As posted by Big East Coast Bias on Twitter, the preseason rankings by Ken Pomeroy, one of the luminaries in advanced metrics for college basketball are out. At first glance, one sees the Johnnies’ position (8th), which seems out of line with a number of the preseason polls...
KenPom 2018 projections! pic.twitter.com/PNKRJXYzTI— Big East Ghost Bias (@becb_sbn) October 22, 2017
But on second glance, this is in line with preseason belief - that eight of the ten Big East teams are actually quite good, and ALSO: not much separates the teams in the league.
Even from DePaul.
For comparison: last year the Seton Hall Pirates ended the year ranked #51, and Providence ended ranked #60. Both made the NCAA Tournament.
In Pomeroy’s view, the gaps in the league are closing.
St. John's is predicted to have an 8-10 Big East record. The overall record is inaccurate because it does not calculate win probabilities for the second and third round games in the Advocare Tournament, since they are technically not scheduled matchups yet. But assuming St. John’s goes 2-1 overall in that tournament, the projected record would be 18-13.
More interestingly is how the Big East seems to be composed of teams in the top 60 - which means, teams with a realistic shot at the NCAA Tournament if they have the right combination of wins (and avoid bad losses). Pomeroy has the Big East as the second-toughest league, which it was in 2015.
These rankings have Villanova as the best team in the country, over the youth of Duke (the rankings have the Blue Devils, once again, with a non-elite defense) and the talent of Arizona (which I wouldn’t agree with) and Kentucky (a team that may not be able to score).
And if these rankings are to be believed, St. John’s toughest out of conference opponents are... not so tough?
Missouri isn’t yet on the docket, but they could be a second-round opponent of the Johnnies in the Advocare Tournament. They are listed near the bottom of the Southeastern Conference, despite nearly beating Kansas in exhibition play this weekend. UCF (Central Florida) is ranked #60, however, and West Virginia is #7.
Saint Joseph’s is ranked 66, making that matchup one of the most competitive of those currently scheduled. Oregon State is #70, making that game a competitive one on paper as well.
Outside of those games, Nebraska is #98, Arizona State is #100, Grand Canyon is a surprising #141, Iona us #134 and Duke is #6. There is also non-Division I Molloy, which does not count towards RPI or KenPom rankings; New Orleans (#279); Sacred Heart (#300); and Central Connecticut (#342).
There are 351 teams in Division I.
Of course, these numbers will be revised on the fly as the year continues, since that’s how these rankings work.
Still, it’s a surprising sight to see the numerical calculations liking the Red Storm and the Big East quite this much.