As pointed out by RetireFiftyTu on Twitter, all but one Big East team has seen its KenPom tempo-neutral ranking go down.
The changes in rankings aren’t just about wins and losses -- after all, St. John’s has no losses -- but about performance against expectations -- i.e., ability to show an offensive is iresistible or a defense, impregnable.
Preseason Kenpom ➡️ Current Kenpom— Retire FiftyTu (@RetireFiftyTu) December 26, 2018
Villanova: 5 ➡️ 18
Marquette: 29 ➡️ 30
Butler: 31 ➡️ 29
Creighton: 33 ➡️ 39
St. John’s: 39 ➡️ 51
Providence: 49 ➡️ 61
Xavier: 55 ➡️ 72
Georgetown: 57 ➡️ 113
DePaul: 77 ➡️ 107
Or, visualized, with the preseason ranks in orange and the current rank in gray:
This is a signpost; after all, the Big East was known to be in a year where teams would be struggling a little. And in comparison to predicted offensive and defensive skill, the league does seem to have taken a step back.
Looking closer, one sees a few unsightly defensive numbers. The league has no defenses in the top 30, and the best defense by the adjusted numbers is currently Butler, with Marquette and Villanova close. Below 90th ranked, in order are DePaul, St. John’s, Xavier, Georgetown and Creighton.
Looking closer, one sees a few unsightly defensive numbers. The league has no defenses in the top 30, and the best defense by the adjusted numbers is currently Butler (48th), with Marquette (50th) and Villanova (51st) close. Providence is 64th and Seton Hall is 75th. Below 90th ranked, in order are DePaul (93rd), St. John’s (95th), Xavier (107th), Georgetown (117th) and Creighton (120th).
Here are the changes in defensive rankings since the beginning of the season. Marquette has improved from their preseason ranking, by the numbers; with some talent and more of Theo John & Ed Morrow, who have rated highly on the court defensively, the Golden Eagles have really stepped up on defense.
But the other teams have... not. St. John’s lost a shot blocker and continue to struggle stopping three-point attempts, and Creighton has given up some crooked numbers (to good teams, however.
Note that some of the numbers we see may be a true indicator of bad defenses, and other numbers may be an indicator of the strength of the opponents faced.
At the very least, the next few months could feature some fun, offensively-focused games. That, by the way, might favor St. John’s, a team with a lot of offensive weapons, including a Preseason Player of the Year who has been judicious about going after his points. (On the other hand, that step down in usage from Shamorie Ponds may WHY the offense has been good.)