A recent FanPost discussed whether UCLA men's basketball should be rated 18, or 30, or somewhere in between. The following thought experiment leads to the conclusion, maybe they shouldn't be rated at all.
The Bruins find themselves # 23 in this week's college basketball poll. Let's see what they have done to "earn" this recognition.
-- Played 2 rated teams and lost to them both. (Arizona at Pauley and Duke at a neutral site.) The home game was close, the neutral site one a blitzing.
-- Lost to 3 unrated teams. Two were to teams with losing Pac-12 conference records (Utah and Oregon State, both on the road) and one was to a half-game-above-.500 SEC conference record squad (Missouri, on the road).
-- Have 0 notable wins. Delusionists could make some case for beating Arizona State (but at home, and they are bad enough to lose at Colorado who lost its best player some time ago), Cal (at Haas, but remember the Bears are good enough to beat Arizona when an Arizona starter is lost for the season in the opening minutes and bad enough to lose at Galen to the last-place justSC), and Colorado (there, but again right after they'd lost their star player).
-- Have a rare schedule break, so they avoid both Arizona and ASU road games. Do you believe we would win both of those contests?
So a # 23 Bruin team might be worthy of a ranking, but not on this year's performance. In fact, the only rationale I can see for rating them even as high as # 30 is to believe that the Pac-12 is one of the two or three best conferences in all of college, so that conference wins over unrated opponents should count for something.
Now how does this relate to the US Winter Olympics team of 2014? Right now the Americans have won more total medals than any other country. They must be the best, right? Wrong. Dissect the American wins and you will find many medals for hip, extreme sport, events that very few countries in the world are even competing in. If you only count the traditional Olympic events, you see: Hockey doing well; Figure Skating doing poorly (1 gold medal, 1 other medal), Alpine Skiing doing mediocre (1 gold medal, 3 other medals), Bobsled/Luge okay (4 medals), and Speed Skating (zero medals of any kind). That is 11 medals so far in true Olympic sports, only 2 of them gold. So the American lead of 25 medals is based on a majority (14) in events no one has ever heard of and few countries field teams for.
Look behind the curtain and the Americans have been largely disappointing. The same may be true for the Bruins. The Bruins might be a good team, but there is no way to make a case for that now. Given NCAA tournament seeding, the best bet is to assume UCLA beats one patsy and one mediocrity in the first two games, then loses to the first ranked team they will face.