"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Big East Preview - Part One

I'm going to run this down from worst to first. My approach to the analysis is to look at five various factors to see how they might impact each of the teams in the Big East. The factors under consideration were:

  1. A team that underperformed or overperformed based on last year's stats
  2. Consistency (or Inconsistency) of the team last year
  3. Quality of Junior and Senior players (Using data provided by Villanova by the Numbers and then modified)
  4. Regression of a team towards 0.500
  5. Quality of incoming players based on RSCI
Read the previous post to get more insight. To get to the projected records, I started with last year's numbers and then revised up and down based on stat performance, returning minutes, incoming talent, etc. Those projections are as good as any projection at this time of year. However, I think the real value of the preview is in the bonus factors or red flags that pop up for each team.


Today's preview focuses on the bottom eight teams in conference.

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The Bottom of the Barrel
These three teams show that it's hard to dig yourself out

#16 - DePaul
  • 2007 Results - Overperformed. Based on their stats in conference, DePaul (6-12), should have finished with a record of 5.4 - 12.6. Yay?
  • Consistency - Unfortunately for DePaul, they were one of the most consistent teams in the league. Being consistently bad is less than desireable. Red Flag
  • Quality of Returning Starters - DePaul returns one of the fewest number of junior and senior leadership. Red Flag
  • Expected Regression - Based on being one of the lower teams in conference last year, DePaul is expected to improve their win% significantly. Bonus
  • Incoming Freshmen - Nobody on the RSCI Top 100 list
Projection - 4-14. Sorry, but someone has to be worst in the league. Kind of a shame, too, because Jerry Wainright is doing something really cool this offseason.

#15 - St. John's
  • 2007 Results - Overperformed. Based on their stats in conference, St John's (5-13), should have finished with a record of 4.6 - 13.4
  • Consistency - No impact. St. John's was about league average
  • Quality of Returning Starters - St. John's returns the fewest number of junior and senior leadership in the Big East, highlighted by the transfer of the productive Larry Wright. Red Flag
  • Expected Regression - Based on being one of the lower teams in conference last year, St John's is expected to improve their win% significantly. Bonus
  • Incoming Freshmen - Nobody on the RSCI Top 100 list
Projection - 5-13. Let's just move on

#14 - South Florida
  • 2007 Results - Significant Underperformer. Based on their stats in conference, USF (3-15), should have finished with a record of 4.9 - 13.1. Look for some correction this year. Bonus
  • Consistency - Limited impact. USF was slightly above average for consistency in the Big East last year
  • Quality of Returning Starters - Slightly below average, although South Florida does lose massive big man Kentrell Gransberry
  • Expected Regression - Based on being one of the lower teams in conference last year, USF is expected to improve their win% significantly. Bonus
  • Incoming Freshmen - Nobody on the RSCI Top 100 list, but coach Stan Health will welcome seven (7!) new players to the program this fall. Let's see what they can do.
Projection - 5-13. I give South Florida a modest two game improvement in 2008-2009 based on last year's underperformance and the sublime play of sophomore-to-be Dominique James, but no more than that because of the loss of Gransberry.

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The dangerous road game
These three teams will probably be towards the bottom of the league, but that doesn't mean they won't be tough to beat on any given night.

#13 - Seton Hall
  • 2007 Results - Overperformed. Based on their stats in conference, Seton Hall (7-11), should have finished with a record of 6.3 - 11.7 last year.
  • Consistency - Limited impact. Seton Hall was slightly above average for consistency in the Big East last year
  • Quality of Returning Starters - Slightly below average just on the numbers, although the Pirates also lost senior leader Brian Laing and notable Dominic James fouling machine Jamar Nutter. Note that Seton Hall also expects to return steals leader Paul Gause, who was injured for much of the year.
  • Expected Regression - Seton Hall can expect some modest regression towards 0.500, but I don't think it's significant
  • Incoming Freshmen - Nobody on the RSCI Top 100 list though the Pirates will welcome perhaps the best transfer player into the Big East this year in 6'6" Robert Mitchell. Mitchell played one year at Duquesne and was one of the nation's best freshmen, averaging better than 16 points and 5 boards per game.
Projection - 6-12. Everything's vanilla with Seton Hall (except for Bobby Gonzalez). Nothing significantly noteworthy in the stats.

