I know a lot of people don't really bother paying attention to rankings, they don't really mean too much in the end. However, I've always been a fan of following who ranks where and how the Zags are being viewed by the nation. I also think the most interesting time to analyze our position is just as the WCC begins. This year there's no mid-conference game against a Memphis (or the like) to really boost our ranking during conference play, so the ranking we have (or don't have) right now provides a unique perspective at how the 1st half of our season went and likely how the nation will view our traditionally weak conference. As we normally play our most challenging stretches before conference play begins, some of our biggest tests have already passed us by.
According to the CBSSports.com RPI we've had the 4th hardest non-conference schedule and the 10th hardest SOS overall thus far. As you all know we had respectable losses to Michigan State and Illinois, but did a great job against the rest of our opponents. After arguably one of the hardest schedules to date in division I basketball and achieving an impressive 11-2 record, what do you think our ranking should be? I'm interested to know what the slipperstillfits community thinks. Should we be in the top 25? If we only drop a game or two during our conference play, should we be ranked? What's the highest you think we could be ranked? Finishing the year with only 2 losses (which would be a dream!) normally would mean a top 10 ranking (in my opinion), but if we've already played our strongest opponents minus BYU and SMC and are sitting at #26 according to Garry Parrish & Co. then what rank are we really capable of achieving?
On a slightly related note, does the fact we played Xavier during difficult stretch in their season make the W less valuable? I remember last year being ecstatic that we beat a highly ranked Baylor and being really disappointing that the victory didn't mean as much come march because Baylor didn't have as good a season. I predict Xavier will bounce back and end up winning a lot of games. They likely won't achieve their previously exulted status, but getting a win in Cincinnati against the full Xavier squad should mean a lot. I guess what irks me is that when we beat Baylor when they're in the top 10 it doesn't matter as much because they had a bad season WHILE beating a Xavier team when they weren't ranked doesn't mean as much because they were struggling at the time (for arguments sake, let's pretend Xavier goes on a winning streak on this and gets back a lot of their public support in the polls). A win is always valuable, but we all know winning against a more successful opponent helps us when it comes to seeding in March. Should a victory really be considered more valuable because of how the other team was playing at the time? It's not like Xavier or Baylor were missing any key players to injury. One could even argue that our losses to Michigan State and Illinois shouldn't mean as much because we didn't have Guy Landry back yet.
Anyway, time for you all to play ESPN pundits. What should be ranked and why? Which is more meaningful: a win against Xavier when they're down (but they have a good season) or last year's win against Baylor when their ranked in the top 10, but they have a bad season?