  The Harris Stowe, Tennessee Temple, and well, UT Martin’s that the Racers have faced and beaten.

But put the “top” teams in the nation against Murray’s schedule. How many would come out unscathed? You can put the best teams in the nation against the same schedule, and few wouldn’t come out undefeated. Many might come out with one loss, but going undefeated through 19 games, against any schedule, is an impressive feat.

And that’s what they’re being rewarded for. And in college basketball, that’s exactly what the rankings are, an award. Unlike college football, the rankings don’t matter. Unlike college football, the Racers will get a chance to play for a national title.

And that’s why college basketball rankings shouldn’t be treated like college football rankings. So many people are afraid to rank teams highly outside of the big 6 conferences because they “feel” that they couldn’t compete.

Have we really learned nothing from Butler? In college football, a middle of the road team could never compete with the likes of LSU or Alabama. But in college basketball, it’s a completely different animal. The national powerhouses get challenged yearly by teams deemed “inferior,” and often times beat. It’s this singular philosophy that makes March Madness the most exciting tournament in sports.

Yet, we still look at the teams like the Racers, and say “they couldn’t compete with Kentucky. They couldn’t compete with Syracuse.” Despite that year in and year out, teams like the Racers compete with teams like the Wildcats every year.

So to the people who continue to say the Racers aren’t a top 10 team:

What’s your team’s record?

  1. Jonathan Shank:
    I think it just depends on how you look at the polls. Does Murray deserve their ranking? I think so, they haven't lost and you deserve some respect for that. Are they a top ten team in the country? Doubtful. I am not saying many would have played murray's schedule and came out with zero losses but if you put murray against the top teams schedules would murray have less losses then them? Lets take #13 Indiana. They have 3 losses. They have played UK, Ohio state (twice), michigan, michigan state, Notre Dame, as well as others. Does murray get through their schedule with only 3 losses? Who would the other teams in the OVC think they have a better chance to beat? Murray or have them replaced with another top 15 team? I think those are some points to be made in respect to Murray not being in the top 10. Like I said before, I don't have a problem with the ranking but I could see why some people would disagree with it. Good thing this isn't college football and we do get to find out where they stand in March.  
  2. Dan:
    Good questions.  Can't disagree with any of it. 
OVC Ball
Compiling all OVC non-conference games

2016 Football Standings

OVC Overall
Jacksonville State 7-0 10-2
UT Martin 6-2 7-5
Tennessee Tech 5-3 5-6
Tennessee State 4-3 7-4
Eastern Illinois 4-4 6-5
Murray State 4-4 4-7
SEMO 3-5 3-8
Eastern Kentucky 2-6 3-8
Austin Peay 0-8 0-11

2016-17 Basketball Standings

OVC Overall


Belmont 15-1 23-7
Morehead State 10-6 14-16
Jacksonville State 9-7 20-15
Tennessee State 8-8 17-13
Tennessee Tech 8-8 12-20
Eastern Kentucky 5-11 12-19


UT Martin 10-6 22-13
SEMO 9-7 15-18
Murray State 8-8 16-17
Austin Peay 7-9 11-19
Eastern Illinois 6-10 14-15
SIUE 1-15 6-24