There is no doubt that college basketball polls are sticky. Some teams are harder to get off the board, and some teams find it more difficult to get on it. Call it national expectation, an unconscious sense of team confidence, historical performance elasticity, group think, or whatever you wish, but some teams with arguable records perennially have a tough time in the polls. Coincidentally, many of these same teams have issues with TV ratings, and confidence. But which factor is causal?
West Virgina is a great example. With its dressing down of Georgetown on Thursday, one wonders why they haven't made the top 25 bubble. The team is strong, it's schedule hasn't been nearly as weak as some top 25 teams, and none of their losses have shamed them. Arguably a top 25 team shouldn't lose to Davidson, or even, for that matter, Kentucky. But then, everyone in college basketball loses unexpectedly sometime. It's part of what makes college hoops so fun to watch; we're not really sure who is going to show up, and we can count on our fingers the number of college coaches who can turn their teams around in real time when they are having a bad night. Most are spectators to their own losses.
While we could also argue that Georgetown is one of those perennially favored teams, we sure didn't watch an imploding Georgetown get soundly beaten on Thursday. We saw two good teams trying to play well, and one was better. Detractors might still say it's West Virginia's first quality win.
Regardless of perspective, the whole nation will get a much better gauge of West Virginia when they play Pittsburgh on Sunday. Win or lose, West Virginia's strength and defense will make believers of the rest of the nation, and give Pittsburgh a run for their money, something they have rarely faced given the tendency for so many Big East teams to implode this year. Think Syracuse, St. John's, and Georgetown.
Watch out for West Virginia. They are for real.