Despite a huge win over a ranked team in the Maryland Terrapins on a neutral court Sunday, their second of the year, Tennessee basketball can’t seem to rise much in the polls. They only jumped one spot, to No. 6 in the AP Poll.
Worse yet, the Vols remained at No. 7 in the Coaches Poll. Staying ahead of them, somehow, are the Kansas Jayhawks, who took that No. 6 spot.
This poll comes out about two and a half weeks after the Vols beat Kansas by 14 points to win the Battle 4 Atlantis Championship. Since then, they have scored another top 25 victory.
How could any coach who is rational put Kansas ahead of them? Both teams have a loss, and while the Vols’ loss is worse, to the Colorado Buffaloes, it was in the second game of the season. They also have the head to head edge.
Fortunately, the Coaches Poll has no impact on the NCAA Tournament. It’s not as egregious as the College Football Playoff putting the Alabama Crimson Tide ahead of Tennessee football was.
You can say Kansas technically has more quality wins separately, as they have now beaten two top 25 teams, the Duke Blue Devils and the Wisconsin Badgers. Duke is No. 12 in both polls while Wisconsin is No. 22 in the AP Poll and No. 23 in the Coaches Poll.
However, Tennessee basketball did beat the Terps, who are No. 20 in the AP Poll and No. 17 in the Coaches Poll. Also, if you’re going to rank Kansas in the top seven, you can’t ignore the Vols’ quality win over them.
By that metric, it’s clear the Vols’ two quality wins are better than Kansas’ two quality wins. Now, you could say UMD shouldn’t be below Wisconsin since Wisconsin just beat them. If you’re going to use that logic, though, then it goes back to UT needing to be above Kansas.
The only logic you have on Kansas being ahead of Tennessee basketball is Kansas having a better loss, but that better loss is the Vols, and it was later in the season. As a result, UT should clearly be the higher ranked team.