#12 - Cincinnati

  • 2007 Results - Overperformed. Based on their stats in conference, Cincy (8-10), should have finished with a record of 7.2 - 10.8
  • Consistency - Cincy was one of the most inconsistent teams in the league last year. That means that they probably won more games than they should have last year. Red flag
  • Quality of Returning Starters - On top of being inconsistent last year, Cincinnati also returns one of the fewest amount of junior and senior minutes this year. Not a good combo. Red flag
  • Expected Regression - No real impact
  • Incoming Freshmen - The Bearcats welcome two players on the RSCI Top 100 list. 6'8" PF Yancy Gates (#41) and 6' G Cashmere Wright (#94) join their program this year. Bonus
Projection - 6-12. Despite the addition of two talented players, I think the inconsistency from last year and the relatively few experienced players mean that Cincinnati is due to drop down this year.

#11 - Rutgers

  • 2007 Results - Underperformed. Based on their stats in conference, Rutgers (3-15), should have finished with a record of 3.5 - 14.5
  • Consistency - Limited impact. USF was slightly more inconsistent than the league average last year
  • Quality of Returning Starters - No impact. Rutgers is about league average
  • Expected Regression - Based simply on being one of the worst teams in conference last year, Rutgers is expected to improve their win% significantly. Bonus
  • Incoming Freshmen - Fred Hill is bringing in a spate of talented players to the Rutgers team. This year they'll add 6'1 sharpshooter Mike Rosario (#44), 6'9" big man Greg Echinique, and 6'9" Christian Morris. Bonus
Projection - 6-12. This might be a reach, but I'm predicting a decent three game jump for the Scarlet Knights this year.

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Fighting for that Tournament Berth
These two teams will be somewhere around 0.500 and they'll probably be in contention for the eight or nine bids the Big East is expected to receive in the NCAA Tournament this year.

#10 - Providence
  • 2007 Results - Significant Underperformer. Based on their stats in conference, Providence (6-12), should have finished with a record of 7.1 - 10.9 last year. This certainly contributed to the hiring of a new coach this offseason. Bonus
  • Consistency - Providence was one of the most inconsistent teams in the league last year. While it might means that they probably won more games than they should have last year, I believe their underperformance indicates otherwise. I have to flag it but it's worth watching. Red flag (possible bonus)
  • Quality of Returning Starters - Limited impact, though a return to health for point guard Sharaud Curry will make Keno Davis' transition to the Big East much smoother. Curry missed nearly all of last season with a stress fracture in his right foot. Providence is slightly above league average, even with the transfer of productive point guard Dwain Williams.
  • Expected Regression - Significant impact. Based on where they finished last year, Providence should expect a solid boost just by virtue of a regression towards 0.500. Bonus
  • Incoming Freshmen - No impact
Projection - 8-10. Who's ready for some "Keno Davis turnaround" stories? Based on some expected team improvements, Providence should be better than last year. If Davis can get PC to play more consistently, this team may surprise.

#9 - Villanova

  • 2007 Results - Overperformed. Based on their stats in conference, Villanova (9-9), should have finished with a record of 8.3 - 9.7
  • Consistency - No impact. Villanova was right at league average
  • Quality of Returning Starters - Limited impact. Villanova is slightly above average for returning junior and senior minutes.
  • Expected Regression - No impact
  • Incoming Freshmen - No impact
Projection - 9-9. It seems unfair to put Villanova this low, especially since they are returning almost everyone from a team that made the Sweet 16 last year. However, this is part of why the Big East is such a tough conference, and also why pundits are saying the Big East may get nine bids in March. I'm just not seeing anything where Villanova is expecting a big bonus or red flag from the stats. And at the end of the day, I just don't think they're better than the top eight teams even when you factor in expected year-to-year player development.

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Speaking of the top eight teams (Connecticut, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, West Virginia), we'll cover the remainder tomorrow.

Contributions from NYWarrior. Thanks
*edit - Messed up the Villanova results from last year

3 comments:

Zuch said...

I like factoring in experience, but I would not discount the jump from freshman to sophomore seasons. I think the Coreys (Stokes and Fisher) on Villanova should be much improved in their second season, as will redshirt sophomore Antonio Pena.

Also, Cincy will finally have the services of talented Texas transfer Mike Williams. He should very ably replace John Williamson at the 4 and be a nice veteran presence along with the young kids Wright and Gates (and super junior Deonta Vaughn).

Henry Sugar said...

I originally started with a look at the total returning minutes. In fact, if you look at the vbtn blog entry I linked to yesterday, that's where GreyCat started too. By that measure, Villanova gets a bonus because they are the only team greater than a standard deviation.

However, I just like the concept of the teams that have more junior and senior returning minutes. No data to prove / disprove it... I just like it and that's how I did the analysis.

NY Warrior said...

For Zuch........

Mike Williams, who owned career averages of 2 ppg and 3 rpg in two seasons at UT will "very ably replace" John Williamson?

JW averaged roughly 12 ppg and 7 boards in his two-year run at Cincy.

I'm sure Williams will help, but it seems like a stretch to figure he'll approach Williamson's production.